What the GERS figures really tell us

arrogance
Possibly the most common reason that people give for opposing Scottish independence is the belief that Scotland can’t afford it. There is a deeply engrained view amongst sections of the Scottish population that this country is an economic basket case which is only kept financially afloat thanks to a massive injection of cash from the British government. Which if true would mean that Scotland is the only thing in the world that Conservatives throw buckets of money at out of sheer altruism. Because the defining characteristic of Conservative governments is their eagerness to fund lavish lifestyles for the poor, said no one ever.

My mammy, who has been a supporter of independence since John Lennon was fresh-faced, has always claimed that if Scotland really was such an economic drain on the UK, we’d have been independent long before the rest of the Beatles went into a huff about Yoko Ono’s backing vocals.

The myth of Scotland’s poverty is reinforced ever year with the publication of the government’s GERS figures. Standing for Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland, the GERS figures are presented as the authoritative statistics on Scotland’s financial position within the UK. Every year the figures claim to show that Scotland receives a subsidy from Westminster, and that without the UK we’d be a financial basket case which would be forced to make swingeing cuts to public services in order to balance the books.

Not everyone accepts that the GERS figures give an accurate assessment of the state of Scotland’s finances, and most especially not the finances of an independent Scotland. Aware that the Conservatives have destroyed anything that might pass for a positive case for the union, pretty much all that opponents of independence have left is the claim that Scotland is subsidised by the UK, so they have come up with a phrase, “GERS deniers”. This is what they call those of us who dare to dispute their claims that an independent Scotland would be an economic basket case.

GERS denier is a nice wee soundbite which attempts to equate people who view the GERS figures with suspicion with people who deny the reality of climate change. But as ever, our anti-independence friends are not comparing like with like. Climate change is based upon multiple scientific works and studies. There is abundant data from many different and independent sources. The GERS figures are a single data set, and moreover they’re a single data set which relies very heavily on figures produced by a body which it is scarcely conspiracy theoristish to suspect may not be entirely neutral in the Scottish debate – the UK Treasury. The difference between denying climate change and denying GERS is simple. One is science, the other is politics. Only a fool is sceptical about a proven scientific reality. Only a fool isn’t sceptical about a political claim.

The GERS figures were instituted in the early 1990s by the then Scottish Secretary of State, the Conservative Iain Lang, as a means of providing the Tory government with ammunition to use against those campaigning for a Scottish parliament. According to a leaked memo, Lang wanted GERS as a tool to “undermine” the opposition. The figures were designed to show Scotland’s deficit, which could then be spun as a fiscal transfer from England to Scotland. This is as good a place as any to explain the difference between debt and deficit. Debt is the total amount owed, the deficit is the shortfall between revenues raised and expenditure spent.

The purpose of the GERS figures was political from the very beginning. That’s the opposite of science. Science seeks data and then develops a theory to account for that data. GERS starts off with the theory of an English subsidy to Scotland and then seeks data to account for that theory. It’s anti-science. It’s politics.

Unionists want us to accept GERS uncritically and without any rigorous examination of the methodology used to produce the figures which are presented in the newspaper headlines. They’re the only figures which exist, we keep getting told. And this would be true. However that’s all the more reason to examine the way in which those figures are produced and the data collected with a critical and sceptical eye. It is scientifically illiterate to accept without criticism a single data set, all the more so when that data set is the only data which exists and it’s data which relies on estimates made by people who can reasonably be suspected of having a vested interest in a particular outcome.

It’s a bit like saying, “Well we don’t actually know how life developed on Earth, but we do have the account in this old book I found in the Barras which claims that the world sprang into being from an egg laid by the primordial gecko, so let’s go with that. My book looks pretty holy. Now give me one tenth of your income. My holy book tells us to tithe too.” And then you call evolutionary scientists primordial gecko deniers and claim that they’re a cult.

The claim is frequently made by GERS fundamentalists that the figures are Scottish government figures. But that’s not exactly true. The Scottish government has a legal obligation to produce the GERS figures, but the statisticians of the Scottish government have no means of knowing how much is spent on non-devolved matters in Scotland or is (allegedly) spent on Scotland’s behalf outwith Scotland. The statisticians of the Scottish government know nothing about say, how much of defence expenditure, or the expenditure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is allocated to Scotland. For those figures they rely entirely upon information supplied to them by the UK Treasury.

