2007 - 2021

What does GERS tell us?

ScotlandPNew-20Pounds-2006Commem-donatedTDS_fThe publication of GERS – an assessment of Scotland’s nominal public finances – is by common consent the most tedious event in our political calendar. Unionists and nationalists alike spin the figures for cheap political points. Currently, the unionists are winning: GERS 2015-16, released today, show Scotland with a net fiscal deficit (the annual gap between what we raise in taxes and what we spend on services) of 9.5 per cent of GDP. That’s bad. For context, the UK’s net fiscal deficit is 4 per cent of GDP. What it’s not, though, is a terminal challenge to the economics of independence.

Scroll past the GERS executive summary and you will find a list of Scotland’s spending commitments as part of the UK. In 2015-16, we spent £3billion on defence. As a small country on the secure northern periphery of western Europe, an independent Scotland would not need to commit 4.4 per cent of its total expenditure to defence. If we cut this aspect of our spending by two thirds, we would reduce the Scottish deficit to a more manageable – albeit still unsustainably large – 8.2 per cent of GDP.

There are other basic revenue-raising measures Scotland could take to tackle its deficit. We could scrap the small business bonus scheme, which will cost £175million in 2016 alone and yet – according to the STUC – “can demonstrate no tangible outcomes in terms of jobs, investment, innovation or productivity.” We could impose a new levy on whisky production, which Commonweal research suggests could raise up to £1billion. We could restore the 50p top rate of income tax, which SPICe estimates would raise around £50million annually.

There is also the possibility of an ‘independence dividend’ – a boost to Scottish growth generated by better management of Scottish economic resources under independence. From 1977 to 2007, average annual Scottish growth was 1.9 per cent. By contrast, average growth over the same period in Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Austria ranged from 5.4 per cent to 2.4 per cent. You’d have to be daft not to see a link here between Scotland’s relatively poor economic performance and its lack of autonomy.

None of the measures cited above would eliminate Scotland’s deficit. But they do (crudely) illustrate some of the options that would be available to an independent Scotland in the face of significant budgetary challenges. As it stands, Scotland operates according to the economic priorities of a rightwing UK government it didn’t elect. With independence, it could set different priorities under a parliament it did.

Comments (83)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Haideng says:

    Right so can you please tell me what levers exactly are needed for this miracle – people keep talking about levers, but as far as I can see the only levers are either massive borrowing (Scotland has for the last month the possibility of borrowing up to 2.2 Billion for growth creating macro infrastructure projects by issuing Scottish bonds, but has yet to borrow a penny) or reducing corporation tax. But still growth would have to be over 7% minimum. Given the average in the EU is 0% to 1% (including Germany) this is fantasy land. In fact feel free to name a single country in the world with 10+ % growth?

    And what magical levers (fiscal) that would be available under dully independence as opposed to independence in the EU?

    Most middle of the road voters do understand basic economics and this endless flat earth denialism helps no one, least of all convincing soft No voters. Here’s another thought instead of denying GERS why not set out a plan of action – of borrowing and issuing bonds, of the austerity cuts that would be needed anyway if independent.

    1. David Millar says:

      “Most middle of the road voters do understand basic economics and this endless flat earth denialism helps no one…”

      I’m not sure if that is true: there are many different economic schools of thought. Don’t you mean they subscribe to the same economic ideology as you? This is not the same thing as understanding ‘basic economics’.
      Certainly, an AWFUL lot of people seem to think that a national economy, sovereign in its own currency, can be run like a household. Hence the furore over the GERS report: ‘We’re spending more than we earn’ etc..
      You should read up on Modern Monetary Theory. An Independent Scotland needs its own currency and central bank.

      1. Haideng says:

        First, you don’t know what economic theory I subscribe to. Second (most people in Scotland equally I’m sure don’t subscribe to any orthodoxy but recognise the reality of the framework in which a small country like Scotland would have to operate – in fact I don’t subscribe to any orthodoxy or dogma and believe in changing my mind when the facts change etc) But this reality is that the economic orthodoxy that currently governs our lives is not something that can be changed by small independent nations or indeed any nation acting alone as most problems are transnational and require a transnational approach. One of the effects of globalisation has been the increasing ineffectiveness of the nation state to provide any solution what so ever to the ill effects – the fact that many get left behind. Also, the orthodoxy I suspect you’re refering to (economic liberalism and markets – not necessarily Neo liberalism which is quite different) has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system in the history of mankind – certainly not perfect, but what brave new orthodoxy will an independent Scotland adopt if not the current one in some form or other, be that a more social democratic verison, a less aggressive hyper capitalist version. If you think their is a democratic apetite for ‘Radical’ left solutions, in small c conservative Scotland you really don’t know the place very well. See the SNP s policies.

    2. Andrew says:

      Firstly, your comment is only rational if you take the irrational view that Scotland must balance its books annually. Secondly, as the article points out we have a premium cost to pay as being part of the UK. For instance our share of what I call maintaining an Imperial presence reflect nothing like the amount Scotland would need to spend. India has a 900 strong UK HC team. Denmark and Norway have a dozen each, Switzerland had 7, I know, my neighbour was the Deputy Ambassador in 2001 in New Delhi, and even Canada had around 20. Only the US, China and Russia had as big a presence as the UK. Extrapolate our Imperial presence and you have a significant cost we pay towards we see little return from.

      Other costs, debt servicing for instance can be mitigated against assets to be shared. We could automatically reduce debt servicing to a more manageable £1bn per year. A similar figure to that Labour saddled us with on PFI.

      There’s other areas too, but for the scared naysayer, there is only a programmed knee jerk response.

      1. e.j. churchill says:

        I have no idea what HC is, but the rest of you comment pretty-well follows the Eire severance and would work – assuming good will on both parties, of course.


      2. Haideng says:

        ‘Firstly, your comment is only rational if you take the irrational view that Scotland must balance its books annually. ‘

        Google the difference between debt and budget deficit FFS. And then google proportionality. Small deficit ok massive deficit unsustainable without massive increased borrowing or massive austerity. Then take 14 billion – 9% and then take the Scottish budget ANNUALLY and tell us all which parts of said ANNUAL budget you want to cut? The immediate ANNUAL situation is the reality for most Scots on benefits, in the oil industry, who rely on pensions, who work in the public sector…

        It’s this kind of arrogance that infuriates soft No voters, patronised and patted on the head because they take their daily prosperity and their children’s lives seriously.

    3. e.j. churchill says:

      ATP, for Scotland, great, substantial, ‘sustainable’ organic growth, (PLUS additional growth) is an impossibility. There is no variety of cartoon economics that can envelop that hallucination.

      THAT SAID:

      Were independence be renounced, and Scotland (and Wales) sit down with Carney, May and Hammond (and hopefully one or two Labourites and UKIP who do not drool on their shirt fronts) – call it a Permanent Working Group – and plot ‘economic growth,’ a collection of ‘tigers’ would be released.

      Against conventional wisdom, I think BREXIT will be a huge growth engine (but there are some ‘U’ and ‘V’ curves to be negotiated in there, too).

      The sole caveat to permanent prosperity caused by the PWG is NO Marxists are allowed for the first 10years; small c conservatives who imbibe Milton Friedman, only, will be seated.

      J-C Junker’s greatest quote is apropos: ‘Politicians of every party *know* how to solve economic problems – they don’t know how to solve problems *and* get re-elected.’



    4. An Tabhartas says:

      Ireland had 26%growth last year has half the poverty rate of Scotland.Issues higher state pensions ,on course to balance it’s books this year.It does not have the lurgy of an oil and gas industry, but has one hell of an advantage over British Ireland and Scotland it has the ultimate lever it’s called INDEPENDENCE

  2. Haideng says:

    Oh and we re back to the old chestnut of needing to float a new currency as any use of the pound or the Euro would result in strict fiscal regulations with regards to borrowing and deficit – this would in effect mean less fiscal autonomy than Scotland currently has – this is exactly what happened to Slovakia after the Czech split.

    1. David Millar says:

      “Oh and we re back to the old chestnut of needing to float a new currency…”

      Why is this an ‘old chestnut’? It is on the fringes of the debate about currency in an Independent Scotland. People look at you like a wall-eyed loon if you suggest such a thing: ‘What are you going to call it? – the”bawbee” etc.. These are generally people who ‘understand basic economics’, as you posted earlier.

      1. Haideng says:

        And any attempt to answer the question would be welcome. I’ll put it again. If Scotland is going to be a) a part of the EU – interest rates, currency value, the Growth and Stability pact and limits on borrowing or b) ditto still use the pound how will it simultaneously retain control over it’s monetary and fiscal policy- unless there is a new currency?

