Scotonomics, Common Weal, WEAll Scotland, the Democracy Collaborative, and Future Economy Scotland propose an alternative route for the Scottish economy. Will the new administration listen?

First, we welcome the appointment of a new First Minister and will continue to engage with the new administration. Second, let’s have a quick recap.

Last week, we discussed the need for a "reset" in economic policy. We suggested that focusing on creating a resilient economy will help the Scottish Government move towards a wellbeing economy – an incredibly popular concept – in Scotland. To do this, the Scottish Government must, at every opportunity, highlight the limitations of achieving a wellbeing economy within the current devolved settlement. We suggest this new approach would be popular across the party and the nation. And, of course, we are keen to hear what others think!

The National:

So we looked across the media last week to see what other progressive organisations were saying about the "reset" or at least the opportunity for one. And one thing is clear: There is an alternative to the mainstream orthodoxy that has dominated policy-making in the Scottish parliament since its inception.

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For the last quarter century, one particular school of economic thought has had the ears of policymakers in Scotland. Call it what you will, the orthodoxy, the mainstream or neoliberalism, the narrative underpinning this approach can be summed up simply as: The need for Scotland to grow its GDP.

Scotland’s GDP is twice its size in the mid-1990s, so theoretically, we should all be twice as well off. So, how is that working for you? Framing it like this completely disproves the idea that GDP is a measure of wellbeing or that a wellbeing economy can only be achieved by growing GDP.

There is an alternative policy framework – an economic alternative that focuses on something other than GDP growth – and this is uniting progressive organisations across Scotland.

The National: EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 30: Kate Forbes MSP attends Scottish Parliament on April 30, 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humza Yousaf resigned from Office yesterday ahead of a confidence vote he was expected to lose after the coalition with The Scottish

In an excellent summary of the issues our economy faces, Laurie Macfarlane from Future Economy Scotland put it like this: The “new first minister must move beyond old orthodoxies". Laurie highlighted the 2022 economic prospectus, National Strategy for Economic Transformation, which Kate Forbes (above) oversaw, was simply more of the same, likely to, at best, continue to exacerbate all of the problems that undermine the Scottish economy and lead to increasing inequality across Scottish society.

Last week, Common Weal released Profit Extraction: How Foreign Ownership Drains Scotland’s Wealth. The key finding is that Scotland has experienced a net outflow of wealth every year since 1998 – totalling around £277.4 billion from 1998 to 2021, with approximately 50% going to the UK and 50% to ROW.

WEALL Scotland posted its response to the revised national outcomes in Scotland, which are designed to support the public sector in achieving a flourishing Scotland. They highlighted that the “outdated economic design” and the “lack of engagement with people” blotted the Scottish government’s copybook.

Neil McInroy, chair of the Economic Development Association Scotland and global lead for Community Wealth Building for the Democracy Collaborative, agrees with WEALL Scotland. Policymakers in Scotland need to link "economic democracy to crises and sovereignty", he wrote to me over the weekend.

You undoubtedly already see some of the shared ideas and themes across these statements:

● Scotland must be more democratic

● Our policy framework must focus on the stock of wealth in the country and not just the flow measured in GDP

● Ownership is not just about who earns the money but who has the power

● Wellbeing is much more than a calculation of the amount of stuff we, as a nation, own

These themes chime with our outline last week and much of what we have written in this newsletter over the last year. There is an alternative, and it is taking shape. We must now ask whether the new administration is willing to listen?

We will find out in the next few months.