A proper economist has had the temerity to look beyond the annual round of headlines predicting economic ruin for an independent Scotland and to examine the figures with a sceptical eye. He has found them seriously wanting.

According to the economist Richard Murphy, with the exception of local government income there are no reliable figures at all for Scottish revenues, and figures for Scottish expenditure are seriously deficient. He points out that it is normal for economic figures to rely on certain estimates, but it’s not normal for 25 out of 26 sets of income figures in a set of accounts to be based on estimates and consumer surveys. He says, “Estimates may be a part of financial life but this is ridiculous.” The former SNP MP George Kerevan, who was a lecturer in economics before entering politics, likewise believes that the GERS figures underestimate Scottish revenues.

The important point is that it would be perfectly possible for the UK Treasury to provide the Scottish Government with more accurate and rigorous statistics. It would be perfectly feasible for them to change the ways in which they collect data and measure expenditures and revenues in order to produce a more robust set of figures. But they won’t do so. And the reason that they won’t is because the existing GERS figures are ideally suited to the political task required of them. That task is to misinform Scotland about its true financial strengths and undermine confidence in Scotland’s ability to go its own way.

Opponents of independence want the GERS figures to do something that not even Iain Lang wanted them to do. They want to use the GERS figures in order to make claims about the financial position of an independent Scotland. GERS tells us, in theory, about the financial situation of Scotland within the UK, but independence means we do things differently. That’s the entire point of independence.

In the most recent GERS figures, revenues from the North Sea oil industry were a paltry few million, but Norway continued to extract billions from its oil sector even though it had been hit by the same decline in oil prices. The difference is due to different tax regimes and regulatory regimes. Unionists assume that Scotland would continue to indulge the oil corporations in the same way as the UK Treasury. That assumption is made across the board by the GERS fundamentalists, their vision of an independent Scotland is one which spends and raises revenues exactly the same way the UK does just now. That’s an obvious nonsense.

According to the financial services company Deloitte, “GERS data is produced for Scotland as part of the UK – it does not model scenarios for an independent Scotland in which the Scottish Government would be enabled to make its own fiscal choices.” And that’s the whole point of independence, to do things differently. To do things better for the people of Scotland.

The GERS fundamentalists make some even more outlandish assumptions. Literally outlandish. There are essentially two parts to Scottish expenditure as recorded in the GERS figures. There is spending in Scotland, and then there is spending for Scotland. There’s an important difference between the two.  Spending in Scotland consists of government money which goes directly to Scotland, which is spent within Scotland, and which consequently generates tax and other revenues within Scotland.

Spending for Scotland is money which the UK government spends on behalf of Scotland, much of which is not necessarily spent within Scotland itself. So for example Scotland is allocated a notional percentage of the UK’s entire defence budget, even though the bulk of this money is actually spent elsewhere in the UK. The rationale behind this is that defence spending benefits the UK as a whole. Scotland is also allocated a percentage of projects which are deemed to be UK national. The economist Richard Murphy estimates that the total amount of government money spent which is spent outside Scotland but which is allocated as spending for Scotland could be as much as £10 billion annually. This accounts for a considerable proportion of the notional deficit which Scotland is constantly being told it has.

So for example, according to the GERS figures the UK spends some £3.3 billion on defence which it allocates to Scotland. It is universally agreed that the amount spent within Scotland on defence does not approach this figure, most estimates place defence expenditure within Scotland at around £1.7 billion, a figure which includes spending on Faslane. Much of the remainder is spent in the south of England where the UK has concentrated the MoD offices and its military bases. No independent country in the world spends over half of its defence expenditure in someone else’s country, especially not a small country like Scotland which has no pretensions to Empire 2.0.

Money which a government spends generates income and revenues. It does so in two ways. Firstly there is the direct tax generated by the spending, for example the income tax which government employees must pay on their salaries. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is the ripple effect of revenues generated by economic activity which is created by that spending. Those government employees need services, they spend in shops, they buy or rent homes and support households, they run cars. The tasks they perform as part of their jobs require support services, supplies, and utilities, all of which generate economic activity and consequently revenues for the government.

None of the economic activity which is created by UK government expenditure for Scotland but which is spent outside Scotland produces any revenues which are accredited to Scotland in the GERS figures. This artificially decreases Scottish revenues, while increasing Scottish expenditure, giving a false impression that Scotland is dependent on a supposed “subsidy” from the British state.

