Size matters

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SNP activist Alex Orr seems to believe (Letters, 31 August) that if only Scotland had control of the levers of power a successful Scottish economy would automatically follow. What fatuous nonsense this is.

North Korea and Zimbabwe have independent governments with powers beyond anything that Mr Orr’s party could possibly imagine and a population that is actually starving.

Even in the advanced world, the Irish Republic and many other countries too numerous to mention have had control of the so-called levers of power and yet are regularly bailed out of bankruptcy with monotonous regularity.

In fact, the whole of Latin America, most of Africa and large swathes of Asia are ruled by independent governments and juggling about with the fiscal levers has arguably not benefited their economies one whit.

This isn’t to say that fiscal control isn’t beneficial; obviously it can be but only when the underlying economy is in good shape. Fiscal controls alone are insufficient.

And this leads us to the flaw in every Nationalist argument which Mr Orr and his ilk never mention: it is, of course, the matter of size. It is a fundamental law of economics which applies to companies and countries alike and that is that big is better.

The world’s most successful economies are the largest countries around and have large resources, advanced technologies, plentiful capital and are based on access to large markets.

When did Ireland, Greece, Iceland or Norway for that matter last build an aircraft carrier or indeed anything bigger than a wee ferry boat? As long as Scotland has been in the UK the Scottish people have enjoyed all the advantages of large size.

And by far the most successful Scottish businesses are those which are fully integrated within the British economy as a whole. Only in areas where Scotland is completely independent – football, for example, are Scottish clubs far less prosperous than their southern counterparts.

Scotland’s leading clubs are never out of England trying to borrow English players, chiefly because they can’t afford to buy them on longer contracts.

The truth of the “levers of power” promise is on a parallel with what Scots would get from waving a fairy wand: wishful thinking, nothing more.

Robert Veitch

Paisley Drive

Edinburgh

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