The Sustainable Growth Commission was established by the SNP in 2016, to lay out a road map to a brighter economic future for Scotland. Eighteen months later, their report has put Scotland’s prosperity at the centre of political debate, economic thinking, and public discussion.
The report, published on Friday 25 May, was welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP who then announced that the SNP would hold a series of National Assemblies over the summer to debate and discuss the report’s recommendations ahead of SNP’s Annual conference in October.
“Scotland – the new case for optimism: a strategy for inter-generational economic renaissance”, demonstrates that small advanced economies perform better than larger ones, such as the UK.
They have also done well in terms of labour market performance, with relatively low unemployment. Importantly, economic gains are broadly shared across society, delivering low levels of income inequality.
Scotland already draws upon strong foundations in business, with a global reputation for innovation and a talented, skilled workforce, but we cannot be complacent in the face of increasing global competition. The report’s recommendations set a course for maximising our strengths to match the economic performance of successful independent nations of similar size.
While much political debate and economic planning is currently centred on Brexit, this report gives us the opportunity to think more positively about our economic future and reemphasises the need to look outwards, as opposed to the UK Government’s insular approach.
Overall, the Commission found that small countries have effective, responsive governments, with a well-developed sense of strategic capacity, high levels of trust and social cohesion, and the ability to adapt in response to changing international circumstances.
Based on this analysis and an assessment of Scotland’s economic strengths the report makes 30 growth recommendations which, if implemented, now and with the powers that would come with independence, would help Scotland emulate the prosperity of comparable nations.
The report is frank about the challenges Scotland faces and opens the floor for debate about whether independence is the key to addressing these challenges positively and in a way that represents Scotland’s values. By focusing on why we should consider independence and how we could use new powers to shape a stronger economy and a fairer society, the report is an excellent resource which I am confident will shape political discourse in Scotland in the months and years to come.
I sincerely hope this report will lead to discussions based on hope and ambition about what Scotland is capable of achieving, instead of the paralysis seen since the Brexit referendum, compounded by the Tory Government’s poor handling of the negotiation process, both with the European Union itself and the devolved administrations.
“Scotland – the new case for optimism” sets out an ambitious plan for Scotland and most importantly, it sets out an achievable plan. Its publication marks the beginning of a fresh examination of Scotland’s economic future and shaping a Scottish Economic Renaissance which will lay the foundations for a more equal society. It is at: sustainablegrowthcommission.scot/