Raising the standard

Scotland's economy

Key pledges

The challenge

Scotland has huge natural assets, not least our tradition of enterprise and innovation. Yet our economy has performed far too erratically. We have too many low-skilled operations which make us vulnerable to the vagaries of world markets. There is a lack of long-term planning and we have failed to develop suffciently our home-based industries.

At present key sections of our economy face crisis. Manufacturing industry has been in recession for over six months. The oil industry has been badly hit by the fall in world oil prices. Many jobs have been lost in agriculture in the past year.

We need to develop long-term solutions to these problems. We must ensure that the Scottish people have the skills to equip them for the 21st century. We must tackle the unemployment blackspots created by the decline of manufacturing, as well as the severe problems facing our rural areas. We must strengthen Scottish-owned enterprises. We must increase sustainable economic development. We must target opportunities for significant tourism development in Scotland. The new Parliament should prove an enormous boost to Scotland's economy. We need to make sure that it co-ordinates its efforts effectively with Westminster, local councils and the EU.

Our priorities

Scotland's Government should look to the long-term needs of the economy and work in partnership with business, not at cross-purposes with it. Our plans for boosting investment in public services and infrastructure, promoting small businesses and encouraging energy conservation, will create thousands of jobs. However the greatest requirement to secure our future prosperity is to increase the skills and innovation of the Scottish people.

The economy

We will:

Developing tourism

The creation of the new Parliament will, in itself, promote Scotland and attract more visitors.

We will boost Scottish tourism by protecting and marketing Scotland's natural, built and cultural heritage, with a Minister responsible for tourism in the Education and Enterprise Ministry and with a Tourism Committee of Parliament. In particular we will encourage the off-season, short-break and niche markets.

We want to see responsibility for the international promotion of tourism firmly resting with the Scottish Tourist Board. To ensure better long term planning, funding to area tourist boards should be secured and channelled through the Scottish Tourist Board. We would require area tourist boards, in co-operation with local tourist industries, councils and the local and national enterprise agencies, to bring forward rolling three-year development plans to promote tourism within their area.

Scotland's influence at Westminster

Some key economic issues will continue to be determined at Westminster.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will press for:

The rural economy

Our rural areas are in crisis. As farm incomes plummet, the fishing industry continues to undergo a period of considerable uncertainty and returns for the timber industry have fallen. The small local industries and shops which depend on agriculture, forestry and fisheries also suffer. Traditional rural industries like textiles are also under threat. Meanwhile small communities have lost schools, bus services and post offices. A Scottish Parliament, closer to the people of Scotland than Westminster, can and must act decisively to reverse this decline.

We will:

Farming and forestry

We will:


We will:

Land reform

We will:

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