Economists’ Vision for Development of a New Scottish Economy



All News Editors and Political Correspondents

For Release 1.30pm, 9 September 2013 at Media Conference in Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, Edinburgh


Economists’ Vision for Development of a New Scottish Economy

Options for Scotland and The Jimmy Reid Foundation today released a paper (attached) by economists, Jim and Margaret Cuthbert looking at what a post independence government could do to transform the Scottish economy. It takes a radical look at the type of economic policy options which would be open to an independent Scottish Government.

In their introduction, the Cuthberts make no assumptions about the political stance that could be adopted after the first and subsequent Scottish General Elections as this would depend on the manifesto of whichever political party was chosen by the Scottish people but the approach they have adopted is consistent with the Jimmy Reid Foundation concept of the Common Weal.

The starting point of the paper is that there are many, many countries with less resources than Scotland, who survive comfortably as independent nations.

Assured Viability

“We therefore take the viability of an independent Scotland as a given. What we are showing here is how the main economic levers in the UK are at present being operated in a way that is sub-optimal for the social and economic wellbeing of Scotland and while not laying out an economic blueprint, the paper demonstrates what positive steps Scotland could take to redress this situation using the powers open to it with independence.

The paper challenges those in politics, academia and public life  to evaluate what kind of society they wish to see and to set out their priorities. There are some dangers that await Scottish negotiators. They must be very careful that in managing Scotland’s relations with bodies like the rest of the UK and the EU, they do not make concessions which will impose constraints which ultimately prove to be crippling. Any choices, for example, about forming a Sterling currency union with the rest of the UK would have to be viewed very carefully in this respect.

Constraints and Opportunities

An independent Scotland must have the will and the courage to deal with other constraints it will face. In particular, it will have important choices to make about how it is to ensure that Scotland gets a fair share of the benefit from its natural and other resources. Scotland will also have to be pragmatic and opportunistic about how it responds to the uncertain course of world economic events. In particular, it will wish to avoid the risk of being damaged by any potential crisis in the rest of the UK, while being able to respond to possible opportunities, for example, for easing the transition to an independent currency.”

Robin McAlpine. Director of The Jimmy Reid Foundation said:

“This is a vision for the Scottish economy which could be built on real enterprise backed by a wealth of natural resources and in which everybody benefits, not just the few. It opens up really important questions about the ownership of the Scottish economy which have been pushed out of the political debate. We need more enterprise which is in Scotland, by Scotland for Scotland and we need to see many fewer promising Scottish businesses being bought up and shipped overseas for someone elses benefit.”

Gordon Wilson, Director of Options for Scotland said:

“We welcome this comprehensive and intelligent contribution in the hope that it will help fill the current policy void in the independence debate. Let no one say that those in favour of independence fear coming forward with constructive ideas for the running of Scotland after a YES vote. This contrasts with the silence on the part of Better Together on how they would tackle the overweening dominance of London & the South of England that is holding back economic growth in Scotland.”


Details of Authors

Dr Jim Cuthbert worked in the Scottish Office and the Treasury, and was latterly Scottish Office Chief Statistician. His research interests are in topics like utility pricing, international purchasing power comparisons, and various aspects of Scotland’s economy and public finances.

Margaret Cuthbert lectured in economics before running an economics consultancy firm, gaining experience both in the UK and abroad in the role of governments in supporting economic development. She has written widely on various aspects of the Scottish economy.