Folks, its that time of year again. The annual GERS figures (or Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) have been published and again we will see Unionists try and say that it shows that Scotland can’t go it alone. While they take the figures and completely skew them up lets take a look at this years GERS figures and see what they actually say.
The first thing and probably one of the most important things to remember about the GERS figures is that it is in the context of Scotland IN the United Kingdom, the GERS own description quite literally specifies that is “Scotlands economy as part of the UK” and it doesn’t model Scotland as an Independent country. The GERS figures do get a lot of criticism from both sides, and rightly so. We’ve already seen, they in no way can reflect the finances of an Independent Scotland.
Let’s not forget about another important fact here. Figures included in the GERS report includes UK Government spending. UK Government spending that is proportioned to Scotland or “Money spent on Scotlands behalf”. And yes, that includes things that the UK Government spends money on that doesn’t benefit Scotland. A perfect example of this? The over budget shambles that is HS2. All this adds up, resulting in Scotlands “large deficit”. Now deficits, I could do a whole blog on deficits (I really recommend reading this for more info on them). Unionists love to talk about deficits. Why? Because it’s easy to use for voters. “Look at how much we’re spending, we simply couldn’t control this in an Independent Scotland”. They’ll claim that this is the fault of the Scottish Government and shows “how they’ll really perform” with the powers of Independence. But this is kind of shooting themselves in the foot. They’ve missed out a vital piece of information here…Scottish Government under treasury rules can’t run deficits, they have to spend within the budget. Remember Scottish Government is a currency user and not a currency issuer, they can ran out of money. So where’s this deficit coming from? As mentioned earlier – UK Government spending PROPORTIONED to Scotland.
With Independence, and our own monetary sovereignty, we can spend money on things that are beneficial to Scotland. No more wasted money on projects that we don’t need.
So lets look at a snapshot of Todays figures.
- Onshore Revenue is £62.5 billion, that’s up £1.1 billion
- Net fiscal balance (Including geographic share of North Sea Oil) was a deficit of £15.1 billion
Unionists will love that last figure. Now I could analyse these figures, but I’m not going to. Instead Im going to tell you a bit more how this is all flawed. Ive already told you about Deficits and how its a rally bad figure to use in Scotlands finances.
But lets look at the politics behind it and why it was set up. GERS was set up under John Major and first published in 1992. So straight off the bat, you can see they’ve been published since before the Scottish Parliament. It was meant to be divisive. It was meant to show that Scotland couldn’t go it alone.
How much can the GERS figures tell us about an Independent Scotland?
The Scottish Government themselves have warned that it only shows Scotlands finances under the current constitutional arrangements.
Again going back to the deficit, it is the most weaponised part of GERS. It is commonly used to show Scotland couldn’t go it alone, however this means accepting that the public finances would be exactly the same after independence. It wouldn’t. Independence for so many of us is about making radical change because we know it won’t happen under any Westminster government. So why would we keep it exactly the same. The SNP and many other Pro-Indy parties have consistently signalled Scotland would have much different spending priorities post-Independence. No money spent on nuclear weapons, on failed railway projects, vanity projects.
Are the figures used reliable?
Yes and No.
Its real data that is used in the GERS figures and not just estimates however that doesn’t mean its 100% reliable.
We’ve touched on spending a little, but the figures shows income tax paid on income in Scotland however it also shows spending for Scotland by the UK Government even spending not done in Scotland. This is proportioned spending from things like defence etc. I really recommend reading Richard Murphy’s thread on this topic this morning.
To conclude this short blog. I could go into depth about the GERS figures but I just don’t feel like putting that energy into it is worth it. It’s the same arguments every year. Unionists point to the deficit and we point out the flaws. So what should you take away from this. First of all DEFICITS. Scottish Government can’t run deficits, so UK Government spending prop tined to Scotland raises that deficit figure. Independence will give us the full powers over our economy to spend on the priorities for the people of Scotland and not waste it on failed projects and nuclear weapons.
Remember this is all in the context of Scotland WITHIN the United Kingdom and is in no way reflective of Independence. It can’t be, no one can’t tell you how a Scottish Government in an Independent Scotland will utilise the full economic powers that we will have. It shows how Scotland performs without the full economic powers available. An Independent Scotland can utilise these powers better.