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By Russell Bruce

Much furore has been generated by the latest edition of The Economist with its ‘Skintland’ map of Scotland as a front cover cartoon.  A series of articles inside are devoted to ‘The Economist’s view of Scotland’.

I find myself surprisingly relaxed by this representation of my country for it will do nothing to present a positive view of Unionism and any sense that we are ‘stronger together’ is blown out of the water.

The social and economic divisions between Scotland and England increase by the day, week and month.  England is now a very different country with very different values from Scotland.

England is drifting away from us at a time when Scotland is finding success and confidence in difficult times.  I have read few editorials of such poor analysis as that in this week’s edition of The Economist.

The feature is an extraordinary selection of articles put together with as much insight as a blind man stuck on a traffic island.  I make no reference to those physically blind.  There are none so blind as the sighted that cannot see.

But I will praise the Economist for producing an interesting diagram of the growth in Gross Value Added per capita for the Nations and Regions of the UK.  None of the anonymous articles in the magazine’s Scottish Independence feature bore any relation to this useful diagram produced by someone in the Economist’s back office.

Headed The ‘flying Scots’ it paints a very different picture and demonstrates under the restrictions of devolution Scotland has grown GVA per capita by 4.5% between 2000 and 2010.  It is widely understood that Scotland is the third most prosperous of the nations and regions of the UK.

What The Economist diagram shows is that we are narrowing the gap.  The South East of England economy only grew by 0.3% whereas Scotland’s GVA per capital grew by 4.5% in the first decade of the 21st century.

The source of the data is the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Worrying for most of the regions of England is the actual decline of GVA per capita in these ten years. The West Midlands lost most at -6.5% and Yorkshire and Humberside recorded -5%.

The growth on London’s GVA per capita (11.3%) requires closer examination. Serious  analysis is long overdue on how that is accounted for.  There are two London’s in more than one sense.  The present UK is a highly centralised economy with London sucking wealth from other parts of England and Wales.

The London region can be broken down into the City of London and the rest.  The economic performance of the two parts of the London region is very different.

Just how much of what accrues to the city of London in the Treasury take is attributable elsewhere?  It is not just those of us in Scotland that would like the answer to that question but many of the English regions contributing to one of the most unequal cities in the World deserve some answers too.

The Economist front cover is crass, objectionable, mean spirited and arguably racist but I have decided I like it, because it, and the coverage generated, will push up the Independence vote.

Nothing motivates the Scots more than when the London elite decide to be stupid.  Sad really because this London centric nonsense diminishes English intelligence and undermines England’s ability to see themselves as others see them.

That might be a salutary experience, but a necessary one if long in the coming.


Comments  

 
#
twinpowr
2012-04-14 12:55

The Unionist will say that, this does not mean anything, and that we are still stronger together, weaker apart. What this tells me is that this is a trend that will continue after independence, the polls are now about 50-50 by 2014 it should be about 65-70% in favour of independence, by then Scotland will be stronger financially, and with large multi-national companies pledging support to setup new businesses in Scotland, the future is indeed bright for an independent Scotland.
 
 
#
Sannymac
2012-04-14 12:56

I totally agree with the sense of this article.I believe it should be given a very wide circulation in Scotland. It would show those sitting on the fence what the “upperclass” in London really think of the Scots. This could push the Independence vote beyond the reach of the ConDemLab group of thugs.
 
 
#
Peter A Bell
2012-04-14 12:58

It is also worth noting that, within the constraints of devolved powers, the Scottish Government is pursuing policies intended to maintain positive economic metrics such as GVA where they are currently strong and extend the success of locales such as Aberdeen and Edinburgh and sectors such as oil & gas and finance into other areas and sectors.

UK policy is is a stultifying force by comparison. And so long as we remain in the union we cannot reasonably hope to be immune from the negative impact of Westminster’s ideologically driven policy agenda.
 
 
#
rgweir
2012-04-14 13:29

I have been involved in many elections in my life and I thought I had seen it all but I was wrong.The media are going in to overdrive with their negative and venomous spin(lies)I can only hope that the people of this country will wake up and see that union is broken and beyond repair.Scotland can be free of the shackles that hold it back,All it needs is for the people to enter the voting booth in 2014 with a brave heart and the belieif that we can do it.Vote Yes.
 
