It is now 9 days until voting opens in the selection process for Falkirk East.
My short video of 10 days/10 points brought a great deal of comment, especially on twitter. One person said “passion and commitment are all very well but…” - and they are correct.
So, let’s talk about some economics, and in particular the chemical sciences sector. Some stats:
- Scotland’s chemical sciences sector has a turnover of around £8.7bn of which £3.9bn is exported. It is Scotland’s 3rd biggest exporting sector.
- The sector has the highest GVA per employee of any industry in Scotland.
- INEOS in Grangemouth contributes around 4% to Scotland’s GDP.
Brexit represents a risk to these figures.
If there is a no-deal Brexit this will have a significant impact on trade between the UK and the EU.
Even with a deal, divergence from regulatory standards could make it harder to trade with Europe and tariffs could see profit margins squeezed. Our Scottish universities such as Edinburgh outperform their UK counterparts in chemical science research and Brexit also presents a risk to them in attracting the best brains.
These economic figures are all well and good I hear you say - but I live in Grangemouth and I don’t get any benefit.
And this is where it is important to start to make the links between independence and the status quo.
Independence is not an end in of itself but a beginning of how we can do things differently.
For a start it is the UK Government that controls the vast majority of taxes. The amount of tax that is not collected in the UK was estimated to be £35bn in 2019. That EXCLUDES what they call ‘profit shifting’ with the type of tax avoidance used by the likes of Google, Starbucks etc.
Scotland’s share of that minimum figure would be £2.8 billion. I will say that again – that is £2.8 BILLION POUNDS THAT COULD BE USED ON PUBLIC SERVICES.
Furthermore, an independent Scottish government could ensure some of the profits of INEOS were re-invested in the town - either from the general tax take or by a specific levy.
We could introduce a system of skills off-setting – where INEOS is required to employ a number of people from within Grangemouth – and where they do not, to give the equivalent money to create jobs in other sectors in the town.
We could ensure INEOS sponsors Grangemouth-based employees through university where they do not yet have the skills required.
Scotland has been able to set ambitious climate change targets because the issue was not given serious consideration when the devolved parliament was set up - but could that now be at risk with the Internal Market Bill?
With independence we can make the link between our climate change ambitions and proper development in industries such as hydrogen.
Much is made of Scotland’s excellent record in so-called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) - but that has limited value if the jobs are simply assembly rather than manufacturing and developing and retaining the intellectual capital.
The economic debate thus far has centred around the data that is collected as part of what is called the Government Expenditure Revenue Scotland or GERS - but we know that is how Scotland performs as part of the UK and without the critical economic levers that make the difference.
The GERS debate is a sterile and tedious debate – we have to be making the case of what we will do differently and what that means for you.
I want to be at Holyrood to contribute to the policy making as we move forward to independence. Help me do that by voting Michelle Thomson #1.