Marketing a lie

It’s a quiet news day. No other former Labour leaders have announced their decision to eat kangaroo testicles on national TV, and no more former SNP leaders have announced their decision to set up a broadcasting studio in Vladimir Putin’s front room where they’re going to read out the Kremlin’s little list of things that Russia would like to see happen in Scotland, followed by a translation of And Quiet Flows the Don into Doric. (At least according to the Scottish Unionist media’s depiction of events.) Even all the Putinbots have been reduced to tweeting random lines from Scot Squad.

Back in the real world it’s looking increasingly likely that the UK’s talks with the EU could end in disaster. Ireland is deeply unhappy that the work that the UK has put into ensuring there is no hard border between the Republic and the North after Brexit amounts to Brexiteers stamping their ruby red slippers and wishing on a star. A hard border is a logical consequence of the UK leaving the customs union and the single market, and it can’t be wished away. Ireland has already hinted that it’s going to wield its veto and block any talks on a post-Brexit trade deal until this issue is dealt with to Ireland’s satisfaction. The days that the UK could bully the Irish Republic are gone. But that’s not really news, because it’s not about how Scottish independence supporters are all agents of the Kremlin.

While we’re on the topic of the single market, there’s something that annoys me. It annoys me that apologists for the British state go on about Russian inspired misinformation when they’re perfectly happy to peddle misinformation of their own. It would be lovely if British nationalists and their hangers on would stop with the guff about a “UK single market”. Not that it’s going to happen mind you. SNP MSP Joan McAlpine got dog’s abuse in the British nationalist press for stating the obvious, but she was correct. There is no such thing as a UK single market. “The UK Single Market” is a political and propaganda term invented by supporters of the British state who seek to prevent Scottish independence by drawing a false equivalence between the union that is the collection of sovereign states which comprise the EU and the supposed union that is the incorporating unitary state of the UK.

A single market is a precisely defined term, and it refers to what you get when several distinct and discrete national markets come together into a mutually agreed and negotiated regulatory framework. That’s decidedly not what we’ve got in the UK. What the UK has is the market of a unitary state, that is not a single market in anything like the same sense that the EU has a single market. One market is not the same as a single market.

This might seem like a nit-picking distinction, but it’s important. Crucially, whereas national markets within a real single market retain their own regulatory, taxation, and financial bodies to which fees and taxes must be paid or reported, the regulatory, tax, and financial framework under which the Scottish economy operates is almost in its entirety handled by the central government in Westminster.  And this will be even more the case after Brexit when competencies currently held by Brussels will be held by Westminster.

What this boils down to is that when, say, Belgium reports that it exports X amount to the rest of the EU that there are Belgian tax authorities and economic bodies which are able to collate figures for the Belgian market with a considerable degree of accuracy. The Belgian government and the Belgian press can then discuss Belgium’s tax revenues and its exports to the rest of the EU and be fairly confident that the data they’re using is accurate and meaningful.

There are no comparable statistics for Scottish tax revenues, the figures which do exist are based on estimates because Scotland doesn’t have its own authorities to which such figures must be reported. The great majority of taxes in the UK are determined by the UK government and collected by UK agencies on a UK wide basis. There is absolutely no requirement for a company which operates across the entire UK to separate out its income and expenditure in Scotland when it comes to paying its taxes. Equally figures for Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK are based on rough estimates derived from voluntary surveys. In fact it’s really only accurate to speak of the UK economy in Scotland and not of “the Scottish economy”.

So it’s misleading to confidently assert that “Scotland exports four times as much to the rest of the UK as it does to the EU” as some apologists for British nationalism do, because Scotland is not a country of origin in terms of the reporting of taxes and fees in the sense required of a member of a single market. The truth is we don’t really know with anything like the precision that the Belgian authorities know about their exports to other EU states. It’s like trying to compare the results of a straw poll taken from amongst your mates in the pub with the outcome of an actual election. You might come up with the correct result, but there is a huge margin of error and there’s no guarantee that your sample is representative. But really it’s nonsensical to speak about exports from one part of a unitary state to another part of the same unitary state. You’d be as well talking about what Glasgow exports to Paisley

Another crucial distinction is that the EU states decide collectively what the regulations governing the EU single market are going to be. In some aspects of the negotiations member states have a veto.  No single EU state can impose its will unilaterally on the others.  It is however nonsensical to assert that Scotland has a separate and meaningful input into decisions such as setting the rate of VAT throughout the UK, or the rate of corporation tax. These are decided by the UK central government. One nation in the UK can and does unilaterally impose its will on the other nations.  That’s why Scotland is getting Brexit.  Within the UK, we all get what England votes for.

