Scotland’s Future: Denmark or Theme Park?

As Scottish politics becomes consumed by conspiracism it’s worth re-orienting around the economic case for independence. Here Mark Blyth co-author of Angrynomics and Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press 2002), and Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press 2013) talks to David McWilliams, economist and host of the eponymous David McWilliams podcast.

‘When Scotland Rises’ is a super-sweary 53 minutes taking apart the British economy and looking forward to a Scottish democracy.

McWilliams: “The first casualty of Brexit will be Britain. Scotland is on its own path for the first time since 1707. When Scotland becomes independent, it will trigger enormous economic and political changes up here in the North West Atlantic. Mark Blyth, Professor at Brown University helps us to tease out the economics of Scottish Independence and what’s ahead for Scotland, Ireland and England.”

It’s well worth a listen (ICYMI) if you want to educate yourself on economics and hear insights from outside the bubble. The refreshing thing is how clear and confident two relative outsiders are about the case for a small European democracy to be economically viable based on the idea of responsibility and sovereignty.

Blyth is inspired by Brett Christopher’s Rentier Capitalism: Who Owns the Economy, and Who Pays for It? – and the turgid stagnant lack of innovation in Britain. He takes apart the road to Brexit in a rentier economy and Johnson’s six years of Brexit fantasies (“jubbling nonsense”).

McWilliam’s concludes: “Sovereignty is fucking liberating”.

On his conversion to being pro-independence Blyth states: “One last thing that pushed me over was looking at the polls in terms of demography. If you look ta anybody under the age of fifty it’s an overwhelming majority, and it just gets more and more extreme the further back you go … so this is priced in, so this is going to happen, it’s just a case of when … so if you know it’s going to happen the thing to do is to do it as well as you can.”


Comments (23)

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  1. Pub Bore says:

    Denmark AND theme park. Legoland fuelled on anti-depressants!

    1. Pub Bore says:

      That said, the idea that Scotland could not survive economically outside of the UK is a ridiculous one. Whether or not we have a sovereign government in Edinburgh, we’ll still live and die, business will still be done, goods will still be created, traded, and consumed… The question is not whether Scotland COULD be an independent country (of course it could), but SHOULD it be. What are the rights and wrongs of what’s being proposed? The question of independence is a normative rather than a constative one.

      So, b*gg*r the economics! Of the nationalists and those who are clinging to their coattails in pursuit of power we need only to be asking three things:

      1. What are they selling?
      2. Why should I buy it?
      3. Why should I buy it from THEM?

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Yes, your ‘handle’ suits your opinions – nomen est omen

        1. Pub Bore says:

          Indeed! ‘Nimi on enne,’ as the Finns say.

        2. A. MacDonald says:

          “Macdonald” ?
          Are you sure about that spelling ?

  2. Brian McGrail says:

    “As Scottish politics becomes consumed by conspiracism it’s worth re-orienting around the economic case for independence.”

    Is it really about ‘conspiracies’ or the ‘rule of law’? Everyone can see the imprisonment of Hasel in Spain is a breach of hard won rights to freedom of expression. Salmond won the judicial review even before it had went before a judge because the Scottish Government’s own senior counsel told the SG to concede – what had gone wrong in the process was so legally unfair (not simply a ‘procedural error’ or ‘technicality’ as the SG like to claim). Rather than doing so the SG decided to let the case ‘run’. This forced Salmond to apply for an interdict to keep the case out of the press. The interdict was applied for on a Friday, but before a judge could give a ruling on it, someone with the SG (who had to know about the case) leaked ‘the story’ to the Daily Record.

    Remember that the case was one of ’employment grievance’ at the time and not criminality. If it had been a case of criminality at that point then senior members of the SG did nothing for several months, on the basis that they had decided NOT to contact the police without the consent of the complainers. Later on, after the loss of the judicial review, the same SG employer decided to contact the Crown Agent (deputy to the Lord Advocate) without the consent of the original complainers. No-one went to a police station to report a crime in the usual manner.