        It’s called logic ffs.

        1. Haideng says:

          Either you use the Euro and live by the ECB rules or Sterling and the BoE. Otherewise you need a new currency. Why is this very basic logic hard to understand?

  3. Graeme McCormick says:

    Why is the Yes campaign playing by The UK establishment’s rules?

    Abolish all tax and replace it with an Annual Ground Rent charged per square metre of land and floorspace.

    That will increase public revenue to invest without borrowing and people and businesses in all income bracket will have a massive increase in their pockets to invest and spend in the Scottish economy while investment from overseas will flood in

    1. David Millar says:

      Interesting idea. Some sort of LVT would be a step, along with abolishing consumption, income and business taxes, in the right direction.

      1. Mr T says:

        So right now I pay in excess of £100k pa in PAYE, VAT, Insurance Tax etc, but in the future I could just pay as much as the young couple in the house next door? Where do I sign?

        As soon as you start taxing just one thing you’ll find massive winners & losers. I’m all for LVT but it has to be part of a balanced regime of many taxes.

  4. G Donald says:

    Politicians of all stripes assure us that economic growth is one of their main priorities. They and economists and media commentators share this ‘common sense’ view that growth is good. We all know that lack of growth is bad: it’s associated with bad names like ‘stagnation’, ‘recession’ and ‘depression’, and scary things like unemployment and declining living standards. Difficult then to explain things like ‘jobless recovery’ or stagnating (or even falling) real wages despite economic growth. Still less do these politicians, economists and commentators attempt to explain how a finite planet can support the demands of unending compound growth, and the implications for declining resources, pollution and climate change. Sustainability is a term much used (and misused) but rarely taken seriously.
    Capitalist economies appear to need growth of around 3% per year to avoid crises. 3% growth each year means that economic activity DOUBLES every 24 years. Think about that.


    1. Haideng says:

      I think many actually do recognise the problem, you can’t grow indefinately in a finite space but the problem is what’s the alternative. Why should the wealthy west suddenly decide, right ho that’s enough liberal economics, wind it up India, China and Africa, no more growth allowed so better get used to endless grinding poverty etc. The real problem is actually the type of growth, the endless pointless consumption rather than ‘sustainable’ (a tediously meaningless term most of the time) development – e.g through new technology, new energy sources, bio chemistry, nano tech and synthesised materials that don’t deplete rare earth resources. But this all requires investment.

    2. Wul says:

      George Monbiot on the folly of continuous economic growth:

      “Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham(1).

      Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems(2). It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.” (“The Impossibility of Growth”, 27th May 2014)

      Might it be possible to have a “poorer” Scotland where people are still well fed, happy & healthy and kept comfortable by good public services & technological innovation?

      1. e.j. churchill says:

        Wul said: …”Might it be possible to have a “poorer” Scotland where people are still well fed, happy & healthy and kept comfortable by good public services & technological innovation?”

        I am unaware of any successful state of ± uniform economic stratification. Tribes & villages, possible. Young Marxist states … Vietnam? but there HAS to be a bureaucratic pyramid to service even a 10 hut New Guinea valley.


      2. Doubting Thomas says:

        Sorry but vamnot take seriously the communist utopia you refer to. Many Scots are aspirational and use their inbuilt talent and industriousness to generate better lives for themselves and their families.
        To settle for a “poorer” Scotland is not a model for the future.
        We have seen this week the total dishonesty of the Natsies by trying to forestall the bad news in the Gers figures then to try to convince that they are not relevant which shows how much they do not understand about economics. Worse still they are in total denial that the current position would prevent entry to the EU.
        The focus Wee Nicola puts on potential losses to the economy in the event of Brexit have been presented mendaciously and are deliberately misleading.
        The potential effect on the economy of leaving the union is of the order of 5or 6 times this.
        The introduction of borders in the event of Scotland gaining entry to the EU following Brexit will lead to tariffs for goods exported to England and which need to travel via there to reach their markets.
        Fortunately the polls reflecting the opinion of the Scottish people show no change in appetite for independence or for a further referendum do Wee Nicola has nowhere to go.
        It’s time she got on with the real job of looking after the interests of the people of Scotland.
        The same people who have voted to remain in the Union even in the knowledge that it might mean leaving the EU.

  5. florian albert says:

    ‘The publication of GERS … is by common consent the most tedious event in our political calendar.’

    By ‘common consent’ ?

    It is, in fact, something which is widely anticipated. The pro-independence left has not adjusted to the failure of the 2014 referendum and, in particular, to the failure to present successfully an economic case for independence.
    Making statements like the one quoted above reveals a retreat from the world most Scots live in.

    1. Maria F says:

      “The pro-independence left has not adjusted to the failure of the 2014 referendum and, in particular, to the failure to present successfully an economic case for independence”

      Please lead by example. You don’t like the expression ‘common consent’ and yet you project your own opinion about the independence campaign as it was generally accepted by everybody. Well, it is not. May be they did not present an economic case good enough for you, but they certainly did and are doing it for me and plenty, so I would appreciate if you don’t generalise.

      What I fail spectacularly to see though is the economic, social, democratic and logic case for remaining in the Union. Perhaps you could clarify it for me. Please use something built on significantly more solid foundations than GERS:

      following the article above, why on earth do we have to commit to a expenditure of over 4.4% our total expenditure to defence, particularly when many military bases in Scotland have been closed by Westminster governments? How much of that 4.4% recycled back into Scotland? What is the percentage from the other three nations, particularly England? How much of what England pays is put back into England in the form of jobs and infrastructure for military bases? How does that compare to Scotland? Why the difference?

      Why are we going to be forced to cough up a share of the monumental expenditure that the renewal of trident is going to bring when all but one of our MPs voted no to its renewal and the Scottish parliament voted against it? Was there any point for our MPs to vote? How much is that contribution going to be? What is the percentage that Scotland is going to have to pay for Trident’s renewal per person? How does that compare to England? Why? How much of our contribution to Trident comes back to Scotland in the form of jobs? How does that compare with the amount in England? I can imagine 1000 better things to spend that money in within Scotland than Trident. What is the case for Scotland to pay over the odds for Trident? Because I can see none.

      Following with Trident, its presence in Scotland so near to population areas is a huge risk to the population of Scotland, how is that being economically compensated by the Westminster government? What safeguards are there in place? And what about the economic implications of not being able to develop and exploit the area where trident is? How is that being compensated by the Westminster government? Are we receiving some sort of rent income for using those premises?

      Why does the BBC only invest back in Scotland a small percentage of what it collects in TV licences in Scotland? How much of what is collected in England is invested back in England? I can envision the generation of a pretty decent Scottish independent Broadcaster with the revenue that the BBC gets in Scotland, with the advantage that ALL what is collected in Scotland would recycled in Scotland rather than being siphoned out into England. So what is the case for keeping and paying for the BBC?

      Why all the revenue generated by the Scottish whisky is not recycled within the Scottish economy? In an independent Scotland it would.

      And how about the oil revenue? No matter how low the barrel price is at the moment, can you imagine how much more we could do with ALL the revenue from the oil rather than just the pittance that we get? Only in an independent Scotland I can.

      And how about the HMRC jobs that are being shifted down to England? Why can Scotland not run its own HMRC offices, generating jobs in Scotland and recycling the money into the Scottish economy? Only when Scotland is independent that may happen.

      How much of the contributions of Scotland are used for vanity projects of no relevance whatsoever for Scotland, particularly in London and whereabouts? What percentage of Scotland’s contribution to the Union’s coffers per person is actually invested in infrastructure for Scotland? Can you imaging investing all Scotland’s contributions in Scotland instead? I can only envision it in an independent Scotland.

      How much is the contribution of Scotland to the cost of the House of Lords and the House of Commons? It is evidently clear that our voice in Westminster will never be loud enough to get the Union government to act in our interests so why wasting our money contributing to it, particularly to all those Lords and ‘Ladies’ conveniently nominated by a PM the Scottish people did not vote for? can you Imagine if all Scotland’s contribution to those entities was kept and recycled within Scotland in parliamentary/gubernamental chamber/s dedicated to represent and speak exclusively for the Scottish people instead of shifting that money to London to pay for governments we don’t vote for? In an independent Scotland this is possible.

      How about the VAT that Police Scotland is paying? I read somewhere that it is the only police force in the Union paying VAT and not getting it back: Why is that? Why is that money not coming back to Scotland? in an independent Scotland the money would remain in Scotland.

