The following article is clearly a politically motivated document, with an associated agenda, however its inclusion here neither condones nor criticises it.
Dated 1992, it carries a number of statements regarding Scotland various resources. Whether or not these are true or false, accurate or inaccurate is not our concern, but we think it worthy of recording here, so it may be referred to in future years, reviewed, and compared against the actual future states, status and relevance of the statements it makes.
Poverty Amidst Plenty
A discussion paper by Alex Neil and Andrew Lumsden, printed around 1992. Source
Scotland is in a state of employment crisis with 220,000 - 8.9% of the civilian labour force - out of work compared with only 5.1% in the S.E. of England. Only a fraction of our school-leavers seeking work find any. Very few jobs exist for newly-qualified groups such as teachers and nurses. Even the most optimistic forecasts of Scotland's prospects as a region of the UK promise little relief.
This employment crisis takes place against a background of persistent inflation, falling living standards, record levels of poverty and savage cuts in public services. The Tory Govt induced recession reinforces Scotland's provincial status. Although we entered the recession laterthan the rest of the country the problem is now more severe and will be of far longer duration than has hitherto been the case.
The irony of this situation is that Scotland is potentially one of Europe's wealthiest nations - wealthy not only in the sense of per capita GDP, but wealthy also in providing a high quality of life and security for future generations. North Sea Oil has highlighted this indigenous wealth - yet it is only one of Scotland's assets and by no means the most important.
Scotland's most important assets are those which need never run out and provide the basis for sustainable development and long-term wealth creation. These include human capital, benign energy sources and food production.
Scotland's greatest asset is her people. From North America to the Far East individual Scots have excelled as innovators inbusiness, trade and industry, engineering, arts and sciences,administration, academia, politics and the trade unions. The notion that Scotland is incapable of running her own affairs within the wider union of Europe is wholly absurd.
Despite the drain of emigration - an annual net loss of 15,000 people throughout the '80s - Scotland remains a highly educated and skilled country with an adaptable labour force ready to compete in the SingleEuropean Market:
- Scotland produces three university graduates in science and technology for every two produced in England;
- a higher proportion of school-leavers enter apprenticeships than in England;
- skilled manual workers form a higher proportion of the workforce than in England;
- Scotland has a higher proportion of professional workers than in any part of the UK other than Southern England.
Hydro-electric schemes could provide between 1/5 and 1/4 of Scotland's electricity consumption. Wind power could produce three times as much. Wave power could produce seven times as much again. Scotland also has potential for geothermal and tidal power systems and is only 10% less favoured for solar power than the South of England. These benign resources will last as long as the earth does.
Scotland has one of the best climatic conditions in Europe for growing commercial timber. If Scotland had as much forestry as in other European countries, i.e. 30% of the land area or 6 million acres, we would be a major timber exporter. The timber would, at maturity, be worth some £760 million per year at current prices and up to five timesas much if value was added through pulp, paper, chipboard and furniture manufacture. There would also be a strong employment multiplier creating jobs in rural areas. With the predicted world timber shortage at the endof the century and beyond, the advantages to Scotland are self-evident.
Scotland exports quality beef, lamb, potatoes, fish and many other products. The net effect is a balance between production and consumption- unlike England which imports two-thirds of her food. Agriculture and fisheries together were worth more than £1.6 billion, while exports of Scottish whisky last year were worth more than £1.7 billion.
In addition to the renewable resources detailed above, Scotland is fortunate in possessing substantial reserves of hydrocarbon fuels and significant supplies of other important minerals:
Despite having only one working deep mine left, Scotland has physically workable reserves of almost 12,000 million tonnes of environmentally friendly coal. This is equivalent to 1000 years' consumption.
Estimated oil reserves in the Scottish Continental Shelf total more than 3.5 billion tonnes, sufficient for 400 years at present rates of consumption and worth at least £450 billion - £250,000 per Scottish household! In addition, Government revenues from taxation of oil production have already exceeded £100 billion - equivalent to more than 100 years of total income tax receipts in Scotland. A second North Sea Oil boom is now in prospect and promises even more in taxation revenue.
Scottish offshore reserves total about 1,260 billion cubicmetres, enough to last more than 120 years at current rates ofconsumption and these are worth over £88 billion.
Lothian shale fields are estimated to contain some 6.7 million tonnes of oil worth over #800 million.
Up to 600 million tonnes of peat solids could be made available when economic means of extraction and drying are introduced.
Most ore deposits in Scotland are relatively low grade, but are potentially significant if world raw material prices rise. This applies to iron ore, lead, zinc, magnesium, chromite and bauxite. Commercial interest already exists in copper, nickel and gold deposits.
Economic potential exists in Scotland for barite (usedin the oil industry and in the manufacture of paints, paper and rubberproducts), limestone, granite, potash, diatomite, brick clay, chinaclay, fireclay, fluorospar, alkali, feldspar and glass sands.
The SCDI has noted that Scotland is extremely fortunate in having deep-water ports on both East and West Coasts separated from each other by a relatively small stretch of land ideal for industrial development. The Clyde is the only industrial area in the UK capable of berthing the ships of the future, while the Forth is capable of taking ships up to 250,000 dwt. Scotland should be able to capitalise on this good fortune by importing bulk materials, adding value through manufacturing and processing, and re-exporting to Europe and elsewhere.
Among other geographical assets is the indented coastline which lends itself to fish-farming, and the mountainous terrain which ensures a rainfall very much in excess of potential water consumption. Added to this, of course, is the advantage of the general environment for bothnative Scots and tourists.
The Employment Potential
If we continue as a remote province of Europe, the Cambridge Regional Economic Review predicts Scottish growth to be lower than the UK average, with the official unemployment level reaching 332,000 by the year 2000 - 13.9% of the workforce. More than one third of Scottish manufacturing jobs have already been destroyed since 1979. Manufacturing employment which is so critical to generating wealth is predicted to shrink by a further 22.5% throughout the 1990s.
With Independence in Europe Scotland's resources can be used to achieve full employment. The SNP propose a Medium Term Regeneration Strategy (MTRS) which will
- make labour cheaper to hire by halving theemployers' national insurance contributions,
- introduce a targeted R &D programme,
- spend £100m of sectoral investment in strategic infrastructure projects,
- invest industrial aid worth £50m pe rannum,
- substantially increase resources to Scottish Enterprise and Highlands Enterprise,
- set up a Scottish Exports Unit to help business sell Scotland's quality products and services abroad.
Input-Output tables for the Scottish Economy show that the SNP MTRS would create 78,000 jobs in its first year and 35,000 in the next and subsequent years from the effects of the first year budget. Full employment would be achieved within three years.
While the UK political parties are prepared to use mass unemployment as an economic policy instrument to contain inflation, the SNP look to the experience of the successful small nations in Europe as a role model.Very low unemployment or full employment is perfectly attainable for Scotland. Ask the Austrians, the Swiss, the Swedes, the Norwegians or tiny Luxembourg which has a population smaller than the City of Edinburgh. None of these countries has the abundance of naturalresources that Scotland enjoys. Independence within the wider union of Europe is the key to unlocking our vast indigenous wealth and ending the Scottish scandal of poverty amidst plenty
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