    The accusation of ‘conspiracy theory’ (it’s all fantastical) is now banded about as a form of defence and means of covering up either incompetence (including senior legal counsel not being listened to) or a clear desire to circumvent the ‘rule of law’ (that cases should go before an independent judge, and not shoe-horned bureaucrats nor ‘public opinion’) – that is, the base principle of innocent until proven guilty was to be circumvented by ‘trial’ in the mass media.

    What is the point of the ‘economic case for independence’ if Scotland ends up being run by corrupt officials who deem that what’s best for the nation is what’s best for them? The Soviet Union was the fastest growing economy in the world between 1920 and 1940 (Allen, 2011, Global Economic History, OUP) – it was also a homicidal dictatorship with show trials of former members of the party and cause.

    1. Axel P Kulit says:

      At the risk of stating the obvious, the leak to a unionist paper suggests either someone wanting to derail the independence movement or destroy Salmond, or both.

      but we will probably never know the motive.

      I would hope they get uncovered and exposed in the press, along with their stated motivations.

      1. Rab says:

        Sorry, tried to keep it short part 1 of 3 :

        We have seen many acts of sabotage in the quest for Independence by all “political parties”, including the SNP.
        Where is the nation going ?

        Britain has turned into the antonym of what it was just 40 years ago.
        This is not the Britain our forefathers fought against the Nazis in order to preserve our “freedoms”.
        Then there is all the Cold War propaganda on top of that.

        “They will try to take our freedoms”, notice the politicians/PM’s never mention the details of said “freedoms” that are being threatened. It is just a bleat for the public zombies. Now we have the new bogyman “terrorists” that recent PM’s have claimed wont take our mysterious undefined “freedoms” as “we stand defiant”. Interesting hypocrisy given the new terrorist laws that do remove huge chunks of former UK freedom rights. A huge quagmire if you want to look that stuff up, I’m trying to keep it short here.

        What freedoms ?
        You don’t even have the right to privacy anymore and that is/was a basic international human right.
        You don’t have the right as an adult to use substances unless it is brain destroying legal alcohol (kills/destroys more people than any other drug/substance in the world yet it is legal) or, Big Pharma Cartel pre$cription drug$ that are used to exploit the public herd at every opportunity. Some will make a fortune out of Covid while others are left out in the cold to die.

        We even see suggestion that people that refuse Covid vaccinations will be discriminated against ! “Where are your Vaccination papers schnell ! schnell !”.
        “My body, my choice” what happened to “you cant force people into taking medical procedures” etc. ?
        Medics only care about their ego and pharma sales these days, they don’t care about your well-being anymore. Hippocratic Oath means nothing today, I have witnessed it first hand on several occasions.
        This is a slippery slope. What next…. ? “you cant even apply for a job sweeping the supermarket floor unless you provide 5 forms of ID, get a bio data chip implant, give a DNA sample, provide finger prints, eye print, urine test, blood test, take these unknown pills and/or shots” … “we may need to insist that you have a sex change to suit our fair employment policy to show that we don’t discriminate against gender or ethnicity.”
        Give the State puppets an inch and they will take the light year gravy train.

        The KGB never had it so good as the current UK State surveillance over the UK. Spying on all civilians via CCTV (more CCTV in the UK than any other nation), monitoring online activity at GCHQ etc. as if we are all criminals ?
        Nefarious State propaganda everywhere you look in the media to manipulate the public herd, encouraging society to snitch on their neighbours (as seen in communist states and Pol Pot Cambodia), ID for everything (extremely anti British culture, whatever happened to “mind your own business” ?), police arming up like the military (that never ends well for the civilians) while castrating the public etc. You can’t do this, you can’t do that, but the State and their lackeys can do as they please. Jack Straws kid can get a slap on the wrist for dealing drugs but you go to jail even for a small amount of personal possession cannabis in some parts of the country. Thatchers son (Mark Thatcher) can do illegal weapons deals with dictators and stage coups in Africa but he never gets jail for it when he is caught in the act.

