Roundup, Wednesday 10 May 2017

4 May local election results

Party Seats +/- Votes Vote % % +/-
SNP 431 6 607,747 32.3 0.0
Conservative 276 161 477,124 25.4 +12.1
Labour 262 -132 376,799 20.0 -11.4
Lib Dem 67 -4 130,018 6.9 +0.3
Green 19 5 75,669 4.0 +1.7
UKIP 0 0 2,869 0.2 -0.1
Independents/other 173 -31 209,131 11.1 -2.6

Source: Britain Elects

Scotch whisky exports increase by 4% in 2016

Whisky barrelsExports of Scotch whisky increased by 4% in 2016 to just over £4 billion, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) announced on 28 April. The top three destinations last year were the EU (31% at £1.24 billion, growth of 3.6%), North America (26%; £1bn; +10.6%), and Asia (20%; £768 million; +1.8%). The increase in exports comes after falls in 2014 and 2015.

SWA analysis finds that “[i]n net terms Scotch Whisky remained the biggest contributor to the [UK] balance of trade in 2016—ahead of other sectors such as aircraft, cars, medicinal and pharma, electrical machinery and crude oil.” The analysis also shows that “[i]n 2016, without the impact of the Scotch Whisky industry, the UK trade in goods deficit would have been £3.8bn wider or 2.8% worse off at almost £139bn.”

The analysis also notes: “Food and drink exports from Scotland reached £5.5bn [in 2016], an 8% increase year on year, with Scotch accounting for 73% of all Scotland’s food and drink exports.”

Some other fun facts from the press release:

  • Up 4% in customs value on 2015 to £4,008,927,149—worth £127 per second
  • Volume up almost 5% to more than 1.2 billion bottles—almost 39 bottles exported every second
  • Single Malt Scotch exports worth more than £1bn for the first time—up almost 12% to £1.02bn. This is the equivalent of 113m bottles shipped overseas
  • Scotch was directly exported to 182 countries, up from 174—showing its truly global nature

Former ECJ Advocate General: Post-Brexit, Scotland could be in both the UK and EU

Miguel Maduro
Miguel Maduro at The State of the Union 2013, European University Institute. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

Professor Miguel Poiares Maduro, former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, giving evidence today to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) in the European Parliament:

“There is one other possibility, that is to have that some UK citizens may maintain citizenship of the European Union and others won’t. And this is a bit of a provocation… It is… Nothing prevents a part of the United Kingdom to stay and another part of the United Kingdom to leave. We have a precedent with that; it’s called Greenland. We have the case of one member state where part of its territory left the European Union and another part stayed. So, in principle, nothing will prevent for the territories, for example, of Northern Ireland and Scotland to stay in the European Union, and for the rest of the territory of the United Kingdom no longer to be part of the European Union.

“Of course, this will be complex to organise in practice, it will require a border inside a member state, because it will basically mean that Scotland and [Northern] Ireland will remain part of the European Union and part of the United Kingdom. But it will not be impossible.

“Still, it will be again very problematic in political terms, and the consequences of it will make it difficult. If we think about it… I think, on the one hand one risk will be economic—for the UK—because naturally you will have… I will say for Scotland and Northern Ireland, it would be extremely positive. They will attract lots of investment and companies that will locate in those territories because they could benefit from both those markets. But of course for the rest of the United Kingdom it will be even more dramatic because there will be economic mobility to that part of its territory.

“For the European Union, the difficultly will be that if this will take place without the UK formally leaving as a state—because part of its territory will stay, in the same way that happened with Denmark and Greenland—it will mean that the representation of that part of the territory would be made by the UK government; not by the Scottish and the Northern Ireland governments. For this to be done, without leaving and then coming in as Scotland and Northern Ireland to be then in terms of state secession, the representation of this part of the territory will have to continue to be done by the United Kingdom central government.

“Of course, there will be the possibility to leave as [the] UK and come in as part of the UK. That will be another alternative.”

The Scottish Government made proposals along these lines in the paper Scotland’s Place in Europe, published late last year. David Davis, the UK Government’s Brexit secretary, rejected the proposals.

Roundup, Wednesday 3 May 2017

Economy latest

GDP growth. Source: GDP growth by industry. Source: Unemployment Currency (£). Source: ECB; usually updated at 16:00 CET (working days) NYMEX Brent Crude Oil
Q-on-Q growth 2017 Q1 on 2016 Q4 Apr – Jun 2017
  • +0.1% (2016 Q2)
  • +0.1% (2016 Q3)
  • -0.2% (2016 Q4)
  • +0.8% (2017 Q1)
  • Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing: +0.4%
  • Production: +3.1%
  • Construction: -0.7%
  • Services: +0.3%
3.9% (-1.2% year on year) £1 = € () £1 = $ () dollars per barrel ()
GDP growth. Source: GDP growth by industry. Source: Unemployment
Q-on-Q growth 2017 Q1 on 2016 Q4 Apr – Jun 2017
  • +0.1% (2016 Q2)
  • +0.1% (2016 Q3)
  • -0.2% (2016 Q4)
  • +0.8% (2017 Q1)
  • Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing: +0.4%
  • Production: +3.1%
  • Construction: -0.7%
  • Services: +0.3%
3.9% (-1.2% year on year)
Currency (£). Source: ECB; usually updated at 16:00 CET (working days) NYMEX Brent Crude Oil
£1 = € () £1 = $ () dollars per barrel ()

