THE Scottish Government has an opportunity for a new economic direction, and the key is to focus on resilience.

Reset is a small word with big potential. Over the next few months, the SNP can start reshaping Scotland's economic priorities and move away from the “contradictions” that plagued Humza Yousuf’s time as FM.

Things simply must change.

We are at a crossroads after 25 years of devolution and almost a decade since the independence referendum. Since Alex Salmond (below) decided to rebrand the Scottish Executive to the Scottish Government in 2007, successive administrations have taken all of the responsibility for Scotland’s economy without the authority. Acknowledging the blatantly obvious is where we have to start.

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Any new administration must state that transforming the economy and, therefore, the lives of every Scot is impossible without more power in Holyrood. This will undoubtedly be classified as “the rebirth of grievance politics” or “more of the same,” depending on which right-wing commentator you cannot avoid. But it is central to the whole economic message: You get blamed if you don’t complain.

The message is that we do not have the power to create what Scots want: A wellbeing economy.


The distinction between Westminster and Holyrood’s power and oversight has been mudded over the last two decades. The administration must say that to deliver a well-being economy, Scotland must either have an administration in London that prioritises a wellbeing economy and has a growth model for Scotland, or it must have the power to do that for itself. We have completely lost this narrative, with the odd exception.

We should not look at the challenges and the solutions through the prism of left or right.

How we progress Scotland’s wellbeing economy is the one question that every candidate for FM can firmly support. We can all rally behind this. Candidates and their particular factions may have different ideas of how to get there, but this concept unites the whole party and, much more importantly, the whole country.

The pursuit of a wellbeing economy differentiates Holyrood from Westminster: It is clear blue water and points to a different type of economy in Scotland.

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Working towards that type of economy

An administration that does not control the macroeconomic levers can not fundamentally restructure an economy; that much is clear.

However, much can be done to redress the problems in our economy, rebalance the benefits, and redistribute them.

Until we become independent, the Scottish Government must focus on making Scotland more resilient. Scotland is already seeing the negative impacts of climate change and changing global power dynamics, and it must react to them. The Scottish government must focus on food and energy security/sovereignty.

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Resilience takes three forms: We must have more power, our economy must be more diverse, and it must be more equal.

Power: Resilience is built by owning and controlling the main factors of production. We must have more control of land and its use. The Scottish government and local authorities must support a variety of business models, including community land trusts and social enterprises.

We are more resilient when we have more of a say in Scotland’s economy. Earlier this year, we identified three Scotland-specific challenges: the high levels of foreign ownership among Scottish industries, the low proportion of UK companies headquartered in Scotland, and the large annual outflow of capital. Any new administration must address these structural weaknesses.

Diversity: Resilience also comes from having a variety of possible solutions. We must move away from the centralised institutions and markets that dominate Scotland and the UK. A prime example would be the power of the large supermarkets in Scotland. None of them are based in Scotland, and yet we have effectively outsourced our whole food supply chain to these foreign-based, profit-driven multinationals. The same can be said about our energy supply.

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To become more resilient, a new administration must devolve power, especially tax-raising power, to local authorities with more flexibility to levy taxes on specific land uses and landowners. Money raised at the local level is not syphoned off via the block grant. This tax is levied in Scotland and stays in Scotland. With these extra funds, local authorities should be supported to enhance their resilience.

Finally, a more balanced economy in terms of income and wealth is a much more resilient one.

All of the above chimes with the wellbeing economy, and none is too radical or controversial. Would any candidate for FM argue with the substance of any of this?

Scotland's economy needs direction. The idea of a resilient, wellbeing economy might unify a party and a nation and create the type of economy most of us want.