The entire taxation system is in the control of the UK government, except for those aspects which Westminster has allowed to be devolved. Naturally the only tax powers which Westminster has allowed to be devolved to Holyrood are those which have the biggest direct impact on the income of ordinary working people. There’s no economic reason for that, only political reasons. After Brexit the UK government has made it very clear that decisions on regulations such as agricultural standards which are currently determined by EU regulations as part of the EU single market will be determined solely by the UK government.

The point here is that the different members of a single market each have input into how that single market is run and regulated, and although some of the countries which comprise the EU have much larger economies than others, in theory each country comprising the single market has an equal say in how it’s run. That ensures that no one country which is part of the single market can use the single market to benefit itself at the expense of other countries in the single market. That is at least the theory, although it doesn’t always work perfectly in practice. However it’s a very different philosophical underpinning to what happens in the UK’s unitary state market, where the entire economy is apparently run in the interests of the south east of England and London sucks up capital, labour and receives the lion’s share of investment.

If those who oppose Scottish independence want to oppose it on the grounds that taking Scotland out of the UK’s unitary market is a bad thing, they could make a reasonable argument for that which would at least be coherent and morally defensible. It is after all indisputable that Scotland has extremely strong economic links to the rest of the UK. However there is no moral defence for trying to pretend that there’s an exact equivalence between the real single market of the EU and the market of the unitary state of the UK. That’s just misinformation, pure and simple. And that’s exactly the kind of thing that they’re accusing Russia of.

So gonnae no dae that. Gonnae. Jist gonnae no.


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41 comments on “Marketing a lie

  1. Dan Huil says:

    Excellent article. More ammunition to use against britnat media liars

  2. In the UK we don’t have a ‘UK Single Market’ but rather a UK Shingles Market because when you witness it in operation, you are left totally itching to get the fuck away from it.

    It’s a UK Shingles Market that leaves you scratching your head as to why EU cash destined for Scottish hill farmers is diverted by WM and given to English farmers instead.

    It’s a UK Shingles Market that leaves you feeling raw and sore when you see how Scottish renewable energy suppliers have to pay to connect to the grid but those non-renewable suppliers in England are PAID to connect to it.

    I’m itching to go on but aye – thats a sore one right enough, yer UK Shingles Market.

  3. chicmac says:

    Every day it grows more clear that the dementeratti have definitely taken over the madhouse.

    The much maligned and deservedly so, David Cameron, while clearly no saint, I believe saw it coming and tried to avert or forestall things. He almost succeeded.

    However, with their media allies, that contingent of the ruling elite which has a delusional Uber Mensch mentality (they know who they aren’t) formed a monstrous cabal which managed, courtesy of the Brexit ref. disaster, to finally oust him . (Ironically, minus the presence of a certain Ms Mensch who had, perhaps prematurely on her part, already departed in an Uber to the States). 🙂

    I fully realise, that such a view may, understandably, be roundly criticised on the basis of it being overly generous to Cameron, and of course, it is not one which I can or do hold with any great conviction myself.

    However, neither is it mere hindsight rumination, as some here may be able to attest, because I formulated that theory as the events actually unfolded and posted on it at the time. Prediction isn’t proof though and it still remains just a theory, even if it is one which makes sense of a lot of otherwise difficult to fathom past events, large and small.

    If it is correct however, then consider that Cameron may indeed have a strong personal desire to blow the whistle (hunting horn?). But given the party loyalty demands infamously endemic to Conservatives and given the unlikely success of such a venture conducted through a hostile cabal controlled media he may well have considered that a non starter.

    Indeed, I had little hope of seeing such a hypothesised revelation ever being confirmed or refuted this side of his memoirs. However the reason I think it worth reiterating here is because now, a golden opportunity presents itself in the form of The Alex Salmond Show.

    Outside of the hostile, controlling media vehicle which he would have had to endure in the UK, he might, just might, be tempted. Far fetched I’ll grant you but not entirely impossible. Just depends how deeply he feels about it and what he decides may yet be achieved by doing so.

