A lesson from history for the future of Scotland
Ahead of the SNP Spring conference April 2019, I would like to give delegates a reminder of a history lesson Scotland must never forget from the past as well as the present. It is expected there will be many key debates at Conference regards the Growth Commission proposals put together by Andrew Wilson and his team of experts. The work by Andrew and his team has to be commended and I am sure a lot of the proposals are good common sense, however, there are some concerns I have with the Growth Commission proposals. I feel it has overstated a solidarity payment of £3 billion, the debt Scotland should accept as our share of UK debt, that the commission suggests we accept. This would lock Scotland into the UK’s economic model and we must not be reliant on the Westminster and the London finance markets. After all under their watch Scotland has performed very poorly and we have been made to pay a high price to be a part of this UK union.
Keeping the pound is a sensible route to a currency of our own (Scottish pound) but it must not be in a currency union with the UK and we should be free to move to our own currency when the time and conditions are best for Scotland. Lets have a short history lesson, and I know we should not dwell in the past, but this history lesson is very important and we should not forget it!
The totally Shameful and underhanded, Act of Union 1707, was conducted between two ruling classes where the terms of the agreement were a bribe to the Scottish nobility. They stood to gain the most from the equivalent sum of £398,085 England agreed to pay Scotland for accepting a share of the English National Debt. Scotland having to share English Debt is the important issue here! Also it must not be forgotten that the vast majority of Scots had no vote on the Union of 1707.
English National debt in 1697 was £14,400,000; on the other hand Scotland’s National Debt was far less at around £200,000. Scottish taxes would rise after the union to help pay the dividend as well as the revenue that would come to the new British government from increases in Scottish customs and excise (GDP); all retained by Westminster to this day. The English claim that, by paying the equivalent to the Scots nobility, they had bought the right to tax the Scots, in perpetuity, as they saw fit. So there we have it the Westminster elite still believe to this day they have the right to tax and rape all they can from Scotland for eternity, giving very little back of our own capital/GDP. I would like to know how much millions of pounds have been taken from Scotland over the last 312 years? How many times over has the sum of £398,085 been paid back?
There use to be an annual return published by the UK Government on the contribution of Scotland to the Exchequer and Expenditure upon Scottish Services, as it was called back in the 1920’s. The 1921 figures show Scotland contributed £119,753,000. Expenditure on Scottish Services £33,090,000. Balance retained in London for ‘Imperial Services’ £86,657,000. The UK Government stopped the published returns in 1921 despite protests by Scottish MP’s. A rise in Scottish nationalism was the most likely reason for stopping the annual report in 1921. Looks like the Westminster attitude towards Scotland has all ways been as it is now, they could not care less about Scotland and treat us with the utter most contempt!
Keeping the Scots in the dark is a favourite past time of the UK Government, such as the McCRone Report in the 1970’s, regarding how much of a game changer North Sea Oil revenue would be for an independent Scotland. The IPPR have suggested that the UK Governments have squandered up to £500 billion of oil & gas revenues by not investing in a sovereign wealth fund as Norway have, (currently worth over $1trillion). Between 1980/81 and 1989/90 North Sea Oil raised £166 billion in Taxes. I would like to know how much in taxes were raised in the last forty or so years from North Sea Oil to the UK Exchequer? Another thing to consider is an Independent Scotland would have adopted a Norway style of taxation on the Oil Companies and not such a generous taxation policy on oil revenues as the UK has. As reported in the National (18 March 2019) Jim Cuthbert says Scotland could have been sitting on a fund of more than £100 billion. The Oil & Gas Authority on the 11 March this year have predicted that an extra 9.9 billion barrels of oil will now be produced from the North Sea, there are still massive oil fields off the west cost of Scotland ready to be recovered that would bring billions more to Scotland’s economy.
There is the cost of Defence to consider and how much Scotland contributes to this every year? Take the cost of Trident the pro-rata share of £2.26 billion costs for the nuclear deterrent is 8.2%. That puts the cost to Scotland at a £180 million every year for the next 30 years.
The cost of Electricity Transfer from Scotland to England must run into millions of pounds when you consider that it is currently 83% of all Scottish production that goes over the border. How long has this been allowed to go on?
