Economics of Independence Westminster Mismanagement

5 reasons Scotland would thrive as an independent nation (updated)

Scotland is home to a unique combination of assets with which to build a prosperous and wealthy nation.

Medium-sized European nations such as Norway, Denmark, and Sweden are among the most prosperous countries in the world, well ahead of the UK.

Scotland shares many similar economic features with these countries, highlighting the immense growth potential of Scotland.

There are 5 vital contributors to growth and development in a country. These include natural resources, a skilled population, access to trading markets, well-functioning products and sectors to trade with, and a supportive financial services system. Scotland possesses all of these in abundance, suggesting the country’s capability to boost its economic growth.

With independence, Scotland would have the ability to become a more prosperous nation, holding the power to create bespoke and sustainable economic growth strategies.

1) Prosperity Requires: Natural Resources 

Scotland is a Resource-Rich Country. It has enviable levels of tidal, wind and wave energy, and has become a world leader in the development and deployment of renewable technologies. For example, Scotland holds the world’s leading wave and tidal test centre, the European Marine Energy Centre, in Orkney. Scotland also has several competitive advantages in offshore wind, such as:

  • Established expertise and experience in offshore oil and gas
  • A skilled offshore workforce
  • Excellent port infrastructure
  • A strong innovation hub

Scotland’s advantage is evident, holding 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal resource. Due to such developments in offshore wind, the amount of renewable energy generated in Scotland increased by 6% between 2017 and 2018. This output of electricity is the equivalent of powering all homes in Scotland for more than 2.5 years. This increase was largely driven by offshore wind projects, off the country’s east coast, coming on line last year and the continued build-out of low-cost onshore projects.

Evidence of Scotland’s advancements within the renewable sector can be seen across the country with figures showing that between January and June 2019 wind turbines provided enough electricity to power the equivalent of 4.47 million homes for those 6 months. This electricity could power all the homes in Scotland and most of those in the North of England. This is a 113% increase since 2016, when wind turbines were able to supply the electrical needs of 87% of all Scottish households, equivalent to 2.1 million homes. Scotland’s technological capacity, as well as geographic location, makes the country an ideal centre for renewable energy.

Despite the headlines stating that renewable energy in the UK is flourishing, there has been a huge decrease in support from the UK Government and great confusion surrounding future investments. This has led to a “dramatic and worrying collapse” in green investment. In 2018, annual investment in clean energy was at its lowest point in a decade. This downward trend can be linked to decisions made by the government in 2015, particularly its withdrawal of support for onshore wind. With a group of MPs referring to onshore wind as “inefficient and intermittent”, the Conservative party made a manifesto pledge to remove subsidies from new onshore wind projects. This decision was made by Westminster without consulting either the industry or the Scottish Government first. This demonstrates Westminster’s power to ‘pull the plug’ on Scotland whenever they wish, despite the detriment to Scotland’s economy and future as a greener nation.

North Sea resources, if organised in a manner that benefitted the people of Scotland, rather than just companies would contribute to building an economically stronger nation. However, recent progress has been made. The SNP has pledged to create a Net-Zero that aims to generate £1bn to contribute to the North East’s economy. This will allow for oil and gas tax revenues to be ring-fenced in the fund and invested in the North East of Scotland.

Scotland is among the largest sea fishing nations in Europe, with Scottish fishing vessels landing around two-thirds of the total fish caught in the UK. Scotland has vast fishing stocks and is considered one of the richest seas in Europe, with 20% of the EU’s fish coming from Scottish waters. The country also has a vast amount of clean, fresh water and beautiful landscapes which contributes to its thriving tourism sector.

There are very few countries in the world with such a diverse range of valuable natural resources, and as a resource-rich country, Scotland has immense potential to boost its economic development.

2) Prosperity Requires:  A Skilled Population 

One of Scotland’s most valuable resources is its people. With successful universities (4 in the world’s top 200) and colleges, Scotland has a capable and educated population with boundless potential. Scotland has the most educated people in Europe, with 47% of the population, aged 25 to 64, having a university, college or vocational qualification. This is 4% above the UK and 15% above the EU average. Universities and colleges in Scotland produce high quality research and teaching. This has resulted in Scotland welcoming over 50,000 students from 180 different countries every year, demonstrating its desirable education system, top class universities, and excellent reputation.