    If yer readin Alex, gie him a bell. Worse that can happen is a laughing hang up.

  4. Andy in Germany says:

    Even if the UK was the ‘single market’ they seem to be trying to claim, then they would still have to explain why the UK leaving the EU single market and going it alone is “Taking back control” and “good for the UK”, whereas iScot leaving the UK ‘single market’ is ‘Separatism’ and ‘economic madness’.
    Even on their own terms they contradict themselves.

  5. 1971thistle says:

    Good article, but – given relations between the Regions here in Belgium and how they weaponise economic data – maybe not the ideal example.

    But a good point well made

  6. Andy Anderson says:

    Good article Paul.

  7. Linda says:

    Thanks Paul, what would I do without you? x

  8. Macart says:

    Neatly done Paul, but of course it’s not the only lie peddled by both government and media on the economy, on action and consequence and political/legal reality.

    Plain fact is, too many people in the UK won’t listen about now. Not the ones who follow the media slavishly and invest their votes and trust in two parties and a closed, broken system of government. No, it’s going to have to hit them in their livingrooms. They’re going to have to watch and experience the effects of brexit. Effects which will make the fall of 2008 and austerity ideology seem like the good ol’ days of plenty by comparison.

    Scotland has an option available, not an easy option, but a good and viable one. We can change our economic future for the better by taking it into our own hands.We can change our politics, making it more directly accessible and accountable to our population. We can provide a more socially just environment for our electorate. A constitution enshrining our rights, our responsibilities and those of our public servants. We can, STILL, have that future. If we want it.

    The other option? The one where we continue tae dae as wur telt, when wur telt? The outcome there is somewhat more bleak.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Often said before Sam. We all need to only convince one No voter to Yes and we win. Action as well as words.
      Agree to all you say.

      • Macart says:

        Apparently there are a posse of Tories warning Ms May that they and the public won’t be happy if Ms May offers the EU £40bn to kick start talks.

        Why?

        It’s not about an offer. It’s about what is due. What has been freely signed up to by UK government. Just as ensuring the rights and privileges of EU resident citizens is about responsibilities due, not a multi choice serving suggestion. THEY HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS as citizens of dual nationality. Pretty much explains why UK gov wish to deport as many as possible, yes? They do not wish to conform to said rights and to avoid the issue, you remove the source of the problem.

        Having control over rights and legislation of a population for the benefit of a very few is what Brexit has been about from the beginning. It’s never been about empowering the many by bringing sovereignty home (a sovereignty that was never lost or in any danger), but about empowering a few to change an economy to suit their own personal needs. They will use the power to legislate without interference or legal bindings to reshape the UK population’s rights, society, economy and legislative bodies for their own ends, their own greed. Bizarrely, what stands (stood) in their way was the fact that UK gov were signed up to incorporate constitutional and legal protections for all EU citizens (including its own). Protections for human rights, workers rights, liberties hard won across the board.

        ‘Course how they change those rights and what the outcomes will be for the vast majority of the UKs population has never been in doubt for these folk. They’ve known about the economic consequences for the populations of the UK from day 1. They simply didn’t care. Collateral damage. Trimming the fat. Making omelettes and all that. The message sold to the public however? Well, it’s all the fault of them furriners and their furriner’s ways.

        We’re not just dealing with your average empathy free, fleg wavy, bigoted, morally compromised, hypocritical Tory here. Y’know, the one who thinks they know a bit about business and folk’s place in the food chain. Oh no. No, we’re talking about the real deal, moral desert, cold hearted bastards in this instance.

        Not quite the picture painted by the right wing meeja or the political class, now is it? Mind you, no committed British nationalist type will believe it until, as I say, it hits them right in their living room. Even then it may take a while to sink in. It’ll always be someone else’s fault. Right up until there’s no one left to blame.

  9. Jim Morris says:

    In the single market of U.K Scotland produces/sells 860,000 litres of Scotch each year. 2 Questions: how much does that generate for the Treasury, and how mich of that is accredited as Scottish?

