‘UK manufacturing in recession’ despite massive Scottish energy growth

In the Guardian today, we see this very gloomy graphic:

Needless to say, there is no reference to differences within the parts of the UK such as Scotland and so no sign of the dramatic growth of Scottish energy production which will have been a major part of the Q1 surplus and without which the Q2 deficit, due in part to lack of wind, would have been even more worrying.


These statements give an idea of Scotland’s massive over-production of energy:

  • 9% energy of consumption
  • 82% of oil production
  • 50% of gas production
  • 25% of coal production
  • offshore renewables resource estimated at 206 GW – 30 times peak demand
  • 29% of electricity exported to the rest of the UK
  • renewables capacity at 7 gigawatts well on way to meeting our baseline target of 100% of gross annual electricity demand by 2020.’
  • currently meets 100% of indigenous demand from conventional sources, mainly nuclear, coal and hydro







Does Scotland really care about Brian Wilson?

(c) (Image: Steve McKendrick)

In the Scotsman today, we read:

‘Brian Wilson: Does Scotland actually care about education?’

At first when I see the words ‘Brian Wilson’, I think ‘God only knows what I’d be without you’ and I begin to feel good vibrations but then when I see it’s that wee Labour guy from the 70s and 80s, my spirits sink before I even read:

‘Does Scotland, as a society, really care about education? A decade ago, the question would have verged on the sacreligious. Education was our USP. The best in the world, we used to boast. Faith in the democratic intellect shaped our self-image. Always a little over-egged but with at least a basis of historic truth. Look at us now. Further down the international league tables than the Scottish football team for whom it is not an option to stop publishing results which is the Scottish Government’s preferred tactic on literacy and numeracy.’


Leaving aside the wrong spelling of ‘sacriligious’ (that’s what Word puts the red line under for Brian), the article is rambling, confused, evidence-free, just wrong. I cannot bear to do him the honour of a line-by-line dismissal (He’s not warf it, Jonn!) but will restrict myself to suggesting some reading that might help:

Educational attainment gaps much smaller in Scotland than in England after 10 years of SNP government: JRF Poverty Report Extract 6

Figures show majority of Scottish school pupils are performing well as England’s educational policy makers dither

Closing Scotland’s Education Gap: The Herald’s ‘education guru’ is on the wrong track

Scotland’s school’s PISA results ‘lean’ toward nothing meaningful. Finland’s success is not real. South Korea and China’s educational programmes amount to child abuse

Herald’s emeritus professor gets it wrong on alleged teacher shortages in Scotland’s schools which are much better staffed than those in England

SNP continues to build far more schools than Labour did/could

97% of Scotland’s head teachers expect attainment gap to close over next five years thanks to SNP government funding

BBC Scotland’s wilful mis-represenation on literacy levels

Ruth Davidson’s chaotic attack on school standards is ignorant

SNP Government increases teacher numbers to create far superior pupil/teacher ratios and much smaller attainment gaps than in England



Scotsman says Tories say Nicola Sturgeon ‘is the NHS’s Dr Richard Beeching’

(c) vimeo.com

At least this time the Scotsman makes it clear, in the headline, that they are acting merely on behalf of the Tory press office. Usually, they bury the named Unionist politician several paragraphs in, where few of their readers tread or should that be read?

Today, we could read:

‘The comparison between the First Minister and Dr Richard Beeching, who axed railways in the 1960s, was made by Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs ahead of a visit to Orkney. Mr Briggs blamed the Scottish Government for a series of NHS cuts outside Scotland’s big cities in places like West Lothian, Perthshire and the Highlands.’

We do eventually get the SNP response, but nobody is reading now, apart from me:

‘But the SNP dismissed Mr Briggs’s remarks as “laughable” and pointed out that it was the Conservative party which established the Beeching Review that was to lead to the closure of many rural railways.’


Miles Briggs gets to say more stuff and, typically, its evidence-free, so here’s some evidence he could do with reading:

At 78% level of satisfaction with NHS Scotland is impressive 36% higher than for the NHS across UK

NHS England sees 35% increase in patients waiting more than 18 weeks while NHS Scotland reports a fall of 0.2% despite a 14.6% increase in demand

NHS Scotland: 27% increase in kidney transplants including 10% increase from living donors as ‘UK’ level falls to eight-year low

Bed-blocking in NHS Scotland falls by nearly 10% in one year as the rate in NHS England surges to nearly 500% higher, per capita, than that in NHS Scotland!

National auditors find two very different NHS systems in the UK. Someone tell Theresa today.

