THE UK economy unexpectedly ground to an abrupt halt in the last quarter of 2001, snapping a 10-year run of unbroken growth.
DESPITE all the pro-business rhetoric, the prosperity of our country is under threat from the policies of the Labour government in Westminster and the Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition that forms the Scottish executive. The worrying signs are there for all to see - over 20,000 jobs were lost in Scotland last year and growth in Scotland has been far weaker than in the UK as a whole. The most recent figures for GDP growth show that Scotland is teetering on the brink of recession.
RECENT concerns about the performance of the Scottish economy are valid and there is much to be gained from a debate of the issues. However, to borrow Christopher Harvie’s warning, we should try and avoid the stereotypical Scottish response to problems personified in Private Fraser of Dad’s Army: "We’re a’ doomed, I tell ye!"
EVIDENTLY 2001 was by no means a vintage year for the Scottish economy. We will not have a full picture of economic performance for many a moon yet, but it would certainly appear that output growth has been significantly slower than in recent years and that Scotland under-performed in a UK context.
SCOTTISH entrepreneur Charles Skene has said Scotland is "anti-industry, anti-entrepreneurial and risk-adverse culture" and claims it is holding back the economy.
FINANCIAL services seems a surprising candidate for a public policy initiative. As one of the fastest growing areas of the Scottish economy, it does not seem to need any help. Indeed, over the past six years, it has grown five times faster than other sectors in Scotland - better even than the overall UK financial sector has achieved.
WITH once-impregnable institutions facing the fact they are no longer resistant to the vagaries of the wider economy, traditional banks are being provoked into strenuous belt-tightening procedures to succeed in the tough new environment.
WHICH economy combines the third most quoted academics per head in the world with the fourth lowest GDP per capita in the EU? Scotland, of course.
ASK any pub, office or living room in Scotland to name you a famous Danish industry or product and you’ll get the same result: "Bacon, butter and beer." Denmark is a nation of five million people on the geographic edge of continental Europe and with a national economic profile that would appear to extend only to food and drink products. Yet it is now the seventh richest country on earth in terms of wealth created (GDP) per head.