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They come bearing half-truths

Posted on September 09, 2012 by

The CBI Director-General, John Cridland, came north this week 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 told the CBI Annual Dinner in Glasgow on Thursday 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.

This excellent economic performance covers the period of the financial crisis, when we’ve 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, though, don’t worry – the beneficial effect of independence can also be seen elsewhere across Europe. Let’s 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% – that’s our growth rate plus half as much again.

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’s bad news for families across Scotland.

It’s 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.


A version of this post appeared previously on SNmr.

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22 to “They come bearing half-truths”

  1. Jen says:

    I think Scottish culture will benefit as well, books, films, poetry etc by being able to get heard better by the people of Scotland and of course internationally.   These people from the CBI are nothing more than unionists from the establishment doing the British Mafia’s work. 

    Egg on the their faces in 2014, is a heart warming thought.


  2. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Someone in number 10 or number 11 has pressed the panic button, don’t quite know who thought. 😀
    It seems to me that every day brings a new level of panic out of London. 
    I wonder if there is enough panic left in London to maintain them all right through to the aftermath of 2014!

  3. Silverytay says:

    The more the unionists come up from london to tell us what to do ! the more I am beginning to believe that Scottish_ Skier is correct with his scenario that everything is being sorted out behind the scenes .
    If the unionists dont know by now that being told what to do by london , drives Scots into the yes camp then they never will . 

  4. Willie Zwigerland says:

    Isn’t it just a tiny bit disingenuous to look at the growth rates of countries emerging from state controlled planned economies into open markets and claim that an independent Scotland would magically benefit from a similar higher growth rate? All a bit ‘land of milk and honey’ for me.


  5. Galen10 says:

    @ Willie Zwigerland

    I don’t think most of those listed qualify any longer as “emerging” from communist state controlled systems; the Iron Curtain feel a fair while ago now. Whilst it may indeed by right to be cautious in drawing direct parallels, there would no doubt be different issues if you chose to try and make comparisons with say Finland, Denmark, Norway, Denmark, Austria at the more prosperous end of the list of smaller countries, or Portugal, Greece at the lower end of the scale.

    As Stephen Noon pointed out, the CBI comparison used the Slovak example in the first place; that comparison is flawed in as much as Slovakia isn’t really comparable with Scotland – it was much the poorer part of the former Czechoslovakia, far more rural and underdeveloped. Scotland on the other hand is the richest part of the UK outside London and the south east. Unlike Slovakia (or indeed any of the other former communist states of east, central and SE Europe) it has abundant oil reserves, and is doing all things considered, not too bad economically given the present global crisis.

    There are remarkable success stories amongst the newly independent states, as anyone who has been to Estonia and Slovenia in particular can attest. Whilst it is true that economic considerations will obviously play a big role in peoples calculations of which way to vote in 2014, they are not the only, or even necessarily the most important factor. Unionist scare stories that the sky will fall down in the event of independence, and we will be reduced in short order to beggary, are increasingly seen for what they are.

    Neither side of the argument can “prove” that their chosen outcome will make us richer, or that the other choice will make us poorer, but it has become increasingly difficult for the forces of Unionism to to make ex cathedra pronouncements that independence = economic catastrophe, and have them taken at face value. The ruinous economic situation we now find ourselves in makes their claims of economic competence look rather stupid.

    I for one doubt that independence will result in a land of milk and honey, and solve all our economic and social problems in the short term; I am however more than ever convinced that things couldn’t be worse than they are now, and that the answers to Scotland’s problems do not lie within the current political, economic and social model of the UK, but rather within an independent, progressive Scotland, making its own decisions for the good of its own people.

  6. cynicalHighlander says:

    Willie Zwigerland
    Since we are being milked to feed bankers bonuses anything out of that corrupt system will be milk and honey.

  7. Willie Zwigerland says:

    That’s an interesting response, thanks. I would agree with much of what you say without reaching the same conclusions you do. 
    As with all things, change will incur a short-term cost compared with continuing with the status quo, and I have little patience with those who try to deny this. The pertinent point is whether the short-term cost can deliver a long-term benefit, which is where the economic debate should take place. You could make political reasons for independence even if the economic case is not conclusive.
    Whilst it is 20 years since the iron curtain came down, I have spent some time in central and eastern Europe as part of my work and our economists tell us that they expect the rates of growth in those countries to decrease in the medium/long term to be closer to the average of western European countries when we evaluate various business proposals. I’m not an economist, however I’ve never come across “independence bonus” as an concept before!