      How about the cuts that the Westminster government that Scotland didn’t vote for is making in clean energy? How much is that affecting Scotland? Where are the provisions of that government to compensate Scotland for the loss of the revenue inflicted by that government’s decision? Where is the Westminster government sending that money instead? How much of it is kept in Scotland? These cuts implemented by the Union government don’t have Scotland’s best interests at heart. In an independent Scotland decisions about cuts would be done for the benefit of Scotland.

      What about the impact on all sectors of the economy that the monstrosity of Brexit is going to have on Scotland? Considering that Scotland voted to remain in EU by a huge margin compared to the one that England and Wales voted to leave, where are the economic provisions put in place by the Westminster government to fully compensate Scotland for the loss of revenue and avoid Scotland having to pay any price for England and Wales’ decision?

      Considering that Scotland doesn’t have full fiscal autonomy, capability to borrow and full control over immigration, any deficit showed by that castle in the air that is GERS is simply a reflection of the spectacular failure of a Westminster government running Scotland’s economy. The bigger the ‘deficit’ the bigger the failure of a Westminster government, that by the way, Scotland did not vote for.

      The press are doing well in showing it to us, actually because for me it makes a good case for independence. If GERS makes something crystal clear to me is that, considering the vast amount of natural resources that Scotland has for its tiny population, the longer Scotland remains in this union, the further away is the day when Scotland’s economy will be healthy. Scotland is being bled dry and not for its own benefit but for its own detriment, that is what those figures are screaming at me.

      1. e.j. churchill says:

        You may like this less than you appreciated clear and obvious similarities between -denier cultures, but your serial tautological burning non-unique straw men, and beating borrowed mules, thrashing red-headed stepchildren, &c. is a losing argument. It lost. It will lose again & again.

        The ‘MORAL’ case was well-developed & universally understood in 2014 and LOST by a tonne and was buried deep … It will lose again should stupidity reign and there is a #2.

        The arse-enn-pee is killing Scotland by fractions, anyhow with insecurity, mixed messages, uncertainty, poor leadership and open & notorious incompetence, so the end result is likely to be the same … meanwhile have FUN torching and beating.

        With kindest personal regards,



        1. Brian says:

          Ravings and rantings , signifying nothing.

        2. Maria F says:

          I don’t mean to be rude, sir, but I think you may have posted your unintelligible verborrhea in the wrong blog.

          In this one we are discussing what GERS really tell us (actually, does it tell anything?). This blog follows a thought provoking article written by Jamie Maxwell.

          My favourite part to take home is the fact that GERS is largely built upon the consequences of the activities, policies and decisions of a government at Westminster not chosen by Scotland and not acting in Scotland’s best interests – the enforced levels of expenditure in Scotland in defence matters highlighted by Jamie are, in my opinion, an excellent example. Do you agree?

          The fact that GERS is based in the activities of a government not chosen by the Scottish people tells me that therefore GERS is completely meaningless to portray any prediction about what would be the situation of an independent Scotland with a government chosen by the people in Scotland. Don’t you agree?

          I mean, how arrogant and shortsighted somebody would have to be to presume that a government elected in Scotland by the people of Scotland and acting in the best interests of Scotland would make the same detrimental decisions for Scotland and the same mistakes as the current government at Westminster who is acting in the interests of…actually, … in the interests of who are they really acting? because I don’t thing it is that clear anymore.

          Now, what is your favourite part of the nice article written by Jamie Maxwell? What does GERS tell you? Does it actually tell you anything?

          Please keep your wording simple and intelligible for the simple minded like me. You see, at the end of the day simple minded people like me also are allowed to vote…

          Thank you !

      2. florian albert says:

        Maria F

        You go through a number of political issues; Trident, defence, the BBC, whisky and oil revenues.
        All these were discussed in great detail over the 18 months prior to the Referendum of September 2014.
        In the end, a majority of the voters were not convinced by the arguments that Scotland should become independent.
        Personally, I think the referendum could have been won but, to achieve that, the YES campaign would have needed to show it had solutions to Scotland’s most serious problems – starting with the large part of the country left behind by the 1980s de-industrialization. It failed in 2014 and shows little sign of learning from its defeat. In fairness, George Kerevan and a few others understand that trying to resell the 2014 deal will not work.

        I do not see Scotland as a country with a ‘vast amount of natural resources.’ It is worth remembering that over a million Scots voted for the ‘monstrosity of Brexit.’
        Claiming that Scotland is being ‘bled dry’ is just the sort of hyperbolic comment which weakens the case for independence.

        1. Maria F says:

          “You go through a number of political issues; Trident, defence, the BBC, whisky and oil revenues.
          All these were discussed in great detail over the 18 months prior to the Referendum of September 2014”

          Again, Florian, you present your opinion as a generalisation. They may have been discussed in great detail for your liking, but certainly not for mine. Not by a long shot. In fact for my liking they didn’t even scratch the surface.

          In the same way I do not eat the food regurgitated by somebody else, I do not simply swallow the ‘unionist politician or unionist press’ version of the truth’. I much rather look at the raw data and judge by myself.

          I have been trying to find this ‘raw data’ in internet for quite a while now and I couldn’t find it. In particular, I would like to know how much of the whisky or other products manufactured or generated in Scotland are being sold from English ports and to which of the 4 countries those revenues are added. But that data is stubbornly hidden. Do you know where I can find that information?

          As for oil revenues, where is all the data? How much Scottish oil gets produced, how much gets sold from ports that are not Scottish, how much money is generated by the sale of the Scottish oil and how much of the total revenues are invested back in Scotland? How much of the jobs in the oil industry go to people with permanent residence in Scotland?

          I have been trying also to find the information about how much of the money taken by the BBC in the form of TV licences in England is invested in England and the same for Wales and NI. I am particularly interested in compared those with what the BBC takes and invests in Scotland. My current theory is that Scotland is used as a cash cow for the BBC and believe it or not, I cannot find the raw data to disprove my theory. The public is funding the darn broadcaster so all that information should be publicly available by just pressing a button in internet, but it is not. Why?

          Defence: again, how much of the contribution of Scotland is invested back into Scotland in the form of jobs and infrastructure? How many of the people working in defence have permanent residence in Scotland? Please do not count that monstrosity of Trident within defence: Scotland, in the form of all MPs but one and the Scottish parliament voted against its renewal. Therefore, if democracy did indeed exist in this Union, Scotland should not be lumbered with the darn things any near our population nor lumbered with the burden of its cost. But again if we were in a proper democratic union we would not have been lumbered with a government for which Scotland only send 1 MP, don’t you think?

          So, no, to me those issues were not discussed enough. Not even the surface was scratched.

        2. Maria F says:

          “I do not see Scotland as a country with a ‘vast amount of natural resources.’ ”

          Well, again we will have to agree to disagree Florian. I do see it as a country with a vast amount of natural resources particularly when you take into account its small size, its geography and its rather small population.

          “It is worth remembering that over a million Scots voted for the ‘monstrosity of Brexit.'”

          You are absolutely right Florian. I remember this every day in the same way I remember that while the white paper for Scottish independence was demolished to pieces by the unionists to destroy the case for independence, the same unionists spectacularly failed to trash the case for Brexit even when its defenders did not present any form of plan or ‘white paper’. I will remember forever the damaging role of the biased press in such a discrepancy.

          I think it is also worth remembering every day that the unionist parties in Scotland while quite impressively fought tooth and nail for Scotland to remain in the EU during the campaign because of the economic and social disaster that Brexit would be for Scotland are now backpedaling hard (with the help of the press) because it is becoming obvious that the only way for Scotland to remain in the EU properly is by leaving the Union. So, is leaving the EU as damaging as those unionists claimed during the campaign or was that only for show? Do they really believe what they claimed back then? What do you think?

          “Claiming that Scotland is being ‘bled dry’ is just the sort of hyperbolic comment which weakens the case for independence”

          Hyperbole? Where is the Hyperbole Florian?
          Comparing the actual economic situation and level of infrastructure development in Scotland with that of countries of a similar territorial size, similar size of population and the same amount of natural resources: how does Scotland fare?

          Since the oil was discovered in Scottish waters, how much of its revenues were invested back in Scotland and how much was siphoned down south? What sort of infrastructure and economy would Scotland have right now had all that revenue been recycled back into Scotland?

          For how many years has the BBC been investing far less in Scotland to what it takes from Scotland? Where did the BBC invest the money that it took from Scotland but did not recycle back into Scotland? What sort of independent broadcaster we would be able to have right now if all money taken from Scotland in payments for the BBC was recycled back into Scotland? How many more jobs and more adequate programs for the Scottish audiences we would be able to have?

          How about all those jobs that are being taken away from us and moved down south? HMRC jobs? Why are they being taken away? What sort of impact they are going to have in the Scottish population? You think it is going to be a positive impact or rather a negative one? What about the 13 frigates that were going to be built in Scotland? Well, 13 then they were 8 and then they were none. Where are they going to be built now?