This is a major reason why the GERS figures cannot be used as a guide to the finances of Scotland as an independent country. As an independent state, Scotland will not be footing part of the bill for an army base in Aldershot or a government office in Whitehall. Government spending in an independent Scotland will be both for Scotland and in Scotland, there will not be the huge disparity between spending in Scotland and for Scotland which we experience as a part of the UK. Monies which are currently supposedly spent on Scotland’s behalf outwith Scotland will instead be spent inside Scotland, and will generate the knock on effects of increased economic activity and higher government revenues within Scotland.

Another large contributor to the GERS deficit is Scotland’s contribution to interest payments on the UK’s eye-watering national debt. A large whack of the deficit which we’re always being told Scotland has consists of the share of interest payments on the UK national debt which is allocated to Scotland. Essentially what happens is that the UK borrows money on the international markets, spends it outside Scotland on stuff Scotland neither wants nor needs while telling us that this represents a fiscal transfer to Scotland. And then we get sent the bill.

We don’t know what the national debt of an independent Scotland would be. What we do know is that there is no financial institution anywhere in the world which possesses a piece of paper saying “IOU squillions of quid, xx Scotland”. The debt is legally the responsibility of the UK government, and during the first independence referendum the UK Treasury issued a statement to reassure the markets making it clear that it would continue to be legally responsible for that debt. If the rUK wants to be the continuator state to the existing UK, then they likewise continue with the debt.

That doesn’t mean that Scotland will start life as an independent nation debt free, although Ireland did exactly that. What it means is that when Scotland becomes independent it will only take on such debt as pertains to the share of the joint UK assets that it receives, and that will be subject to negotiation between Scotland and the rUK after a Yes vote in a referendum. No assets, no debt. It’s that simple. There are certain UK assets that Scotland has no interest in, such as our share of the energy and other resources of the Falkland Islands. Not taking our share of those assets reduces any debt we might need to take on.

There are now signs that the law of unintended consequences has started to have an effect. The GERS figures were always designed for Scottish consumption but the flip side of telling Scotland that it’s poor is telling England that it subsidises us. This has created a deep well of resentment against Scotland amongst large segments of the population south of the border. People in England have come to believe, incorrectly, that Scotland only enjoys free prescriptions and free university tuition because English taxpayers foot the bill. Many of them would be happy to see Scotland become independent, because they anticipate that it would generate public spending in England. They’re in for a big disappointment, but this belief is what lies behind the finding that two thirds of Conservative party members would prefer to see Scotland become independent than make any concessions on Brexit. The reliance of successive British governments on a skewed set of statistics aimed at convincing Scotland that it’s too poor has only weakened the integrity of UK, not strengthened it.

The reality is that GERS tells us next to nothing about the financial situation of an independent Scotland. But even if we were to take the GERS figures at face value, they still add up to something that smells pretty fishy. According to the GERS figures, Scotland has a deficit of £14.8 billion a year. The equivalent figures for Wales and Northern Ireland allocate deficits of £14.7 billion and £9.16 billion respectively. Yet the entire annual deficit for the whole of the UK is £67 billion. The GER figures would have us believe that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a combined 16% of the UK population between them, are responsible for a whopping 58% of the entire UK annual deficit. That figure alone ought to raise suspicions that the methodology of GERS is suspect and invite a critical examination with a sceptical eye. But Unionists don’t want us to do that. They want us to accept Scotland’s supposed £14.8 billion deficit as if it were holy writ.

So let’s do just that. Let’s accept for the purposes of the argument that Scotland does indeed have a deficit that’s considerably larger than that of Greece. Yet Greece doesn’t have Scotland’s resources. Greece isn’t a net exporter of energy. Greece doesn’t have oil, gas, a massive renewable energy potential, the hundreds of years worth of coal that Scotland has agreed to leave in the ground. Scotland is so rich in energy that we can afford to have a national conversation about fracking and whether or not we want it. We don’t need the energy from fracking ourselves. We can afford to leave it in the ground. Most countries don’t have that luxury. Energy is the motor of any economy, and Scotland possesses it in abundance.

Unlike Greece Scotland has fertile soil and no shortage of water. We have enormous fish stocks. We are more or less self sufficient in food, what we import we make up for in exports. We have a tourism industry worth £11 billion annually, a whisky industry worth almost £4 billion. We have a computer games industry, four of the top 100 universities in the world, and a highly educated English speaking population. We have advantages we just take for granted, like the fact that what passes for a national disaster in Scotland is the national football team, we are spared the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis that strike less fortunate countries – like Greece. Those are disasters that mean entire towns and cities have to be rebuilt. Nothing like that happens in Scotland. This is a lucky country.