Continue reading Economy latest

UK growth slows to 0.3%

Office for National Statistics, today:

  • UK gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have increased by 0.3% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017, the slowest rate of growth since Quarter 1 2016.
  • Slower growth in Quarter 1 2017 was mainly due to services, which grew by 0.3% compared with growth of 0.8% in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2016.
  • In Quarter 1 2017 there were falls in several important consumer-focused industries, such as retail sales and accommodation; this was due in part to prices increasing more than spending.
  • Production, construction and agriculture grew by 0.3%, 0.2% and 0.3% respectively in Quarter 1 2017.
  • GDP per head was estimated to have increased by 0.1% during Quarter 1 2017.

Melanie Baker at Morgan Stanley, via The Guardian:

We expect this slower quarterly pace of growth to persist in 2017, reflecting our assumption that higher inflation will dampen real consumer spending growth and an assumption of subdued business investment as Brexit approaches.

Given that Scotland’s economic growth has trailed that of the UK since 2015, and given the Scottish economy’s contraction by 0.2% in Q4 2016, we could be looking at a recession1. Figures for Q1 2017 in Scotland won’t be available until 5 July.

Polling roundup

BMG for The Herald

Sample size: 1,041 Scottish residents aged 16+
Method: online
Fieldwork: 7-11 April 2017

Summary | Datasets

Imagine there’s another referendum on Scottish independence tomorrow, how would you vote if asked “Should Scotland be an independent country”?

(Change from previous poll in brackets)

  • Yes: 49% (+1)
  • No: 51% (-1)

Including undecideds:

  • Yes: 43%
  • No: 45%
  • Don’t know: 11%
  • Prefer not to say: 1%

James Kelly’s analysis here.

Survation for The Sunday Post

Sample size: 1,001 Scottish residents aged 18+
Method: online
Fieldwork: 18–21 April 2017

Summary | Datasets

If there was a General Election for the Westminster Parliament taking place tomorrow, and there was a candidate from all political parties standing in your constituency, which party do you think you would vote for?

(Change from 2015 in brackets.)

  • Scottish National Party (SNP): 43.1% (-6.9)
  • Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party: 27.9% (+13)
  • Scottish Labour Party: 17.8% (-6.5)
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats: 8.8% (+1.3)

If there was a referendum tomorrow with the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”, how would you vote?

  • Yes: 46.9% (+0.1)
  • No: 53.1% (-0.1)

Also, of those likely to vote—and before they were removed in order to arrive at the above headline numbers—9.1% of respondents were undecided as to whether they would vote yes or no.

If the upcoming General Election produced another Conservative majority government, would this make you more or less likely to support Scottish independence?

  • More likely: 37.9% (including 41.1% of undecided voters)
  • No more or less likely: 39.8%
  • Less likely: 15.5%

Panelbase for The Sunday Times

Sample size: 1,029 Scottish residents aged 16+
Method: online
Fieldwork: 18–21 April 2017


Westminster voting intentions, with change from 2015 in brackets:

  • SNP: 44% (-6)
  • Conservative: 33% (+18),
  • Labour: 13% (-11),
  • Liberal Democrat: 5% (-3)
  • Green: 2% (+1)
  • UKIP: 2% (-)

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Change from previous poll in brackets.

  • Yes: 45% (+1)
  • No: 55% (-1)

When do you think another Scottish independence referendum should be held?

  • In the next year or two, while the UK is negotiating to leave the EU: 32%
  • About two years from now, when the UK has finished negotiating to leave the EU: 16%
  • There should not be another Scottish independence referendum in the next few years: 52%

James Kelly’s analysis here and here.

John Curtice’s analysis of the weekend’s polling here and here (paywall).

Source for 2015 vote share: BBC.

Roundup, Wednesday 19 April 2017

Employment statistics, February 2017

The UK’s Office for National Statistic (ONS) published the latest employment statistics on 12 April. The table below draws from Labour Force Survey estimates for December 2016 to February 2017. Arrows denote year-on-year direction of change.

Economically active Employment Unemployment Economically inactive
Aged 16-64 Aged 16-64 Aged 16+ Aged 16-64
Country Rate (%) Rate (%) Rate (%) Rate (%)
England 78.8 75.0 4.7 21.2
Wales 76.8 73.0 4.9 23.2
Scotland 77.0 73.4 4.5 23.0
Northern Ireland 72.7 68.8 = 5.2 27.3

Source: ONS dataset A01: Summary of labour market statistics (Table 22: Regional Labour Force Survey Summary). Further information: ONS April 2017 UK labour market bulletin.

