Saturday, 13 June 2015

Let's Talk About Growth

Watching the latest round of SNP politicians' media interviews (and hearing the echoes on social media) it's clear they're working off a crib-sheet that reads something like this;
If Scotland was able to run its own affairs - if we had control over the levers of growth - then we would grow our way out of the £8bn black-hole that we keep being told about. It might be true that Full Fiscal Autonomy now would be "tantamount to economic suicide" (SNP MP George Kerevan) - would be "a disaster" (SNP MP Tommy Sheppard) - but it's still a sensible medium term aim.
Saying we'd have an £8bn deficit as if that's something we'd have to get rid of overnight when all countries (including the UK) run deficits is simply scaremongering. Anyway these figures are all hugely uncertain and based on assumptions that the SNP don't necessarily agree with ... and who would argue that Scots wouldn't be better at running our own affairs than Westminster Tories?
If I could be bothered I could find plenty of direct quotes (from the likes of Stewart Hosie and Pete Wishart) to back me up on this - but I think most will agree this fairly paraphrases the SNP line at the moment.

So let's unpick it.


"We would grow our way out of the £8bn black-hole if we had full powers"

Putting aside the obvious point that the SNP have yet to make any concrete policy proposals that would lead us to believe that they would somehow achieve this superior growth, let's just concentrate on the magnitude of the challenge.

The numbers are easy: Scotland generates £50bn of onshore tax revenue, so to increase that by £8bn means growing it by 16%.  If we're to make this additional tax revenue through economic growth (as opposed to through increasing tax rates) then we'd need to grow GDP by 16%.  [For those who care about such things, Scottish onshore tax generation consistently runs at about 37% of GDP].

It's important to understand that this growth needs to be growth relative to the rest of the UK because that £8bn figure is the deficit gap (on which more later). It's what we need to generate to be paying our way within the UK, for us to be making Full Fiscal Autonomy work. See my post Full Fiscal Autonomy for Dummies if you need convincing.

To get an indication of the scale of this challenge we need look no further than the Scottish Government's own White Paper: Scotland's Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland. As you might expect they had a go at scaling how much faster an independent Scotland might grow when no longer shackled to the UK. In fact they were so pleased with their analysis that they quoted it five times (pp 23, 43, 88, 375, 619). Here's the wording from page 23;
"Similar countries to Scotland have seen higher levels of economic growth over the past generation. That is because they have the bonus of being independent and are able to make the right choices for their nation and economy. If Scotland had matched the levels of growth of these other independent nations between 1977 and 2007, GDP per head in Scotland would now be 3.8 per cent higher"
I think we can safely assume that the countries and timescale used were selected to make the strongest possible case - after all, why stop at 2007 when more recent data was available? - and just in case you doubt if that is a cumulative 30 year figure, it's clarified on page 619:
"The average rate among small European countries was 2.61%, a gap of 0.12% each year. Over a 30 year period the compounded effect of this gap totals 3.8% of GDP"
So the Scottish Government's own attempt at scaling the economic growth benefits that "the bonus of being independent" might bring was 3.8% over 30 years. We're looking for 16.0% to grow our way out of the deficit gap. As one of my erstwhile American colleagues used to say: you do the math.

Frankly I could stop here. The assumptions required for the SNP's "levers of growth" argument to work are exposed as ludicrous by their own analysis.  But I'll carry on because this SNP Hydra has many heads ...


"The IFS say we'd have an £8bn deficit"

The £8bn (or £7.6bn) is consistently referred to by the SNP as the IFS forecast of Scotland's deficit. This is simply untrue.

I've blogged about this before and this simple table summarises the key figures


Scotland's deficit in 2013-14 per Scottish Government's own GERS analysis is £12.4bn and is forecast by the IFS to be £14.2bn in 2015-16. This is the net result of (largely know) oil revenue declines offsetting expected deficit reductions (as a result of UK-wide policies).