But it doesn’t end there. We are in a geopolitically stable and quiet part of the globe. No one wants to invade us, no one has territorial claims on us, and we have no territorial claims on anyone else. Not even Berwick. We are that rare beast, a country that no one hates except David Starkey, and since pretty much everyone hates David Starkey that’s fair enough. Unlike Greece we have government institutions which actually function. Ordinary people pay tax, unlike Greece where tax evasion is a national sport. And we have impeccable democratic credentials, to the extent that we were able to hold a national debate on independence and the only casualty of the independence movement was Jim Murphy’s egg stained shirt.

Let’s face it. If you wanted to list the ingredients for a peaceful, prosperous, stable, democratic country, you’d list what Scotland has. And yet, according to the GERS fundamentalists, Scotland is an economic basket case which is worse off than Greece. That’s not an argument for remaining under the rule of those whose economic mismanagement has produced this lamentable situation, it’s an argument for running away from the clowns who have created this mess as fast as our hairy little Caledonian legs can carry us.

The truth that the GERS fundamentalists refuse to accept is that either the GERS figures do not represent an accurate picture of the financial position of an independent Scotland, or that their beloved Westminster has been criminally negligent in its economic management of this country. They can’t have it both ways.

The clowns of Westminster show no sign that they are aware of the damage they’ve done and are now intent on taking us into the financial catastrophe of Brexit where things are only going to get even worse.

The question facing Scotland is how do we get out of the Brexit mess we are currently in. Do we trust in the selfish arrogant Brextremist fools who caused the mess in the first place and who are bent on continuing the damage and making it worse, or do we trust in our own skills, our own talents, and our own abilities. Do we think it will be easier to repair the damage in an isolationist Brexit Britain, or in an independent Scotland with full access to the European single market and the trade deals that enables? Do we trust those who don’t care about Scotland, or do we trust those who do? That ought to be an easy question to answer, except if you’re a GERS fundamentalist.

The plan for this article and several others dealing with key points in the independence debate is to collate them and publish them in book form when we have a date for the independence vote. Some of these articles have already been published on this blog and others have yet to be written. The idea is that when we know when Scotland will be voting, I will do a crowd-funder specifically for the purpose of raising money to get the book printed, and then it can be distributed to Yes groups and campaigners and given away for free.

There’s already a Wee Blue Book, let’s have a Wee Ginger Book too. This isn’t meant as competition for the Wee Blue Book – which is a fantastic initiative with proven success – but rather it is to be complementary to it. Different writing styles and different books can appeal to different readerships and different demographics. The more information we can get out there, the more people we can persuade to Yes. If you have any suggestions for topics for articles to include in this book, let me know and I will write something up – if I haven’t done so already.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

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56 comments on “What the GERS figures really tell us

  1. partickdriver says:

    Paul. Excellent column as usual.A wee thought occurs, given the Celtic Rangers thing, how about having a rival set of accurate financial figures collated, and calling them the “CELTS” Figures?Could both fun and reframe the political narratives about the dependence of the UK on Scottish revenues and resources.CheersIndyCar Gordon Ross Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    • weegingerdug says:

      I used to say that GERS was so called because like the football team it’s a work of fiction for tax purposes. But that joke only pisses off Rangers fans, which isn’t a good look if you’re trying to persuade undecided voters to support independence.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug What the GERS figures really tell us Possibly the most common reason that people give for opposing Scottish independence is […]

  3. alanm says:

    They like to pretend we’d be Skintland without England to pay the bills. Trouble is too many voters believed them back in 2014. Let’s not make the same mistake again.

    https://mapdesign.icaci.org/2014/09/mapcarte-261365-skintland-by-the-economist-2012/

    • alanm, this time we are ready.

      The £15 billion deficit lie was peddled far and wide from Brewer on the Beeb, through every Dead Tree Scroll hack, and odious little people like Rennie, Curran and Davidson.

      This is a magnificent piece of work,Paul.

      The Mandarins came out recently and admitted that it was the Civil Service’s ‘duty’ to defend ‘the nation’ (England) against the threat of the Rebellious Scots.

      I recall Iain Davidson’s Scottish Affairs Referendum Committee set of ‘Papers’, full of Civil Service lies on everything from Scotland’s wealth to our future status within the EU.