        Political prisoners being used as pawns, Julian Assange being a fine example, or the innocent Irish people (Birmingham & Guildford) that were jailed without fair trial after being set up by the State etc. Interesting what they have done to Julian Assange yet, they have done nothing to the criminals that he helped expose. Tells you all that you need to know about who runs the UK. Then they demand that we snitch on the people next door for violating the unlawful national Covid house arrest rules !?

        Am I the only one that can see the rot that has set into the system, is this “British” Queensberry Rules and all that ?
        How about bought peerages in the Lords when dubious T.Blair was in office ?
        Then there is the fact that Blair was in the pocket of JP Morgan when he helped rob the UK in 2008.
        I could list many examples of how the Tories and Labour screwed Scotland, and continue to do so but this is already a small novel… Pole Tax and the American Nukes kept in Scotland are good examples. We don’t want it but we get it anyway.
        Scotland had Poll Tax 1 year before anybody else in the UK. Nobody supported Scots, they only rioted when they got it in England etc.

        Part 2 ….. posted in a few minutes …..

        1. Rab says:

          Sorry, I used Copy & Paste, it lost the format and just printed a block of text.

          Sorry, tried to keep it short part 2 of 3 :

          The SNP : Any Scot worth their salt knows what Sturgeons red coat represents. Salmond is no better. Who is pulling their strings ?

          They can’t be trusted, they have done little to nothing for Scotland. In fact they have been filling their own pockets like the Tories do.
          SNP = “Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands”… but they let anybody vote in the inde ref., Poles, English, Muslims etc. that have a vested interest in voting No.
          Irony is that Brexit will now force a lot of the Eastern Europeans out who did not support Independence in fear of losing their EU worker rights. What pro Brexit people don’t mention is that Brits also lose the right to work in the EU. That Freedom Of Movement perk saved a lot of UK unemployed tradesman’s mortgages in the 1980’s when Thatcher destroyed the nation for her Bankster buddies…. how soon they forget.

          Why do the older generation kick the support ladder they used from under the younger generation ?

          SNP seldom do what Scots want. They have tried to get rid of Scottish crofting rights so the government can sell land off to their “private sector” lackeys (very Tory of them), they failed to stop (or they authorised) Trumps golf courses (search for “probe into Trumps Golf Course money laundering denied”), they failed to stop houses being built at Culloden battlefield etc. The people of Scotland did not want any of it, they protested it, but they got it anyway.
          There is also the question of that Weapons Grade Plutonium stored in Scotland, by the MOD, that was sold to America recently. “It is ok, America assured us that it is not to be used for weapons” they claimed !?
          What did the SNP do to protest that dubious WMD weapons trafficking/sale ?

          I doubt the SNP want independence, it would lead to their existence becoming obsolete thus, the end of the lucrative gravy train ride. The Inde Ref. was set up to fail, no doubt about it. People were manipulated just as they were with the Brexit herding stick, a common tactic these days (It is ok, just blame Russia or China right ?). A truck containing uncounted Inde ballots went unaccounted for several hours, fire alarms were deliberately set off during voting at polling stations so that some people did not get to vote, the boxes were taken away by people in suits (probably the same people that set off the fire alarms).

          They let anybody vote when it should only be Scots allowed to vote. People residing in London with a house in Scotland got to vote then got back on the train to London the next day. (something that needs to stop as many Scots cant even get a house, that also leads to suicide that the Government “don’t know why suicide in young men is so high in Scotland”. Pretty obvious if you live in Scotland and cant get anything your whole life, meanwhile it is handed to outsiders on a political platter.)
          The only people that should be allowed to vote are actual Scots, people of Scottish decent residing in Scotland, by marriage to a Scot residing in Scotland. It is clearly nobody else’s business what Scots decide about their future. Scots fought for centuries to keep their nation free. Brexit is ok but Scottish independence is not ?
          Why did the SNP not use that policy, a Scottish affair for the Scots to decide and only the Scots.

          Why did the SNP not call a hung vote and go back to debates, and a second Inde vote ?
          What happened to the 2/3 rd majority rule in our “democratic” process ?
          Do people want a civil war because that is what you get when you call 52% a majority.
          It was the same insanity with Brexit. People have no idea what a democracy is or its implemented safety measures to avoid civil wars.