  10. Gayle Smith says:

    Yet again Britannia’s pinnochios are caught with their fantasies down. One day they’ll be forced to stop having these delusions of relevance and fooling themselves they still have an empire and colonies and that day is coming faster, much faster than they ever thought possible.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Agree Gayle. I know two people who have already moved from NO to Yes due to Brexit and the main damage from it has not started to hit the majority yet, at least they are not aware of it.

      Brexit is the last nail in the fall of the empire. It had taken a while since 1914.

  11. Waiting for Scotland says:

    Another aspect of the false equivalences that is in fashion among “one nation” British Nationalists is the creative accounting they use to apportion the BBC license fees collected from the people of Scotland.

    As an example, Question Time.

    With its hand picked audiences of Ukip/BritNat Brexiters, and its “panels” of mostly Unionist hacks and Neo Liberal mediocrities, is incomprehensively funded out of BBC Scotland’s budget.

    These monies, forcefully extracted from all residents of Scotland, is used as a forum to silence/mock at least half the population of our country and give voice to those who are actively engaged in a program of erasing our nation as a political entity.

    Why anyone, who is not already an unhinged Little Englander et.al., wastes their time watching this trash, is beyond me.

    • Waiting for Scotland says:

      “…with a telly, is used to fund a forum…”

    • chicmac says:

      Another false equivalence was ‘The Equivalent’ a sum agreed at the start of the union to compensate Scotland’s taxpayers for taking on a proportion of the huge English national debt. At the time Scotland had virtually no national debt itself.

      ‘False’ because they only ever paid about a third of it and instead of the promised gold even that was mostly paid with English bonds of dubious value.

  12. Stookie says:

    Noooo!! Just did the Sky “what chancellor are you quiz” and Im a Gordon Broon 😱. To be fair the other 3 options were all Torys so there wasn’t really a right answer. BTW I may well be intervening in something today

  13. Brian Fleming says:

    Great article Paul, but is it not disinformation you’re talking about, rather than simply misinformation. Misinformation is incorrect, but disinformation is deliberately misleading and essentially malevolent. And that’s what the Unionist media is all about.

  14. Macart says:

    Just this.

    HERE

    This is what it’s all about and this is how it should be.

    • john 58 says:

      Thanks for the link Macart. Funny this wasn’t plastered on TV . but thank god the Scottish Tory MPs saved the Scottish emergency services VAT ,what a bunch eh !!!!!

      • Macart says:

        Yeah, clocked that piece of playground crowing. Kind of them to confirm that the whole VAT situation was a punishment exercise by their head office, which could always have been solved by a simple piece of legislation passed by said head office. Good to know who and what you’re dealing with.

        That they didn’t do it till now and by the by and have still pocketed the £140 mil owed, speaks volumes.

        Like I say, a punishment exercise by thugs and thieves.

        • Anne Martin says:

          For me, it just proves that they are stepping up the SNP bad, Tory good guff in preparation for Indy2.

        • Imagine, dear Readers, if the price of a First Time Buyer flat where you live suddenly rocketed to £500,000, Leasehold mind, not Freehold, and your children or grandchildren had to find 20% deposit, £100,000 .
          We are led to believe that because this is the state of play in London and the SE Spreadsheet Phil has scrapped Stamp Duty. We live in two different worlds.

          There is no ‘Single UK Market’.
          Our UK economy is based on the London economy, and the rest of us pay through the nose to feed the St George Dragon.

          Train drivers on £1000 a week, plumbers on Footballers’ wages.

          It is a nonsense to threaten that EngWaland will stop trading with Independent Scotland still in the EU post Brexit.

          But idiot Tory Boys spout this shit.
          Whatever deal the EU 27 get with EngWaland, Scotland in Europe will get.

          England and Wales Health, Education, Police , Emergency Services and Local Government are being starved of money by the Ultra Right Blue Tories, and Corbyn stands by letting it all happen.
          The Blue Tories are doing the Red Tories dirty work for them.
          Alarmingly Corbyn’s lot are as one with May and Co., in crashing out of Europe, regardless.
          The next step in ‘taking back control’ to London is of course shutting Holyrood and Cardiff.
          Belfast has already fallen.
          How many FTB’s in London can afford to take on a half million in debt?

          • Macart says:

            It was a budget for the SE, not the UK, simple as that.

            Just saw Mr McDonnell confirming that Labour would still pursue Brexit should they find themselves in power by the by. How that sits with the young and hopeful of their party membership?