      Not this time.

      When the campaign proper kicks off, we attack every lie about pensions, oil, continuing membership of the EU (if, when independent we decide to Remain) and name names.

      Call out the liars, publicly, loudly and vehemently at every turn.

      Remember Darling warning a nodding Jackie Bird (if memory serves) that ‘Salmond’ was exaggerating the amount of oil ‘tenfold’?

      Lord Flipper was lying through his teeth of course.

      They are trying to frame Independence as the one woman obsession of ‘Nicola Sturgeon’.
      Taylor Brewer Settle….it’s all that wee nippy Sturgeon’s fault?
      That won’t work either.

      We must attack from the outset; it’s always the best form of defence.

      Finally, we must get the story right about pensions and make sure that every pensioner gets a home visit and assured that not only are our pensions safe, but also in future, they will be pegged to EU levels, not the Jo Swinson Austerity ‘difficult decisions’ poverty death accelerating pittance levels.

      Never have my loins been so girthed up.
      Bring it on, Wendy.
      (What happened to her? A wee cushy job in Dugdale’s political Yoon Establishment village?)
      We can almost see the whites of their eyes.

      • Bob Lamont says:

        Girthed ?
        Otherwise, yep… In particular, the absence of media challenge to assertions made must be shouted from the rooftops and called out for what it is, flagrant bias..

        • I know, Bob, my ypographical terrors seep through my rage.
          My loins are as ‘girded’ as ever, rest assured.
          Like many, I am in no mood for the BBC coming back after the English summer hols and carrying on where they left off, lying and threatening Scotland and its citizens with nonsense like GERS, EU Membership, and oil.
          If Scotland is to be free, many of her sons and daughters with a public platform, must declare now.

      • douglasclark says:

        Jack,

        Your comment is almost as good as the article!

  4. Charles McGregor says:

    In public view, the money per head allocated to Scotland is higher than the UK regional grant average although not the highest.

    Politically it allows the Bringlish imperialists to claim that Scotland is ‘subsidised’ and they constantly point to the few hundred pounds per head above average to prove it.

    However, not in public view, we have the infrastructure spend.

    For recent years that has amounted to more than £5000 per head in London and the SE whereas in other UK regions it is much much less. e.g. the NE of England about £300 per head per year.

    There are reports which detail infrastructure spend if you know how to look for them but they never make the MSM.

    • Golfnut says:

      The additional spend in Scotland is bollocks. The block grant is calculated on the number of powers devolved to Scotland, Wales and NI. No has the most devolved powers, Wales the least. The amount of cash allocated per power is calculated against the population percentage against the allocation for Uk. When viewed against budget spend in the regions of England it looks as if Scotland, NI and wales get more spent per head, they don’t.

  5. velofello says:

    Well, let’s imagine that i’m in a position of political influence, and I also hold substantial shares in oil exploration and extraction companies.It would be very tempting to afford a low tax demand on said oil companies, and so bolster their post-tax profits, and enable generous dividends to shareholders.

  6. bringiton says:

    England bribed the Scottish elite into accepting the “union” with England 300 years or so ago following the Darien misadventure.
    England at the time was,as usual,running a national debt but Scotland wasn’t.
    Having Scottish resources available to assist with servicing England’s debt was a considerable factor in that assimilation.
    Nothing has changed in that period and England,probably even more so now,still needs our resources to fund their debt management.
    Lies,spin and GERS cannot hide that reality.

  7. benmadigan says:

    In ireland we get the same sort of arguments with the subvention for Northern Ireland. Here’s a video today from a Sinn Fein TD (member of parliament in the Republic of ireland) who investigated the issue as far as regards NI and the ROI not being able to afford Irish Re-Unification

    The Subvention: Busting the myths; Pearse Doherty TD

    PS – hope the link works!

  8. Thank you Paul. We have to them on this time and nail the lies as you have brilliantly here. I accept absolutely NO statistics from Westminster about Scotland’s economy, past, present or future because they are so contorted. The simple fact of inappropriate economic and fiscal policies imposed on this country by Westminster makes the present situation totally irrelevant to the future. Take them on! We need bullet points for the doorstep conversations. But this is brilliant. Bless you.

  9. ArtyHetty says:

    I started to read this and sorry I will have to read it bit by bit, becaus eit makes me so angry. GERS is a UKGov construct, a UKgov fabrication, basically a CON.