          What about the VAT paid by the police in Scotland that no other police force in the Union pays? Why is it not given back?

          How much of what Scotland contributes to defence gets invested back into Scotland in the form of jobs and infrastructure? Where does the rest go?

          What about the development of the area taken by Trident? Is Scotland being compensated at all for that?

          Why cannot all the products generated in Scotland be exported from Scotland rather than having to be sent down south? Why Westminster has not pressed for the development of adequate ports in Scotland to avoid that and allow Scotland to be more self-sufficient?

          Scotland has a massive potential for the production of renewal energy which could be a big boost for Scotland’s economy but yet, Westminster couldn’t wait to thwart that too. What do you think the decision by the Westminster government of cutting subsides to renewable energy is going to do to Scotland?

          Where is the hyperbole Florian?

          Florian, you may see an hyperbole and that is fair enough. I see none. What I see are genuine questions for which I am not finding satisfactory answers for.

          You may find hard to believe, and that is your prerogative, that I was a firm unionist back at the beginning of 2014, and even rather annoyed at the fact that the separation of Scotland was being even being contemplated, actually. However my views started to change as soon as I started to question a few things. My list of questions has grown much bigger ever since and I very much suspect that it will grow even further.

          You think my questions weaken the case for independence? Well, they certainly haven’t for me. In fact, every question I cannot find a satisfactory answer for actually strengths the case for me. But may I ask how do you think that pursuing the truth in answering those questions is going to affect independence?

          Thank you

          1. florian albert says:

            Maria f

            Clearly you intend to continue portraying Scotland as a country with a vast amount of (unspecified) natural resources and one which is being bled dry. You also intend to study ports from which whisky is being exported in the hope of finding evidence that the GERS figures, which is what we are discussing here, understate Scotland Scotland’s economic health.

            This approach will prove utterly counter-productive for anybody seeking to achieve independence for Scotland. Instead of producing policies to deal with Scotland’s chronic problems, Scotland is being painted as a victim. There are people this will appeal to. They already support independence. Those who need to be won over will not be.
            Small wonder that unionists are so upbeat these days.

          2. Maria F says:


            “Clearly you intend to continue portraying Scotland as a country with a vast amount of (unspecified) natural resources and one which is being bled dry”

            Yes, because that is the way I see it.

            “You also intend to study ports from which whisky is being exported in the hope of finding evidence that the GERS figures, which is what we are discussing here, understate Scotland Scotland’s economic health”

            No, you got it completely wrong Florian. I don’t need those figures to know that GERS is a castle in the air which attempts to discredit the ability of Scotland to become independent but in reality it simply represents the spectacular failure of a Westminster government running Scotland’s economy without having Scotland’s interests at heart. I know that already Florian. My interest in the whisky (and all other products manufactured or extracted in Scotland) export from countries within the Union other than Scotland is to have a far more accurate view of our potential rather than taking at face value the ‘too wee, too poor’ image that the biased unionist press is trying to portray and which I do not believe for a second.

            “This approach will prove utterly counter-productive for anybody seeking to achieve independence for Scotland”

            And why would that be exactly? In what quality are you advising/lecturing me on this? Should I have addressed you as Prof?

            “Instead of producing policies to deal with Scotland’s chronic problems, Scotland is being painted as a victim”

            Because in my view that is exactly what it is. Scotland’s biggest chronic problem is an elite that lives very comfortable as part of the Union and that happens to control the press and with that the opinion of a large proportion of the population.

            “There are people this will appeal to. They already support independence”

            I guess that this will be because we have reached similar conclusions.

            “Those who need to be won over will not be”
            How do you know? Have you asked them all?

            Won over or not is their prerogative. Everybody has to support what they believe is best for the future of their country, themselves and their families. I am not a politician following some sort of agenda. You like it or not my comments are genuinely what I believe and I am most certainly not going to change them simply because you are trying to make me believe that they are inefficient. So far you haven’t convinced me of anything either.

            “Small wonder that unionists are so upbeat these days”
            Well, let them enjoy while they can. Article 50 hasn’t been invoked yet. You may find that they suddenly stop being upbeat when they see the monumental amount of crap that is coming in our direction when Ms May and her team start the process of Brexit.

            by the way, do you know why I cannot reply to your comment directly? I had to reply to one of my own instead to respond to your comment.

      3. Hyperborean says:

        ” … GERS is simply a reflection of the spectacular failure of a Westminster government running Scotland’s economy. The bigger the ‘deficit’ the bigger the failure of a Westminster government, that by the way, Scotland did not vote for.”
        Spot on, Maria F.

        I don’t know — does anyone? — if:
        the recycling of Scottish money back to Scotland:
        not being forced to contribute to a dangerous, physically and economically, white elephant clogging up development potential of on the Clyde and other essentially vanity projects like it that bring little or no benefit to Scotland and cost us a mint, whether we want to buy or not the Olympics come vividly to mind here)
        : being freed from having to contribute to archaic forms of government unsuited to our national temperament and needs
        : having to pay ‘our share’ of replacing London’s sewers and building local rail lines for city workers
        : add almost ad infinitum the sad litany of Westminster’s mismanagement of Scotland’s economy since political time began
        … I don’t know if all that would make a decent dent in the deficit.

        But it would be a bloody good start!

  6. Wul says:

    It might be instructive to see what economic arguments were presented at the time when other independence-seeking nations were thinking of going it alone.

    1. Donald McGregor says:

      I so agree.
      I’d like also to see and understand the economic trajectory that resulted from their ‘independent’ choices.
      Slovakia vs Czech Republic?

      As said elsewhere, the argument is always framed from the UK perspective of Scottish failure – and I’ve yet to hear any UK politician offer a reason, or even be challenged on, why exactly the UK benefits from paying the alleged £1600 per head to feed the jocks. Why not just throw us away?
      Maybe, just maybe, there are other economic, or just political, reasons to ‘keep’ us? Until we get those clear and on the table, we can’t really begin to take the ‘missing’ on the journey, surely?

      1. Haideng says:

        There is plenty written on the Slovak Czech split. The reality was a decade of austerity imposed by the IMF and EU accession (bit like Greece now.)

        1) the currecy union – both Czech’s and Slovaks wanted to maintain the CU lasted only 1 month due then collapsed due to asymmetry and capital flight – everyone basically took all their money out of Slovakia and put it in Czech as they were the bigger economy – ratio: 2/1 (Eng Scot ratio: 10/1).
        2) They had to impose capital controls to prevent capital flight – the UK helped set up a new currency which was pegged.
        3) Many Slovaks lost their pensions and savings due to the collapse in value.
        4) Many Slovak businesses went bust due to the fact that outside investment dried up due to capital controls and the new currency.
        5) The slovak government, in order to meet the accession terms (see budget deficit limits of 3%) had to introduce an unprecedented austerity package causing mass unemployment and the loss of an entire generation of young Slovaks who moved abroad or to the Czech republic.
        6) 20 years on and Slovak is a function country with decent growth, but is in reality no more independent than it was before due to being a small country dominated in the EU by ECB monetary policy and associated fiscal controls.
        7) Most Slovaks ultimately don’t think it was worth the pain. Once the flags are put away and the reality bit.


        This is what hard line independence supporters need to address openly and honestly if they are to persuade soft No’s.

      2. Haideng says:

        ‘Why not just throw us away? Maybe, just maybe, there are other economic, or just political, reasons to ‘keep’ us? Until we get those clear and on the table, we can’t really begin to take the ‘missing’ on the journey, surely’

        That’s actually a very good point. the truth is that many on the right of the Tory party – the Brexiters were quite happy to see Scotland leave the union as their interest is in creating a low tax, capital intensive city state region like Singapore around London – extremely bad news for the already neglected North of England. Some of the the softer Tories (Osborne believe it or not) rejected this trajectory. So on the right it is in essence a strategic political thing. On the left ditto. Also on the left there is the worry of small nation nationalism and politics fundamentally predicated on identity rather than issue – the not so nice aspects – but this seems to have already raised it’s head in England especially.

        But there are also economic reasons grounded in Liberal economic orthodoxy that related to Optimum Currency Area. Then of course there is the issue of defence and the wider effect of European fragmentation. Collapsing dominos – UK goes, then Spain goes, then Belgium, then Italy. A cursory glance at European history indicates this would not be a good thing.

