Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Wee Blue Book (of Lies)

Everybody's favourite Bath based cybernat,  the "Reverend Stuart Campbell" - erstwhile computer games reviewer and custodian of the separatist cheer-leading site "Wings Over Scotland" - has published a document entitled the "Wee Blue Book: The Facts the Papers Leave Out (Don't vote in the independence referendum until you've read this)". He is embarrassingly pleased with himself.  It feels a little mean to burst his bubble but - well - he deserves a little of his own medicine.

The Wee Blue Book is so riddled with errors, untruths and logical fallacies that it's honestly hard to know where to start a critique.  I think the most glaringly piss-poor section is the one entitled "The Economy": so I'll focus on that one with this post.

Much of his fevered ranting appears predicated on the assumption that a vote for independence will allow us to re-run the 1980's (when the UK experienced it's main economic boost from Oil and Gas).  Going back 30 years to focus on a particular 10 year period (out of 307 years of Union) is a text-book example of selective retrospection (actually I might have just made up that expression - if it's not in a text-book it should be).  After spending two of his three pages of text pointlessly crying over the spilt milk of the 1980's he experiences a fleeting moment of coherence when he states "There's no point crying over spilt milk - that's all in the past". Well quite.

But let's look at the numbers; the "Facts" that the Rev is so keen to clarify.  I include below a table summarising the GERS numbers that he cites as his source (and colour code references in the text to help you find them in the table). I have spent a lot of time with these figures and - trust me - this table is correct. The figures reconcile with statements made by the pro-independence camp (including the ridiculous "we would have been £8bn better off over the last 5 years" claims from the First Minister and Business for Scotland). The numbers here are not in dispute; it's just that the Rev seems to struggle to understand them.  I suspect he's not somebody who knows his way around a spreadsheet.  Let's take this specific statement where he attempts to justify his assertions with data;
  • "On average, UK spending is round £1,200 higher per person in Scotland than in the UK as a whole. But on average Scotland sends £1,700 more per person to the UK in taxes. We only get back around 70% of the extra money we send to London" p.13
First of all we should be clear that all of these figures allocate a geographic share of oil & gas revenues to Scotland using the Scottish Government's (i.e. most favourable) definition of geographic share. Fair enough.

We have to form a view as to what time period he is taking for his "on average" statement.  The GERS figures go back 5 years so it seems reasonable to assume he is talking about 5 year averages - certainly to go back any further is hardly going to give us a representative view of the "run-rate" that we're taking into an independent future.  Just in case; I've added an extra 2 years to the data so that we can see a slightly longer-term perspective.

Sure enough on this basis it's true that on average Scottish spending is £1,200 higher per person than the UK.  Where he veers away from the "Facts" is when he asserts that "on average" we send £1,700 more per person to the UK in taxes.  The actual figure is £1,200 (7 or 5 year average) and more recently £1,100 (4 year average).  

How could he be so far out?  I've been around these figures long enough to know where the £1,700 comes from because it's widely quoted. In the previously reported GERS figures (published 03/13) the Scottish Tax contribution for the then most recent year (2011-12) was £1,688 higher than the UK per capita average.  As is the way with these things, when the most recent numbers were published (03/14) corrections were made to prior years and hence that figure is now more accurately reported as £1,515 - and the most recent year now available (2012-13) actually shows a figure of £797.  It probably shouldn't surprise anybody that the Yes camp continue to quote the £1,700 figure when the most recent figure is actually £800.

So the £1,700 figure has subsequently been corrected (by the Scottish Government) to £1,500 and is for the year before last. The equivalent figure for last year is actually £800. The figure Stu uses is out of date and certainly isn't is any sort of "average".

Now because I'm fussy like this: we should really compare Scottish figures to rUK figures (ie. excluding Scotland from the UK figures so we are comparing "us" versus "them").  On this basis we are remarkable well balanced (remember these analyses all assume we get to "keep our Oil" and not share the tax revenues with the rest of the Union.). Over the last 5 or 7 years we can say that - on average - we generate £1,300 higher tax receipts per person and receive £1,300 higher public spending per person. In fact if you look at the most recent 4 years whilst we still receive £1,300 per head higher expenditure we actually contributed only £1,100 per head higher taxes (or - to use the Rev's phraseology - we get back 15% more than we send to London). 

So not to put too fine a point on it: his statement is bollocks.