 
#
SEUMAS31
2012-04-14 13:47

Would be interesting to measure the surge in membership resulting from this Beano type analysis.
 
 
#
Teri
2012-04-14 14:19

I note from the chart on Gross Value Added that Northern Ireland does not seem to exist. I wonder what the reason for that is?
 
 
#
banditti
2012-04-14 14:22

What a surprise mcletchie in scotsman condemns the snp about the economist and don’t allow posts on website
 
 
#
gus1940
2012-04-14 17:37

And The Edinburgh Evening News has an item consisting solely of McLetchie’s statement – nothing from The SNP or any of the other parties.

Strangely, Scottish Labour have been silent on this Economist nonsense.
 
 
#
Early Ball
2012-04-14 22:13

There is a quote from Lewis MacDonald in the P&J.; “The Economist is right, there is a debate to be had but it is a serious one and this is not particularly funny or helpful” Obviously off message.
 

 
#
Dundonian West
2012-04-14 14:35

SKINTLAND 3 short,easy to understand paragraphs.
Scan it,print it, whatever,–get it round the doors/letterboxes.
THIS is EXACTLY how many Scots see themselves—-told repeatedly by the UK owned press that we cannae dae it.
We’ve woken up now,and YES WE WILL with money to spare in the Scottish Treasury.

bellacaledonia.org.uk/

Apologies if I sound bossy,but this is the typical sleeping Scot.
I was one.
Wake them up!
 
 
#
clootie
2012-04-14 21:45

Be as bossy as you like – shout it from the roof tops – wake up Scotland!
 

 
#
Callan
2012-04-14 14:44

So Scotland, the South East and London were the only “regions” to show growth and somehow the economist presents this as a negative and attacks Scotland’s economy and finances. Perhaps a better article would have been “Scotland doing well in spite of wealth-creation schemes being focused on London”. To all the doubters out there look at our position and imagine if we had full control of our spending and were able to spend money on extending Glasgow’s underground instead of London’s tube or on our own high speed train line instead of the London to Birmingham line. Not to mention the billions being spent on a nuclear weapons programme that means less money for homes, businesses, transport and other wealth/job creation schemes that add not just short term but long term value value to our economy and GDP. It makes me sick that we might be able to in a couple of years and end up so much more than what we are now. Lets keep fighting for the choice of wealth creation or subdued to keep London rich.
 
 
#
Davy
2012-04-14 15:30

Why is their nothing about this article from the “Economist” mentioned in either the BBC and STV web – sites.

Does this come under the usual BBC’s mantra for not allowing comments on Scottish political blogs, or is it something as simple as they agree with the content of the article and see nothing newsworthy about insulting Scotland.

I am a bittie surprised that the STV have not reported the reaction that the article has generated, I thought better of them.

Remember tell everyone about this insult.

Vote Scotland, Vote SNP 1 2 3
 
 
#
gus1940
2012-04-14 17:42

In, I think the 60’s, there was a song titled 123 which if I remember correctly went along the lines of ‘123’ followed by a pause followed by ‘It’s easy, like taking candy off a baby’.

Could The SNP not use this with new lyrics ‘123, SNP, It’s easy——–‘
 
 
#
Legerwood
2012-04-14 18:13

Tempting fate – BIG time.


May 3rd elections are local elections and people will want to focus on local issues such as COSLA saying the rural schools are not important to the well being of ruralcommunitie  s. According to a report in Today’s Herald COSLA have made a submission to a Scottish Government consultation about rural schools and closures of same.

Now that will really set the heather on fire in local elections.
 
 
#
mato21
2012-04-14 19:31

They are so local Labour feel it necessary to bring in the Big Guns ???? on second thoughts that could be the water pistols

dailyrecord.co.uk/…/…
 

 
#
Legerwood
2012-04-14 18:15

Davy 2012-04-14 15:30

STV covered it on their 5 pm News broadcast tonight. Have not looked at their web site but do not think BBC has anything on theirs yet.
 

