Much has been made today by ‘our’ media of Scotland’s supposed deficit based, in large part, on the GERS essentially estimated revenue and higher spending per capita on public services.
I’m no expert here but, at the very least, I’d like to start a discussion based on the thesis that Scottish public spending per capita should be higher for, at least again, these two reasons based on wealth production, geography and health.
- Scotland produces a proportionally great share of the UK’s wealth and its complex geography needs higher spending per capita
This cannot be proved definitively to everyone’s satisfaction but there are pieces of evidence breaking the surface, enough to think its true. Here are only some:
- 82% of oil production
- 50% of gas production
- 25% of coal production
- 29% of electricity exported to the rest of the UK
- England runs massive trade deficit. Only Scotland has a viable sustainable economy, exporting more than she imports thus requiring no national debt
- 8% of the population, nearly 9% of the exports but only 5.25% of the imports
- New technology start-ups in Scotland surge ahead of UK average by 18%Still 8% of the population but now 30% of UK food and drink exports?
- With only 8% of the population, Scotland’s maritime sector accounts for 25% of the UK maritime sector’s (GVA) contribution to the economy and is 17.5% more productive than the UK marine oil and gas sector. Once more, too wee, too poor?
- £290 billion of tax revenue still in the North Sea and much more to the west of Shetland
- Estimates of Scotland’s oil reserves West of Shetland now massively increased to around 8 billion barrels! ‘A super-resource now on the cards.’Scottish onshore economy grows by at least double the rate of UK
I take it the complex geography argument requires no debate.
- The people of urban Scotland deserve enhanced health-care as they continue to pay the price of the brutal exploitation faced by their ancestors in serving the Empire
I have no sources for this. All I remember is watching an edition of Newsnight Scotland or Panorama or some such more than ten years ago and being shocked by this thesis presented by a deeply impressive South Asian medical researcher from one of the University Hospitals in the West of Scotland. He was keen to defend the people of urban Scotland against the accusation that they were essentially to blame for their catalogue of health problems. He did not deny that tobacco, alcohol and poor diet were factors but something else was needed to explain why the people of urban Scotland had worse health outcomes than other similar places such as Newcastle or Sheffield.
He described how their ancestors had arrived, in huge numbers, in the area from the Scottish Highlands, Ireland and Lowland Scotland to work in the booming industries – coal, steel, shipbuilding – but no adequate infrastructure had been built to accommodate them. Poor quality housing, damp, cold and with inadequate, dirty, water supply and sewers was thrown up quickly.
In those conditions, infant mortality was very high and, crucially, only those with strong active immune systems survived. Later, in adulthood, these same immune systems were conducive to the development of inflammatory diseases and the consequent shortening of lifespans.
The current population of urban Scotland is predominantly based on those survivors with the active immune systems and so remains prone to the development of inflammatory diseases regardless of lifestyle choices.
So, this population is not entirely to blame for its problems and deserves expenditure on an advanced health system even if it does cost more.
I’ve written this quickly and welcome both criticism and support.