It has been that week again. You know the one where the annual GERS figures are released and all sorts of arguments spring up around them.
The Brit Nats crow about how awful they are and mock how dreadful Scotlands deficit it and shout everywhere from the pages of their newspapers to the tv news from Reporting Scotland and STV.
These figures are all analysed, turned this way and that by their preferred guests and commentators on politics programmes on radio and tv.
The Brit Nats on social media go absolutely haywire and rub their hands in glee while shouting ” Oh Look…. See how really awful Scotland is and how much Scotland is benefiting from the ever generous Union.” “Scotland…Independent? In your dreams! ”
Meanwhile on the other side in defensive formation are the Independence supporters who point out how flawed these figures are. They point out that to a very large extent while these figures are produced by the Scottish Government as a requirement, the figures are mostly all estimated and based on figures which are provided to them from the UK Treasury. They point out that HMRC Tax figures are not included, and even if they were there is no reliable means by which Scottish personal or business tax can be properly extrapolated from them.
These arguments are just the tip of the iceberg, and I am not going to bore you rigid with them.
The nonsense and misinformation about them range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
They are about as much use to us as a cheap plastic toy in a cornflakes packet.
They were originally designed by Ian Laing in Thatchers government as a Tory propaganda tool meant to discredit Devolution and the opposition parties. And very successfully they have been used in that fashion ever since. Only now they are used by all British Nationalists as a tool to oppose Independence.
They have no real bearing in even the state of play between Scotland and the UK as a whole as part of the Union, they are too flawed to even give an accurate reflection on even that, far less how they could even begin to give any indication whatsoever of what an Independent Scotland might do and how it would run its affairs. In effect beyond an academic and political exercise they are essentially worthless.
And yet…. every year it is the same old thing from Scottish British Nationalists. Look at how awful Scotlands deficit is! We do not have a deficit, we have no means with which to run up one. We have no control or economic levers with which to govern our own affairs in any real sense. We cannot borrow and we cannot run up a debt, we are not allowed to.
We have no control over taxation (other than to now vary personal tax by a very limited margins), defence spending, foreign policy,Immigration,fiscal and monetary policy,Social Security,Nuclear energy and Broadcasting.
Yet we have the likes of Jeremy Corbyn having the utter cheek to come up here and tell the Scottish Government to mitigate against Westminster cuts and austerity implemented by the Tory party but which has been aided and abetted by his own!
We have Brit Nats crowing…. Look at how many Billions and Billions of pounds Scotland is being subsidised by, and this proves we are better being in the Union.
Well for those Scottish British Nationalist supporters, parties and journalists I have only two things to say to you all.
As Scots you are an utter disgrace to our country. You are either propagating downright lies for your own petty benefits on the back of something you know to be utterly untrue.
Or you actually really believe all this guff and believe that we truly are a beggar Nation depending on the handouts and largesse of our very generous neighbours. In which case you are no better than the junky who begs people in the street for a pound for their fix and are an utter disgrace with no honour pride or decency left.
Or you are a bigoted racist Tory who actually is a Nationalist of the very worst Kind.
Take a good look at yourselves, for whichever you are, you are a disgrace to all of us Scots.
Well said. I do think more people are actually aware that the GERS figures are just another way for the uk gov to undermine Scotland. We have woken up and won’t go back in our boxes.
There is a fascinating new comment on GERS by Richard Murphy on his taxresearch blog.
It shows we need to start talking about uGERS (union GERS) and iGERS (independent GERS). From the very first day we get independence, Murphy explains why Scotland will be suddenly many billions better off i.e. a large chunk of our £13.3 billion blackhole will be magically and instantly filled in. Here’s why….
Basically Scotland’s current spending consists of two parts – first spending which happens IN Scotland by the SG or UK government and second spending FOR Scotland in which Scotland is billed by the UK for its share of UK spending (e.g. repairs to Buckingham Palace, HS2, Trident and lots of highly paid civil service jobs in London). Obviously the SG has no control over the spending FOR Scotland.