 
#
Andy Anderson
2012-04-14 15:49

I agree with Russell. As soon as I saw that insulting cover I was delighted.
Of course it was an insult and racist, and far removed from the truth; but it is doing two things.
(1)It reinforces the blind prejudice and arrogence of the English unionists for all to see; and
(2)It will move the Scots strongly towards independence, and those who were doubtful or hesitant about it will be pushed into taking a positive stand on independence.
So I am pleased with it.

Well done Economist could you display your ignorance and arrogance like this some more please we are still looking for recruits.
 
 
#
oldnat
2012-04-14 21:56

“English unionists”

More accurately “British unionists”.

Not only is London the centre of the British establishment, it really doesn’t represent English interests – but their own.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that those constructing the map had Scottish, Irish Welsh (or a variety of other) origins.

What they all have in common is that they have bought into the idea that the ruling British elite is better than anyone else, and sneering at the “little people” is part of the normal set of attitudes of their class.
 

 
#
cokynutjoe
2012-04-14 16:09

“Treasure Island’s” author Nick Shaxson, a “must-read” for everybody, the BBC steer well clear of the subject.
treasureislands.org/…/
 
 
#
Dundonian West
2012-04-14 16:27

Following 300 years of the Union,and THIS is STILL happening.
Not a ‘one off’,it’s a sample of the continuous denigration of ALL the people in Scotland.
I have personal pride,and that you’ll never take away from me.
Thanks,but no thanks.
We’re going,and the sooner the better.
 
 
#
Dál Riata
2012-04-14 18:03

Two days on and I’m still perplexed by that Economist cover. Perplexed, because I find it hard to get my head round the whole crass stupidity of the whole thing!

Okay, the inside articles relating to the cover ‘story’ were stuffed full of the usual negative, smearing rubbish, but this is now the norm from London-based publications, and thus is not unexceptional.

However, that cover…?

I presume that a meeting was held to discuss that week’s output, design and layout. Someone (who?) made the decision to have on their magazine’s cover a mock-up of Scotland as “Skintland” with areas and placenames within to be altered to relate to the theme …and it was followed through on..! Eh? I just don’t understand the thought processes that went on there.

Was it meant to be ‘light-hearted’, ‘amusing’, or just plain ‘funny’? (Fail!)

Was it meant to be deliberately provocative, (Success!)

Was it done deliberately to create a reaction spurring people on to buy their magazine and visit their website (Success!)

Or, was it done without any malice aforethought and just sheer ignorance? (Sigh!)

I don’t know what the hell it was ‘supposed’ to be, to be honest. It would be good to hear what the editor has to say about it, though I doubt that will happen!

So then, is this the pro-unionist’s slowly transforming itself into a melange of bile that will make them all seem indistinguishab  le from each other, from the Mail to the Economist and those in between?

Well, hell mend them. They are helping to boost the number of Yes votes each and every time.
 
 
#
jurist
2012-04-14 22:51

Crass stupidity – that’s some amount of stupidity lol. I agree.
 

 
#
Wee-Scamp
2012-04-14 18:49

A very good piece here by Fraser Nelson of the Spectator.

spectator.co.uk/…/…
 
 
#
Barbazenzero
2012-04-14 20:08

Thanks for the link. A thought provoking article indeed. Pity about the comments, though – same old, same old.
 
 
#
oldnat
2012-04-14 20:27

While it was interesting, I always find it surprising that those on the “UK right” (including Labour) never include shrinking spending on WMD and aircraft carriers in their wish to reduce the size of the state.

Scotland could reduce its deficit significantly, by having defence expenditure appropriate to our needs.
 
 
#
clootie
2012-04-14 21:46

A key point oldnat
 

 
#
macdoc
2012-04-14 21:02

Yes, although I completely feel that Scotland’s best future both economically and socially is as an independent nation, its an article I can read and either have a friendly argument with the author and/or agree to disagree.

If Scotland was treated as an equal partner in the union, given full fiscal autonomy, much more than a population % share of UK parliamentarian seats. (Just look at the far from perfect EU parliament and how the smaller nations have proportionally the loudest voices per capita, en.wikipedia.org/…/…) then I feel people who are proudly Scottish could also feel proudly British.