It shouldn't be beyond the wit of any half-decent politician to understand and remember these figures. If they're going to engage in this debate they really should know what Scotland's deficit is. If they're going to write a press release about it surely it would unforgivable to get this basic fact wrong?

Well here's the SNP's official press release (posted on Thursday 11/06 at 07:44) which includes these words:
"The IFS figures they cite suggest that Scotland would have a deficit of £7.6 billion in 2015-16. But over the five years to 2013-14, the UK’s cumulative deficit has been worth over £600 billion."
I (and many others I'm sure) jumped on this howler within minutes - the BBC picked up on it and contacted the SNP for a statement (see at 22:30 in this broadcast of BBC R4's More or Less) and yet still (13:50 on Saturday as I'm writing) the Press Release sits there uncorrected.

There are only two possible explanations for the SNP and their spokespeople making and repeating this error: either they don’t even know what our deficit is or they know full well but think they can get away with simply lying about it. I don’t know if they’re insulting our intelligence and actively trying to deceive the electorate or they’re just spectacularly incompetent. These are the people negotiating Scotland's economic future - god help us.

To compare this (wrong) annual figure with the cumulative 5 year UK figure really is so obviously ridiculous that I'll treat it as an aside.

For fun let's work out the scale of this misrepresentation of data
  1. Using the £7.6bn increase instead of the £14.2bn total is a 1.9-fold misrepresentation
  2. Comparing a single year with a five year total figure is obviously a 5-fold misrepresentation
  3. Comparing an absolute number spread across the whole of the UK with an absolute number shared across just 8.3% of the UK’s population is a 12-fold misrepresentation
  4. Comparing UK figures from the past (when the deficit was worse) with a Scottish figure for the future (when the onshore deficit is forecast to decrease) is – as it happens -  a 1.6-fold misrepresentation
So that’s 1.9 x 5 x 12 x 1.6 = a 185-fold misrepresentation. Bravo!


Of course the right comparison to make is that Scotland's deficit is forecast to be 8.6% of GDP compared to 4.0% for the UK: so more than twice as bad.


"Suggesting we'd have to get rid of the deficit overnight when all countries (including the UK) run deficits is simply scaremongering"

Under FFA we would still be sharing a currency and a national debt with the rest of the UK, so to be be paying our way we would simply need to be (over a sensible period of time) running a deficit at a similar rate to the rest of the UK. That's what the £8bn defines - the amount we'd need to find from more taxes or less spending to be holding our own within the UK.  If you like: it's the amount we'd need to find to get back to the position we're in now by pooling and sharing within the UK.

Nobody's saying that under FFA Scotland would have to eliminate its deficit.

As for "all countries run a deficit" - no they don't. To put it simply: those running deficits borrow their money from those running surpluses.   It's been pointed out this is an over-simplification which I'm happy to accept - suffice to say there are plenty of countries who run surpluses from time to time


As for "we'd have a deficit but so do lots of European countries" - it's rather silly to talk about having a deficit as if it's a binary thing (you either have one or you don't). Clearly the scale of the deficit matters, so let's put that forecast deficit of 8.6% in context.

The graph below shows European Commission data on net lending / (borrowing) by country as a percentage of GDP in 2015;


Stop drooling over Norway; it's unseemly.

I confess I'm not sure how Norway's sovereign wealth fund plays in these figures (although it's clear in 2014 Norway was running a considerable surplus) - but for other countries this is basically the same as surplus/(deficit).

Let's repeat the graph without Norway (just so it's easier to read) and add a line at -3% (which the European Commission's Stability & Growth Pact defines as the threshold for "excessive" deficits).



I don't think anybody can seriously argue that Scotland running a deficit of 8.6% of GDP would be "just like other European countries running deficits".  Our deficit would be considerably worse than any other European country, worse than Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

This would need to be addressed and it could only be addressed by yet more borrowing (if Scotland's borrowing capacity would allow it), higher taxes or lower spending.  To imagine how this would be playing out had we voted Yes and been renegotiating our position within the EU - while grappling with currency issues, transition costs and business flight - is quite terrifying.


