Scotland is being held back under Westminster control

Scotland has a fundamentally strong and prosperous economy, one that can compete with, and outperform, countries of a similar size in Europe and across the world.

However, as the GERS stats that are released show, Scotland’s economy is being held back by Westminster and by a Tory UK government that has dragged Scotland’s economy down for too long. Scotland is treated as an afterthought at best by Westminster

We have all lived in unprecedented times in the past 18 months, but what the pandemic has demonstrated is that independent countries have the ability to adapt and deal with crisis situations – something Scotland would be more than capable of doing as an independent country.

Countries the same size as Scotland have been able to adapt and implement measures to protect both public health and jobs. However, Scotland has been unable to do that, and we face the prospect of people’s jobs being under threat as the furlough scheme winds down and families being potentially plunged into poverty as the Tories plan to cut Universal Credit.

Scotland continues to be dragged down by a Westminster system that sees the UK lagging far behind our European neighbours in a wide range of socioeconomic league tables.

On measures of equalitypovertypensions and productivity the UK comes near bottom every time, whilst other countries in North West Europe such as Denmark, Iceland and Finland continue to be some of the best nations in Europe on the same measurements.

Scotland can perform as well as our European neighbours, but we can’t whilst we are still shackled to Westminster.

The UK will continue to slide even further down these tables as the impact of Brexit continues to be felt by people and businesses across Scotland. Recently, figures show that our food and drink sector has taken a massive hit, EU sales plummeted by around half in the first three months of 2021 to a 10-year low, while earlier this month it was revealed that Brexit is costing the whisky industry £5 million per week.

Scotland is a powerhouse when it comes to renewable energy. Scotland currently produces more electricity than it needs, making enough for a surplus to be exported elsewhere. But that is another industry being held back by the Tories as they impose punitive transmission charges which unfairly penalise producers in Scotland.

Brexit has also affected Scotland’s workforce, with initial evidence suggesting a decline in EU nationals working in Scotland, with potentially negative consequences for the hospitality, agricultural and meat processing sectors.

Scottish universities have seen substantial declines in numbers of students and research grants – the UK Government’s decision to withdraw from the Erasmus Plus exchange programme ends our participation in a scheme that has helped transform the lives of thousands of students, schoolchildren, teachers adult learners and young people.

Whatever today’s figures show, GERS does not represent the finances of an independent Scotland – it shows the situation now under Westminster control.

And, as we seek to recover from the economic crisis of the pandemic, it is more essential than ever that we have independence to maximise our potential and to create a more prosperous and fairer society.