by Ken Gibb, Des McNulty, Duncan Maclennan and Michael Comerford
Scotland’s economic prospects were the subject of intense political debate in the independence referendum. The outcome of the Brexit vote, and the general election which followed it, have ensured that economic issues remain near the top of the political agenda and they are likely to remain there for some time to come. The opening chapter of the book provides the context for the topic-based chapters that follow. The main features of the Scottish economy from 1954, the date of publication of Cairncross’s famous predecessor volume, through to 2016 when the chapters were written are analysed. The book’s editors provide a summary of the political backdrop before moving on to list what they see as the key features of the Scottish economy and the challenges Scotland faces.
In listing the most important questions, authors reflect on Scotland’s economic performance, its public finance arrangements, the different levels of government which uneasily co-exist, the policy priorities which have been articulated (and the extent to which these have significantly changed over time) and the choices that are available to policy makers and practitioners looking ahead. Although on such politically charged issues, disagreements about the facts and interpretation of data will inevitably continue, the evidence provided in the book, and the additional statistical updates that will be provided via the website, will help readers clarify the issues for themselves. The purpose in collecting together contributions from a range of distinguished scholars is to open up discussion rather than close it down - hopefully the book makes a contribution by encouraging and facilitating a more informed debate.