However, with Brexit, there is a risk that studying in Scotland will not be as attractive to international students that contribute immensely to Scotland’s economy.

Investment in education is a long-term investment in the wealth of a country, which Scotland has a strong foundation to build on as an independent nation in the EU.

3) Prosperity Requires: Access to Trading Markets 

Scotland is well placed for trade. It has a strong trading relationship with countries across the world, especially the United States, with an estimated £5.5 billion of exports from Scotland in 2017.

Most of Scotland’s exports (60%) go to the rest of the UK. This is due to the fact that successive UK governments since Margaret Thatcher have sought to maintain a strong pound to support the financial services sector (mainly based in London). This has forced Scottish business to trade more with the other UK nations as other countries have not been as able to afford Scotland’s exports. Consequently, many Scottish-based manufacturing businesses were put out of business and those that survived were forced to focus on UK trade rather than establishing trading partnerships across the world. However, Scotland holds great potential, with extensive services and access to trading markets, to increase international trade and rapidly expand its exports to the European Union (assuming membership) beyond its 40% (of international exports).

In terms of trade with the USA, the EU and with the rest of the UK, an independent Scotland, with membership of the EU single market, would be in a strong position for further future expansion. An independent Scotland would have the opportunity to maintain a good partnership with its neighbours, however, decrease their dependency on the UK by increasing international exports.

4) Prosperity Requires: Excellent Sectoral Clusters and Products  

In the 21st century, Scotland will compete on quality within the global economy. Countries such as China and India and other comparatively low wage economies will produce the cheapest goods. Therefore, Scotland must focus on output that cannot be reproduced. Fortunately, Scotland already has a substantial number of globally renowned sectors and products that are popular in the global market.

Scotland’s strengths in areas such as whisky, life sciences (biological and medical), research and development, renewable energy projects, electronics, textile design and the games industry are competitive advantages in growth sectors. Improvements within these fields have created economic benefits such as Scotland’s Gaming industry which grew by 27 per cent in 2016-17, with direct and indirect revenues of more than £170 million. The Edinburgh-based, Rockstar North, also succeeded in making their game, Grand Theft Auto, one of the best-selling video games ever.

An independent Scotland has the ability to expand on this and boost industries in Scotland by creating an environment where small and medium sized businesses can prosper.

5) Prosperity Requires: Extensive Financial Service Systems 

Scotland has many institutions that can handle large scale financial projects, expansions and investments. Outside of London and the South East of England, Scotland is recognised internationally as the most important financial centre in the UK.

The financial sector makes a positive contribution to Scotland’s economy as a whole. This is accomplished through its direct economic impact from financial services and also its employment. Currently, the finance and professional services employ 161,000 professionals, and 290,000 students are studying for future careers in this sector.

With the Brexit deadline approaching and the campaign for a second independence referendum underway, an independent Scotland within the EU is becoming an attractive hub for financial services, as many businesses may need to relocate from London. With the attractiveness of the location, cultural similarities, language, existing highly devoted skill sets, lower costs of living and wages, and the fact that office rents are massively cheaper in Glasgow city centre than in the city in London, it is unsurprising that Scotland is becoming more and more popular amongst financial and business services.

Although Business for Scotland acknowledges the importance of a financial sector, it would be important for an independent Scotland to also consider prioritising other sectors, such as manufacturing. That way, the Sterling will not be kept too high to solely support the finance sector.

Prosperity Needs Independence

Scotland is almost unique in the developed world, holding all the ingredients that contribute towards the creation of wealth, without actually fully enjoying the benefits of it. Other medium sized European countries have used their strengths to become prosperous and successful countries. Scotland has this opportunity too.

Yet, Scotland still lacks the final factor for economic success: self-governance.

Independence would allow for decisions on trade, industry, social security, defence and immigration to be made in Scotland’s interest.