"These figures are all hugely uncertain"

Actually they're not really. All the IFS assumptions do is extend the consistent long-term relative onshore tax and spend generation levels and factor in the known impact of oil revenue declines.



Of course these figures don't reflect what actions a Scottish Government would take if given FFA. That's precisely the point: maintaining the tax and spend status quo would be unsustainable under FFA. What we need to hear is how the SNP propose to close this gap. These analyses present the problem with FFA and - given they're the ones asking for it - it's right that the SNP should be asked to explain what their solution would be.

I think we've shown that just saying "we'll grow the economy" is not a good enough answer - so it becomes a question of which taxes will go up and which costs will be cut?  The SNP are very reluctant to answer this question.


"It's based on assumptions that the SNP don't necessarily agree with"

As we've seen the assumptions are hardly controversial and it is - as ever - really just all about oil. The latest OBR Fiscal Sustainability Report is very thorough on the topic. We can argue about future oil prices but two points are undeniable;
  1. The profitability of North Sea production is in long term decline due to rising costs, not just falling oil prices.
  2. The decline of North Sea production is not a surprise - it's been forecast for years, the only question has ever been one of timing

Unfortunately during the independence referendum it appears summit fever led the SNP to present hopelessly optimistic forecasts; they've not been too keen on producing forecasts since. But if they don't like the OBR and IFS forecasts, they really need to show us some of their own.


"Who would argue that Scots wouldn't be better at running our own affairs than Westminster Tories?"

This is always the payoff. When all else fails (and it does) accuse those who argue against FFA of talking down Scotland, of suggesting Scot's aren't capable.

It's true that the SNP seem hell-bent on demonstrating that they don't understand Scotland's economy, but let's not make the mistake of conflating the SNP's leaders with the Scots people.

The question is not one of competence or who happens to be in power in Westminster right now. It's about understanding and valuing the benefits of UK wide pooling and sharing. FFA means sacrificing that and for some of us that seems like a wildly reckless and self-destructive act.

38 comments:

kaibeezy said...

*Why* does Scotland have this large 8.6% deficit? We seem to be a reasonably prosperous place. Is it really being subsidized that heavily? Or is there some ghost in the calculation associated with some aspect of being part of a larger country?

Anonymous said...

Kaibeezy, the answer is Scotland costs more to run per head than RUK, partly because of relative geography, population density, population age and health, and unemployment levels. None of these will change rapidly, if ever (depopulate the Highlands and Islands perhaps? No, thought not). Being in a UK irons these differences out, and we all gain in ways beyond (many would argue more important than) mere cash. But economics matters, because money gives you freedom...

Anonymous said...

Stonking bar chart Kev. So what would the basic rate of tax have to be to cover this increase?

kaibeezy said...

Or, more incrementally, how much to go from -8.6% ("bad") to something in the middle of the pack, like 4%? Is that good enough to be viable?

Morose said...

So, ultimately, the best Scotland can hope for, can aspire to be, is a subsidised piece of land to the north of England? I don't mean that in a 'too wee, too poor' ironic way. But this is essentially what these figures would suggest, isn't it? That's the brutal reality. You don't have to be a Yes voter to find this hugely depressing.

David Quartet said...

It's only depressing if you somehow view Scotland and England as separate countries - when they are, in fact, both parts of the United Kingdom. Which, across its diverse regions, pools its resources and shares its liabilities. Ultimately, this is what makes the UK a stronger proposition for Scots than an Independent Scotland. Why Independence supporters don't see that is, in a very large part, due to utter misrepresentation of the economic and, indeed, political situation by the SNP. That is why the explanations set out in blogs such as these must be discussed and answered by the SNP before we take things too far...

Stewart K said...