NHS Scotland significantly outperforms NHS England on cancer waiting times despite demand soaring: Herald fails to report properly again


8% of the population but 13% of the hotel investment


(c) Scottish Business News Network

As business and tourism boom in Scotland, we read in Insider today:

‘Investment into Scottish hotels doubled in the first half of the year to almost £400m, according to new figures. UK buyers were the biggest buying group, accounting for 41 per cent of activity, followed by Middle Eastern investors (22 per cent of transactional volume), Israeli investors (16 per cent), US investors (8 per cent), Canadian Investors (7 per cent), Singaporean investors (5 per cent) and German investors (1 per cent). Collectively, non-domestic investors continue to be the dominant player in the market.’

As in many other contexts, the Scottish situation seems more promising than that in the non-Scottish parts of the UK:

‘Looking at the UK as a whole, Savills research shows a total of £3.2 billion has been invested into hotels in the first six months of the year, with Scotland accounting for 13 per cent of investment in terms of value.’

Bottom of Form


Other 8% stories:

Only 8% of the population but 50% to 75% of the removal of highly toxic pollutants. How Scotland’s natural assets are helping rid British air of pollutants

8% of the population, nearly 9% of the exports but only 5.25% of the imports

Return of the meme? Only 8% of the population but Scotland has 21.7% of all independent renewable projects in the UK

Still 8% of the population but now 30% of UK food and drink exports?

8% of the UK population and 28% of living wage employers. More evidence that we are different enough to want to run the whole show?

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?

Once again, it’s the ‘8% of the UK population but much more of something good’ meme. This time it’s 33% of employee-owned firms in the UK

And on hotels:

More evidence of robust Scottish economy as hotel sector outperforms UK average

Scottish hotels outperform those in rest of UK: STV report good news for Scotland’s economy but fail to understand it

Value of top Edinburgh hotels grows significantly faster than rest of Europe

Forget, GERs and GDP, Scottish hotel investment soars by 60% in one year!

Scotland’s hotels a better investment than those in England or Europe: SNP Administration works?


BBC Scotland’s dishonest reporting of firefighter shortages in Aberdeen


(Image: Alistair Linford)

BBC Scotland news have been making much of their recent discovery that:

‘Three Aberdeen fire engines stood down due to staffing problems’

The headline is quite dishonest and tabloid-like in its attempt to scare. In fact, one vehicle was not available last Tuesday and two were not available on Wednesday. There is a big gap between the headline and the facts here. At no time, were three vehicles unavailable. On only one day were two unavailable. On only two days in the previous three or four months (100 plus days) were any vehicles unavailable. BBC Scotland last reported problems in April 2018.


How much of a risk is death by fire?

From the BBC:

England: The figures for July 2016 to June 2017 put the annual total at 346, which was 20% up from the previous year’s figure of 289. We do not have comparable figures for July to June in previous years.

Scotland: There were 44 fire-related casualties in Scotland in 2016-17, down [2%] from 45 the previous year.

How much are firefighter numbers falling?


Firefighter numbers in Scotland fell by 1.2% between 2016 and 2017 and by 13% from 2011.


In England:

‘If we restrict ourselves to just firefighters, there were 29,018 full-time equivalent firefighters employed directly by their fire services across England in 2010. That had fallen to 22,957 in 2017 – that’s a drop of just over 6,000.’

That’s a fall of 21%.


Occasional shortages of firefighters are common across the UK:

Surrey firefighters ‘bailed out’ by London colleagues on another day of …

Chronic staff shortages at North Yorkshire fire control leave public …

Firefighter raises alarm over inadequate cover in Torbay – Devon Live

Struggle to fill vacancies at rural fire stations that rely on part-time …

Firefighter shortage means Norfolk crew cannot go out to emergencies …

Spire FM – News – Amesbury Fire Station tackling crew shortages

Shortage of crews at Suffolk fire station | Latest Ipswich News – Ipswich …

Fire crew shortage in Gwynedd and Anglesey ‘could be putting lives at …

North Wales fire staff shortages put lives at risk say whistleblowers …

Staff shortages at Dublin Fire Brigade trigger reduced services

Report reveals shortage of Highland firefighters – The Scotsman

Retained firefighter shortage adds up to thousands of hours …

Stockport fire station closes because of firefighter shortage …


Campaign begins for more people to become Crediton firefighters …

Orkney’s fire stations facing staff shortages – The Orcadian Online

Petworth emergencies raise fire service concerns – Midhurst and …

Newquay fire chief admits staff shortage – Telegraph

I don’t have the time or the will to check how small-scale the Aberdeen shortages were compared to any of those listed above. Perhaps BBC Scotland’s large team of research assistants might like to?