    Can anyone imagine any country in the whole world allowing a neighbouring country to dictate to them their fiscal functioning, like, willingly? To have a neighbouring country control your actual economy, to allow them to hold the purse strings, to hold you ransome?

    As an aside, Scotland this is how you are actually functioning right now…tip of iceberg, pun intended.

    https://www.physics-astronomy.org/2019/07/scotland-is-now-generating-so-much-wind.html

  10. Interpolar says:

    A nice article that really finds its stride in the second part. But some good info on how GERS doesn’t really add up in the first.

    One other aspect on government spending: most high-salary civil servant jobs go to people living and working in the greater London area. The additional bonuses they get to exist in the capital are a further subsidy made to London from taxpayers in other parts of the UK. Independence would see these salary payments re-domesticated and contributing to Scotland’s income tax take.

  11. Cubby says:

    GERS is simply a bowl of propaganda mince. Complete and utter nonsense. Just more Britnat lies.

  12. Rookiescot says:

    Is the bill for state pensions included in the GERS figures?
    The pensions Westminster would be obliged to continue paying upon independence.

  13. Tol says:

    THE ONLY COMMENT ON GERS.

    Its shite…

    Until there is an itemised GERS for every country in the UK and they total to the whole UK’s books…its bunkum…and only designed to decieve.

    • Craig P says:

      This is exactly it. There’s nothing to compare GERS to. Where is GERE? There isn’t one. How do we know that, using the same methodology, England would not be ‘proved’ to be a basket case?

  14. Bob Lamont says:

    8th last para GER typo…
    Excellent summation, GERS was always and remains a Treasury construct for political objectives, initially to dissuade devolution, refashioned to discourage independence.
    As you rightly highlight, GERS may have been better refined for the current UK setup after critical analysis by the Cuthberts etc., but it is no barometer of an independent Scotland’s financial health, and those who claim it does should be nailed to the wall as the liars they know they are.
    Craig Dalziel’s excellent analysis “Public Finances in an Independent Scotland” on YouTube fleshes out most of what can be reasonably gleaned, Anand Menon has several talks which illustrate the true subsidies are London and south-east England, and Mark Blyth has several talks on the global skew of wealth to the ultra-rich, so plenty of info out there, just not from Whitehall, the politicos, or the media….

  15. John Thomson says:

    What if GERs was taught in school, how would it be taught and would it open students eyes not to mention teachers.

  16. panda paws says:

    “Every year the figures claim to show that Scotland receives a subsidy from Westminster,”

    Later on in the piece you mention that part of Scotland’s NOTIONAL deficit is the debt interest we are charged. It might be handy to put those two statements together or repeat the subsidy myth at that point. We need to hammer home that fact that English taxpayers (sic) aren’t subsidising Scotland but that Westminster is overspending, then borrowing money the cost of which is charged to Scotland. No subsidy at all!

    I put notional in capitals. I think when debunking the GERS it is essential we put notional since as you say the figures don’t reflect on the finances of an independent Scotland. The following twitter account has some figures about Scotland’s share of so called national expenditure that always seems to be in or start in London! Might be good to include these, illustrating costs an indy Scotland wouldn’t have – Crossrail, HS2 etc.

    Also in the bit where you say that GERS is political would be good to link to Ian Lang’s original quote

    “In a leaked memo the then Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Lang wrote “I judge that [GERS] is just what is needed at present in our campaign to maintain the initiative and undermine the other parties. This initiative could score against all of them. ”

    Sorry that sounds like I didn’t think your article was great, it was. However, I think we need to hammer home that GERS isn’t based on proper accounting practise and bears no relation to the finances of an independent Scotland.

