One wonders if Alex Massie, a Scot, enjoys talking down his country. But then again, as a Spectator and Times journo, he’s paid to do so. It’s his confusion that’s more concerning. He writes “the present economic case for independence is non-existent” but in the next sentence says “Scotland is certainly not too poor to be independent.”
According to Alex, the reason there’s no economic case for us managing our own affairs – after all Westminster is doing such a smash-up job – is because we have such an enormous deficit. He then follows this with yet more confusion, saying Scotland is a wealthy part of Britain. Which is it, Alex?
Perhaps the IFS’ David Phillips, whom Alex selectively quotes, can assist. Phillips said that an independent Scotland’s economic growth “could more than offset the loss of fiscal transfers from the rest of the UK.” This is from a man whose research is funded by the UK Department for International Development. Phillips confirms that “despite devolution, the majority of Scotland’s tax revenues and a hefty part of its public spending is pooled with the rest of the UK,” adding that “there is no overall Scottish budget deficit or surplus, or accumulated debt.”
And that brings us to GERS, designed by Tories to show what an economic basket case Scotland is and how it couldn’t possibly survive outside the protective womb of the Union. David Simpson, founder of the Fraser of Allander Institute, not exactly a pro-independence think tank, has implored the Scottish Government to cease its publication. We understand David Simpson's reasoning but we think a better idea would be to publish the current UK-GERS report alongside a new report called i-GERs. This would be a projection of what Scotland's finances would look like as an independent nation, with a wellbeing economic approach. Then everyone could clearly see that all the economic arguments against Scotland's independence are just the UK Government's false accounting.
Simpson points out that since by law Scotland's Government must annually balance its budget, it can’t have a deficit. The deficit Massie is so worried about is fake, assigned to Scotland through UK Government accounting practices, and concocted from what Westminster says it spends “for our benefit.” Among these “benefits” are nukes on the Clyde, helping Saudi Arabia lay waste to Yemen, unemployment payments because Westminster is rubbish at managing the economy, Truss’s private plane to Oz (costing £500,000) to negotiate treaties that hurt Scottish farmers, and paying London £4.5 billion pa to service a UK debt we didn’t create and certainly don’t benefit from.
On top of that, because 85% of social spending is reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has frantically tried to mitigate policies like the bedroom tax, miserly Universal Credit and state pension payments and chronic NHS underfunding.
GERS is what Scotland pays to remain in a Union that has failed us. It’s why the Tory and Labour parties are terrified we’ll leave. It’s why they will never concede that Scotland would prosper if we kept our own money, controlled our own resources and could make decisions in Scotland’s, not London’s, interests. And it’s why we must restore our independence.