Norway proves independence can help increase living standards
By Stuart McDonald
Today George Osborne is launching a treasury paper which asserts that ending Westminster government ‘could’ jeopardise 4% (or £2,000) from household incomes in Scotland over the next 30 years.
The ‘analysis’ has received an extraordinary amount of coverage given that the Treasury routinely fails to predict what’s happening to the UK economy from one year to the next.
To borrow the words of one commentator, “it is a struggle to think of any organisation – public or private – that has got so many things wrong during the past decade or three, nor one so adept at shifting the costs of misjudgment on to others”
But what is probably most galling for many people is the fact such ‘analysis’ is being launched by a Chancellor who has presided over the biggest fall in UK living standards for decades, and one of the biggest falls in living standards in the EU.
Instead, Yes Scotland offers unambiguous evidence that a fully empowered small, independent country can drive far more significant improvements in living standards than George Osborne could ever dream of.
Figures from the House of Commons library, derived from the OECD, show that in just 21 years (from 1990 to 2011) mean wages grew in real terms in Norway by 60%.
Over the same period UK wages grew at half the rate achieved by the Norwegians.
So while Mr Osborne offers a speculative 4% over 30 years as a union dividend, an independence dividend of 30% over 20 years wins hands down.
We’re not offering any promise that we can repeat every aspect of Norway’s powerful economic performance after a Yes vote.
But what we are saying is that small independent countries with the power to match their own economic policies to their own needs and priorities not only can succeed - but can thrive.
We can and will do better with a Yes vote.
Time and again the Westminster machine and Westminster politicians trot out the same tired rhetoric about how there is an almost sacred advantage in having London economic policies rolled out across the whole of the UK.
But there’s a growing rejection of one-size-fits-all policies not just in Scotland, but in other regions of the UK. Because while Westminster economics might suit parts of London and the south east pretty well, the fit for many other parts of the UK is a very poor one indeed.
With independence, we can have economic policies which are tailor-made for Scotland - policies which will deliver real rises in living standards, not just in Treasury analyses that aren't worth the paper they are written on.
Economic forecasting is far from easy. But the UK treasury has a particularly poor record.
In 2009, Chancellor Alistair Darling forecast growth in of 3.5% in 2011. In fact it was just 0.7% - so 80% out. It might seem easy to criticise in retrospect, but even at the time experts were warning that the Mr Darling’s forecasts were “totally unrealistic” and “fantasy”
Under George Osborne, the Treasury’s crystal ball has remained equally ineffective as he badly misses meeting debt reduction targets in his ruinous attempts to get the UK deficit under control.
MPs have warned that high staff turnover is threatening the ability of the treasury to manage public spending effectively.
As one commentator has said:
“It is a struggle to think of any organisation – public or private – that has got so many things wrong during the past decade or three, nor one so adept at shifting the costs of misjudgement on to others”.
The goal of good quality and well-rewarded employment is at the heart of the independence debate and is why more and more people are moving towards a Yes vote.
A new and better path forward for Scotland has been set out as the Scottish Government unveiled Scotland’s Future, its vision of an independent Scotland, in Glasgow today.
I got involved in Unison as soon as I began working in the public sector. Prior to that, I was in Unite and USDAW - simply because I've been brought up to believe that, wherever you work, you should be a member of a union.
Never has the contrast between the two campaigns been so starkly illustrated as over the last week or so. On the Yes side, the Scottish Green Party launched its “Green Yes” vision, and the Scottish Government published its Economic Case for Independence. Both speak of the possibilities for transformational change offered by independence.