According to accountants KPMG and reported in Insider, Scotland has made significant productivity gains in the past 18 months and now ranks above all parts of the UK other than London and the South which continue to suck the life out of the other regions in terms of material, human, social, intellectual and of course financial capital. Even the BBC agrees with this view of London:
Out of the 12 regions in the UK, Scotland came 4th top. Scotland did especially well on innovation and its pool of available talent. Perhaps being further away and with a higher quality of life, Scotland is able to hang on to more of its talent that the English regions and Wales. In terms of the talent coming from its universities, Scotland came second only to London.
It’s worth remembering that the high productivity of London and the South does not compensate for their massive trade deficit and that only Scotland has a surplus in this regard. See:
Scotland’s 2017 trade surplus grows as England’s deficit soars saddling the UK with ever more debt
The role of the Scottish Government needs mentioning here too given their initiatives to boost business activity. See, recently:
Business booms in Scotland under SNP-rule
77% of Scotland’s small and medium-sized businesses report success as Scottish Government reports record numbers exempt from rates and in the wake of figures revealing much greater signs of distress among rUK businesses.
I know governments do not create wealth, but they do help produce the conditions in which it can be created. Had Scotland’s performance been worse, we can be sure the SNP would be to blame in some way.
Brilliant collection of articles. Thanks.
I would like to add a further comment to your words “London and the South which continue to suck the life out of the other regions in terms of material, human, social, intellectual and of course financial capital”
Public spending in the UK is concentrated on London. The way public finances work is that the regions get the bill for this and London gets the benefits of the increased economic activity (recursive revenue). Richard Murphy has exposed the the impact of this on GERS. Even the the Fraser of Allander Institute have been forced into an admission that the Scottish deficit would be £3 billion less if the public spending Scotland is billed for in GERS was brought back up here.
London does indeed suck the life of the rest of UK, through a geographical concentration of public spending and Scotland provides a £3 billiion subsidy for the capital’s economy. But why make such a fuss? Surely that’s how the UK is meant to work in’it? The poor are supposed to subsidise the rich to make them even richer?
Och….I feel loads better now!
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Ian, I recall a series on, I think STV, about 30/40 years ago which analytically debunked the ‘subsidy junky’ myth of Scotland. In one section, there was an interview with a big wheel in the London Docklands Development (I don’t think Canary Wharf had been built, so that will give you an idea of how long ago this was). In it she was scathing about how much Scotland got from the rest of Britain, it really had to stop and the ‘whingeing’ Scots just had to learn to stand on their own feet and face the harsh winds of competition like she and the rest of business did. The interviewer than produced a list of fundings for the Docklands development, such as the Docklands Light Railway and other infrastructural and ‘pump-priming subsidies, all of which were from ‘the public purse’. Completely unembarrassed and with a total lack of self awareness, she replied, “THESE ARE IMPORTANT.” Socialism for the rest of us is a BAD THING, but socialism for the wealthy and powerful is necessary and important. Look at the way Messrs Brown and Darling shovelled shedloads on cash into the banks in 2008 BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO BIG TO FAIL – THE ECONOMY DEPENDS ON THEM. I believe both these ‘socialists’ have nice billets with financial organisations.
Re the ‘sucking the life out of surrounding areas’ – Professor Checkland of the Department of Economics and Economic History at Glasgow University wrote a book, nearly 50 years ago, called The Upas Tree. The Upas Tree grows in Java and is so ravenous for nutrients that no other vegetation can grow within a fairly wide radius of it. So, the analogy of the Upas Tree applies to London. However, Checkland was writing about ……… GLASGOW! Remember this was one of the economic powerhouses of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Fascinating Upas story
Alisdair ,I rember seeing that program and it showed how everything high tech and lucrative went to the South East except nuclear naturally. Was it not about the time the halfwit Thatcher was selling off or closing the National Engineering Lab at East Kilbride?
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Macgilleleabhar, it certainly was fairly early in Mrs Thatcher’s time because it was she who promoted much of the Docklands stuff. I remember the East Kilbride closure, because, when I was doing my first degree in Natural Philosophy we did some of our lab work there. It was an excellent resource.
There is no doubt that all parts of the United Kingdom were starved of cash and investment in favour of London and the South East and that much manufacturing was killed off to switch the balance of the economy towards financial services. She was all for letting Liverpool decay as Detroit has done had not Michael Hesltine objected and, since he was powerful enough to unseat her she gave him pretty free rein to revamp Liverpool.
In similar vein, Clyde shipbuilding was destroyed and pilloried as out of date. It was out of date because of a lack of investment in modernisation and by poor management, but the ship designs were top notch and the labour force was pretty skilled. When it eventually was butchered, the South Korean Government which had set up a state of the art yard in the former small fishing village of Hyundai, bought the entire design book, and hired many of the Clydeside workforce to build ships that could be sold in the world market. Hyundai is now a massive company. It’s fortunes rested on Scottish design and Scottish expertise. All of that could have been done here, but she was determined to destroy trade unions and bolster the City and she used Scottish oil revenue to do it.
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Thanks Ian, very informative addition.
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