          The unicameral system of the Scottish Parliament is also a cause for great concern. It is hardly democratic.

          Part 3 …. incoming ….

  3. Gordon Purvis says:

    Thanks – had heard this already as the McWilliams podcast is always worth a listen. I would be interested to hear more also because Prof Blyth appears to be quite complemtary of the Growth Commission work. At least that is what I seemed to heard. As we all know there has been rigourous criticism of said Commission from various quarters, so I think it would be interesting to find out more on that.

    Very interesting podcast.

  4. Axel P Kulit says:

    It seems to me that the demographic shift in support for independence is as slow and unstoppable as a glacier and around now it the last chance Westminster has to prevent independence without importing the Spanish model used in Catalonia.

    The economics will interest and influence only the more mature elements of the populace.

  5. John McGowan says:

    So, it’s “fucking liberating” is it? Is that intended to be an answer to the questions many people have about the economics of an independent Scotland? Is that supposed to be “edgy”, “with it”, “out there”? What audience is that supposed to appeal to? Of course, much easier to resort to vulgarity than tell me in which currency my pension, savings and mortgage would be denominated under the SNP’s madcap plans. And that’s just a start. But it would be a good start if you could answer that one. I don’t expect an answer, by the way, so don’t go to any trouble. Just resort to your usual argument about Project Fear, a nice evasion and an obvious one. The fact that the nats never mention the dire economic prospectus described in the Growth Commission tells you all you need to know. Had this document held out the promise of a land of milk and honey Sturgeon and her minions would be shouting it from the rooftops every moment of every day. The reality is that they never mention it and want the rest of us to forget it pretend it doesn’t exist. But the truth is out there and even if you do get another referendum there will be somone else to prick the balloon, just as Alastair Darling did the last time. Project Fear? Project Truth, and the truth is what you lot cannot abide.

    1. Muiris says:

      I agree with your attitude to vulgarity, but little else, & I’m not far from pension age.

      ‘The great appear great, only because we are on our knees, let us rise’, usually attributed to James Larkin, Irish socialist. There is no reason why Scotland cannot be an independent prosperous state, Scots are just as capable, competent, and clever as any other nation, I expect.

      1. Pub Bore says:

        Scotland is indeed capable of being an independent state, but why should we buy it? The world is full of independent states. Are the people who live in those political communities any better off simply in virtue of their governments being ‘independent’?

        1. Muiris says:

          Important, very valid question(s), with of course no single nor simple answer. Good government usually depends on it being responsive to the people, I suppose, nearly always some form of democracy.
          Is the UK government responsive to Scotland? (rhetorical question, no need to answer). The term ‘the Home Counties’, tells you all you need to know about power distribution in Britain, in my opinion.
          I would not rest easy in a State that did not consider me, not the area that I came from/lived in, to be just as important as any other.

          It’s a matter of self respect, at the end of the day.

          1. Pub Bore says:

            I think you’re right, Muiris. It’s not about economic prosperity or austerity; it’s about identity and what we might collectively become.

            However, the deeper question is then whether we want identity or plurality; whether we want ‘Scotland’ to be one thing or many. If we want it to be cosmopolitan and plural, we much then ask how we can institute that plurality; what political structures need to establish in order to let that plurality freely flourish. Only then can we work out how the cost of building and maintaining those structures of our well-being is to be met.

            Economics – especially fiscal economics – are informed and led by our social hopes and aspirations. Our current culture-war politics is driven by rival moralistic visions of identity, of what we as a society ‘ought’ to be, with each combatant in that war seeking to capture and use the fiscal power of the state to realise its particular vision. I anticipate that the eventual sublation of this situation will be an emergent pluralism.

    2. Hi John – its a quote from the podcast, which is flagged as being “sweary”.

      If you actually listened to the podcast – a very well considered podcast of economics analysis – it answers some of your questions.

      As for the Growth Commission – we have mentioned it many times. Do keep up.