This would never be my opinion and I doubt the vast majority of Scots. guardian.co.uk/…/…
I would much rather have a Scottish olympics team etc representation at the EU, UN etc and for international and Defence policy to be made in Scotland.

It would be the start of a sensible debate and the identity that people most associate with would prevail. However reading the comments on this particular article we can see that open and honest debate will never be granted because the Unionist media know what nationality the people of Scotland identify with.

Even an ardent conservative and unionist columnist tells his readers that Scotland is not subsidised and would be a wealthy succesful nation yet still argue with bile and venom. These people are beyond help, its a virtuous human attribute that admits to being wrong and humble in the process. Unfortunately these ZEALOTS will never admit they are wrong no matter how much evidence is shown. Rather than admit there mistaken views, like creationists they cling onto any bit of misinformation and twisted statistic in the vain attempt of saving face.
 

 
#
Legerwood
2012-04-14 19:10

I think CH4 news is about to talk about the Economist issue.

Nicola being interviewed and doing well.

The Economist was asked to comment but had apparently declined.



O/T but interesting article in Herald about Mr Cameron announcement about an investment in Scotland on his current tour and the fact that it was first announced in 2010 by the SG.

heraldscotland.com/…/…
 
 
#
J Wil
2012-04-15 00:18

You can see the Channel 4 news if you google their web site. The news is shown in video and its even broken down into shorter pieces with the ‘Skintland’ article at the bottom of the list. They have, it seems, cut out the remark about the Economist refusing to come on the programme.
 

 
#
Mac
2012-04-14 20:08

This story has been featured in many regional, national, UK, European and international news outlets, but not, repeat NOT on the BBC.

Why is that?
 
 
#
Legerwood
2012-04-14 20:28

Week-end? Skeleton Staff? Not important? BBC does not do ‘advertising’ as in cannot mention a magazine?

Now you can re-arrange the above to compose the reply the BBC would send to the letter of complaint you were going to send off but cannot find a stamp for it because there is a national shortage.
 
 
#
curley bill
2012-04-14 20:57

The Economist front cover was shown and the story was mentioned en passant on the BBC’s Breakfast programme this morning.
 

 
#
pictic-1
2012-04-14 21:04

“Why is their nothing about this article from the “Economist” mentioned in either the BBC and STV web – sites.

Does this come under the usual BBC’s mantra for not allowing comments on Scottish political blogs, or is it something as simple as they agree with the content of the article and see nothing newsworthy about insulting Scotland.

I am a bittie surprised that the STV have not reported the reaction that the article has generated, I thought better of them.”

The fact is that the Economist has inadvertently brought to the attention of the wider public that Scotland is not only able to “scrape through” somehow, but is in fact actually competing head-to-head with London as the premier region of the UK.

AND this in spite of a wave of negative media presence as well as English party ( it’s the only way to describe the unionist block) politics.

SLAB and the other also-rans have understood the dynamite behind the “Eco” article – so what do they do – keep their trap shut …!
 
 
#
Legerwood
2012-04-15 00:38

PICT-1
STV ran an item on the Economist front page on its early evening news bulletin and included an interview with Nicola Sturgeon.

Ch4 also ran a piece on it and Nicola Sturgeon was again interviewed during the item. The Economist was apparently invited to take part but declined.
 
 
#
pictic-1
2012-04-15 01:33

Legerwood

Quoting Legerwood:

PICT-1
STV ran an item on the Economist front page on its early evening news bulletin and included an interview with Nicola Sturgeon.

Ch4 also ran a piece on it and Nicola Sturgeon was again interviewed during the item. The Economist was apparently invited to take part but declined.



We foreign ammbassadors, myself living near Frankfurt, are not always up-to-the-minute when trying to receive the news from back home. It is however great to hear that the media is actually reporting the story and not burying it …:-)

NNS gets top marks for the way they get the news out.

 

 
#
rapid
2012-04-14 22:30

If you need a bit of cheering; google “economist skintland” – this story is being covered worldwide. You can’t buy this kind of publicity.
 