Having a twelfth of the UK population spread across a third of the land mass makes it expensive to provide a consistent level of education and health services. Decades ago this was recognised and the Barnett formula was introduced. It simply costs a lot of money to service rural areas with very low population density. In addition we have an ageing population, which in part is because our levels of immigration are much lower than England. thats not down to government policy it's simply the case that London and the South East is where most of them want to go as it is the strongest economic area. Our economy in Scotland is not bad, our non oil GDP per head is around the same level as the UK overall, but it simply costs more money to run Scotland.

Kevin Hague said...

Morose

No. We can aspire to strengthen our economic position working within the UK and concern ourselves with addressing inequalities UK-wide. There is nothing magical about FFA that enables us to do something extraordinary that we can't do within the UK - there are few things that are "right" for Scotland that wouldn't also be "right" for the UK as a whole ... and devolved powers give us the ability to pursue different policies whilst maintaining the valuable principle of pooling & sharing - you only have to look the 1980's to know that Scotland is not always a "subsidised piece of land" and - as I've argued before - unless all ares are *precisely he same* there will always be areas you could choose to point at and say "ooh look, they're being subsidised". It's a narrow minded and inevitably divisive approach to adopt

Kevin Hague said...

Kaibeezy - we don't, we could easily put up taxes or cut public expenditure to fix it

Anonymous said...

Top rate of 70p

Kevin Hague said...

That's what the £8bn / 16% superior growth *is* - it just gets us back to UK level

Anonymous said...

I find your blog and some of its responses fascinating Kevin. It is by far the best, most accurate and reasoned piece of "interweb thingumabob" that explains the fiscal realities surrounding the independence debate. However, as an Englishman in England, I have gone from being as unionist as a unionist can possibly be to quite a bitter "rUK" national who wants rid of Scotland. The breath-taking incompetence and dishonesty of the SNP and its supporters makes me think that I have had enough. Let the SNP have its Full Fiscal Autonomy and see how they like it.

I note that the SNP has tabled an amendment to the Scotland Bill demanding so many caveats that it is impossible to implement. It is clear that they think they are being clever demanding something they don't really want yet blaming those nasty Wastemonster unionists fro denying them this. It is a matter of personal pride to me that my MP Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough, Con) has tabled another amendment to that bill that would grant FFA by 10 o' clock Monday evening! He is calling the SNP's bluff. I was discussing just this approach with Sir Edward's researcher a week or so before the general election.

Another nasty reality that you and others, including the Spectator, is the way that nothing seems to stick to the SNP. Nothing they say or don't say, nothing they do or don't do seems to matter. Their support doesn't dip at all regardless of the size of any bollock that they appear to drop. FFA is just such an example. Normal rules of politics simply don't apply to the SNP. They seem to be a true Teflon party.

My country will be significantly better off without a SNP dominated Scotland. As much as I look forward to such a time, and as much as I shall take great delight is watching the SNP lead Scotland to hell in a hand cart and have to deal with the consequences, I shall be deeply saddened at the same time for sensible Scots and other residents there, like yourself, who shall have an awful time of it. However, I know you will always be most welcome south of the border.

Anonymous said...

Anon as are you; my response is, "What a load of bollocks!".

Anonymous said...

2 questions:
Where is trident in these figures (there is no gross sum I notice, but its added into all IFS and other reports).

And why is this yet another closed echo chamber?

Pick stats where you will, it does no good for anyone to give half a story. And reassures fools they are right.

Example, where would Scotland stand without the ridiculous sum that Trident costs? That thing even us in England want no part of when we see people starving on the streets.

What, is the majority of GDP in England based on (clues, house prices, the financial thing that caused the 2007> crisis), and what would happen if, as just about every economist predicts, it collapses again.

I would rather not see another SNP "Nationalist" diatribe but some attention to the real issues and gaps in numbers so many, including here, are voluntarily ignorant towards.
We are due another horrid slump by all predictions that various bailouts and Quantitative Easing have tried to delay, and frankly knowing where Scotland would stand, in comparison with its unique position of energy standing, exports etc, to England with these factors considered.