  8. Galen10 says:

    @ Willie

    Thanks; I do agree with you that it is difficult to predict whether the short term “opportunity” costs of independence will outweigh the potential costs of continuing with the status quo. I’d also agree that there are some who will try and deny there are such costs, but there again there are plenty of others who insist (with little evidence) that there are no risks in continuing with the status quo, and that there will be no benefits of independence whether short or long term.

    Such positions are hard to argue against, because they are essentially faith based positions; nobody on either side can predict the future. If you ask ten experts on any given specialisation  for their views, you will get at least 11 opinions, many of them totally at odds.

    I’ve always considered that in the end, if the Scottish people opt for independence, it will be as a result of a host of different reasons, amongst them economic, social, historical, cultural and political. Some of the motivations will be hard-headed, realistic and objective, but many will be romantic, quixotic and subjective …. and perhaps none the worse for that.

    I’d gladly endure a measure of economic hardship if it meant obtaining independence, because I truly believe that in the medium to long term it would result in better outcomes for the Scottish people. I now also firmly believe that Scottish independence would be a “good thing” for the rump UK, which is urgently in need of a through-going overhaul politically and constitutionally. I see no prospect of that happening if the status quo continues, particularly with the self-destruction of the LD’s as a third force.

    The only way rump UK can be saved form a return to the sterile duopoly of Tory and Labour (an even less appetising prospect than it was in the past given the fact both parties are so close ideologically when compared with previous generations) is for the Scots to deliver the coup de grace to deeply corrupt UK polity. 

  9. scottish_skier says:

    It is the Tories and the SNP who keep talking about independence being ‘inevitable’ (e.g. Michael Forsyth, Lord Fraser…. and of course Peter Cruddas has confirmed Tory thinking).
    Remember the Tory backbenchers who were kicking up a big fuss about the need for a fix to the West Lothian Question problem? Rightly, they were well pissed off that first Scotland stops a Tory majority in 2010 by not swinging remotely in their direction, and then goes and votes the SNP in for a second term, this time as a majority. How much of a bigger f-off sign do you want?

    And now it’s all gone rather quiet on the WLQ topic. Been successfully kicked into the long grass? Nope, not at all; the fix is no Scots MPs in Westminster come 2015. That and the boundary changes.
    The debate in Scotland focuses on Scotland, and rightly so. But there are others in this union, and they have views too. Remember those polls that have suggested support for Scottish independence is as high in England as it is in Scotland? That’ll be your right-winger vote, mostly.

    We stopped their Tory hegemony then voted ourselves in another nice left leaning government to give us things they were taking away in England. All this with two fingers up at Britain. Not only that, but they think we’re subsidised.

    On the BBC comments you have lots of those ‘well f-off then – we don’t want you anyway’ type comments? These people have representatives in Westminster sitting behind Dave and George.

    If we stay, we’ll just mess up Tory plans once again. They want us gone and they’ll support this behind closed doors, making it all go smoothly by working with the SNP. After all, Scotland is lost to them – it has been since 1997.
    Of course the Scottish Tories are out of the loop; that’s why Ruth never seems to know the UK party line. Most are probably falling for the game of charades. Maybe not Murdo – he got his foot in early with his attempt to make a real Scottish centre-right party. He will survive independence because of this.

    The Tory party was dead against devolution because they knew it would come to this. They would lose control of Scotland completely the moment the parliament opened. 

  10. James McLaren says:

    Scottish Skier
    Scotland gone, the boundaries redrawn, and the Tories are in the driving seat in rUK until Labour morph fully into a pastel version of the Tories, as they are close to now. The SE of England is where it all will be decided and with Clegg effectively dropping the LibDems into abyss it will all turn into US style politics.
    The Labour Metros want that too, their footsoldiers outside the M25 just have not realised it or, those who have are filling their sea boots before they are made redundant.

    All that is left to do is construct the Golden Bridge.
    Which hand do you want, the red pill or the blue pill. 

  11. scottish_skier says:

    “The outcome of this process is likely to be a new confederal arrangement between England, Scotland, and Wales, sharing a common currency and defence, but sovereign in most other matters. Northern Ireland is more likely to evolve links that also include the Republic, especially on economic policy and taxation.”

    I agree with George Kerevan (the article concern NI, but his final words are interesting).

    This is being worked out behind closed doors as we speak.

    @James MacLaren.  Yes, I think that’s what they are after. However, with all the other nations in ‘confederation’ running PR and enjoying that, I expect we might see pressure in England for modernisation. England is more right than Scotland, but not as right as the governments it has been getting since thatcher.


