They come bearing half-truths


By Stephen Noon

The CBI Director-General, John Cridland, has come north to tell Scotland we shouldn’t be independent.  He has every right to do so.

But what he has no right to do is use half-truths as the basis for his scaremongering.

I hear that Mr Cridland will tell the CBI Annual Dinner in Glasgow tomorrow night that the “immediate effects [of independence] would be profound, and in the short term costly. When Slovakia separated from the Czech Republic, it cost the country four per cent of its GDP in the following year.”

But what Mr Cridland won’t tell us is what happened next. In the years since independence economic growth in Slovakia has averaged 3.5% each year, compared to 1.9% for Scotland. Their growth rate has been almost double that achieved here. And that extra growth has a direct benefit for ordinary Slovak families – benefits like higher wages, more jobs, higher standards of living. You might call it the Slovaks’ independence bonus.

And this excellent economic performance covers the period of the financial crisis when we have been told it was better for Scotland to be part of the bigger UK. In fact, the Slovak economy only contracted for 1 year during the crisis, compared to two years for the UK and for Scotland. And over the past two years of recovery they have enjoyed growth rates of 4.2% and 3.3% compared to 1.3% and 0.4% here. You won’t hear the CBI talking about that!

In case you thought this story only applies to Slovakia, don’t worry the beneficial effect of independence can be seen elsewhere across Europe.

Lets take the countries in the EU that became independent in the early 1990’s (Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Over the past 20 years, the average annual economic growth rate for these six newly independent nations has been 2.9% – thats our growth rate plus half as much again. And remember, more growth means more jobs and opportunities, higher family incomes and a better standard of living.

So don’t believe CBI Director-Generals when they tell you Scotland should be happy with our lot. More of the same may suit a CBI boss in London and Tory ministers at Westminster, but it is bad news for families across Scotland.

It is time for something different. There is a better way forward for Scotland. We too can claim our own independence bonus as we use our huge resources, our own tax base and our fantastic international reputation to drive forward our economy and deliver the fairer and wealthier nation we all know, in our hearts and in our minds, that Scotland should be.

This article first appeared on the author’s blog and is republished here with kind permission.