  17. Macart says:

    Neatly done and well said. 🙂

  18. I just dipped in and out of BBC Breakfast 90 seconds of Scotland is shite.
    The Scottish Blue Tries have teamed up with a Unison Shop Steward to ‘warn’ that the new Edinburgh Sick Children’s Hospital will have to be ‘torn down’ because of drainage problems.
    A lie of course, but the bright faced lass fronting this Scotland is Shite Blue Tory press handout smiles widely as he delivers her Master’s Voice.
    Better Together is dead but the rotting corpse is still giving off an almighty stink.
    Small business folding in record numbers due to ‘economic uncertainty’ Up Here, the highest in the UK and …mumble.. mumble something about something called Brexit?
    Prisoners at Edinburgh HMP have fitted out a bus to roam ‘deprived areas….oh and it’s pissing down.
    That’s Donalda MacKinnon’s Scotland in full glorious brown.
    I wonder how long these jumped up shop stewards will be allowed to use their position to uphold Brit Nat Boris Johnson Leave means Leave madness before their actual members, who according to today’s poll are in a majority to Remain in the EU, and back Scottish Independence, kick these erstwhile little Red Tory Jobsworths out on their necks.
    They do not represent their members, or reflect their political views.
    But there they are, front and centre, headlining on BBC Scotland is Shite.
    Corrupt and evil to the core, IYAM.
    The lass closed with abroad smile, insanely.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Curiously, had just read that article on the Beeb Scotland page Jack, and was baflled what numbskull would promote a story featuring a clueless Union lad making assertion on hearsay with no expert verification, when it had gone through commissioning and was being double-checked ?
      Perhaps a section of the expanded Scottish Office?
      No building in the UK has ever had to be torn down to sort any utility problem, period.
      There is certainly the earthy odour of shit, but more the bovine variety…

      • Bob, just returned from taking my old jalopy for a spin.
        They are still peddling the ‘senior Union official’ warning that the hospital could be pulled down; downright lie from the Pacific Quay Brit Nat Propaganda stockade.
        I repeat, if I were a member of Unison, I’d be after this man.
        .
        Fake news from the Fake scots.

        • Bob Lamont says:

          Apologies for diverting the thread, but this is front page propaganda – “Mr Waterson, who is the chair of Unison’s Scottish health committee, represents 12,500 members in NHS Lothian, including staff who were expected to to switch from the existing facility in Edinburgh”
          I must declare for clarity that I’m an Engineer, so jumped-up expert arseholes like this have been the bane of my professional life, contributing nothing but innuendo and creating local hoohah, and in Scotland’s particular case the political angle is skin deep with Indy2 round the corner, Dominic Cummings as London DJ and the propaganda unit at Scottish Ofiice bored shitless waiting on something to manipulate…
          This Waterson reminds me of a local Councillor (North Berwick?) who kicked up a ruckuss about the stink from the new sewage plant, protests, marches, urgent public meeting called as folks were riled up, Consultant commanded to attend. After all the speakers had finished their rant, the Engineer (my boss) was commanded to respond, and puffed away on his pipe in the few minutes it took for the lynch-mob to calm down…
          His words will forever echo in my head, “The sewage plant isn’t running yet, what you’re smelling is rotting seaweed”. You could hear a pin drop, as he went on to explain that the electrical hookup had been delayed so the plant is dry and yet to be commissioned.. Then he sat down, a lesson in composure forever etched.
          The Councillor resigned and moved out of the area shortly after, and before the plant went live, when nobody noticed it had.
          This Unison individual should consider carefully what he’s been roped into and perhaps his members night suggest a career change, they don’t need arseholes like this making fools of them. But let’s not forget who facilitated and promoted it, Pacific Quay, this time no Mentorn to hide behind…

          • Bob, four times in their usual half hour of BBC Scotland the Shite, this wee union jobsworth was quoted, including a preview of BBC Jockland’s News at Nine, when they will be touting the whole lie yet again, mercifully for an audience of 30 or so viewers who have fallen asleep and therefore not switched channel.
            As I observe, why would I be an independence supporting paid up member of Unison and be content that my Union was funding the Red Tories, who will do everything including lying, like this lickspittle, to thwart our nation’s inevitable destiny?
            BBC Scotland really has lost any sense of serving the Scottish public.
            They are the Propaganda wing of our colonial Overlords, and well, they even smile at the close of half an hour of misery, and wish the viewers a good evening.
            By Christ, come Independence, I trust none of this lot will survive the Downfall. Professionally, that is.
            Four times, they gave this jumped up Nobody a platform to lie. Four times, once every 7 1/2 minutes in yet another miserable half hour.
            You are an expert in this field, yet, we are fed this nihilist crap by a wee Red Tory as gospel.
            I am an expert in my field, which I shall put to dogged good use when the heat gets turned up.
            Be warned pundits and bag carriers.
            We shall let nothing go unchallenged.
            Jesus wept.