 
#
Anagach
2012-04-14 22:37

I dont subscribe to the Economist, a tad too free market evangelical, and a tad too right on social issues, but I buy it quiet frequently to read on the plane or train. Perhaps no longer.
 
 
#
oldnat
2012-04-14 22:42

O/T Party Election broadcasts.

For those of you have missed these delights, the Beeb has them available

www.bbc.co.uk/…/2012

SNP – www.bbc.co.uk/…/b01dd1mt

SLab – www.bbc.co.uk/…/b01fq5ck

LDs – bbc.co.uk/…/…

SCon – bbc.co.uk/…/…

Real gluttons for punishment can also see the PEBs for English, London, and Welsh local elections!

SLab do seem to have improved their technique a bit, but the LD and SCon ones are woefully dated! Party leader and activists, appearing to tell us how wonderful their party is, will persuade no one.
 
 
#
tartanpigsy
2012-04-14 23:19

Hi Folks,
I hope its all OK to post this link . A good retort to The Economists wee “faux pas” the other day, [in the Scottish Times – edited by NNS Mod Team]

been working down south and just had a good after work discussion with an old mate who is old school labour about where Scotland is going on its current path, He was pretty open to it all and realised how much opinions in the South are press manipulated.
 
 
#
tartanpigsy
2012-04-14 23:36

So I can mention Scottish Times but not post a link to an article there???

What is the difference Mods, surely either its OK or its not??

[Legal issues – NNS Mod Team]
 

 
#
Boris Broon
2012-04-14 23:28

Kevin McKenna will be appearing soon with his latest contribution to the world of comedy. I reckon he may be a double agent.
 
 
#
Marga B
2012-04-15 00:29

Unfortunately the easy answer to this graph is “Scotland needs the UK (and its money) to do so well”.

See Scotsman article:

“It is not possible for the Scottish Government to orchestrate a visit without the help of the UK government,” Mundell said.

“David Cameron has just been in Japan. The idea that John Swinney would make a greater impact than David Cameron is preposterous.

“Last year, when Alex Salmond was in China, he got access to levels of the Chinese government that were only possible because the British government facilitated it.

“It just isn’t realistic to think that Scotland could do better if it was on its own. It is a really good deal for Scotland. You are getting to promote Scotland, but on the back of the global links that the British government has and the British government’s ability to open doors for Scotland.”

End of SG’s reply: “People in Scotland are reminded that the only remaining role of the Scotland Office is to talk Scotland down.”
 
 
#
ButeBhoy
2012-04-15 00:50

oldnat@2012-04-14 22:42 – ” SLab do seem to have improved their technique a bit”

Typically demeaning themselves, attacking SNP policies – is improving their negativity ?

Taking one vitamin B pill a day from middle age could protect your memory as you grow older

Read more: dailymail.co.uk/…/…
 
 
#
oldnat
2012-04-15 01:04

Read what I said. I was talking about their technique in reaching out to the uncommitted voter.

The SNP do that best, Labour are trying to catch up. Though not there yet – as you point out, they can’t resist negativity – where in my post did I suggest they were “improving their negativity”?

Indeed, what meaning is there in the phrase “”improving their negativity”? SLab have always been past masters of that art – and much good it now does them!

The Tory & LD broadcasts are simply dire – locked in a 1990s time warp.

If you can’t understand the point of a non-partisan post commenting on the methodologies parties use, then I genuinely feel sorry for you.

I’ll decline taking advice from anyone who provides the Daily Mail as their source of information!
 

 
#
Hing em high
2012-04-15 01:06

Does that London figure take account of the direct and indirect Westmincer govt subsidies that it gets?
 
 
#
oldnat
2012-04-15 01:12

I don’t think it will.

Wiki briefly describes Gross Value Added as

GVA + taxes on products – subsidies on products = GDP.

One of the main “products” of London is governance [mainly of England], and that
is heavily subsidised. Subsidised both by the devolved nations and by the English regions outwith the SE.
 

 
#
Hing em high
2012-04-15 01:39

“The growth on London’s GVA per capita (11.3%) requires closer examination. Serious analysis”

It certainly does since most Brit govt Depts dont seem to know what they are actually spending then how can they arrive at any remotely honest figure.
 

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