  • Scotland had the lowest unemployment rate in the UK, but employment and economic activity were both down.
  • The ONS also released some experimental statistics on unemployment by age for the countries and regions of the UK. Unemployment among those aged 16–24 in Scotland fell by a spectacular 32,000 (-49.8%) year on year. However, there was also a 29,000 increase in those 16–24 designated as economically inactive1.
  • To coincide with the release of the figures, the Scottish Government has published updated charts based on data since 1992 which show longer-term trends in employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity in Scotland. If you compare this quarter with the same one in 2008, Scotland does on average slightly better than the UK on those three measures.
  • Stuart McIntyre of Strathclyde University offered his thoughts on the data via Twitter.
  • Finally, the ONS actually released quite a few datasets related to Scotland on 12 April. You can view a list here.

2015 GDP per capita for EU27 and Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and regions of England

A couple of weeks ago, Eurostat—the European Union’s statistics office—released 2015 GDP data for the EU’s nations and regions. We’ve created a couple of charts based on it.

The first shows that, measured by GDP per capita (adjusted for relative purchasing power in the EU context), Scotland is fourth out of the UK’s 12 ‘NUTS 1’ regions (onshore economy only).

Source: 2015 GDP per capita in 276 EU regions, published by Eurostat on 30 March 2017

The Scottish Government estimates that the country’s actual GDP per capita in 2015 was £26,500 for the onshore economy, £26,700 with a population share of extra-regio1 activity, and £28,400 with a geographical extra-regio share2. The most recent GDP estimates have onshore GDP per capita for the 12-month period from October 2015 to September 2016 at £27,750; £29,300 including a geographical share of extra-regio economic activity3.

The second chart compares the onshore GDP of the UK countries and regions against the 27 other countries of the EU. The UK data is for the onshore economy only.

Source: 2015 GDP per capita in 276 EU regions

Scotland’s onshore GDP per capita is ranked 12th alongside the EU28. When you include a geographical share of oil and gas from the continental shelf, we calculate that Scotland ranks ninth (see table below).

Country 2015 GDP per capita (€PPP) Rank
Luxembourg 76,200 1
Ireland 51,100 2
Netherlands 37,000 3
Austria 36,900 4
Denmark 36,600 5
Germany 35,800 6
Sweden 35,700 7
Belgium 34,200 8
Scotland (with geographical share of North Sea oil and gas) 31,643
Finland 31,600 9
United Kingdom 31,200 10
France 30,600 11

We’ve based our calculations on figures in last month’s Fraser of Allander Institute publication Economic Commentary, Vol 41 No 1, in which the FAI compares Scottish GDP per capita (including oil) with that of the top OECD countries.

Below are our back-of-an-envelope sums. The multipliers between given countries in the OECD and Eurostat data are almost identical so we’ve gone with this simple approach. If any readers have a more sophisticated way of doing it, please let us know.

// OECD vs Eurostat multiplier
// All € (Eurostat) or $ (OECD), PPP, for 2015

// Random check: Finland / France
OECD: $42,268 (Finland) / $41,005 (France) = 1.0308011218
Eurostat: €31,600 (Finland) / €30,600 (France) = 1.0326797386

// Random check: France / UK
OECD: $41,005 (France) / $41,779 (UK) = 0.9814739462
Eurostat: €30,600 (France) / €31,200 (UK) = 0.9807692308

// Random check: Austria / UK
OECD: $49,440 (Austria) / $41,779 (UK) = 1.1833696355
Eurostat: €36,900 (Austria) / €31,200 (UK) = 1.1826923077

// Eurostat, Scotland with geographical share of NSOG
OECD/FAI multiplier: $42,372 (Scotland with geo. share of NSOG) / $41,779 (UK) = 1.0141937337
Scotland (for Eurostat comparison): €31,200 (UK) × 1.0141937337 = €31,642.84

// Post-calculation check: Austria / Scotland (geo. share of NSOG)
OECD/FAI: $49,440 (Austria) / $42,372 (Scotland with geo. share of NSOG) = 1.1668082696
Our calculation (Eurostat): €36,900 (Austria) / €31,642.84 (Scotland with geo. share of NSOG) = 1.1661404211

// OECD($)/Eurostat(€) divisor check (rounded to two decimal places)
Luxembourg: 102131/76200 = 1.34
Ireland: 68481/51100 = 1.34
Netherlands: 49570/37000 = 1.34
Austria: 49440/36900 = 1.34
Denmark: 48994/36600 = 1.34
Germany: 47999/35800 = 1.34
Sweden: 47823/35700 = 1.34
Belgium: 45873/34200 = 1.34
Scotland: 42372/31643 = 1.34
Finland: 42268/31600 = 1.34
United Kingdom: 41779/31200 = 1.34
France: 41005/30600 = 1.34