Westminster isn’t working, and this has become more apparent with the chaos surrounding Brexit. With independence, Scotland will have the powers to improve the economy and create more jobs for the benefit of Scotland and the people of Scotland. That is why Scotland would thrive as an independent nation.



Test your knowledge of Scotland’s economy!


About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland Gordon ran a business strategy and social media, sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and Believe in Scotland.


  • As a German born Canadian who has (pre covid) travelled often throughout Europe on business as well as guest lectured at the University of Edinburgh and also in England, Ireland and Germany this article is of some interest. Scotland, while substantial smaller, has many similarities to Canada. The subject of Canada joining the USA has come up countless times over the last 200 years and each time been wholeheartedly and emphatically rejected by Canadians. I see Scotland’s relationship to England in a similar light to Canada’s relationship with the USA. The largest trading partner, but still free to enter into free trade agreements with other nations that mutually benefit all parties concerned. Canada has free trade agreements with the USA, Europe, S. Korea and others. Why not the same for Scotland? England seems to be incredibly desperate to keep Scotland in the UK. Why? One gets the feeling that without Scotland, England would be worse off which can only mean that Scotland is propping up England more than the reverse. Canada is doing very well, thank you, without being a part of the USA. I see the same for Scotland.

  • It’s dawning on me (an Englishman) that Scottish Independence could lead to 25 million English people begging to be let in. I too dream of independence from Westminster. Good luck and I hope you win your freedom.

  • The only reason why I would set foot on that island again is Scotland and an independent Nation, the way it should have been many centuries ago. I would go to Scotland, a Nordic land with a unique culture that has been oppressed for centuries. NOTHING good can come out of an English government. The UK fairy tale is slowly dying, karma is hitting hard and fast; this is the BEST time to finally become Scotland, the country. Go Nicola!

  • If the SNP started to be half honest with the scots this whole independence project would be dropped. I imagine actually winning and independence vote would be Nicola Sturgeon’s worst nightmare. I can straight away think of at least ten huge problems she has no control over – but still keeps Alex Salmond’s matra going, “Trust us it will be all ok eventually”.

  • Independence outside EU would be better. Fully free to go and do as we please. No one to answer to. I think Scotland would do better outside both unions. Both are corrupt and waste of money. Eu allows mass invasion of Muslims and now you terrorist attacks all the time. The uk government has a snobby elite class with monachy who live off taxpayers.

    • Ok, I am not a mathematician, or a monetary expert , but , if for example a company like Nissan in Sunderland who employs over 7,000 people direct, and 13,000 people indirect has to pay Tariffs For material coming from the EU , and tariffs for cars being sold into the EU would survive in todays economic climate , surely a business minded company would consider moving lock stock and barrel to a country like an independent Scotland in the EU, with the same skilled workforce with no tariffs, and many more likewise industries,

  • Before Scotland could ‘thrive’ it would have to deal with a £15bn deficit. This would necessate raising taxes or implementing austerity measures. Our deficit to GDP ratio is the highest in Europe and the EU would insist this was drastically reduced before Scotland could join the EU.

    Why oh why are the figures (GERS) signed of as accurate by the Scot govt consistently ignored in the debate? Is that because they make the prospect of an independent Scotland a less than attractive proposition?

    The article contains no facts. It is naive and addresses none of the economic arguments for Indy. I can only deduce this is a deliberate omission, because the economic case has well and truly collapsed.

    • “Why oh why are the figures (GERS) signed of as accurate by the Scot govt consistently ignored in the debate?”

      Uhm, for the very simple reason they show nothing other than Scotland’s fiscal position as dictated by our current status as part of the UK Union controlled by Westminster. There’s also the rather important fact that it is Westminster that is solely responsible for every penny of the deficit, as they amass it in our name through spending on reserved matters, which we have no say or control over. The worst part of it is that very little of that money makes it over the border as much of the spending takes place in London and the South East of England.

      Great for them, with the added bonus of all the trickle down benifits that will result from having all that cash while us mugs are shafted with the bill.

      Away and learn some facts for Christ sake and stop peddling unionist BS!