    2. Gordon Benton says:

      it may surprise you to recall that Independence was seldom if ever found or founded on economics. Many, many were hard fought with countless freedom fighters – and innocent bystanders – slaughtered. for every Singapore which was just kicked out of the Malaysian Federation without bloodshed, there was the Indonesian, Kenyan, South African, Algerian, Timur Leste and Irish violent revolutions to gain Independence. we count our lucky stars that the Scots have shown an amazing degree of tolerance in their quest to come out of a dependency status to one of Independence. With half of the nations in the UN with similar populations as Scotland, and we can see the progress of such as New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark, Norway all with about 5 million populations, we do wonder what it is that has some folk repeating the mantra that we are “too, wee, too poor and too stupid”. Maybe we are.

      1. Haideng says:

        Yep and all the soft no who like their pensions and are repelled by this Che Guevarra, poor wee Scotland guff become hard no’s. Scotland is a democratic country whose people have full rights and access to Scottish identity, it is not an oppressed country like those mentioned. Blood and Soil will get the independence movement nowhere.

        1. Craig says:

          We are an oppressed country in some ways. Unelected governments forced on us for a start.

        2. Hyperborean says:

          Scotland’s people do not have full democratic rights. We are effectively disenfranchised by the Westminster voting system simply because we are treated as just another part of the UK, not a distinct part, and so can be, and almost always are, forced by sheer weight of numbers to accept whatever party the south of England voters choose. For most of my lifetime (I’m over 60) Scottish voters might just as well have stayed at home and watched the telly instead of voting, so little impact did they have on the final result, regardless of whether it was a Labour or a Tory win. We get the government that other people think will suit them best, regardless of how this might impact this nation. This wouldn’t matter so much if the hopes and concerns of the southern English were broadly in line with most Scots’ values and aspirations. But they are not. Not even close, most of the time.
          I’ll believe Scotland is a fully democratic country when the Scottish people can choose who is to govern them, and not before. For me, this is the single biggest reason for wanting independence. Stuff the economic arguments. (And to choose just this year out of all others to focus on when in so many years in the past half century or so would have resulted in different results, and the future may do again, isn’t even sound economics if you’re trying to plan a long-term future for a new nation and we can’t quite see yet what the economic windfall of independence might be to set against the — admittedly worrying — problems.)
          So, for me, stuff the economic arguments about how many barrels of oil you can balance on the top of a wind farm. Above everything else, I just want to know that when I toddle off to put my wee mark/s on that bit of paper, what I’m doing will affect, in however small a way, the choice of my country’s ruling party. Then it will be up to whichever party my fellow Scots select (with a fair approach to proportionality of the final make up of representatives instead of the archaic, unfair and profoundly undemocratic First-past-the-post system) to get on with sorting out the economy in a way that reflects Scotland’s values, hopes, fears, needs and potential, not Surrey’s. And I’m just a crazy Celtic dreamer enough to believe they’d make a much better job of it than the Westminster boy’s club. They could scarcely do worse for us, to judge by these new figures.

          And how come they’re seen as a blow for independence instead of a bad report card on how Westminster has disgracefully ignored our needs and gambled with our future? Aye, ‘could do better’ right enough. We could do better. On our own, and not shackled to them.

          1. Doubting Thomas says:

            Did we no vote in 2014 to remain part of the U.K.?

        3. Maria F says:

          “Scotland is a democratic country whose people have full rights and access to Scottish identity, it is not an oppressed country like those mentioned”

          Scotland is a democratic country which democratically elects its representatives for the Scottish parliament: the distribution of the political parties within the Scottish parliament reflects the views of the voters in Scotland.

          Scotland however is trapped within what it is increasingly looking like an undemocratic union, where the preferences of the voters within the country that has the higher population are predominant to the point that they are currently silencing or even worse, catapulting the preferences of the minority in Scotland and overriding the majority:

          Less than 15% of the Scottish vote during the GE was for the conservative party and yet we have been forced a government the majority in Scotland has not voted for or want. A government that is knowingly taking decisions and following policies that are damaging Scotland: HMRC jobs taken away, Frigates not being built even when part of the pack of promises if a No vote, EVEL, cuts in subsides for clean energy ….

          This is not longer democratic Haideng, it is not just that the voice of an staggering 85% of the Scottish voters is being silenced but it is also that the will of the meager 15% that voted for this party is taking priority over the 85%. This is a serious case where the tail is wagging the dog. People sometimes wonder why some voters never bother to vote, well, when a 15% overrides an 85% you have to actually wonder if there is much point in bothering.

          97% of our Scottish MPs in Westminster voted against Syrian airstrikes and yet we are in a situation where Scotland’s voice in the form of the 97% of our representatives in Westminster were completely overridden and we were dragged not only to a war we didn’t want to go but also to contribute to its costs against our will. This is not democratic Haideng because the voice of the majority of the Scottish voters is being silenced while the voice of a 3% has been catapulted to a point where it can override the 97% remaining. Looking at this effect many may wonder if there is any point for Scotland to bother sending MPs to westminster to represent us when even when not only the majority is ignored but actually the minority is the one who wins.

          96 to 17 voted against renewal of trident in the Scottish Parliament. All but one of our Scottish MPs voted against Trident and yet, not only we are lumbered with a share on the monster upkeep cost of the WMD but also we are forced to house the darn things against our will. This is not democratic Haideng, the voice of the majority of the Scottish voters represented both in the Scottish parliament and at Westminster is being deliberately ignored and silenced. It is the minority represented by one single unionist MPs at Westminster who trumps the majority represented by the 58 remaining MPs. Again, the tail wagging the dog and food for thought: is it much point to send MPs to Westminster?

          Over 62% of the vote in the EU referendum in Scotland was to remain in the EU. Yet, this seems to count for nothing, because it looks like it is the decision of England and Wales who voted only by a mere 52% to leave the EU what will prevail. When the 68% of the voters are forced to accept the decision of 38% you cannot talk about democracy.

          We are forced to pay a licence to watch any live TV channel when the only Broadcaster getting the cash is the BBC, even when some of the licence payers may not have interest in this Broadcaster at all. That is not democracy, why do I have to pay for a Broadcaster I do not watch? why cannot I choose what broadcaster to fund with my money?

          Can we really talk about democracy when the Broadcaster we are forced to pay to continuously ignore the 45% of the voters that chosen independence and all those who voted for the SNP in both the GE and the Scottish elections by breaking the balanced political view when talking about Scotland?

          Do you think it is democratic that the almost 100% of the press printed in Scotland is attempting to force on its public an unionist view by continuously giving an unbalanced and unrealistic view of the political landscape of Scotland?

          While the actual arrangement for the election of Westminster governments would be perfectly adequate in a situation where the political landscape and preferences of the people living in each of the four countries of the union were the same or very close, in the current situation where it is increasingly obvious that Scotland and England are moving in completely different directions and their population numbers are so different this arrangement is not longer adequate. From the Scottish people point of view it has become completely unrepresentative of the majority.

          1. Haideng says:

            A scot in the UK has just as much democratic freedom as anyone from anywhere else in the UK. It’s a fallacy that democracy is about majoritarian rule, it isn’t. See Alexis De Toqueville for starters. This notion of majoritarian collectivism in democracy, is in itself anti democratic e.g) Scotland does this, Scotland does that – in fact Scotland does nothing, there is no creepy collective will, there are individuals with equal rights within a democratic framework (that according to the UN and all other groups is the definition of democratic freedom.)

          2. Maria F says:


            “A scot in the UK has just as much democratic freedom as anyone from anywhere else in the UK”
            That assertion depends entirely of the dimension of democracy you intend to refer to Haideng, so unless you specify exactly to which one you are referring to, as a global generalisation, your assertion can easily be refuted.

            The dimension of democracy I am referring to is “relevance”- or “validity” if you prefer- in the UK parliament of what the majority of the citizens of one country of the union elects/chooses/wishes for their country compared to the majorities in the rest.

            This is important because as you know, the UK is a state formed by 4 countries with different populations and now with increasingly different political landscapes. But you know that already.

            I am sure you have looked at this already to present your point, but just in case you didn’t according to Wikipedia, democracy can be defined as:

            (a:) “government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
            (b:) “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation ….”

            Considering that Scotland doesn’t have full fiscal autonomy and completely devolved powers, for all those elements that are not devolved it is now a fact that Scotland is currently not being run by the majority of the Scots and their elected MPs. It is being run by an overwhelming majority of MPs that Scotland did not elect as their representatives: for all the non devolved affairs, which sadly are still a majority, it is the representatives elected by the majority of the most populated country of the UK who is running Scotland.

