How can we revive the Scottish economy?
This debate is part of Battle of Ideas Edinburgh, a day of debates at the National Library of Scotland. Full details and tickets here.
The independence referendum featured ferocious discussion of the prospects for Scotland’s economy. While the Yes campaign talked of a bright future for Scotland as smaller nation within the EU like Denmark, the No campaign launched ‘Project Fear’, claiming that a post-independence Scotland would be forced to introduce austerity as the North Sea’s oil reserves dwindled. As it happens, income from the oil fields has already collapsed as the price of oil globally has fallen.
But is oil really the issue? Scotland has a modern, developed economy, but like many others in the Western world, it has stagnated in recent decades. The post-war economic boom is a distant memory. What will drive economic growth in the future? Among the candidates are renewable energy, new technology like biotech and a further development of financial services, already a big employer in the capital – or perhaps something new is just over the horizon. Moreover, how can such a new economy be brought about? Should we look to government economic and industrial strategy or cut taxes and reduce regulation to ‘let the market flourish’? How will Brexit change things? Or is there now too much ‘deadwood’ in the economy, with a bout of ‘creative destruction’ required to clear the decks for renewed economic growth?