Scotland has a wide-ranging economic potential, such as fishing, renewable energy, agriculture and animal husbandry, tourism, oil and gas industry, etc.
The Scottish fishing industry, while contributing less than 1% to the Scottish GDP, is very important in many of its more remote areas, such as North-East Scotland and the Highlands and Islands (H&I), where it directly contributes to nearly 10% of GDP and up to 9% of regional employment.
In the tourism industry, 15.5 million visitors were attracted to Scotland in 2018, with three and a half million people coming from overseas. Total spending by tourists reached nearly £5 billion in 2018, and the value of the sector to the wider economy is estimated to be £10.5 billion.
Also, Brent North Sea oil reserves are in Scottish waters. Geologists estimate the North Sea’s proven reserves at 125,000,000 tonnes and its total oil resources at 4.075 million tonnes. Scotland’s real oil and gas revenues are unclear due to the UK’s presence in the industry; it certainly benefits Scotland a lot.
Another factor affecting the Scottish economy is renewable energy. When it comes to renewable energy resources, the jewel in Scotland’s crown would arguably be wind power, and the ferocious winds that sweep over the glens and braes of the highlands make the Scottish countryside an ideal haven for wind turbines. Martin McAdam, of Aquamarine, says: “The Crown Estate’s leasing round is a significant milestone for the marine energy sector and is a key step towards the industry’s commercialisation, enabling it to meet its full potential to deliver clean sustainable power as well as highly skilled long-term employment.”
The Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 and it has the power to legislate on a range of issues known as devolved matters. These include agriculture, civil and criminal justice, education, environment, health, housing, local government, planning, police and fire services, social work, sports, arts, and transport. Issues concerning Scotland which have a UK or international impact remain the responsibility of the UK Parliament alone. These are known as reserved matters and include foreign affairs, defense, immigration and social security.
From 2002-2014, the Scottish Parliament was not very efficient and could not exercise any powers except pass laws on The Community Care and Health 2002, The Freedom of Information 2002, The Smoking, Health and Social Care 2005, The Disabled Persons’ Parking Places 2009, and The Marriage and Civil Partnership 2014. Of course, with the spread of the Covid-19 disease, England gave it more authority.
The Scottish Government is responsible for all issues that are not explicitly reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament in Westminster by Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998; such devolved matters include NHS Scotland, education, justice and policing, rural affairs, economic development and transport. The Scottish Government was responsible for an annual budget of more than £27 billion in the financial year 2005-2006, rising to more than £30 billion in 2007-2008.
Members of government have substantial influence over legislation in Scotland, putting forward the majority of bills that are successful in becoming Acts of the Scottish Parliament. Since 2007, the Scottish Government has been formed by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, although prior to 2011 they did not possess an overall majority. In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the Scottish National Party won the first overall majority in the history of the Scottish Parliament. On 18 September 2014, a referendum was held in which the Scots could vote for independence. It turned out that the No voters won over the Yes voters, albeit with a small majority. In the aftermath of the referendum, Alex Salmond resigned and the position of first minister was taken over by Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of Independence
Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stated her intention to hold a referendum. With Sturgeon coming to power, pressure mounted on England and sparked much debate over Scottish independence.
Sturgeon made a formal request to the prime minister to hold a legally valid plebiscite. Alongside the request, she published Scotland’s Right to Choose: Putting Scotland’s Future in Scotland’s Hands, the Scottish Government’s written case for holding a new vote. Its tenets include the UK’s withdrawal from the EU against Scotland’s democratic will, the current pro-independence majority of the Scottish Parliament and Scotland returning an overwhelming majority of seats for the SNP in the recent UK general election. Boris Johnson has responded with a one-page letter rejecting a new referendum, without any great detail.
Also, Nicola Sturgeon opposes nuclear weapons and argues that while Britain spends billions of pounds on nuclear weapons, it also proposes austerity measures, which she strongly opposes. So her policies are at odds with the Johnson government, which is working on modernisation in the UK.
The Pandemic in Scotland
The pandemic has prompted rapid and radical change in how health and care services are delivered in Scotland. On the 17 March last year, NHS Scotland was placed on an emergency footing to enable its services to cope with potential demand levels from Covid-19. NHS Boards were asked to suspend all non-urgent elective treatment, which has affected referral and treatment pathways since then.
However, according to statistics, there were problems because those living in the most deprived 20% of areas were on average more than twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than those living in the least deprived 20% of areas. Covid-19 has widened the gap in health inequalities even further.
Among Black and minority ethnic groups, it has been found that those reporting either South Asian or Chinese ethnicity had substantially higher mortality rates than those reporting White ethnicity, even after adjusting for other factors (between 1 March 2020 and 31 January 2021).
“”Scotland’s good performance in pandemic control compared to Johnson’s government has revived hopes by Scottish nationalists’for progress towards independence.””
Scotland Is Prepared for Independence
A factor that can accelerate the independence of any territory is favourable economic conditions. In this case, Scotland is in the best economic conditions in terms of natural resources and industry. Scotland also grew politically with the creation of devolved parliament.
Under First Minister Sturgeon, plans for Scottish independence accelerated.
The Scottish Government has undoubtedly been more transparent about its Covid-19 situation, an added reason for Scotland to evaluate its performance and separate itself from the rest of the UK, together with many other issues. By March 2021, programmes were developed to address poverty and deficiencies in services, education, and more. Scotland also has more plans for its post-Covid era.