          • Bob Lamont says:

            No expert opinion was called because it was all horseshit Jack, which I believe you echo even if not conversant with the engineering. This has the same feel BJ’s straight banana saga, and it sticks in the mind by repetition even if recognised as bunkum…
            For any TV channel to broadcast this is professionally incompetent, when they are a monopoly it is deliberate and blatant propaganda…

            • I suspect that Brewer, Magnusson, Taylor, Smith, and Campbell are off on their summer break so have the old Thatcher Westland Helicopter plausible deniability cop out to fall back on: ‘I was on holiday at the time.’
              Something ponged today, and it wasn’t the drains.

  19. Ian says:

    Unbelievable that the UK has the nerve to suggest that Scotland coudn’t survive economically when the UK’s track record of massive economic incompetence/greed has no equal. PFI’s, nuclear electricity that will cost almost double the going rate, the ineffectiveness of so many privatisations, light touch financial regulation, UK getting far less for oil than the Norwegians etc etc. Debunking UK bs is necessary but we need to start relentlessly highlighting just how pathetic the UK’s economic ‘management’ is, has been for decades and with brexit, is only going to change in that it is now about to go turbo. There are two sides to independence. The consequences of staying in the UK needs to be given a lot more prominence than it has so far. Strong and Stable? More like Deluded Backwardless and there are plenty of examples.

  20. Terry callachan says:

    Publish this under the title “ Realistic and Nuanced GERS “ or RANGERS for short

  21. Terry callachan says:

    It is mind boggling to think that anyone in Scotland,
    actually , anyone in the world would believe that it is okay that all the money from oil and gas that comes from Scotland’s waters
    should not be counted as Scotland’s

    All the money from Scotland’s oil and gas goes to england, they then keep it secret how much they actually get and then they tell us it’s worthless really and that is why they do not include it in their GERS calculations

    Really ? Really ? Do they think we are stupid ?
    Don’t answer that, they obviously do

    I have news for them, we are docile at times, we are not stupid

    The time for England going it alone has come its time for England to support itself and time for England to take responsibility for its own actions
    We don’t want ant part of it anymore

  22. Macart says:

    Ashcroft poll:

    https://archive.is/j0Pyw

    Quite the eye opener. 😉

  23. Grafter says:

    KIRSTY,

    On behalf of those people who support independence for Scotland I would like to invite you to take part in the March for Independence in Aberdeen on Saturday 17th August starting at Albyn Place 1.30pm. I do hope that a high profile SNP politician would be only too glad to take part in this event, There appears to be a feeling that the SNP have been too long sitting on the political fence and that their support for those who wish to raise the profile of Independence has been severely lacking. So I would urge you and your fellow SNP politicians to come out from behind your net curtains and join us in the March in a hopefully sunny Saturday in Aberdeen.

  24. Gordon says:

    I am a supporter of Scottish Independence and a supporter of dispelling myths about Scotland’s finances but in the interests of accuracy it is important to point out that any income that comes from Falklands oil does not belong to the UK but to the Falklands Islands to be spent by them as they see fit. Not understanding the Falklands relationship with the UK is common across UK politicians and parties but for those of us who support independence it is vitally important. The Falklands is far more devolved than Scotland is currently. They own their own oil. They have their own currency which is tied to Sterling, they decide who can live in the Falklands and Brits do not have an automatic right to do so although Falkland Islanders can live in the UK. The Falklands has its own economy and has part in UK debt. The Falklands manages and owns its own fisheries. All of this affects me because I am a Scot by birth but I do have Falkland Islands Status in law and can live there if I choose, which I did for many years. Perhaps the most important aspect of this comment is that there is precedent for many aspects of further devolution and for independence that we in Scotland could and should learn from.

    • aLurker says:

      Thank you Gordon.
      This is very interesting to hear, do please feel free to share any more nuggets of Knowledge.
      What ever arrangements apply for the Falklands clearly set precedent for the arguments for the other post Empire possessions too! 😉

  25. Aikenheed says:

    Excellent and invaluable article WGD.
    Anent the SG being legally obliged to publish the figures- who decided that and why should they conform? Why can’t they publish the figures under the heading “We have to publish these but 25 of the 26 figures are estimates generated in London and we think they’re bollox”?

  26. Marion Richardson says:

    Excellent. Just the kind of column that we need to read and share widely in our campaign for #IndyRef2. According to the latest poll: Games On!!!🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🌈😘

  27. Tukey says:

    Something I have wondered about is the income/value of the only missile test range in Western Europe. There are other military facilities e.g. Faslane and farious bombing ranges that should be considered as revenue generators.I do not have the skill to research that stuff, but I feel it needs to be highlighted.

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