  12. sm753 says:

    “Which hand do you want, the red pill or the blue pill. ”
    That’s the only remotely sensible comment I’ve seen on this topic.
    Yes chaps, of course it’s all being sorted out behind the scenes. Keep believing that.
    (Never interrupt your opponents when they’re in the course of making a mistake, etc etc)

  13. James Morton says:

    The percentage of English who want the Union ended is so high because they have come to believe that they pay for everything in Scotland. It’s a point I have made before, and it is one that seems to get missed. This is largely down to the Tories, who have created the myth of the recalcritant and ungrateful Scot…dependent on benefits and the state, and unwilling to embrace change…stubbornly refusing to embrace the free market. It goes down very well with the party faithful..we’re too tribal, we have a biased media, we are anti-english. It allows them to shrug off their failings and to keep coming at us waving the same old flag and making the same old arguments.
    If it were true then could you blame them? – but then if it were true who among us would want independence. If it were true, the English would be voting to end union..we’d be campaigning to stay in. This is the true dilemma for the Unionist camp…they can’t use the term Union, and they can’t bring themselves to make a case for Scotland staying in Union; that underlines what we as a Nation have contributed and continue to contribute. They fear that it would strengthen the case for Indy…they also know it undermines their campaign of uncertainty and fear. So they are trapped by a tory myth used to explain the tories failings as a party in Scotland.
    The thing is that the Tories never needed a Scottish vote to prop them up in Westminster…The reign of Thatcher/Major disproves that. Again another falsehood added to the myth of the mindless Tory hating Scots. The truth is their decline started in 1965 and it hasn’t stopped yet. if it were not for PR in Scottish parliament, I think it would have ceased to exist altogether as a party and the push for Indy would have came much sooner. Since Thatcher did the dirty on us by cheating us out of devolution, the Tories simply have not been able to see Scotland straight as a nation. They can’t see themselves as we see them and so they don’t change their approach or their policies. So even if there is a no vote to indy, they won’t profit from it. If it is a yes vote – they will simply tear themselves apart and become a footnote in history.
    Labour – they of all have the most to lose in this. We have been propping up these worthless fools for far too long and the shine is beginning to fade. They have been so used to our support they have developed a sense of entitlement to it that simply beggars belief. Under Blair and Brown they sacrificed too many principles and their core values. They did this to remain electable in the south…in other words they decided they had to be like the tories to stay in power. Thats why you saw Blair and Brown have tea with Thatcher. Alistair Darling boasting about being worse than Thatcher. Light touch regulation, attacking the working poor and being the absolute worst when it came to protecting MPs expenses. Scottish labour are slowly losing Scotland. Scottish MPs are scared that if Indy does come they lose their careers and generous salaries. Within that prism, they are increasingly unable to see Scotland straight either. They certainly can’t see Salmond or the SNP straight, which is why they focus so much of their energies attacking AS personally and defining Scotlands place in the Union in such stark negative terms. So they too have boxed themselves in, albiet for different reasons.
    The Lib Dems – proved to Scotland some time ago wihen they formed a coalition with Labour back in 1999 – that they will sacrifice any deeply held principle for the sake of a seat at the top table. Anything they have to say can be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. They have deluded themselves so much they can’t see the arsekicking being set up them…a righteous smack down that would make God wince.
    I want Scotland to become the master of it’s own house. Will it be milk & honey – of course not – no one is that silly. Will be a disaster? Of course not – We contribute a great to the UK…on our own, I believe we can achieve great things…a Roosevelt said
    “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men. Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing”

  14. Bill C says:

    Stephen this is an excellent post as is your previous piece “The arc of recovery”, the problem is that this sort of information is not reaching the Scottish people.  I have been saying for the last few months that we have to get the truth out to the general public in Scotland.  Like many I suspect on this site and other nationalist sites, I like a pint in my local on a Friday evening, which is enjoyable, but I am not getting the feeling that my fellow socialites are being inspired by the thought of independence.  If truth be told, I am regarded as a bit of an odd ball for bringing the subject up!  Now hands up, that might just be me and perhaps my presentation of the subject is less than inspiring, but I have the distinct impression that the limitations of Craig Levein and the Scotland team are stirring the masses more than a YES vote in 2014. Early days I know and we don’t want to peak too soon, but I really think it is time for the YES campaign to up the ante to combat the incessant negativity of the unionists and their compliant Scottish media.
    Sites such as this are brilliant, but I really think they are speaking to the converted, I would argue that that it is time to go on the offensive. How that is achieved? I leave to you and the innovative minds of the YES campaign.
    All the best.
    Hail Alba.

  15. scottish_skier says:

    Let’s say Scotland narrowly voted ‘no’ in 2014 due to promises of devo max.

