It’s GERS week, the annual release of the Government Expenditure and Revenues figures for Scotland, a set of data which bears the same relationship to the economy of an independent Scotland as a graph showing the economic impact of the damage done to Westeros by dragons. The release of the GERS figures are the excuse for the ritualistic self-flagellation of ProudScotsBut, those Unionists who are proud to be Scottish and even prouder when Westminster tells Scotland that it’s a basket case.
The GERS figures were first introduced as a political wheeze by then Tory governor general Ian Lang in 1992 as a means of staving off calls for devolution. Despite the nakedly political intent of the figures, they are invariably seized upon by gleeful Unionists in order to produce pretty coloured graphs showing that Scotland is poorer than Greece. The news of Scotland’s penury is cheerily broadcast far and wide across the nation, with the subtext that we ought to be grateful to the kind dragons of Westminsteros. Bow down before your lizard overlords is rarely expressed in a less subtle manner.
This year’s figures are worse than last years because of the fall in oil prices. According to the Unionists the case for independence depends entirely on the price of oil, although funnily enough they were still against independence when the price was high. The GERS figures do indeed show a fall in tax receipts from the oil and gas sector, but they also show an increase in economic activity in non-oil and gas sectors, boosted by the lower price of fuel. This increase is almost equal to the fall in oil receipts. So there are other stories to take from the GERS figures. You could take the story that Scotland’s economy is so resilent that it’s unaffected by the drop in the international oil price, you could take the story that Scotland’s economy is broad based and well able to absorb shocks.
But these are not the stories that appear in our Unionist media. A 0.1% drop in government receipts and allegedly the case for independence is “shattered”. The only thing that is shattered is the remaining shreds of Scottish Unionist credibility.
It’s one thing to be told that your country is an economically incompetent near-basketcase, it’s quite another to receive the news with rapturous glee. There’s something very dark and twisted at the soul of Scottish Unionism when news that Scotland allegedly teeters on the brink of financial ruin should be the cause of such unalloyed joy. It’s masochism as a mechanism of rule. And that’s the essential truth of Unionism, it requires Scotland to be incapable and unable to make its own way in the world, because then the Unionist cause is justified.
Here we are then, according to GERS, after 300 years of munificent Westminster rule, guiding Scotland by the hand, looking after us despite our base nature, and still this country with its plentiful resources, its fertile soils, its functioning institutions, and its educated populace is unable look after itself. We’re supposedly facing a budget black hole of £15 billion, and the people who have created that budget black hole remain the best people to look after us, despite the fact that in Scotland they were handed the best raw material imaginable for the creation of a prosperous and peaceful democracy.
What the Unionists never explain is just what is special about Scotland. What is it about Scotland that makes it unique amongst the countries of North West Europe? All the others are able to manage their affairs successfully, to grow their economies and supply decent standards of living for their people, to provide levels of public services that are often well in excess of anything we get in the UK. Yet an independent Scotland would, according to the pretty coloured graph of the unravelled wool of an armchair economist, be poorer than Greece or the former-Soviet republics.
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Scotland is blessed with natural resources that any country would envy. We have an embarrassment of energy resources, both fossil and renewable. We have a fertile country that is more or less able to meet its own food demands. We have a sizeable chunk of Europe’s fisheries. We have water in such enormous quantities that domestic water consumption is not metered. We have whisky. We have a huge tourism industry. We have a highly educated English speaking population with four of the best universities in the world. We have a world class record in invention and innovation. We have impeccable democratic credentials and institutions which are relatively uncorrupt. We are situated in a geo-politically quiet corner of the planet. This is the recipe for a peaceful, prosperous, democratic country. Raw material for independent states do not come any better than Scotland.
Yet we’re facing a massive budget black hole. We struggle to provide public services. Pensions for our elderly are threatened. Why’s that then? Who’s been in charge of Scotland for the past 300 years? Who has had their hands on the levers of macro-economic control? And why do you think that that bunch of incompetents are the ones we should entrust our future to? Because all the pretty graphs show is that Scotland has been mismanaged by Westminster. That’s not an argument for Scotland remaining in the Union. That’s an argument for independence.
None of this gets an airing in the Unionist press, too busy climaxing in a masochistic orgasm. We’re screwed! Isn’t that great! That will show those pesky cybernats. Scotland’s poverty is to be celebrated by the ProudScots with a poverty of spirit and a poverty of imagination.
Bow down before your Unionist masters, they know what’s good for you. What’s good for you is what profits the Scottish upper classes. What’s good for you is what benefits the owners of the landed estates. What’s good for you is being kept in fear and remaining ignorant of your strengths. Bow down before the lizards. You’re being ruined for your own good, ruining to stand still.
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