Scottish Greens: GDP slump cannot justify return to broken economy

The slump in the UK’s GDP must be taken in context and not lead to a rush of mistakes which put growth above public health and wellbeing, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has warned.

Official figures have shown the UK’s GDP has fallen by a record 20.4% in April, as normal economic activity was halted by lockdown.

Commenting, Patrick Harvie said: “Now more than ever we need to remember that GDP tells us very little that matters. Although the UK has performed badly in terms of containing COVID-19, there can be little doubt that the restrictions on mobility and working has saved thousands of lives. It’s absolutely vital that this slump in GDP is not used as an excuse to place people in unnecessary danger or to permit ongoing poverty wages.

“Measuring success by GDP has always been flawed. It fails to recognise health or wellbeing, or measure the harm being done to the environment. Any return to policies that focus on GDP growth alone could cause lasting damage to those things.

“But we also need to recognise that the economy we had before this crisis was also working for very few people. Poverty and inequality were already growing, consumption was unsustainable and we weren’t making the necessary cuts in carbon emissions. Meanwhile, vast amounts of money was being stored in offshore tax havens.

“Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. If we invest wisely now, hundreds of thousands of quality and lasting jobs could be created in renewables and low carbon industries which build back a better economy than we had before.

“A Scottish Green New Deal could usher in a new age of prosperity and build a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland.”