Monday 26 August 2002

The Scottish economy

This analysis of the Scottish Economy makes depressing reading. The spokesman for the Federation of Small Business Scotland is correct to point out that business red tape is imposed on us by Westminster and Brussels rather than by Holyrood. Nevertheless, we must ask why Scottish growth is consistently below the UK average. To some extent the answer lies in Scotland's declining population compared with England's rising numbers which are boosted by sizeable immigration.

But over on the Daily Mail, Tim Luckhurst suggests that the lack of entrepreneurship in Scotland is cultural:

The problem is the culture of contemporary Scotland, not the attitudes of modern Scots (many of whom excel outside Scotland). If we are honest, we all know what that culture means. It is defined by a bloated public sector in which respect for red tape, and deference to authority, take precedence over any notion of ambition or true public service. So vast is that state monopoly over wealth and power that it creates an atmosphere closer to the one that prevailed in communist Eastern Europe than the vibrancy of an ambitious modern nation.
I think that Luckhurst is correct. That is why I support calls for full fiscal freedom - all taxes being set and collected here with an agreed sum sent to London to cover items such as defence. If we count all revenues and expenditures, it looks as though Scotland has a balanced budget but Scotland's politicians have no reason to think in financial terms under the present arrangements. This lack of accountability feeds through into the general population creating a non-entrepreneurial society. It's time for a change.