By Martin Kelly
An independent Scotland would be no worse off than the rest of the UK even if it didn’t have oil and gas, according to the official pro-independence campaign.
Yes Scotland has today published a document that it says shows Scotland’s economic output would still be on a par with the UK as a whole, even without revenues from the North Sea – and that’s including London’s multi-billion pound financial sector.
However, when taking into account the massive reserves still to be extracted from Scotland’s waters, the Yes campaign Chief Blair Jenkins said an independent Scotland would be extremely wealthy.
“An independent Scotland would be one of the wealthiest nations in the developed world, with the means to make it one of the fairest too,” said Mr Jenkins.
The Yes Scotland chief added: “It is extraordinary how often some people question whether Scotland could afford to be independent when the question should really be whether Scotland can afford not to be independent.
“The facts clearly show that even without taking into account oil and gas, our economic output would still be at nearly exactly the same level as the whole of the UK – and that’s taking into account London’s financial services industry.”
In an effort at seizing the economic initiative, the Yes campaign listed areas it said demonstrated the diverse nature of Scotland’s economy.
According to Yes Scotland:
- Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy and 10% of Europe’s wave power potential.
- As many as 24 billion barrels of oil remain under the North Sea, worth up to £1.5 trillion in today’s prices.
- An independent Scotland would be the eighth wealthiest of the OECD’s advanced economies in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared with the UK in 17th position.
- Scotland’s public finances are stronger than the UK’s – we have contributed more tax per head than the UK in each of the last 30 years.
- Scotland tops the UK league table in attracting investment from abroad.
- We have very successful food & drink, tourism, construction and agriculture sectors worth £39 billion a year.
Mr Jenkins accused opponents of independence of spreading “misinformation” which he described as “a deliberate attempt to scare people into voting no”.
He added: “Scotland is punching well above its weight. The question we should be asking is not whether can afford to be independent but why aren’t we doing better economically?
“Look at all the strengths we have in our economy – oil and gas, renewables, food and drink, tourism, engineering, life sciences, universities and much more. It all adds up to a prosperous nation. So why isn’t your family better off?
“An independent Scotland would be the eighth wealthiest of the OECD’s advanced economies in terms of GDP per head, compared with the UK in 17th position.
“Westminster isn’t working for Scotland. We have wealth enough. What counts is what we choose to with that wealth. That’s why Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands.”
In a mini-campaign launch today, the pro-independence alliance said that Westminster was damaging Scotland’s economy and creating an unfair society which was benefiting those at the top. Thousands of Yes Scotland volunteers will be staging more than 100 events from Orkney to Dumfries and everywhere in between to promote the message that ‘it all adds up’ in an independent Scotland.
The launch of the campaign followed a poll which indicated the majority of people involved in the renewables industry would support independence.
Over 51% of industry delegates at The Scottish Highland Renewable Energy conference held in Inverness earlier this week agreed that independence would assist Scotland’s renewable energy ambitions, with a further 11.43% undecided and only 37% disagreeing.