    3. Jim Sansbury says:

      “The fact that the nats never mention the dire economic prospectus described in the Growth Commission”
      Please can you explain to me how Ireland and Croatia (to name but two) both of whom have smaller GDP’s than Scotlands, both of whom have a similar populations to Scotlands, and both of whom have poorer natural resources than Scotlands manage to survive and flourish?

  6. Steve says:

    We have seen many acts of sabotage in the quest for Independence by all “political parties”, including the SNP.

    Is the nation a mess because the politicians are so corrupt or, is it because the voter is so subserviently stupid they just let the government do as it pleases ?
    Every scam the government does and it goes unchallenged, it gives them inspiration to take more advantages in the near future.
    “We got away with that !? …. O boy, what else can we get away with ?…” “Ooo… lets make freedom of speech illegal next. Start prosecuting people for text messages or online emails, comments etc. That will keep the whistle-blowing critics quiet so we can go about our Stately criminal business unhindered by the native peasants.”.

    The SNP have failed Scotland just as much as the Tories & Labour have. This is make or break for Scotland, there will never be another chance.
    The culture has already been decimated this past 40 years. Not much left to salvage now.

    SNP are useless, they do very little for the Scottish people other than rob or ignore them, Tories just lie and rob everybody including their own kind, Labour are no better.
    Scotland needs a real political party that supports Scots and Scottish interests, nobody has created one yet. It will most likely never happen.

    The people get the politicians that they deserve. Humans are screwed as a species.

    1. uirte well says:

      Dear Mark, Im a sort of sentimental Scottish offshoot, from tother side of the pond. My mothers maiden name is McClintock. Im originally from Oklahoma which was primarily settled by the Scotch-Irish, who take after our Scottish and Irish ancestors. From moonshiners sill warrin to defeat the revenenuers. I spose barley didn’t grow as well over here, so we mash and ferment the native 1st Americans maize, and brew and distill it. After some 400 years of craft, some of our Bourbons compare nicely with good Scotch, and Irish.
      And some do quite well with ryes. Unfortunately the stuff clashes with my medication so Ill have to tesback off. My mothers paternal are Donahues. So betimes, I seem to ve dealt with my own internal North of Ireland green and orange conflicts. Dads family are German, Low German, Russian Mennonites. I used tp lament the fratricidal troubles in Ulster, but after how many centuries, it seems we’ve finally worn ourselves out, Thanks be to God. had the Gaels managed to stand together against the Sassenach, but unfortunately historically the Gaels would rather have fought one another, perhaps the only worthy opponents. Fratricides are always the worst and most intractable. Gaels, Scottish and Irish? Irish and Scots, Jews and Arabs Whodve thought, when some George or another shipped a bunch of fanatical Calvinists to ‘paciify’ a bunch of fanatical Calvinists… What could go wrong? Slainte,to all my cousins

  7. Ralph says:

    McWilliam’s concludes: “Sovereignty is fucking liberating”.

    What ?
    Sovereignty is State ownership of YOU… you know.. like YOU are an owned person… a slave… a thing… somebody else’s property.
    Hardly “liberating”.

  8. Rab says:

    Sorry, tried to keep it short part 3 of 3 :

    Labour :
    They are no better or worse than the Tories. They certainly wont support Scottish Inde. They will join forces with the Tories to stop it.
    Just look at the current propaganda about the SNP every day, the Media are desperate to destroy the SNP.
    The so called “Devolved Parliament’s” were in fact set up to keep the UK from separating back when Blair was PM. Make it look like they are giving the peasants control but, it is really it is to keep them firmly in the Union. It is the same for Wales and Ireland. Are the SNP just shills for Westminster and beyond ?

    Gordon Brown sold off the gold mines in Scotland, to “America” (probably for JP Morgan that Thatcherite Tony Blair was in bed with), for peanuts just before the price of gold shot up to record high prices. Don’t be fooled, Brown is not an idiot, he knows his job. Brown is the longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer in UK history, and that history goes back for centuries. He knew 100% what he was doing. Did they ask Scotland for the gold… no, they just took it.
    Strip out their gold so that they can’t escape the Union banking system, prevents independence by force.

