Growth Commission contribution welcome but GDP approach is flawed

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP today (25 May) described the SNP's Sustainable Growth Commission report as a long overdue contribution to the debate on Scotland's future.

But he warned that it continued the flawed approach taken by governments of all hues in promoting policies which put GDP growth ahead of improving people's quality of life or achieving a sustainable economy.

Patrick said:

“While independence will give us a better chance of running a fairer and greener economy, it shouldn’t stop us taking action right now. That’s why the Scottish Greens have brought about a fairer system income tax, an end to unfair benefits sanctions and assessments and why we continue to press the Scottish Government to stop supporting unethical industries and exploitative employers.

"The phrase ‘sustainable growth’ is meaningless jargon. Governments have obsessed about simplistic measures like GDP growth for far too long, when it tells us nothing about how wealth is being generated, how fairly it’s being shared, or what the environmental cost is. So it's disappointing that this report continues with that flawed approach. It's also disappointing that it recommends that Scotland continues the decades-long UK policy of ever-lower corporation tax, showing the SNP leadership are yet to accept the change that’s needed to build a fair economy.

“There are long-lasting, high quality jobs to be created right now by breaking our dependence on oil and gas and prioritising investment in public services, housing improvements, support for responsible employers in small businesses, the digital and creative sectors, food and drink, renewables and the decommissioning of oil and gas facilities. If we take this approach now, we stand a better chance of building a compelling case for an independent Scotland.

“I don't see any commitment in this report from the SNP to end their policy of supporting maximum extraction of an unburnable fossil fuel resource; indeed they maintain the unrealistic assumption that it will last for many years to come.

“Having said that, many No voters from 2014 are undoubtedly open to the case for independence, especially when this report is compared to the bleak, post-Brexit economic analysis papers we have seen from the UK government. Andrew Wilson is right to admit that not all in the independence movement will agree with what he has proposed. But I certainly welcome the abandonment of the unconvincing notion of a currency union which would have bound the hands of an independent Scotland."