            Ostensibly he’d been asked on to SKY to critique Mr Hammond’s budget, but when the talk came round to Brexit liabilities the onus was on how Labour would handle Brexit differently, not a cheap on how they would retain access to the single market or customs union.

            Who knew?

            As I say though, how that will sit with a membership that is unashamedly pro EU, is anyone’s guess.

            • Sam, Corbyn and McDonnell are Olde Worlde Communists.
              They hate Europe with a passion. They just can’t say it out loud, otherwise they would lose the Glastonbury crowd.
              I sense that the real Power Brokers will step in and cancel Brexit.
              The drip drip sex scandals were just the opening gambit by the unseen Oligarchy.
              The US Skull and Bones Club arm wrestling with the Oxbridge Bullingdon Boys.
              Clash of the Titans.

  15. bedelsten says:

    It is demonstrably impossible to produce an accurate figure for the value of goods and services generated within Scotland never mind exported to the rest of the UK from Scotland, never mind the tax any of this generates and, instead. producing a vague guestimate, weighted by preconceptions, generates false data – garbage in, garbage out. However, it is possible to list the resources available to Scotland should when it becomes an independent nation – though, currently, a lot of that appears to be water. Jim and Margaret Cuthbert have plenty of written evidence on the subject: http://www.jamcuthbert.co.uk/new_page_3.htm

    The Irish Question seems to be barely registering in the consciousness of those tasked with answering its current iteration though, as Paul notes, the Republic of Ireland is starting to make its presence felt. Laura Kuenssberg has an article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42075126 which some think is about conspiracy theories but it may just be padding, bread and olives, the oeur’d’oeuvres, before https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2017/1117/920981-long-read-brexit/. Because the Republic of Ireland has, in effect, a veto on the Brexit negotiations moving forward unless the question is answered and anyone with an iota of common sense (well that’s ruled out quite a few) can see the logical alternative to a dry land border is a wet sea one. Boom! (metaphorically – in case any nutters are reading) If that happens then Scotland will be an independent nation and the newly built border post at Cairnryan can be relocated to Gretna.

    Meanwhile, way below the threshold of consciousness, Spain has a similar veto and may well be persuaded to use it unless the Gibraltar’s situation is recognised. Now, I why has the UK government not seen fit to chide the Spanish government over its repressive tendencies? Hmmm.

  16. Ranald says:

    Of course, most Scottish exports leave these shores from English ports and are therefore counted as UK exports. That’s why (britnat lie alert) our major trading market is not the EU but rUK.
    Another thing. How many goods are made in Scotland which have “made in England” stamped on them?

  17. Andy Anderson says:

    So we have the Tories and Labour pushing Brexit. Nice of Labour to confirm what we have suspected for ages. Think about it. The majority of people voted for idiots that are following a political agenda that will economically damage us all.

    At least the orange Tories are against it.

    I am not one bit religious but to use an old expression I pray to Him or Her above to make all my fellow Scots vote YES when it comes.

    • Andy, I cannot see anything other than a resounding Yes next time, especially among the young.
      The Corbyn effect has long dissipated. He’s just a sad old Trotskyist who hates Europe because his USSR handlers tell him to. Young people want change all right. Corbyn and the Islington Set are as staid and old hat as Blue Rinse Bearsden Tories.
      By April next year, the World of Wooster and Brexit will have been exposed for the disaster it will be. Then the iron will be red hot, and we strike.
      And this time we win, if only we now know what voting No means.
      We have had 3 years of colonial rule to prove that Self Determination is the only true way.
      It’s comin’ yet for a’ that.

  18. Macart says:

    Apologies for not archiving, but this site doesn’t archive very well. Still and all, a must read.

    HERE

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Just had a read Sam. My oh my! What a state the UK is in. Just saved this in my ‘economy’ folder for circulation when the campaign kicks off.

      • Macart says:

        As and when Scotref comes along? So looking forward to drawing direct comparisons between pledges and assurances given in 2014 and what actually occurred. A then and now kinda thing. A let’s see how the unionist case has measured up to the test of time over the past three years.

        Not an argument or appraisal they can be looking forward to.

  19. […] is somehow analogous or similar to the European single market from which it hopes to pull us. Paul Kavanagh has already broken down this myth and exposed it for the manipulation it […]

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