            In a full democratic setting, that “relevance” of the vote should be identical for a person living in Scotland than for a person living in Wales, NI or England. Looking at the weight of Scottish and England majorities’ weight in the support of the current distribution of the UK Tory government, recent votes on Brexit, Trident renewal or Syria airstrikes, and looking at what the Scottish people/MPs voted for, we certainly cannot say that the majority of the Scots are governing England, can we Haideng? So, in this dimension, it turns out that the Scots do not have the same democratic freedom as the English. But you knew that already.

            This equal relevance could be achieved when the 4 countries, even having different political landscapes, had very similar population numbers, or as it was in the past, even having different population numbers, had very similar political landscapes. Unfortunately none of these instances are current: the four countries have different populations and different political landscapes. I know this, and I know that you know this too, you just refuse to accept it because it doesn’t suit the message you are trying to put across. But it is okay, I will continue repeating this and will try to explain it in more detail each time for as long as you keep questioning this point. Because in my opinion this point is very important and the more people is aware of it the better. The current democratic deficit for Scotland in the UK setting is perhaps the most pressing reason for it to become independent: Scotland will be better served by Home rule versus being governed by a different country. GERS has shown us the monumental fiasco that a UK government can do (and has done) with Scotland’s economy. Quite frankly, Scotland on its own cannot do any worse than what those figures show for the appalling performance of the UK government controlling Scotland’s affairs.

            “It’s a fallacy that democracy is about majoritarian rule, it isn’t.”
            Ha, ha, ha!!! Well, Professor, have you jumped in a time machine, traveled to 400 BCE Athens and returned so you could lecture us on this?

            Now you are definitely scrapping the bottom of an empty barrel Haideng! It was hilarious though, I appreciate you sense of humour. I can’t wait for your next argument against democracy: are you going to say next that “democracy” only reaches full status when the electoral system returns to the old system of the rotten boroughs? Oh come on Haideng! that was a hilarious one.

            Actually, I take your word. Considering that, according to you, democracy is not longer about majoritarian rule would you care to tell Ms May and her team on behalf of the ‘minority’ that didn’t vote for them to step out of the PM chair and cabinet so we can put Caroline Lucas and her team instead? I mean, if you say that it is a fallacy that democracy is about a majority why the “minority” that didn’t elect a Tory MP should put up with the Tories?

            Also, would you be prepared to face the circa 17m of the Brexit voters in England and tell them that the UK is not leaving Europe, “because it is fallacy that democracy is about a majority” so we should serve the minority in England that voted no to leave the EU? well, I would love to see you try.

            And are you going to tell to all those English and Welsh MPs that voted to renew Trident: I am sorry old chaps! I have decided that majorities are not democratic so the minority represented by all the Scots that don’t want Trident should be honoured: Trident goes to the scrapyard? Well, that would certainly make you a hero in my eyes!

            “See Alexis De Toqueville for starters. This notion of majorit……..”

            Sorry to disappoint you but I have no interest whatsoever in reading that author. I know what a modern democracy is and what it means Haideng, and you know that too, so please save your nails for a better cause and stop digging: you have made a hole deep enough to bury the entire three Scottish unionist parties. Come on Haideng, when you have to dig to this desperate depths to defend your point surely it becomes obvious that is not longer worth it, does it not?

          3. Joe says:

            Great stuff, I’ll vote for you to represent us anytime lass!
            You make wonderful sense to me – keep it up and thanks.

  7. Juteman says:

    Every thread on Bella seems to have the same Yoon trolls.
    They must be worried.

    1. e.j. churchill says:

      I’m not familiar with the code words. What is a ‘yoon’ please?


    2. Haideng says:

      I suspect you mean me. I’m not a Yoon troll, I’m a soft No who wants debate and answers and not just denial, tribalism and platitudes.

      1. Haideng says:

        Put simply, maybe independence is the only way to get rid of endless nationalism?

    3. Haideng says:

      In fact there is an irony that if anything has convinced me that independence is the most sensible option it’s the irrationality of nationalists and the cliqueness/ parochialism of the Yes campaign echo chamber. Maybe if Scotland was independent then it would grow up stop blaming others, ditch the cloying ‘wha’s like us’ cultural grievance, open up to a wider less nationalistic arena for culture and put away all the self pitying uber Scottish guff.

  8. Les55 says:

    Why is everyone taking GERS seriously, give it’s well known flaws?

  9. Monty says:

    the unionists will continue to win this debate judging by Derek Mackay’s performances this week. Constantly referring to unexplained levers and waffling does not help to make the government’s economic policy or the economic arguments for independence clearer.

    1. Donald McGregor says:

      For sure.
      We need to move rapidly to a simple, clear position , based around current corrupt western economics, that should allow understanding of the possible big picture that lies ahead for a small country.
      I need simple understandings and options to be able to use at the bus stop, at work, in the pub, and for crying out loud, in my own kitchen!
      It’s a big ask.

  10. Craig P says:

    To be honest I’ve completely switched off fron GERS. To a unionist that makes me in denial of the financial facts. But I’ve internalised the analysis of Niall Aslen and the Cuthberts so that now it does not matter what GERS says, I don’t believe it reflects anything like Scotland’s potential true state.

    Instead I prefer to look at it from first principles, consider the resources and advantages Scotland has compared to our neighbours and ask why we aren’t as prosperous as them.

    GERS to me is an annual irrelevance financially, but a salient reminder psychologically that there are still a shockingly large number of Scots – all unionists – who revel in the dependency culture.

    1. Haideng says:

      And I forgot about the fact that due to the procurement process of the Scottish government, most contracts go to non Scottish businesses due to them being cheaper, in construction, in retail, in natural resources/ infrastructure, (steel from China etc etc). This prices out local businesses and industries and is exacerbate by the Sterling exchange rate (although Brexit may actually do some good with in this regard as the pound falls). This isn’t a problem of the union per say but a wider almost universal problem of globalisation and the free movement of goods, capital, services and people and hits developed countries the hardest as they have the highest costs. This happens everywhere and the same complaints are made in Greece, Russia, in America especially – see buy American campaign against the Japanese auto industry in the 80 s and 90 s.

  11. Haideng says:

    There are some good points here. Why is Scotland’s economy so overly predicated on oil for example? And why are we not as wealthy as our neighbours (depending on the neighbours – Ireland isn’t a great comparison for stability and economic health, despite high recent growth). I suspect it has to do with many factors, some caused by the union, others that have nothing to do with the union and some mitigated by being in the union. But it also depends on how you frame the question. If you take regions rather than ‘countries’ as a basis for prosperity then Scotland does ok. North east (depsite oil collapse) Edinburgh lothians and borders and greater Glasgow actually have healthy economies compared to certain parts of Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, England, Wales or Finland – heavily overdependent on financial services and of course the public sector – it’s the redistribution that’s the problem – this is down to the SNP government, not Westminster.

    If you want to increase growth it’s a problem that could be addressed right now by the Scottish government so why isn’t it? cut business rates, increase borrowing for infrastructure up to the full max, cut income tax, cut benefits, cut the NHS, divert the higher UK spend through Barnett to apprentice schemes and cut universal free university fees etc etc – the truth is that Scotland isn’t actually that dependent – it has full control over vital infrastructure and econ planning e.g) could start fracking tomorow + drilling for deep water rare earth metals (but no on wants that) – the fact that many of the industries are politically in expedient and possibly environmentally dodgy. the problem is that Scotland wants it’s cake and to eat it. I suspect this is the major issue. Industry and major political issues are dominated by inconsistency where everything, for the last 10 years has been about the constitution. This means you have all manner of bedfellows, from right wing neolibs to old school socialists cancelling each other out. What you end up with is a government that has no real conviction. Say what you like about the Tories, but they at least know where they are ideologically. can the same be said about the current Scottish govt?

    More a culture of blame than a culture of dependency.

    1. Broadbield says:

      Sometimes you feel some posts are such depressing nonsense it isn’t worth replying, so I shan’t.

      1. Haideng says:

        I was giving an example of what is possible, not claiming it was preferable. But there is an interesting debate to be had here. If Scotland really wants to be independent then it needs first to address the economics, most nationalists say they are happy with the pain that would come with independence, so why not bring it forward? Why not impose the cuts now so the deficit is reduced? Then the argument that it will cause pain is neutralised and the economy GERS once again supports independence. Ireland have just done it. Maybe the better solution for independence is to put forward a much more economically right wing/ centre right set of policies.

  12. Bibbit says:

    49 comments so far, and of those 49, 15 are by a yoon called Haideng. That’s 31% of comments.

    Trolling YES sites was a tactic ‘Better Together’ have boasted they used unceasingly in the first indy ref.


    1. Haideng says:

      Right so what part of wanting debate is ‘trolling’? Maybe the reason 31% of posts have come from me is that no one can properly answer any of the points I’ve put forward.

