Wednesday, 5 September 2012

They come bearing half-truths

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.


  1. While I agree with you to a certain extent, you must remember that when Slovakia became independent it had just come out of communism. Much of the economic growth after this time can be attributed to its emergence from communism. Thus, to compare Scotland to Czechoslovakia is not a good comparison when thinking of our prospective economic growth.

  2. When telling the truth means demolishing your own argument (in this case for the union) you have no alternative to resort to half truths and downright lies.

    Messrs Cameron and Osborne have now told us on several occasions that the uncertainty of a two-year wait for a referendum will weaken the Scottish economy. It hasn't.

    And we were recently informed by Ian Smart (I recall)that there was no guarantee that Alex Salmond wouldn't declare a one party republic, rule by diktat, and force us all to learn Gaelic!

    I guess we all knew that they would play dirty.

  3. Individuals representing the CBI like John Cridland should be much more wary of confusing their personal views with the interests of their members. Businesses operate in countries with all manner of governments. A democratic Scotland has no fears for those anxious to invest in Scotland at the present time and who are well aware of the aspirations of the present Scottish government. More to the point it would make more sense for John Cridland to question the present policies of the UK government and its confusing objectives that have created the demand deficiency in the UK which Scotland can not completely break out of with the present limited economic powers


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