    • The ScotGov never get to control debates or UK media stories. That job sits mainly with Unionists. So i guess you have to be contemplating the answer to your own question from a British Nationalist & Unionist perspective to realise the facts.

      There’s one very good reason they try and avoid raising GERS in “debates” because it speaks only for Scotland under Westminster’s control within devolution. It has absolutely *zero* bearing on an independent Scotland fully in charge of all its own financial levers etc etc.

      Jeeeeze-oh! If you actually knew anything about politics and finances, which your post clearly demonstrates you don’t, i’ve a strong feeling you’d be quite embarrassed and ashamed of what you posted. A bit like Chris Downing at the very top of this btl thread stating nonsense about “10 big problems” but when politely challenged by GMK to reveal the 10 problems poor Chris was never heard from again. If you listen very carefully you can still hear his footsteps running further away 3 years later.

  • The above can be realised but only if scotland controls monetary aswell as fiscal policy. A currency and central bank is a necessity.
    This talk by Prof stephanie kelton I think hammers home the need for a sovereign currency..

  • Interesting article , reminds me of many such at the time of the last referendum

    Your premise and chart to support “5 Reasons why Scotland would thrive as an independent nation”

    stems from the link which cites the UK as in the top ten countries in the world , with NZ top , and Norway, Canada and Australia , ahead of us.

    Assuming the data collated was based on the UK average,amongst 65 million people, and Scotland in the UK is already a very nice place to live, Indeed the envy of many in the Uk with free education and a superior health service.

    I would reckon Scotland already is a tad above the UK average, so Scots are already in the top ten and your proposals might raise the bar , but whether anyone notices is debatable.

    You mention “20% of Eu fish stocks in Scottish waters”, Scots fisherman have already voted to come out of the EU , are there wishes to be ignored .

    Point 3 regarding renewables, is questionable one , as whatever happens constitutionally in Scotland the wind will still blow and the tide will come in every day.
    renewables are improving in capacity, but they still need a subsidy and will continue to do so.

    What I would like to read is a practical plan that can be put into action today and will involve utilising the resource that Scotland has aplenty, the self-sacrifice and diligence of its patriotic people.

  • I have to say that while ON shore wind power is one of the lowest cost methods of electricity production, lower than coal, oil, gas or nuclear, OFF shore wind power is one of the most expensive.

    OFF shore is even more expensive than the much criticised, and rightly so, Hinkley Point fiasco.

    Furthermore, the OFF shore project, when completed, will be several times the capacity of Hinkley so that is the additional cost to the UK public, by whatever means which is going to be levied. Significantly more than it would have been if Westminster had generated it by simply developing ON shore in England.

    We are talking about something like £40 billion pounds over the lifetime of OFF shore EXTRA money for electricity that the British public would have to absorb either through tax, domestic electricity bills or higher priced goods manufactured in the UK.

    And the higher price of UK manufactured goods, especially those of course where high amounts of electricity are required in their production will have knock on effect for exports.

    England could generate the equivalent capacity simply by raising their ON shore capacity to similar levels as all the other Western European countries like Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Germany,Sweden Spain etc.

    It really is a matter of utter astonishment that Westminster should have embarked on this OFF shore project while their country, one of the best potential ON shore resources, remains virtually untapped.

    It is not the English NIMBYISM which is unique, all countries with ON shore wind farms have plenty of NIMBYs as well, it is rather the level to which Westminster has been willing to accomodate English anti ON shore NIMBYISM which is exceptional. Something which Europeans unacquainted with the ‘Green and pleasant land’ mythos find bewildering. One described it as: “It is like being Saudi Arabia and refusing to drill for oil”.

    So let us not be quite so enthusiastic about OFF shore wind production, even if Scotland, like Germany, is getting close to ‘using up’ its ON shore resource.

  • I can fully understand that the rUK will not be able to order ships from Scotland if we become independent, so why do the Westminster governments order maritime vessels from South Korea? One more point, ship building in Scotland will not die a terrible death if Scotland becomes independent, as the Scottish defense will need to be supplied with what ever vessels and armament that will be needed to secure our shore and land installations.

