By Keith Aitken in Edinburgh | 16 April 2012
Scotland’s deputy first minister has issued a detailed defence against the Economist’s controversial Skintland’ issue, in which the magazine claimed that the country would struggle to make ends meet if it were independent.
Nicola Sturgeon accused the London-based magazine of having ‘blundered into the economic debate on Scottish independence’. She set out seven ‘key strengths’ of the Scottish economy to counter the Economist’s deliberately provocative gloom.
She rejected the suggestion that North Sea oil was a largely spent resource, pointing to recent industry estimates that up to 40% of recoverable reserves remain – around 24 billion barrels, worth £1.5 trillion at today’s prices.
Sturgeon also flagged up renewable energy, where Scotland has a third of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal potential; food and drink, where Scottish exports are at an all-time high of £5.4bn; and education, where Scotland has five of the world’s top 200 universities.
The public finances, she contended, showed Scotland to be £510 better off per head of population than the rest of the UK. ‘An independent Scotland would be ranked sixth in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in terms of gross domestic product per head, compared to the UK’s sixteenth place,’ she said.
‘We know that we have huge potential as a nation, and that with the powers of independence we can do more.’
This latest difference of opinion over figures follows the spat over Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland statistics.