    We are all slaves to the monetary system from birth to death taxes. Humans are very short sighted. Have we not outgrown money yet ?

    Odd Labour fact :
    No, I’m not racist, I’m just criticizing Labours bizarre choice, is that still allowed or is that another long lost freedom ?
    The facts. Labour just appointed Mr Anas Sarwar as leader of the “Scottish” Labour party. He is a 1st generation Pakistani Muslim, born in Glasgow to immigrant Pakistani parents. Given that Glasgow airport had a “Muslim terrorist attack” I find that rather insensitive to the locals.
    I don’t know who Mr Sarwar is but he doesn’t come across as being steeped in Scottish culture, is that with intent ?

    People that want Independence tend to have a bit more blood in the game. The vast majority of Scots that I know have ancestry that fought in the wars of independence.
    Do Labour intend to throw the next election so that the Tories only have to face off with the SNP ?
    Neither Labour or the Tories will let Scotland leave until it has nothing left to exploit. Then Scotland will be thrown in the ditch for whoever wants the corpse.

    I can take apart Labour all day but I really am trying to keep it short…

    Tories : Thatcher did more damage to the UK than Hitler managed to do in several years of bombing campaigns.
    Only a traitor Scot or Englishman from the far South would ever vote for the self serving Tories. All they do is asset strip the nation after Labour sets it up for them, that is why they take turns in No. 10. The two of them play this game that launders public money into the private sector while telling the public… “there is no money for schools, hospitals, welfare, salting the streets in winter etc., we need to raise more taxes and reduce yet more services. Look out, here comes the budget man to rob what little you peasants have.” etc. Pay up or else, protection money, exploitation, extortion and racketeering. Criminal gangster activity unless it is by law, then it is called “taxes”.
    Banks rob the world and all of a sudden we have billions to bail out those criminals.

    Give a man a gun he can rob a bank, give a man a bank and he can legally rob the world.

    I don’t think there is enough space on the Internet for me to list Tory crimes. Tories created/set up/ trained/armed the Taliban, or whatever name they use this week. We used to call them “freedom fighters” back then. M.Thatcher, Reagan and the Saudis to thank for that. It is all on record, even H.Clinton admitted it to a Senate hearing. It is all on video folks. You can even see a news clip of the Taliban visiting Reagan in the white house.
    Protecting Pinochet after doing deals with him during his international crimes against civilians in his own country, safe to say cocaine also had something to do with that (Iran Contra links activity by America.)
    Selling Hawk jets to a dictator in Indonesia that committed genocide. They denied time after time they sold those jets until somebody filmed the jets attacking civilians.
    WMD’s they sold to their buddy Saddam to gas the Kurds etc. etc. etc. (Yes Saddam was in fact an Ally during the Cold War)

    Now they have been caught supporting Jihadist terrorists in the semi failed coup of Syria. (they call them “moderate rebels” to launder the fact)
    Now we see unknown Syrians migrating to Scotland, given houses that the locals are told don’t exist.
    I have nothing against foreigners, I happily interact with them. Problem is that I know local people on housing waiting lists for 15+ years with no house in sight. You get the feeling the State is just saying “F off and die in the gutter. No house for you.”. No house, no job, no vehicle, no girl…. suicide, drugs or the military, your choice.

    Thatcher did the same thing to Bradford in the 1970’s/80’s with migrants, that lead to many riots in their city. Thatchers aim was to disrupt the locals while her government asset stripped the nations industrial infrastructure in that region. Divide & Conquer.

    This is Scotlands last chance and everybody knows it. The future of the nation and culture (for what is left of that) depends on it.
    Westminster and the gutter media are desperate to sabotage Independence.

    Inde can be done, Scotland is almost 1 century older than England as a nation. The 1707 Act of Union has been violated many times by England.

    Britains future does not look good. It will get much worse in the near future.
    There is nobody to vote for, we are all screwed.
    The Brit Empire is dead, the wealth asset stripped so now… the rot sets in.

  9. Ted Voth Jr says:

    Yere no but a crabby old Scotsman, and I love ye! Say on Mark!

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