No Matter – Yes Or No – Scottish Independence

Robert Peston’s BBC programme Scotland: For Richer or Poorer was interesting even if it didn’t reveal anything startling. His interview with the man from the Institute of Fiscal Studies was bland, but Sir Philip Cohen of Dundee University thought that we would not have access to the large pot of research money in the UK. He seemed to forget that in the UK as a whole far more universities compete for the pot whereas in an independent Scotland there would be far fewer competing and no doubt a smaller total amount of money so things might be much the same.

However nobody addressed another overriding economic factor. Europe, the UK and Scotland are all part of a declining world position vis a vis the rising nations of China, India and others. We, either in an independent state or as part of the UK or Europe, will have to raise our game very considerably and fast if our workforce is to have any chance of maintaining the current standard of living. These newer economies are producing highly skilled workforces who work for a fraction of what we in the UK expect. Our politicians talk in terms of the skills in Scotland as though they were ahead of most of the world. That is no longer true in any of the high tech industries let alone basic manufacturing. That is where the real future problems lie for Scotland and for the rest of Europe. “Better Together” suggest that a United Kingdom will be stronger economically but this problem will remain whatever the September 18th outcome.

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