    • It depends on what ships a Scottish Government orders, if you ordered similar vessels to the Irish navy for patroling Within the 200 mile limit , those are currently being built by Babcock at Appledore for around 70 million pounds each. I know the Royal Navy has downsized considerably over the last 20 years, but i do not think the Scottish Governments order book would be large enougth to keep BAE systems yards open on The Clyde.

  • I may go off on a tangent here but we constantly hear about how the shipbuilding on the Clyde is reliant on MOD ordering aircraft carriers and frigates. If we seperate then England cant order their ships from a foreign country in Scotland according to them. What I find strange is why are we not selling more of these ships to our NATO allies. Surely it is good business sense to take orders from elsewhere as these ships are deemed to be the best in the world.We sell all the other weapons made here,to anyone who wants to buy them. Is there a reason as it doesnt make great business sense

    • The UK does order ships from foreign countries – the way they word it is that they have never ordered a major battleship… that is true but they don’t order too many major battle ships any more! Navel protection vessels have been ordered from other countries and the replacement for Trident possible the biggest military contract ever awarded will go to America.

      Anyway the Professor of Maritime business at Napier University says independence likely to boost ship building.

      I ask you to consider over the last 30 years – has the union protected shipyard jobs on the Clyde?

  • Rachel, your words echo my words of a couple of years ago.

    However, if you delve into the annual GERS figures, ONS figures, Treasury figures over the past five years, then a decade and further back you will find your assertions above are based on nothing but politically strategic nonsense we have all been fed for decades.

    I fell for it and within a few days of rolling my sleeves up and researching for myself I was angry at having been so naive all this time.


  • The emphasis on “big finance” seems rather at odds with the advocacy of the strength of “smallness” (the wealth of small nations, etc). There seems to be some evidence that big finance is not very good at supporting the small scale. Scotland’s future economy depends on strengthening local economies and communities and big finance may not be what we need. See this interesting report from Co-operatives UK on “Ultra Micro Economics”:

  • These points are true, but then the same all applies to the UK remainder should it be a yes vote.

    And why is having large fish stocks a boon? A developed economy cannot be such by having a large agricultural/primary sector.

    I think Scotland could prosper as a sovereign state, but then it’s virtues as listed here are no different to other current advanced economies.

    • I think the authors point is that so many people seem to be saying that for some reason Scotland can’t prosper!

  • resources such as nucléaire coul

    Nucléaire energy

    should,we consider this as a viable option to energy consumption&exportation ,could an indipendant SCOTLAND fortake such an endevour,as a serious player on that stage

    • Have you not read the thing correctly?
      He has just stated on how Scotland as a whole don’t want nuclear energy because it pollutes the atmosphere + oceans. Scotland will have the money to get rid of them, it can be proven that s and Scotland can be even more wealthy due to the rich mineral s and all the oil. lets not forget the whiskey industries! There is a reason why Scotland is needed in the uk for England and that reason is money. just accept that Scotland can thrive without the uk and get on with your day.

  • Rachel,

    The only restructing required to our public service funding is to repatriate the funds we tax payers in Scotland pay to the UK Treasury to fund things which we do not support or need as a country.

    At best the UK is guilty of benign neglect. Its focus is on the metroplitan south. The only big ticket items the UK government spends in Scotland is Faslane whereas huge public funds are used for Crossrail and HS2.

    A Scottish government will have the focus to invest in big ticket projects like the Lower Clyde to develop it as a global port. Thats sort of development is required to mark a sea change in our fortunes. Singapore has done it, and we must follow. Second city regions in most of northern Europe are flourishing global ports with a quality of life far greater than most of out folk have. Serious money has been invested in these ports and they are deriving the benefit. I think you need a bit more confidence in your self and your peers.