      1. Maria F says:

        “Maybe the reason 31% of posts have come from me is that no one can properly answer any of the points I’ve put forward”

        And another more likely reason is that you haven’t had any success whatsoever in rebating any of the points presented by others so you have to keep trying.

  13. Walter Hamilton says:

    Mention Scotland’s economy and look what happens, everyone has a view, so here goes. How much will the Lords, the maintenance of that crumbling edifice Westminster Palace, all the underground rail work in London, the proposed, HS2, the third runway at Heathrow, costing the Scottish tax payer, and of course Trident. It is daft to bandy figures around when it will be up to the people of Scotland, in an independent Scotland to determine their priorities, high tax, high public spending, low tax, low public spending, and is that not what independence is all about, the people get to chose?

    1. Donald McGregor says:

      I’m increasingly minded to think that when the economic argument is made in either direction, the case for independence is lost as everyone’s eyes glaze over.
      Independence for selfish monetary gain? Man the barricades!

      The key weighty argument to me is boiling down to forging a mutual understanding both here and in England that we, as a Nation, are in union with England, and we as a Nation, can freely choose to leave that union and make of it what we will.

      I do think we need a parallel clear vision of what we may make of it – and the Gers figures are not the right starting point. That decoupling from GERS though is a political job for the SNP as they chose to use them supportively in the indy white paper.

    2. Doubting Thomas says:

      Sorry the people never get to choose…….the politicians choose.
      In recent years the politicians of all parties have made numerous choices in the face of public opinion.
      The people get to exercise their single vote in favour of a party or a side in a referendum assuming that the majority will carry the day.
      Except in Scotland of course where Wee Nicola just ignores the principal of democratic will.
      She says “if the people if Scotland demand another referendum then no politician has the right to deny it!”
      The people is Scotland are not demanding another referendum.
      She is as big a liar as Blair when it comes to acting in the interests and in the will of the majority.
      She knows she has no mandate but continually seeks to convince she does have!

      1. Maria F says:

        “She knows she has no mandate but continually seeks to convince she does have!”

        What do you mean she doesn’t have mandate Doubting Thomas?

        Because if Ms Sturgeon doesn’t have a mandate when over 50% of the population voted for SNP in the last General Election, what sort of crap mandate does the Conservative party have in Scotland when less than a 15% of the Scottish electorate voted for that party to govern?

        Doubting Thomas, please do not forget that the reason why Ms Sturgeon’s party is in Westminster and in Holyrood is because, you and Ms Davidson and Ms Dugdale like it or not, the SNP currently has the support of the majority of those who voted in Scotland: that is a hell of a mandate.

        Instead of throwing silly rants against her perhaps you could give it a serious thought as to why on earth Scotland has to put up with a conservative government rejected by the 85% of the voting electorate in Scotland.

        1. Doubting Thomas says:

          Perhaps you might consider that Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain which the referendum result of 2014 confirmed was the will of the people of Scotland.
          You might also consider that when the referendum took place in 2014 we already knew a referendum on the subject of UK membership was already on the table.
          The referendum on membership of the EU was a referendum and as Scotland remains part of the UK was not specifically about Scottish membership which as you know does not exist.
          Wee Nicola knows this also but chooses to mendaciously pursue her own agenda.
          Fortunately the poll figures to date reflect that the people of Scotland do not see the need for a further referendum.
          Democracy in action!

          1. Doubting Thomas says:

            And if you recall Wee Nicola says no politician has the right to deny a further referendum if the people of Scotland want one.
            I would think the converse is also true.
            No politician should seek to impose one if the people of Scotland don’t want one.
            And they currently don’t according to the polls.

  14. Haideng says:

    OK as I’ve been accused of being a Yoon troll, maybe I can help as I am presicely the person that needs to be convinced over independence. What the independence campaign needs is a Yoon to show it where it is going wrong. A few things that are apparent from outside the echo chamber, that those inside tend to be blind to.

    1) The Yes movement to a large section of Scottish society is toxic (a much over used term but you get the picture). It is dominated by a small clique of egos in politics, art and culture, and the media who all tend to coalesce around the West End of Glasgow who see independence movement as ‘theirs’. Most ordinary middle of the road people are put off by this very west of Scotland metropolitan elite chumminess (yet these are the silent majority who won the referendum.)
    2) It needs to drop the utopianism, the sanctimonious self rightousness, the endless victimhood, the coded anti English language (remember there are 500 000 English voters in Scotland + many more Scots with family in England/ English), it needs to stop behaving like it is a revolution, all flags and ‘hope’ and ‘oppression’ (go live in a genuinely oppressed country for a while) and grow up and answer questions and face facts and reality.
    3) If indyref 2 is to be won you need to look at the reasons indyred 1 was lost. I’ll give you a clue…it’s the economy (or economic questions) stupid etc. Denying them or deflecting to obscure far left potentials again alienates the masses.
    4) It needs to distance itself from some of the more angry small nation nationalism, and explore the good side to the union and accept it rather than constantly being at odds with those who don’t consider the UK to be the font of all evil. i.e) most people.
    5) It needs to stop doing down the BBC and the MSM and claiming conspiracy (all the time). Most ordinary ‘non political’ people just don’t care and roll their eyes.

    Until it remodels itself the independence campaign will not succeed. The silent majority who decide election are still there. But the chances of the ‘Yes egos’ stepping aside for fresh untainted blood, or the shedding of ingrained views and biases is unlikely.

    1. Doubting Thomas says:

      Spot on!
      Keep on yoonin’ !
      You know it makes sense.
      They just don’t like debate which brings difficult questions and even more difficult answers.
      Scotland cannot stay in the EU as the UK will leave.
      Scotland cannot enter the EU as the economic situation created by nine years of Natsie incompetence in all things financial will prevent this.
      Wee Nicola knows this only too well.
      As do we no voters.
      It is no surprise public opinion on a further referendum is stuck on almost the same figures as the referendum result.

    2. Steven Milne says:

      I have made very similar points on this site in an attempt to stimulate sensible debate.

      I have given up on this as it appears that the pro Independence supporters here are fundamentalists who are convinced of their own moral superiority and fantasise about how Scotland is oppressed and exploited by “Westminster”.

      1. Juteman says:

        The reason Indyref1 was lost, was down to wall to wall media fear bombing. The BBC played the leading part, followed by the Record and other msm titles. We have to find a way to counter that for round 2.
        If Scotland had its own media, we would have been independent long ago.

        1. Doubting Thomas says:

          The reason it was lost was because the majority voted to stay in the UK.
          The situation shows no signs of changing.
          People’s opinions are not swayed by media.
          They are more intelligent than that.
          The Yes supporters just don’t seem to get that people are more than capable of making their own minds up.
          And every insulting pronunciation in this vein simply goes to harden the resolve.

          1. Juteman says:

            Yeah sure. Advertising doesn’t work. That’s why companies pay fortunes to have their products on TV and other media.

          2. Doubting Thomas says:

            Jute man
            As for some reason there was no reply button you post I hope you get this.
            Advertising is quite different from media reporting as I am sure you are aware.
            People decided on their position in the referendum because they either believed or disbelieved what was in the media.
            The vote was lost because the case for independence was not proved to convince a sufficient number of people to vote for it.
            It was not lost because people were fooled.
            Democracy is the will of the people based on one person one vote.
            It really is quite simple.
            And it looks as if the current polls reflect the vote would be exactly the same.
            No amount of Natsie outpouring of insult seems to be having any effect.
            Funny that eh?

          3. Juteman says:

            “People decided on their position in the referendum because they either believed or disbelieved what was in the media.”


          4. Doubting Thomas says:

            The only exact point on here is that people like you think you are intellectually superior to the section of the electorate who happen not to agree with your views.
            People are clever enough to see what is right and what is not.
            And they vote on the basis of their judgement.
            Strange is it not that all the superior intellect on the indy side which is not shared by the rest of us cannot advance any convincing argument to sway the vote and even stranger that the media is blamed for this.
            Mibees aw that superiority is only in your heads.
            We are certainly not convinced regardless of what the media says.

  15. Maria F says:


    “maybe I can help as I am presicely the person that needs to be convinced over independence”
    Ha, ha, ha!! Yeah, the same sort of help that Dracula could offer making an inventory in a blood bank! You really are hilarious.
    No Haideng, having been a hard no and a soft no myself before supporting independence, I know that you are no the kind of person that “needs to be convinced”. If you want to be convinced you will do it yourself.

    “What the independence campaign needs is a Yoon to show it where it is going wrong”
    Ha, ha, ha! No Haideng, each person that supports independence has encountered within the last 2 years with authentic soft “NOs” and they have a pretty good idea what concerns these people. Economic stability and security is a great concern for many and you find that Brexit has completely trashed the idea that the UK is a safe place to be.