Brexit could cut Scottish GDP by 9% and it is currently costing Scotland dearly. It is estimated that Brexit is costing the UK over £600 million per week. How much of that is Scotland’s share?
Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures from the UK Government revealed a spurious figure that spending in Scotland was £73.4 billion compared to tax income of just under £60 billion leaving a deficit of £13.4 billion for Scotland. The GERS figures do not offer any real indication on the finances of an independent Scotland. GERS is a set of regional accounts for Scotland, as part of the UK, and that’s important because it means we have to pay a share of the cost of servicing debts run up by the rest of the UK, and that is where Scotland’s illustrative deficit comes from. We are paying mostly for English debts. Further more something just does not quite add up with the GERS figures. Scotland has a 5.3 million population (Deficit-£14.3 billion?). England population: 53.8 million only have a Deficit of £8.7 billion. How can this be so low a figure with such a Hugh population?
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the value of economic activity within Scotland and every other country in the world. Scotland’s GDP in 2015 was £152 billion by 2017 it had grew to £165.4 billion; figures for 2018 are in dollars $237.618 billion. Scotland receives around £30 billion per annum as a block grant from the UK as our budget. Therefore, if we look at the GDP figure of 2017: The sum of £165.4 billion, then take £30 billion from £164.4 billion, leaving a balance of £135.4 billion retained by the UK Exchequer. The question here is how much of a difference to the Scottish Government would the full £165.4 billion make to our economy? It’s a no brainer, you don’t have to be an economist to see how much Scotland would benefit to balance the books with it’s own full GDP. Also GDP does not include wages earned and the Tax from that source, the figure could be around £60 billion raised in Scotland!
Despite the misappropriated sums of money taken from Scotland in the past 312 years by the Westminster Treasury, as I have reported above. There is still a bright economic future for an independent Scotland in control of it’s own resources.
The value of Scotland natural capital was estimated to be around £273 billion, 34% of the UK as a whole, this astonishing value of Scotland’s resources has been revealed for the first time as reported in the National March 2019.
Business for Scotland has given recent figures (Scotland the Brief) Scotland with 8.4% of the UK’s population possesses: 90% of the UK’s total Fresh Water, 26% of the UK’s renewable energy generation and 90% of its hydropower, 32% of the UK’s landmass and 62% of its offshore maritime area, 96% of the UK’s crude oil and 63% natural gas production, 60 % of UK’s timber production, 70% of the UK’s fish landings, 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resources and 25% of Europe’s tidal energy resources and 10% of Europe’s wave power potential. Another figure to add is the true Global value of Scots whisky exports is around £25 billion. Scotland is one of the world’s most naturally wealthy nations and we should believe in Scotland as Business for Scotland does.
What does history tell us? That Scotland has been totally robed and exploited by the Westminster ruling classes for far too long. How much billion of pounds has been misappropriated from Scotland?
Scotland should not pay the £3 billion proposed by the Growth Commission as a contribution to the UK (England’s) debt. Before anything Scotland has to scrutinize if we actually do have as much debt as has been suggested by the GERS figures. I would also suggest that we fight for compensation regarding the underhanded Act of Union 1707. Further I believe that England should pay Scotland back for squandered oil revenues and we should seek compensation for this misappropriated scandal as well.
Scotland might have a budget deficit, we are told we doe, but so does the rest of the UK. Whatever budget deficit Scotland has it would have to be dealt with because any economy that carry’s on borrowing would have to either cut public expenditure or raise taxes. However, an independent Scotland would be able to drive-up an increase in governments revenues, including taxes and social security contributions, by rising employment through economic growth and investment at a much faster rate than under the UK. Scotland does not have to blindly follow an austerity agenda, the examples set by Iceland and Portugal, are good examples for Scotland to consider.
A future Scotland that is independent has a great opportunity to take a path into a much better and more prosperous economy that can only improve the health and well being of our nation. I hope that I have with the help of a history lesson given some insight to how wealthy a country Scotland actually is and can be in the future. We are one of the most naturally wealthy nations in the World and we should believe in Scotland and work together for a much better future for our children and their children. I am sure the facts speak for themselves and we should fight tooth and nail till we have a deal that is best for Scotland and not give in so easily as has been suggested.
Alba gu bràth