Scotland shows her ‘metal’*


Two developments, in the last year and a half, suggest that Scotland is beginning to recover at least some of its historic metal-making capacity. In Insider today:

‘Liberty Steel Dalzell back in business. A Scottish steel plant has vowed to win back market share in the import-dominated market for heavy-duty steel that is used in bridges, buildings and battleships. Dalzell is now the only remaining UK-owned large producer of plate steel, an ultra-tough product used for demanding applications such as large physical structures, ship bodies, undersea oil pipes, bulldozers and wind towers…..the plant has just secured two substantial new contracts and is on target to produce more than 120,000 tonnes of plate this year…..this figure is set to rise by at least another 25% next year, as the plant’s expansion plan moves into its next phase. Other Liberty plants in Scotland and England will use a significant amount of steel from Dalzell to make products such as wind towers and oil pipelines.’


In March 2017, I was able to write this:

The Lochaber Delivery Group met for the first time today to begin the process of helping the GFG Alliance (Liberty House and SIMEC) make the most of their total £450 million investment in the area subsequent to buying the Fort William aluminium complex and estate lands from Rio Tinto in a £330 million deal in December.

You’ll remember that Liberty House have already worked with the Scottish Government to save the steel plants at Dalzell and Clydebridge. The plans are to revitalise (already underway) the smelter to manufacture car parts, to do the same for nearby hydro plants (£120 million), to maximise cost savings in that manufacture and, along with two bio-fuel plants, to create a state-of-the-art facility which will add 1 000 direct and 1 000 indirect jobs in the area and a predicted £1 billion addition to the local economy. Unemployment in the Fort William area is generally well under (2.9%) the overall Scottish rate (4.9%) but I’m sure it would be a very popular place to relocate to.

This will be the UK’s last aluminium smelter putting it in a very good place to compete to produce car parts for the wider UK and European car manufacturers. Of course India’s car ownership growth is the fastest in the world at 7.64% or 2.54 million vehicles in 2016 and is expected to grow by 775% to 2040! Who owns the Lochaber mill? It’s a Mr Gupta. Now where does that name originate?

GFG Alliance (Liberty/SIMEC) Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta said:

‘One of the key reasons we invested in the Highlands was because people welcomed us here. That’s been reinforced by the positive response of the many agencies in the new Lochaber Delivery Group who are eager to play their part in delivering the goal of a clean, competitive and sustainable manufacturing sector in the Highlands.’




I appreciate that this is only a fraction of what we once did but it’s still something to be encouraged by.

  • I know it should be ‘mettle’, pedants. I’m playing with words for effect! Anyhoo, as recently as the 17th Century, the words were used inter-changeably so there!

Wages growing faster in Scotland than in non-Scottish parts of the UK


(c) Alamy Stock Photo

Increasing staff vacancies add to evidence of a robust Scottish economy and are especially good news for Scottish workers

From Insider today:

‘Permanent staff demand in Scotland grows sharply. Royal Bank of Scotland Jobs for Scotland report discovers a rise in staff vacancies alongside a shrinking candidate supply. The sharp growth in permanent staff appointments continued in July, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Jobs for Scotland report.’

A sharp increase in vacancies means business is confident and growing. This is also good news for the workers, for a change:

‘Amid rising staff vacancies and shrinking candidate supply, pay pressures intensified in July. Salaries awarded to permanent starters in Scotland increased at the fastest pace in six months, with inflation outpacing that seen for the UK overall. Meanwhile, temp pay rates in Scotland rose at the sharpest degree since April 2017.’


So, wages are growing faster in Scotland than in the non-Scottish parts of the UK. Other evidence of strength in the Scottish economy, has been noted here earlier:

63% fall in large business insolvencies as Scottish economy reveals strength

Scottish onshore economy grows by at least double the rate of UK

See this Douglas? Business investment in Scotland up 250%!

Scottish Business Strength No.77: Small Scottish construction firms’ growth up 17%

Scottish small businesses still more confident than those in non-Scottish parts

Business activity soars to four-year high across manufacturing and service

Business confidence in Scotland soars by 24% while it sinks 29% in non-Scottish parts of UK

Scottish businesses more likely to be stable than those in rest of UK: News from a parallel universe unknown to our mainstream media

Scottish Government supports economy with new business rates unique in UK

Scottish business confidence higher than in any other region of UK

Over to you, Douglas Fraser.