    “A few things that are apparent from outside the echo chamber, that those inside tend to be blind to”
    Haideng, supporting independence doesn’t make anybody blind. Frustrated for sure, but not blind. Now, can you say the same of the leaders of the three unionist parties in Scotland who are totally and utterly determined to close their eyes and ignore the 45% that voted for independence in 2014?

    “1) The Yes movement to a large section of Scottish society is toxic”
    In the same way that the unionist parties are currently toxic to a significant larger section of the Scottish population: only 3 MPs from the three biggest political parties in the UK together: if that is not being considered toxic you tell me.

    “It is dominated by a small clique of egos in politics, art and culture, and the media”
    I think you have just excelled yourself at defining the majority of the big wigs in the Cons, Labour, LibDems, a few press moguls, the unionist elite in Scotland and a fair amount of those unelected peers sitting in the House of Lords.

    “who see independence movement as ‘theirs'”
    Good on them! I thought that patriotism was seen as one – if not the main – ‘British’ value. What is it Haideng? Is patriotism only good if you are sitting on a tank turret and carrying the Union Jack?

    “Most ordinary middle of the road people are put off by this very west of Scotland metropolitan elite chumminess (yet these are the silent majority who won the referendum.)”
    Most ordinary back, middle and front of the road people are put off by the opinionated metropolitan and big landowners elite. Who won really the referendum Haideng? Was that the people of Scotland or the interests of a self-serving elite?

    “2) It needs to drop the utopianism, the sanctimonious self rightousness”
    I think you should say those exact words to the leaders of the three unionist parties in Scotland.

    “the endless victimhood”
    Sorry, I am lost here. Who was crying wolf for ages all over the MSM after deciding to stop the trajectory of a flying egg? Who is constantly crying wolf about the ‘aggressive’ pro independence people? Come on Haideng, look at your own writing: is laced in venom.

    “tthe coded anti English language”
    That is total rubbish and you know it.

    “(remember there are 500 000 English voters in Scotland + many more Scots with family in England/ English)”
    I know this very well: my partner is English.

    “it needs to stop behaving like it is a revolution”
    Why? It really is a revolution you like it or not: There has not been so many people supporting independence before. What is it that really bothers you Haideng? Is that the lovely flags or the fact that you refuse to be converted so you cannot join them with one?

    “all flags and ‘hope’ and ‘oppression’ (go live in a genuinely oppressed country for a while)”
    Now you are just going erratic here.

    “and grow up and answer questions and face facts and reality”
    I think you find that the majority of the independence supporters are grown ups that have had to endure decades of hard facts and reality of having their country run by a government sitting in London rather than in Edinburgh and not for the best interests of the people of Scotland. When do you think the unionist parties are going to face the reality in Scotland, though?

    “3) If indyref 2 is to be won you need to look at the reasons indyred 1 was lost. I’ll give you a clue…it’s the economy (or economic questions) stupid etc. Denying them or deflecting to obscure far left potentials again alienates the masses”
    No Haideng. You got it completely wrong. the indiref 1 was lost because the three unionist parties in cahoot with the press and unscrupulous businesses/corporations launched a tacky project fear to scare the people of Scotland. For goodness sake Haideng, even they were so heartless that scared pensioners by saying that in an independent Scotland they could lose their pensions. I remember with the uttermost disgust even an article somewhere insinuating that if Scotland became independent the people in Scotland may not be able to get transplants so easily because most donors were in England and Wales. And what about the threat by Tesco that the prices of food would rocket if Scotland would become independent, or RBS ‘leaking’ that the HQ would move to England if Scotland would become independent (ha, and then it moves them anyway even when Scotland didn’t become independent). Didn’t that make you sick Haideng? And do you remember that other article that said that the TV licence to watch the BBC may cost twice as much in an independent Scotland?

    “4) It needs to distance itself from some of the more angry small nation nationalism”
    When you talk about small nation nationalism are you referring to ‘little England’? Sorry, I didn’t get what you mean.

    “and explore the good side to the union and accept it”
    Well, this has to be the cherry on the cake. Didn’t you say that ‘you wanted to be converted’? So shouldn’t you be the one to accept that the union is in its last legs , rather than expecting that the independence supporters (who are campaigning to leave the union) ”accept the union”? explore the good side when they had decades of the “bad side”? Do you realise how nonsensical (and hilarious) is what you are saying?

    “constantly being at odds with those who don’t consider the UK to be the font of all evil. i.e) most people”
    Again, you are losing focus.

    “5) It needs to stop doing down the BBC and the MSM and claiming conspiracy (all the time)”
    ha, ha, ha!! Yeah, Murdoch and those big wigs at BBC HQ (and the unionist parties) would love that, wouldn’t they, so they can continue feeding us PR nonsense without remorse! This was the best part of your comment, you really are hilarious.

    “Until it remodels itself the independence campaign will not succeed”
    In what category are you launching this announcement? Do you have a Crystal Ball? Have you used a time machine to see the future?

    “The silent majority who decide election are still there”
    Well Haideng, you may find that a good bunch of those are less than pleased at the catalogue of broken promises made by the Better Together campaign and are really not that silent anymore. How do you think the people that was hoping to build the frigates are feeling right now? The ones loosing their HMRC jobs? The ones who believed Brown and that of ‘becoming the most devolved country after a no vote’? How silent do you think are now all those that believed the Better together when they said that ‘the best way of ensuring that Scotland remains in the EU is by voting no’? And what about the pensioners? Well, those people are still there Haideng, now how ‘silent’ they remain is an entirely different matter.

    “But the chances of the ‘Yes egos’ stepping aside for fresh untainted blood, or the shedding of ingrained views and biases is unlikely”
    Give it a rest Haideng, your brain is showing signs of overheating.

    1. Haideng says:

      And there ladies and gentlemen is why the Yes campaign totally failed and hasn’t moved on from that failure. Fine call a ref tommorow and let’s see who’s right.

      1. Maria F says:

        “And there ladies and gentlemen is why the Yes campaign totally failed and hasn’t moved on from that failure”
        Yes Haideng, whatever rocks your boat. Just ensure that you are wearing the lifejacket for when the boat starts to sink.

        “Fine call a ref tommorow and let’s see who’s right”
        Where is the rush for another referendum Haideng? I much rather a second Scottish Independence referendum was called a few weeks after Ms May and her troopers do the honours of detonating armageddon by invoking article 50: yes, precisely at that time when the sh&t starts to hit the fan at the maximum speed and when the mantra of the BT “the only way to ensure that Scotland remains in the EU is a NO vote wins” – and the credibility of those politicians that peddled it – completely desintegrate.

        I think that would give a much more accurate picture of the reality, don’t you agree? Yes, I believe so.

        You have made me feel so patriotic Haideng that I think in your honour I am just going to hang the biggest saltires I can find with a lovely circle of shiny golden stars in the middle from each one of my windows. Then I am stock up the pop corn and patiently wait for Ms May and her party to detonate armageddon and with it the proud launch of indiref2. It is going to make history!

        1. florian albert says:

          Is there any precedent for your decision to respond the the detonation of armageddon by stockpiling popcorn ?

  16. ross findlay says:

    As someone who works in the Industry can I point out the dangers of a Whisky Production tax? Whisky need only be Distilled and Matured in Scotland, it can effectively be bottled anywhere. The bottling and packaging Operations are where the bulk of the Jobs are concentrated, so any proposal to make Scottish based bottling less attractive could have serious consequences.

  17. Alf Baird says:

    Ross, this is surely a bit of an empty threat considering the tens of thousands of jobs already lost in the Scottish whisky industry over the past 30 years due to automation and other technological developments, in addition to firm consolidation. With far fewer industry jobs, and mostly international ownership of the industry today, it is surely appropriate to ask what are the benefits accruing to Scotland? Perhaps you might also elaborate on why stated whisky export values are so low relative to whisky firm turnover and profits?

    1. ross findlay says:

      Alf It’s not an empty threat if you are involved in the job intensive bit of the Supply Chain here in Scotland where there is intense competition with overseas bottlers and the only way we can hold the line is through a world class workforce making a Unique product. By all means go ahead and question the Value chain of multinationals , that’s worth pursuing but my point is that unfocussed talk around Whisky production tax increases pressure on those of us who fight to keep our jobs here every day in a world where Whisky can be Bulk tankered pretty much anywhere.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Ross, a higher tax on whisky shipped in bulk tankers would solve that dilemma. The industry overall is no longer “Job intensive” relative to volume/value produced.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.