One of the more tiresome aspects of being right is the difficult-to-control compulsion to set out the facts and refute specious and stupid arguments, often recurrent, noisy, specious and stupid arguments. It’s time consuming and boring after a while. Even being constantly proven right can become tedious.
Enter the Scottish Nationalist Party, a mob of chancers, makeweights, thugs, spivs, pseudointellectuals, wealthy middle class smugs, public sector leeches, zoomers – and the occasional decent human being – and their ongoing utterly bankrupt warblings about independence, getting a fresh airing this week, as once again, they’ve been rumbled on something that actually matters.
Happily, tougher people than I have addressed these issues over a long period, and one must pay particular homage in the blogging world to both Kevin Hague, a businessman who has actually contributed to the Scottish economy, and Adam Tomkins, a distinguished and highly erudite professor of Law at Glasgow University. Hague in particular has for a long time painstakingly deconstructed the Nats’ hopeless economic lies, using the government’s own official Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland figures, known as GERS. It has been a virtuoso performance to be honest, and the Nats have no answer, other than their trademark abuse.
In addition, there have been some heroic hacks**. Today’s post is really to point an interested reader or guilty Nat in the direction of some very sharp and entirely factual analysis. First up is a true Scottish Labour hero, the former minister Brian Wilson, who knows who he’s dealing with:
…let us raise a timely glass to a fate avoided, which would certainly not have been paid for by the architects of the great deception. There is an argument against re-fighting battles that have been won and lost. But this must be counted an exception. The run-up to the referendum and the fraudulent case set out in the White Paper is not just history. It is, more importantly, a lesson which should never be lost sight of in the future.
Like all fundamentalist beliefs, nationalism creates zealots who are prone to assuming that their end justifies the means. If the facts do not suit, create new ones. If history does not stand scrutiny, rewrite it. Above all, if the numbers do not stack up, brazen it out and make them up. This will never change.
There are plenty decent nationalists exempt from these charges. Their belief is based on a principle they place above others. If there are negative economic consequences, then so be it – they should be set against other benefits and opportunities. That is a standpoint which can be argued with, honourably and without rancour. It involves neither denial nor falsification.
But that was not the route chosen by Salmond, Sturgeon and Swinney. For them, the mission was to concoct an economic case they knew to be thoroughly dishonest but which they hoped would avoid exposure long enough for them to win. They did not give a toss for the ordinary people of Scotland who would now be paying the horrendous price which this week’s figures confirmed, with much worse still to come.
The problem with the claims made by the SNP during the referendum campaign is that they were fantasy. I know there are arguments to be made about the unpredictability of oil markets and the wider economy, but the fact is that the nationalists’ financial case was not an exercise in optimism but a deception. Yet still the SNP and its supporters argue that a fairer Scotland is possible if we’d only break those chains that bind us to Westminster (that’s code for the English, in case you were in any doubt). Surely, in the name of the wee man, it’s time for this nonsense to stop?
If your current position is that independence is needed now – or in the near future – to ensure a more prosperous country, where assistance of the vulnerable is a priority, then you have not been paying attention to the facts. If you have been paying attention to the facts and you still believe the swift break-up of the UK is required for a fairer Scotland, then you’re deluded.
The facts to which I refer have been provided by the Scottish Government. The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figure published on Tuesday shows that Scotland ran a deficit of £14.9 billion in 2014-15. The difference between tax raised and the amount spent was breathtaking. Of course, a deficit, in itself, is not unusual. Most countries run them. But the size of an independent Scotland’s deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) exposes the size of the potential problem. As a percentage of GDP, the UK’s deficit was 4.9 in 2014-15 while Scotland’s was 9.7. An independent Scotland would have the highest deficit in the European Union. This would be completely unsustainable.
Those who rail against “austerity” today might want to examine what happened in Greece and Ireland, when deficits soared. Inhabitants of those countries can tell us all about austerity.Had Scotland voted Yes in September 2014, we’d now be on the brink of financial catastrophe. Independence Day – 24 March, according to Scottish Government proposals – would have ushered in an era of savage cuts to public spending and tax hikes to make the eyes of even the most wilfully compassionate amongst us water. Plummeting oil revenues – predicted to be £7.9bn in the independence White Paper but heading towards £100 million for 2015-16 – hammer home the case that an independent Scotland would have been in severe difficulty from the word go.
Strictly the facts, as they say. If you want to get a feel for the despotic thought police approach nurtured by the Nat hierarchy (Salmond, Sturgeon, Hosie and a few others), read how easily weak but slightly more honest Nats such as John Swinney and Fergus Ewing get rolled over when it comes to ‘the message’. It’s all in Wilson’s superb piece.
I actually still hold the view that the SNP breathed a sigh of relief when they lost the referendum. It didn’t take Eck et al long to bounce back, in their usual antagonistic bragging idiotic way. They’re not an able administration (1,2,3) even when being showered with Barnett Formula money, even they know that they’d be dead in the water if they ever got their alleged goal.