    Well, that would mean in the 2015 GE a load of Scots MPs turning up at Westminster again, with the potential to block a Tory majority for a second time. The Tories make good gains from the boundary changes but once again are stopped from having a majorityby Scots MPs….

    Worse than that, it’s not 40 odd Labour MPs, but 40 odd SNP MPs; which the polls suggest could well be the case, particularly if they had said ‘well, vote for us and we’ll get you devo max or take Scotland out of the union’.

    Imagine that. What a headache for Westminster. Hell, the SNP might even hold the balance of power. Aaargh!

    Would all go down really well in the true blue shires. Bloody Scots have done it again!  

    Nope, this will be sorted in 2014 (vote for independence/sovereignty within a currency/defense confederal UK, i.e. what will get 70% of the vote as it looks just like devo max) to ensure 2015 is a Tory-Lab battle for the rUK alone.           

  16. Silverytay says:

    Scoop it has an article from scottishrepublic eu that almost backs up what you have been saying for a while .
    It basically concludes that Scotland,s best chance of getting more powers will come from the old etonian,s at westminster .  

  17. scottish_skier says:


    Yes, everyone is talking about Labour being the ones who should be offering a new constitutional relationship (devo max) with the UK. However, they lose the most with this, hence will not support it. Holyrood was never meant to be anything more than a talking shop to them with Scotland sending its 40 Labour MPs to Westminster for all time.

    Everyone thinks the Tories would never give Scotland more powers. Well no, they would not when Scotland did not have its own parliament (the power to decide its own future). That’s all changed now and while they have something to lose (revenues/control over northern britain), they have a lot more to gain than Labour (no Scots MPs stopping their majorities in Westminster).

    After all, Scotland will not be ruled by a Tory majority in London – this is crucial. The last time that happened, the polls showed a solid majority yes to independence (at the time of the devolution referendum). And look what happened when the Tories returned just ‘partly’, leading a coalition in 2010. A Scottish independence referendum….          

    We will all be voting in 2014 of course, but for something that looks like devo max (excel) to all intents and purposes, albeit with sovereignty clearly with Holyrood. A new confederal relationship within the £ and defense zones…

    The Tories will pretend to be against this, but then come out and ‘save’ the UK with (already agreed) confederal proposals just at the right time I might imagine. George was already hinting at these the other day. He even said that this would not be ‘real independence’. Clever, as that will help the nervous vote yes….

    A lot of fun to speculate on such matters.    

  18. velofello says:

    Kate Higgins, on the radio, put it quite neatly I thought.  A Yes vote is for independence, a No vote is for Devo-max. Meaning that the status quo will not be acceptable to the Scots nation. So a negotiation. as Scottish Skier notes, behind closed doors to define and commit to a Devo package for the undecided before the referendum does seem to be a solution beloved of politicians.

  19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Kate Higgins, on the radio, put it quite neatly I thought. A Yes vote is for independence, a No vote is for Devo-max. Meaning that the status quo will not be acceptable to the Scots nation.”

    That’s monumentally dangerous thinking. The Unionists are playing hardball on more powers, insisting – not unreasonably – that if Scotland votes to stay in the Union then the UK Government will decide what powers it does and doesn’t get. If they stick to that position, and they’ve left themselves very little wriggle room on it, then a No vote is a vote for the status quo. The Scottish people, if they meekly accept that, will have neither legal nor moral grounds to demand more powers, and I can’t see them getting any. What possible motivation is there for Westminster to give any up voluntarily in those circumstances?

  20. scottish_skier says:

    Agreed Rev stu, but I’m content that’s not what is going to happen.

    There is no chance the Scottish Government would stand idle and let people think they’re getting devo max with a no vote.

    They will only ever promote a consitutional situation where Scotland becomes undoubtedly sovereign. This could look a bit like devo max ‘excel’ though, which is what it seems to be increasingly the case.

    I’m happy that this is not their idea alone, but Gideon’s too. Some may think this a little fanciful, but it makes a lot more sense to me with respect to the behavior of the London Tories over the past year, and of course Labour’s increasingly headless chicken type behaviour.

  21. velofello says:

    Rev Stu, I agree, dangerous thinking. Through my career I’ve had numerous experiences of Perfidious Albion so I do not trust them one iota.
    However Westminster has a two years  opportunity to propose and implement a Devo-package. Not an undertaking to implement following, but before the referendum “to save the Union”..
    i’d call that the acid test. Do you want to maintain the Union? Then place your Devo proposals and timing to implement on the table now.
    Should Westminster prevaricate then surely the undecided would then have a clear understanding of why to vote Yes.

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