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Scottish Independence: Weighing up the Economics

Scottish Independence: Weighing up the Economics [Kindle Edition]

Gavin McCrone , Magnus Linklater
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Product Description

In autumn 2014 those living in Scotland will face the most important political decision of a lifetime. Whether Scotland becomes an independent state once again, as it was before 1707, or remains within the United Kingdom will have profound consequences for everyone in Britain. There are many issues involved in this important choice, but a key part of the debate centres around the question of whether Scotland would prosper more or less after independence. How well off are we? Would we have a faster or slower growing economy if we were independent? What currency would we use – the pound, the euro or a new currency of our own? What should our energy policy be? There are those who would like to see a more egalitarian society, like Scandinavia, with a reduction in poverty and deprivation; would we be likely to achieve that? Would we continue to be in the European Union but with Scotland becoming a member in its own right? Is that right for Scotland and what problems might that involve? In this impartial, clearly expressed and thought-provoking book, economist Gavin McCrone addresses these, and many other, questions which are of vital importance in the run up to the referendum.

About the Author

Gavin McCrone has studied, written and lectured about the Scottish economy over a period of many years. For over two decades he was Chief Economic Adviser to successive Secretaries of State for Scotland. He was successively head of two Scottish Government Departments - the Industry Department for Scotland and the Scottish Development Department.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Gavin McCrone was for 20 years Chief Economic Adviser to Secretaries of State for Scotland. He is now Professor of Economics at Edinburgh University Business School. He writes, “This is not a book beholden to either the independence or the ‘Better Together’ campaigns; its purpose has been to set out the issues for both independence and a greater degree of devolution so that people can better understand what would be involved before voting.”

Scotland’s output per head has recently improved compared to Britain as a whole. Its public spending per head has been above the British average since at least the 1960s. The Scottish government’s figure is 14 per cent more in 2011-12 for identifiable spending only (that is, excluding defence, national debt interest and international services). Scotland’s revenues roughly equal its population share of Britain. All this produced a Scottish deficit of 5 per cent in 2011-12, which is unsustainable (even including a geographical share of North Sea revenues).

North Sea oil production peaked in 1999, gas in 2000: both are now at less than half their peaks. North Sea revenues were £6.5 billion in 2009-10, £8.8 billion in 2010-11, £11.3 billion in 2011-12, and £6.5 billion in 2012-13. The GDP from oil and gas includes profits going to foreign oil companies.

He notes, “Oil & Gas UK announced in April 2013 that production is expected to increase to some 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent compared with 1.5 billion in 2013. This follows a big increase in investment by the oil companies, notably BP in its Claire Ridge project, a major field that should be in production until 2050. Nevertheless, over the long term, the decline in output of both oil and gas is expected to continue at a gradual rate, despite these developments.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good presentation of economic issues. 25 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This review is of the 2nd edition of the book, published in early 2014, but late enough to include mention of George Osborne’s intervention speech in Edinburgh.

During the past 6 months I have read a fair amount in the media and another book on the topic of the referendum on Scottish Independence (Arguing for Independence by Stephen Maxwell); in addition, I have thumbed through and read sections of the Scottish Government’s White Paper, ‘Scotland’s Future;’ which incidentally, you can obtain for free online or by writing in to request a hard copy from the Scottish government.

Unlike some books on the subject, McCrone claims to present an unbiased assessment of the pros and cons of Scottish Independence viewed through the lens of an economist. McCrone’s credentials for this task are excellent, since he spent a large part of his career as a civil servant in Whitehall briefing on economic issues concerning Scotland, followed by an academic career as a Professor of Economics at Glasgow University and more recently at Edinburgh University’s Business School.

Also, whatever McCrone’s personal politics, I should not pay too much heed to reviews that claim he is a mouthpiece for Westminster and/or Whitehall Conservative interests keen to push the Better Together Agenda. This certainly does not come out in his writings, either in this book or in other articles I have read by McCrone in the past few years on this issue. The conspiracy theory about the ‘secret’ McCrone report back in the 1970s does not hold water, since this was an internal government briefing paper (which are often confidential) and as he himself points out in this book, at the time he was acting as Chief Economic Advisor to the Scottish Office and was duty bound to keep it confidential.
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By Stepas
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I felt I needed to understand the issues more surrounding Scottish Independence before the referendum and so I downloaded this book. Gavin McCrone has written an excellent, thought-provoking book. He sets out both sides of the argument and it is clear when he expresses his own personal view. As the former Chief Economist in the Scottish Office, he has a depth of information and gives in an insight into how things have changed since the 1970's.

This book is not just about the referendum. He usefully highlights what could happen if there is not a vote in favour of independence. He explains the terms Devo-Max and Devo-Plus and what their implications for Scotland would be; for example - "Devo-Max offers the opportunity for greater independence in economic policy but would probably provoke major resistance from other parts of the indendepence, it would end the social pact with the rest of the UK. whereby there is a pooling of resources to achieve equality of social provision".

As much of the independence debate revolves around North Sea Oil, he discusses it in some depth. It is interesting to know that there is no clear accepted division of these oilfields with the different parts of the UK. He discusses the various possible solutions but recognises that in the end it will be down for negotiation.

He covers Scottish financial expenditure and possible future tax policy. He highlights that Scotland would have "serious difficulty in funding its above-average level of public expenditure" unless it gets sufficient share of the North Sea oil fields. He highlights that if "personal taxation was different from the rest of the UK, there would be a risk that some people would vote with their feet and move either to or from Scotland".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read
Some excellent background information to a debate sadly lacking in facts
Published 7 days ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian
Really enjoyed this book. Well balanced, easy read which has greatly enhanced my understanding of the economic issues. Everyone would benefit from reading this referendum or not.
Published 19 days ago by Ian Buchanan
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and accessible
Excellent and accessible exposition of the underlying economic arguments to consider in grappling with Scottish independence.
Published 26 days ago by James Wildgoose
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommended... especially if you are undecided!
Highly recommended, regardless of how you're going to vote. This is about the most impartial analysis of the referendum debate I have seen so far. Read more
Published 26 days ago by A. Harsono
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Has not made me make up my mind, still undecided
Published 1 month ago by Peter Lourie
5.0 out of 5 stars The economics of Independence in Scotland
I have recommended this book to several people, especially to those who think Scotland is the poor man of the UK and depend on the crumbs from Westminster's table.. Read more
Published 3 months ago by elizabeth jackson
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential in making an informed choice.
Very informative with regard to some of the main financial implications of a vote either way. Not being familiar with much of the detail I had to read and re-read many sections but... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr Grumpy
4.0 out of 5 stars Scottish Economics Without the Political Spin
I've tried really hard to read up about independence with books written by people who will give as unbiased a view as possible. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ian Budd
4.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced read
Well balanced view on a very complex subject and reviews every aspect of Scottish Independence. The book gives a good insight into the numerous points of view, both historic and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by jimsimpson
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction
This will be a momentous decision for Scotland and if the vote is 'yes', there will be no going back. Read more
Published 5 months ago by CrazieB
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