Now we've established the correct base figures we can pretty quickly tear through his other attempts to use data;
  • "Scotland's deficit is in fact considerably smaller than the UK's" p.14
This statement is simply wrong.  It was £260 per person smaller in 2011-12 but £510 higher in 2012-13 and averages at the same level over the last 7 years, £160 higher over the last 4.
  • "Scotland can't afford to keep paying ten's of billions of pounds over and above its fair share" p.12 
  • "Scotland subsidises the UK by billions of pounds every year" p.10
As is clear from these numbers that's not whats happening. They are quite simply ludicrous statements.
  • "The extra spending isn't a generous gift from the UK - It's borrowing, taken out by the UK government in Scotland's name" p.13
Errr... yes that's right Stu; when you run a deficit the money to fund it comes from debt. That would be true for an independent Scotland as well.

There is plenty more Bunkum in the Economics chapter (and indeed every other chapter) but I'll leave those to another day.  Frankly anybody who reads this post and still trusts anything the Rev writes needs to have a wee word with themselves - he shows no integrity and lacks any credibility.


If you need more convincing then I offer the following antidotes to a couple of the Rev's other poisonous chapters.

  • EU - he's way out on the nature of the negotiation required and the caveats that Graham Avery actually made. For a more thorough account of EU issues try this > Independent Scotland and the EU
  • Currency - he completely misses the point that any currency solution (including the already-ruled-out Currency Union) is a least-worst option, is a major downside of independence.  For detail on currency issues try this > Currency Union & Economic Asymmetry
  • Principles & Politics - his logic is all over the place here, arguments are tautological (we're a country, countries are independent therefore we should be independent) and he appears to fail to understand the basic principles of representative democracy. This was one of the first posts I ever wrote > We should Decide Who Governs Us
  • Oil - his section on oil is very short but - of course - mentions the Oil Fund which I've already covered here > Oil & Gas Part II: The Oil Fund.  He doesn't mention that the Scottish Government's *worst case* projection for Oil and Gas revenue turned out to be around 25% over-optimistic for 2013-14.  
  • Other


Anonymous said...

Are you taking the real geo share or the Labour new line geo share?

You do realise wings is just some guy in his bedroom, he represents Yes! Scotland as much as you do Better Together.

Anonymous said...

What, no ignorant comment from the intellectually challenged 'Reverend' yet? Can we make sure that he becomes persona non grata in the UK if Scotland is foolish enough to vote Yes? But I bet he won't want to move north... I wonder why he thinks independence is so good for a country in which he apparently has no wish to live himself?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you've noticed (you probably have) but there is a glaring error in his opening 'governments we didn't vote for' gambit. He has actually misread the wikipedia article he got his figures from and states that in 1959 Scots did not vote for the Conservative government. His subsequent miscalculations are built upon that.

As you can see, he misreads Labour's position at the top of this Wikipedia table and does not see that the figure in bold was the winner that year. The Conservatives and National Liberal alliance won by 0.7%. Given that he accepts their previous wins in 1951 and 1955, this cannot be explained away by a misunderstanding of that alliance.

Kevin Hague said...

Anonymous I am using the Scottish Government's preferred (most favourable to us) geographic share as presented in the GERS numbers. Its a goof point that it is far from clear this definition will be accepted in which case our figures would look worse.

A similar point can be made about allocation of corporation tax by the way - the figures here are Scot Gov estimated and Treasury estimates are £0.5bn lower. Truth is nobody knows until we see how corporates choose to report (and register) in an iScotland.

I recognise your point about Wings - it's why its appropriate for someone equally as irrelevant and unrepresentative as me to call him out on his errors - were BT to do so it would present him as more relevant than he is

Anonymous said...

Currency union? Try handing over a Scottish tenner in a shop down south now. You might as well hand over Syrian money.

Anonymous said...

Can you please point me to the Better Together equivalent of the WBB? Is there a short and snappy pocket-sized guide to all the benefits of the Union going around somewhere? At lowest projections, there will probably be about 800,000 copies of WBB doing the rounds over the last month or so. Has someone not produced a Unionist equivalent?

Anyway I am an undecided voter, probably leaning towards no. I have read some of the stuff on WOS and in fairness while there seems to be a bit of controversy about the man himself, you can't argue with some of the content, which must be close to the bone for some of us Unionists. The article on there right now pulling apart what Alastair said on the radio over the weekend appears to be true. He did lie. The evidence is all there.