The first bonus to transform uGERS into iGERS through independence we mostly know about – our deficit will shrink because we will no longer have to pay for stuff we don’t want (e.g. Trident, HS2, etc). The second is less well known and understood. Some of the spending FOR Scotland will come back home here on independence day (e.g. more civil service jobs in Edinburgh) and this will suddenly become spending IN Scotland as opposed to spending FOR Scotland in London. But here’s the upside – this new government spending IN Scotland will increase the revenue side of the GERS equation through taxes on salaries and all this public money will then be passed onwards and outwards through the economy because of the increased activity it will bring. Basically independence keeps this money in Scotland (rather than sending it south) and it goes round and round making our economy larger.
As Ian Laing once said (about something else entirely) “that my friends is a double whammy”
That’s the essential difference between uGERS and iGERS – let’s get the message out there.
Certainly Richard Murphy who is an accountancy lecturer and once the Labour party economics policy advisor has done much to debunk the GERS mythology. However as soon as we get tied up arguing and debating on Brit Nats chosen ground on this and other matters we allow them to set the agenda and lead us down blind alleys to distract us.
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people have as much interest in debating the finer points of academic economic discussion as they do about the mating habits of the rare moth coloured tetse fly.
We know that Scotland is more than capable of being a successful Independent country and what they want to know is if their pensions will be safe and their standard of living will not suffer.
So we should be directing them to look at the utter shambles the UK is in and telling them we can do much better.
I think the fact that Scotland would be significantly better off by many billions on Day one of indy is a fairly good guarantee that folks pensions will be safer and is a not too shabby response to “oo wee, too poor” much much better than we’ve managed so far. It therefore shouldn’t be filed away under “academic argument” and alongside something about the tetse fly.
Try explaining that to someone who doesn’t give a monkeys about it.
Though I agree with you with regards educating those who are prepared to listen. It is also useful to debate with those who try to say otherwise.
Don’t knock him, I at least found his argument helpful, and everyone he convinces is one more vote for Indy, and it’s still likely to be a damn close-run thing. But then I do have a PhD in the mating habits of … Oh never mind 😉
Oh I am certainly not knocking him! Anything but. Just endeavouring to point out that the vast majority of the public are not political anoraks like myself 🙂
Those lying – or being highly selective with the facts – for personal gain will not be bothered about being called a disgrace. But you would think that those Scottish Britnats – who give the ‘too poor to be independent’ narrative some credence – might realise that when they vocally (and pathologically?) celebrate our ‘poverty’, they leave themselves open to being called ‘subsidy junkies’. This ‘’accusation’ – by certain uninformed and ‘racist’ English nationalists – is false, but it serves to reveal the selfishness or lack of self respect of many Scottish Britnats. The accusation does not and could not apply to Independence supporters since we want to stand on our own feet.
Being charged with being selfish or lacking self respect might hurt them, but I suspect these Britnats will respond with the Better Together defence that we are all part of the UK family. In this fantasy, Scotland is weak (as is N.I. and Wales) but is helped by strong, caring England. But it doesn’t work. When ‘unionists’ in the corporate and social media delight in denigrating our aspirations and spend lots of time loudly crowing about how dependent we are and how poor we will be, the true nature of their ‘union’ is revealed. It’s abusive not caring.
These unionists know an independent Scotland would be far from an economic basket case. Things may be challenging in the early years of independence, but they are not willing to accept possibly being a bit poorer in exchange for knowing they are standing on their own feet. For the sake of money in their pockets, they would rather remain in the UK state (though Brexit is changing that for some of them) and accept insults about being ‘subsidy junkies’.
I enjoyed your article, but I am going to make a smalI criticism. Your implication that begging (drug) junkies are a disgrace is far too harsh. Yes, they may have “no honour, pride or decency left”, but these ‘failings’ do not in themselves harm most of us. More importantly many of them are victims of the society we live in. Care rather than condemnation might be the best response in most cases. Crowing Britnat subsidy junkies on the other hand are definitely not victims! As you said, they are a disgrace.
I take your small criticism gladly. You are quite correct. It was not my intention to describe these poor unfortunates as a disgrace but to infer rather that the subsidy junkies were.