The hard evidence that it’s great being Scottish – leader comment

Edinburgh has been ranked as the sixth best city out of 42 in the UK, based on ten economic and social factors (Picture: Jane Barlow)
Edinburgh has been ranked as the sixth best city out of 42 in the UK, based on ten economic and social factors (Picture: Jane Barlow)
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New report finds Scotland’s largest three cities outperform rest of UK on four out of ten economic and social factors.

Given the interminable debates over Brexit and independence, a decade of austerity and the rise of far-right forces across the world, modern life can sometimes feel a bit depressing.

So, occasionally, it’s a good idea to remind ourselves that the country we live in is wealthy, peaceful and democratic.

According to the World Bank, the UK has the 24th highest GDP per capita in the world – just ahead of Japan and France, but well behind Ireland, in 6th, and the US, in 8th. The UK also has one of the lowest murder rates on the planet at 1.2 per 100,000 in 2016, compared to 5.35 in the US and 82.84 in El Salvador. Democracy and the rule of law are firmly entrenched.

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Now the Good Growth for Cities Index – drawn up by think tank Demos and professional services giant PwC – has revealed that Scotland’s three largest cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, are outperforming the rest of the UK in terms of income, jobs, skills and environment, four out of ten economic and social factors that the experts considered.

David Brown, of PwC, says Scottish cities “are in a stronger position today than prior to the financial downturn, and that is thanks to the country having continued to invest in jobs and skills”.

The report wasn’t all good news, finding a widening gap between earnings and house prices and that the health of the three city’s residents was either average or below average. However, overall, Edinburgh was ranked sixth out of the UK’s 42 largest cities and Aberdeen was ninth. Glasgow was in mid-table at 25th after a rise of two places.

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This doesn’t mean we should forget or gloss over Scotland’s problems, like the fact that almost half the children in central Glasgow are growing up in poverty or that a higher percentage of Scottish pensioners live in poverty than the UK average. In fact, the opposite is true, it should act as a call to arms to ensure that more people share in Scotland’s relative good fortune. Democratic politicians on the left and right will argue about how this should be done, but the aim is still the same.

The SNP argues Scotland would do better if it was an independent nation; Unionists insist the reverse is true. But, for one day at least, both camps can surely unite in recognising that this is a good country to call home and that being Scottish is a pretty good thing to be.