Oh who am I kidding, people so hung up on simple terms like nationalist snp, UKIP, immigrants etc no one is going to bother to do the research let along blog about it.

Kevin Hague said...

Trident is implied within the per capita defence cost allocation that works out at 2% of GDP per NATO target

See elsewhere on this blog Alex Salmons estimated the actual annual cost of Trident as <£200m pa. to Scotland

The hugely optimistic White Paper suggested under independence that we could save £0.5bn on defence. Few believe that.

So Trident is a rounding error in this analysis.

As for the rest of your comment I'm afraid I can't make enough sense from it to respond

Anonymous said...

Denmark .. same population size as Scotland but GDP is considerably higher (15%-25% dependent on whose figs you use). End of story. If the Danes can do it so can the Scots. Every other opinion is mince.

David GREEN said...

What can one say? Another well-argued article that makes the SNP case for Scottish independence look ridiculous.

User512 said...

Denmark .. same population size as Scotland but GDP is considerably higher (15%-25% dependent on whose figs you use). End of story. If the Danes can do it so can the Scots.

I'm not so sure of that. My geography teacher in the 1980s claimed that the wealthiest regions in Europe were those closest to the centre. The EU's figures suggest that is true:

http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/images/b/b0/Gross_domestic_product_%28GDP%29_per_inhabitant%2C_in_purchasing_power_standard_%28PPS%29%2C_by_NUTS_2_regions%2C_2011_%281%29_%28%25_of_the_EU-28_average%2C_EU-28_%3D_100%29_RYB14.png

There is a wealthy central core that runs from Northern Italy to Scandinavia. Denmark is centrally placed between Scandinavia and Germany. Scotland is not. Scotland is very much on the fringe of Europe. Whilst that doesn't mean it can't be wealthy, it does suggest it doesn't have the advantages a country like Denmark has.

Anonymous said...

Just look at a map to see why it is harder and will cost a hell of a lot more to run Scotland. That is before you consider the health and employment differences. Like another poster above, I was a Welsh union lover, however now I would like to see a rUK for the benefit of those who actually care about this country. Lets give them FFA and watch them panic, and then ask for another act of union like the original one, where their colonial ideas bankrupt them.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous@14:21 - Let's play 'pick the country we can be today'. It's a good game, we find a country which appears to be doing better than Scotland and apply no logic whatsoever in the reasoning behind us being that country.

Here's one good reason why we're not Denmark:

Denmark has a population density of 130 per sq.km.

Scotland's is 65 per sq.km

Would you like to take a guess as to why that's important?

Angry voice from the wilderness said...

Anonymous (vis-à-vis Denmark):

I don't think I've ever read Kevin say anything about it being impossible for Scotland to be (economically) independent, or for FFA to actually work. It's a case of looking at the data and being able to discuss it openly and knowing HOW much it's going to cost to cover.

All he's asking for is the SNP to produce plans of how iScotland/ffaScotland would cover this deficit gap to bring it up to the same level of rUK. I too, living in Scotland, would like to know the answers to this so I can make an informed decision.

Anonymous said...

Denmark has its own currency which it backs with £75 billion in currency reserves.

Scotland is so not Denmark.

Anonymous said...

User512, that is very interesting....an completely the opposite of the trends in the American landmass! Could it be that the benefits of being involved in medieval trade are still echoing down the centuries?

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff, although woolly in the extreme. It is, however, worthy of note that this type of cherry-picked pseudo-economic claptrap is the kind of thing that sparks the interests of financial analysts. ("woolly" - look for the detail in the sources - find any outside of "European Commission Data" and "IFS"?? Even the most casual observer will note that these sources of data are massive and have been construed with multiple, conflicting, commentaries in all forms of media).
But thank you, poster - thank you for giving me and mine the impetus to drag the data kicking and screaming into the light of day. You'll note the word "data" - not statistics. And perhaps the poster should refer to some definitions on that point before plastering mislabeled graphs as embodiment of fact on his next outing.

