Economics of Independence

Scottish independence and the new Enlightenment


 This article is part of our Vision for Scotland series, where business for Scotland members share their ideas for a better Scotland in order to stimulate intelligent debate and discussion.

old mapScotland becoming an independent country represents an opportunity that goes way beyond just transferring a few powers to Holyrood. There is a far larger opportunity, that takes the form of an emerging global trend that Scotland can only really take advantage of as an independent country.

There is a growing realisation that environmental sustainability, and a fairer distribution of wealth and opportunity should be far higher up the global political agenda. This trend is driven by fears around climate change, rapidly growing social inequality and resultant social and health problems in western society. In the UK this is also coupled with an emerging realisation that the London and finance centric (neo-classical) economic model followed by successive Westminster Conservative and Labour governments has failed, for all but a privileged few. 

Add to this the fact that governments seem impotent in the face of the economic problems that their own misguided monetary and fiscal strategies have created, and we have a rapidly growing requirement for a new enlightened approach to the creation of business, social, environmental, economic and monetary policy.

Some people are starting to call this trend a new global enlightenment. Recent technical changes such as the arrival of the mobile phone, the internet, even cable TV have been disruptive but what if the human race as a whole was considering a new way of thinking – of understanding the interconnectedness not just of economics but of humanity and the natural world?

It’s still hard to define, especially as an economic school of thought, however, there’s one thing for sure and that is that the Thatcherite/New Labour economic addiction to growth at any cost, wasn’t worth the cost.  

As always, recessions disproportionately impact on those who are less well-off in society. But could all of that damage be worth it in the long term, if it acts as a catalyst for Scotland to embrace the new business, economic, social and environmental enlightenment as a newly independent nation?

We need to ‘think big’, we need to raise the level of debate across the country.

Even a cursory, unbiased examination of the facts demonstrates that the British state has not worked in Scotland’s favour in my 46 years and it is hard to see how it ever will again. Fortunately, though, there is a positive alternative to more of the same and the perpetual cycle of greed-driven boom and bust.

The Nordic economies, in particular, are benefiting from a series of small, incremental improvements driven by a focus on localising and extending democratic involvement, improving quality of life, health, well-being, happiness, community and environmental sustainability and, crucially, a fairer distribution of wealth. Admittedly Nordic taxes are marginally higher but pensions are also massively higher and fully funded and economic growth is strong.

This provides stark contrast to the unreformed economic policies that emanate from the City of London, policies that have not only led to recession but that have, during the reign of the last Labour administration, seen the gap between the richest and poorest in our society widen to reach record distances. This makes Britain the second most unequal European nation, behind only Portugal.

The Nordic model shows us the way that small, independent northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark, are thriving, while larger countries such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy are struggling to keep their heads above water.  

Indeed, small economies work better in terms of the global quality of life index. The seven small independent European countries that are most similar to an independent Scotland are in the top 11 of the global quality of life index. Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland are in the top ten and Finland is at number 11.  The UK sits in 21st place, also lagging well behind Ireland and Iceland in wealth per head (GDP) despite those two countries being described as having ‘basket case economies’ by some unionists.

On only a few occasions in history have global events and conditions aligned to facilitate an opportunity for societal improvement, namely, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

This is one of those occasions.

Are we really in danger of failing to take advantage of the biggest opportunity ever handed to a nation in modern history because we listen to scare-mongering and head-in-the-sand economic denial, from politicians that we would never elect as an independent country. Independence isn’t just about politics or economics it is about starting afresh and awakening a nation, beginning to understand where we stand in the word and the positive impact we can have upon it.

The choice is simply to remain part of a political union that offers nothing but a fading memory of successes from the past – or to see Scotland emerge as a leader in the modern enlightenment just as we were in the Enlightenment of the 18th century, and to design a country for a sustainable, fairer and more just future.


Further Reading:

The Nordic countries: The next supermodel – The Economist

Sir Tom Hunter launches new enlightenment series – Strathclyde University

Support Business for Scotland, as we convince the business community of the benefits of voting Yes in 2014 – Read More


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.


  • Yes – thinking big is so much needed, to rid ourselves of the chains of a failed economy that is corrupt in itself.

    English people too require their independence as they struggle to-day as they have done for years to uphold the same failed system.

  • I would add to my previous comment that a spiritually-led method of working as the Mondragon system backed by Government would enable thousands to return to work. This would create a healthier lifestyle for all, reduce benefits paid out that only sustain the ‘status quo’ of our present day failed system. The change would also release ratepayers from the billions of debt accrued under the present system of rich being supported by the poor that is in itself – a corrupt method of working.

  • The gift of enlightenment experienced through a new millennium phenomena spiritual breakthrough has now shown that our material mind is greatly limited. Science has shown that we have ten-per-cent material make up – with the remainder spiritual.Hence wars and suffering millions as at present require to be halted by this new enlightenment of the brain that has now started and will create new breakthroughs regardless of status.

  • A key element for me is what I hear from the global leaders of “The B Team) and their Plan B approach in terms of People, Planet and Profit –
    Recently I had the privilege of listening to a talk given by Geoff McDonald (Global VP for HR) of Unilever and he also said the time of global reckoning is upon us!
    I believe the time for more community-based and Scotland-wide dialogue events to encourage meaningful conversations is more critical that ever for the Yes campaign, and I think this would help the campaign far more than the TV debates I’ve witnessed to date! There is a growing number of people trained in and willing to use the Art of Hosting & Harvesting to further these conversations. This would allow people everywhere – for now the events are also too middle class dominated – to come together and talk about what they’d like ot see for the future of Scotland, and if that did mean higher taxes then knowing that it would benefit society as a whole and in the longer term, then I think people would go for it. They simply need to be fully involved and all the politicians need to be involved in these conversations.

  • I would go further and link this period of enlightenment to the much maligned end of the world theory around Dec 12th 2012. The mainstream were very happy to discredit doomsday theories and the apocalypse in the knowledge that this was unlikely but if it did happen then there would be no comeback anyway.
    However, there were and are many who consider themselves already more enlightened, and these groups understand that the ancient societies who had made these predictions had been uncannily accurate.
    The end predicted was for the era of greed and corruption which has been perpetuated by a small elite group of humans consumed by selfishness, power and wealth. There time in the light is ending and they will disappear back into the darkness whence they came as the powerful light of the common people burns ever brighter to shine the light on equality, fairness, peace and community.
    The financial centre for these world elites is the City of London. I believe it is no coincidence that Independence for Scotland is happening now because it will have a major impact on rUK, which could, as others more versed in current economics have said, even collapse.
    For such a small nation as Scotland to have links with so many aspects of the discredited system, financial control, nuclear weapons, clean energy and carbon based resources is incredible. That the people of this nation are well on their way to saying no to Trident, finding a way to transfer from carbon reliance to renewable energy and to holing the worlds financial centre below the waterline takes the independence debate onto a global level of significance.
    We must restructure all aspects of our society to become a beacon as a new model for a more sustainable future for all.
    The world is watching.

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