The Scottish National Party (SNP) is looking to New Zealand as it seeks to re-make the economic case for independence from the UK, Scotland's Sunday Herald reports.

The newspaper has reported that David Skilling, founding chief executive of the New Zealand Institute (now the NZ Initiative) has been employed as a key consultant on a highly anticipated report on Scotland's economic future.

When contacted by the NZ Herald, Skilling, who runs Singapore based economic consultancy Landfall Strategy, declined to comment on the report.

The Scottish Herald reports that the SNP has traditionally focused on Norway and Ireland as models for an independent Scotland but that its Growth Commission will use New Zealand "as a model for cutting the deficit through economic growth and sound governance".


The paper's investigations editor Paul Hutcheon suggests the move reflects a political shift to more right-leaning, market-based economic policy within the SNP. That's something that could be cause for division given its traditional left of centre political base.

The SNP is the dominant political party in Scotland with 62 Seats, the Conservatives have 31, Labour has 23 and other parties 12 seats.

The weakness of the economic case is seen as one of the key reasons for the failure of the referendum on independence in 2014.

The Growth Commission was set up in September 2016 by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to bolster the case for economic independence in the wake of the UK Brexit vote.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within Europe in the Brexit vote, something that has ignited talk of another referendum on independence.

The Commission is due to report in the next few weeks.

Hutcheon writes that it is "understood" that New Zealand's solid GDP growth rate and success in addressing its fiscal deficit are reasons for the focus.

He notes that the collapse of oil prices since the last referendum has made Norway a less relevant model. He also notes New Zealand's high immigration rate in the past decade.


However, he cites critics who argue that following New Zealand's blue print would represent a significant shift to the right for the SNP.

Skilling, who has consulted for McKinsey Group, was a principal advisor at the New Zealand Treasury until 2003. He has a PhD in Public Policy and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University.

CorrectionThis story has been amended. An earlier version included incorrect information on the make-up of the Scottish parliament.