  • […] An independent Scotland will have a unique combination of economic assets to build a prosperous and wealthy society. Medium sized European nations like Norway, Sweden and Denmark are among the richest countries in the world well ahead of the UK. Scotland shares many similar features with medium  […]

  • This is all well and good, but focusing upon the dream ideals would make any nation potentially the wealthiest. This article also bases a lot of this on the current state of Scotland’s market and finance – with no surety that Scotland would be part of the EU and with a lot of the financial backing which allows free university tuition and healthcare, amongst other things, a independent Scotland would have to restructure the entire welfare system in line with (at least initially) reduced income/finance.

    This article is a bit naive if its thinking this will be the case any time in the next 50 years.

    • A bit of a rosy picture but none of what the article says is lies .. everything is there and the FACTS can’t be disputed.

    • Rachel I’m confused! Pray tell. Whose financial backing is paying for our free education, free prescriptions and the likes?

    • Glass half empty attitude, never helped.
      I sincerely hope that your attitude on your own life isn’t similar and your ambitions are still alive.
      Otherwise yours is a pretty miserable going, I feel for you.

    • Dear Rachel

      I have my own business that manufactures and exports to 50 countries so I hope you accept my experience on this. The article is not naive.

      In 20 years the union and its overseas embassies has done nothing, repeat nothing for my business to help us export and to employ people.

      This morning I just returned from Dubai and I challenge you or no voters to visit the oil producing countries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Quatar, Brunei, Norway. I can assure you that we live like pigs, yes (PIGS) compared to what these countries have done for their people yet we are much richer than some of them.

      The talk about currency and finance is absolutely garbage. My business trades in any currency the customer wants to pay us in and as long as it’s money that we can take to the bank we accept it.

      Let me give you an example, you have your own kitchen installation company and you give me a quote to install a new kitchen for £10,000 and I give you the contract. You finish the work and I say Rachel, sorry I don’t have £10,000 pounds but here is the same value in Euro or dollars, are you going to refuse it?

      Project fear are lying to our people through their teeth. I have invited many of them to visit my company and not one of them have accepted, so I’ll make you the same offer.

      If you or anyone from the no campaign visit my business and show my staff (not me)one tiniest thing that the union has ever done for us I’ll give you a job at £40,000 per year or I’ll make a large donation to project fear.

      One last thing, not one single company will leave Scotland if we vote YES, they will only leave if its not economical.

    • Hi Rachel,

      With facts being made into dreams, I guess you’re already a No voter. I hope you can make it to the Yes side.

      Meanwhile, the No Campaign are dreaming of hanging onto Scotland’s wealth in order to keep the UK afloat.

      Good luck.

    • Every silver lining has a cloud!

      I read your post several times and found nothing based upon fact (in contrast to the article).

      Stating something does not make it fact by either campaign but your statements are devoid of any evidence.

      It is very likely that the EU membership would be fast tracked. We have been members for 42years and align with all conditions.

      What financial backing for free university tuition?
      The Scottish budget will be stronger and more able to afford these choices. You make the assumption that we will continue to spend as per the Westminster model. If we do need to borrow then even at a higher interest rate it will still be lower in real terms than the false allocation of share for debt interest on money not spent in Scotland as at present.

      You must be the only person alive with the confidence to state the economic condition of any nation for a projected period of 50 years.

      To suggest the article is naive in a post devoid of any constructive assessment is an insult to the author AND to other readers.

      Once again we have a well constructed arguement laid out in an article attacked by…”you just can’t”

    • If Scotland can be deny Eu membership that means all Eu citizen living in Scotland must get visa applications for them to live in.So do you really believe Eu countries want that?

  • Hi There,
    I think it can be safely said that the Oil wealth we could have had has been squandered and it is important that we invest or spend the remaining amount wisely.
    My question relates to our potential renewable energy resources; what would you like to see to happen once this is underway? Can a renewable energy fund be set up and are there any estimated figures as to how much this could be worth?

    Many Thanks and keep up the great work

    Best Wishes,


    • There is one other reason that almost everyone forgets and it’s simple and it’s also a huge reason the UK will fight toth and nail to keep control of Scotland
      Location Location Location
      Scotlands access to the North and the permission to travel our waters and airspace would have to be asked for by the UK and they wont like the idea of that much, they’re not used to asking for stuff especially from us poor wee useless articles up here in Jockland

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