Kevin Hague said...

"Anonymous" - the position of "we don't trust GERS" and "we don't trust IFS" I'm familiar with ... "we don't trust EC data" is a fun new one to add to the list.

If you could clarify which graphs are mislabelled and in what way I will - as ever - be happy to correct and/or clarify

jimboandthejetset1 said...

Thank God for a voice of reason. I have only recently come across your blog, and I don't usually (ever) comment on articles I read (especially not gushing praise). In this case though, I feel compelled to thank you. Also, please, please, please keep up the good work - it is much needed in our frighteningly myopic times.

bucksboy said...

"the best Scotland can hope for, can aspire to be, is a subsidised piece of land to the north of England"

Quite a negative outlook. Plenty of wealthy people living and working in Scotland. Just google : economic map UK. Far from a subsidised piece of land.

streatham minicab said...

This is the first time i am visited your blog . I was impressed by your article while first time i seen your post .. Nice article ....keep it up ...

puzzled said...

Firstly a big thankyou to Kevin for his efforts to clearly lay bare the economic facts to enable informed future decision making by his compatriots. I'm English and share some of the sentiments of anon posted 14.06 @ 9.37, following with almost obsessive interest this discussion over the last few years, though my conclusions are more to hope that common sense will eventually prevail, call me an optimistic fool. I understand the comfortable middle class making a principled decision for independence and respect it, but never could understand how somebody less financially secure could make that decision, unless they are being lied to.
Which, pretty much, are the unrefuted facts as presented by Kevin, if that analysis is true then the SNP deserve a much more aggressive argued reaction than they seem to receive, but how do you counter what appears to be some form of blind religious cult mentality ? moreover, I would love to know what reaction is expected or desired of the population of the remainder of the UK to the fiction they spout.

David Green said...

As you show, the economic facts (and the SNP lies and half-truths) speak painfully for themselves. Take John Swinney's latest claims in response to new, but much lower, projected oil revenues.

“Scotland remains, by some margin, the biggest oil producer in the entire European Union”. (Comment: So what? If North Sea oil's discovery and decommissioning costs exceed likely income, then it stays in the ground. Just like any other mineral resource.)

“No other country in such a position would have it suggested that it could not finance itself,” he said. “But Scotland’s economy is built on much more than oil. We already more than pay our way, with more revenue raised per head than the UK for every one of the last 34 years.

It is true that Scottish tax revenues per head are higher than for rUK, but so is Scottish Government expenditure, which is why Scotland has such a huge budget deficit. It is difficult to know, at this distance, whether Swinney is thick or mendacious. If he is thick, then God help Scotland, because the IMF will be a much tougher bird. Imagine Lagarde arriving to tell Swinney and Sturgeon to cut their deficit, reduce pensions, etc. as a prelude to building a competitive economy. If Swinney is merely mendacious, then a Scottish OBR should, hopefully, start reducing the levels of mendacity that the SNP currently employ. All may be fair game in politics, but a dirtier set of players than the SNP would be hard to find.

David Green said...

We are beginning to see a new SNP script emerging from the contradictory miasma that constitutes SNP policy. The noisy ones currently are Hosie and Swinney. Salmond appears to have gone very quiet, and Sturgeon has certainly quietened down, as has Angus Robertson (apart from his two weekly questions each at PMQ's at Westminster. Moreover, there is clearly a new SNP script in which (i) other sovereign nations survive, so why shouldn't Scotland as a independent country?, and (ii) Scots pay more in taxes than rUK, and must, therefore, be paying their way. Other sovereign nations do, indeed, survive, but by broadly balancing their books, not living high on the hog like the SNP, with annual transfer payments from rUK. Even then, the UK is running a substantial budget deficit. Second, the Scots do pay more in taxes, but they also spend more. I would have expected Swinney to understand that budgets have both an income and an expenditure side. As I have said before, God help Scotland if he doesn't. What do I think is happening? My guess is that Sturgeon, Salmond, and Robertson all realize that, currently, you cannot make the silk purse of Scottish independence with FFA out of the pig's ear that is Scotland's fiscal dependence on rUK. Hosie and Swinney are the noisy boys, hoping that they can pull off a putsch against the Scottish electorate before reality hits.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, love your stuff, but this: "I think we can safely assume that the countries and timescale used were selected to make the strongest possible case - after all, why stop at 2007 when more recent data was available? - and just in case you doubt if that is a cumulative 30 year figure, it's clarified on page 619:'The average rate among small European countries was 2.61%, a gap of 0.12% each year. Over a 30 year period the compounded effect of this gap totals 3.8% of GDP'. So the Scottish Government's own attempt at scaling the economic growth benefits that "the bonus of being independent" might bring was 3.8% over 30 years." I believe is using the figures wrongly. If (big if) I read p619 right the %s quoted are when comparing Scotland's onshore GDP growth rate with that of other small countries, and the 3.8% is a cumulative summing of the total of the difference (which is negative) over 30 years as a % of GDP. So not a claimed total growth figure. I may of course have got that entirely wrong, being barely numerate, but you do ask for instances where you might have got something wrong...

Kevin Hague said...

Latest Anonymous

Thank you - and appreciate your attention to the detail on the White Paper claim.

I'm confident I have interpreted the figures correctly as I'm not suggesting its the total growth rate - to close the deficit *gap* we need to grow 16% *more* than rUK so the growth *over and above* our base growth (as experienced within the UK) needs to be 16% which is fairly compared with the 3.8% higher growth versus us that the SNP observe for a subset of smaller countries and (rather arbitrarily) attribute to the "bonus" of being independent countries

David GREEN said...

A trivial commonality between Scotland and Greece is that their national flags are white on blue. Looking at footage of anti-austerity nationalists in Athens, and one has to make sure it is not Edinburgh.

But on a more serious note, the similarities are striking. Both countries have left-wing nationalists running their governments, and both have the same problems with even the simplest budget calculations. Both like other peoples' money to rid themselves of tiresome "austerity" as if austerity was a fashion accessory that one is either free to choose or leave. Both governments think their democracy trumps other peoples, particularly when it comes to injections of cash. And both indulge in legerdemain to hide their incompetence. Fortunately, time appears to be whittling away the SNP arguments, although this may still be an illusion. Certainly, the SNP at Westminster is being given a harsh lesson in the power politics of majority Conservative government. No amendments to the Scotland Bill without Conservative support, and the impending introduction of English Votes for English Laws, despite much squawking from Angus Robertson. Since it is not unreasonable to view SNP fiscal policies as likely to lead to a failed state with large borrowings (just like Greece), the rUK has an arguable case to hold on tight.

Anonymous said...

Great blog!

How ever it seems nobody has bothered to examine in detail the GERs figures produced by the SNP government.

An example under FOI, GERs claims that for every £1 per person raised in London from tobacco duty, £2.12 is raised in Scotland.

For spirits every £1 per person raised in London, £2.22 is raised in Scotland according to the SNP GERs figures.

An unlikely outcome.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/disaggregation_of_hmrc_tax_recei_2#incoming-672334

Anonymous said...

Another FOI request regarding export whisky duty.


"Your Request



What is the value and percentage of revenues collected from 'whisky export
duty' allocated to Scotland & UK in the last 5 Years of GERS?



Response to your request



Exports, including exports of whisky, do not attract duty in the UK.
Therefore, no ‘whisky export duty’ revenue is reported for either Scotland
or the UK in GERS."

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/gers_whisky_export_duty#incoming-675871


Anonymous said...

Kevin, I'm much more inclined to believe you than me. Anyway, please keep up the digging.
Regards, Latest Anonymous

Brighton Taxi said...

Nice information ...Super post