Anyway, I digress. What I really wanted your help with was the 30 year averages or thereabouts. This would comfort me a lot more. 4 year averages (why 4?) which seem to show that Scotland roughly breaks even, or perhaps receives a small Union bonus does not persuade me, not when I consider what could be saved from abolishing Trident, not contributing to HS2, westminster bureaucracy etc. Do the 30 year figures blow separation out of the water? Since the GERS figures became available how does it stand? Has Scotland received more from the Union than it paid in? We are always being told this is the case by the Salmondistas, who crow about it every chance they get, but I have never head a Unionist address this over the whole period. I have heard some quibbling about the last few years but this is pretty unpersuasive really. So please, I'd be really grateful if you could extend your above analysis for the whole period GERS figures are available?

The EU does not concern me. My girlfriend who is German was an intern at the European parliament this year and she asked everyone and anyone around Brussels about Scottish independence and apparently it is an open secret there that Scotland would be welcomed into the EU. No-one expects Spain to present a problem, and everyone expects it to be sorted out pretty quickly. The only reason that no-one is speaking out is because of the position with the UK as a whole. They are all desperate for UK to stay as a member, so no-one (that matters) will make any public statement endorsing Scotland for fear of antagonising Cameron.

Anyway, the economy is the key area for me. Many thanks in advance.

Terry Summers said...

Unlike the Rev, you are resident in Scotland, have contributed to its economy and provided employment for some of it's population and have a economic and personal stake in it's future.
The more rabid wing of the Yes campaign have been quite active in shouting down comments nad contributions from those who they see as being outsiders to Scotland and I have noticed of late that the question, 'do you have a vote' is being directed to anyone who gainsays the SNP party line. Apparently this distinction doesn;t apply to a Bath based ex-pat and his website which should more accurately be titled 'Wings over Somerset'
If the Rev is so keen on an Independent Scotland and so contemptuous of the United Kingdom why doesn't he return to Scotland establish residency and have his vote in the Referendum?

Anonymous said...

I hope you didn't waste too much of your time compiling your rant of hatred.
Your style is very familiar, take something apart bit by bit, use loads of links and numbers that make it look like you are a expert in the hope that nobody will look too closely and be impressed by the length and apparent complexity.

That's all great, but the problem is everything you write is crap that's been argued and debunked before. You'll change nobody's minds the only people who'll be gratified are already firm pro dependency fans.

Hope it took you feckin days and days to spew your blog out and you now feel nice and purged.

Anonymous said...

Confusing stuff.

To get a definite answer I suppose we would have to calculate all of Scotland's tax revenues that she generates - so we'd have to take all taxes that currently accrue to Westminster for which we have no breakdown and add them to Scotland.

How about some calculations that include Scotland's VAT ? Court Fines ? What about Land Duties (if any) ?
There must be quite a few areas of tax that we're not aware of.

Lets add these to Scotland's accounts, remembering to take them off Westminster's and see where we stand.

This is the kind of info we need.

Kevin Hague said...

Responding to a few anonymous points:
1. I'm not familiar with Better Together leaflets as I avoid them - I feel No is the answer so I'd rather read Yes literature and be challenged. I prefer my own analysis as I appreciate the No camp can exaggerate and spin as well. Sorry not to be of more help.
2. I show 4 and 7 years simply to make the point that the 5 year figure is arbitrary and demonstrate the sensitivity to time period chosen
3. Search Prof Brian Ashcroft's blog for longer time series. Very simply summarised the last 25 years have been roughly balanced (ie. we haev "kept" "our" oil money - in the 1980's "Our oil" was a very significant net contributor to rUK. My view on that is two-fold a/ it's reasonable that in a Union windfall gains are shared (as I would expect them to be if massive shale-gas resources exploited in England) b/We are not voting to re-run the 1980's. Nobody is predicting an equivalent boom again so we look at recent run-rate to establish the finances we would be running if independent *and if nothing else changed*. That last point is important because (see elsewhere on this blog) I see that there will be significant damage to our economy through job losses caused directly by independence.

Kevin Hague said...

Responses to Anonymous points (cont'd):

1. On the EU question I strongly suggest you read my blog on that Independent Scotland and the EU

2. These numbers include all the relevant taxes as per Scottish Government's own figure. The full list follows:

Income tax
Corporation tax
Capital gains tax
Other taxes on income and wealth
National insurance contributions
Fuel duties
Stamp duties
Tobacco duties
Alcohol duties
Betting and gaming and duties
Air passenger duty
Insurance premium tax
Landfill tax
Climate change levy
Aggregates levy
Inheritance tax
Vehicle excise duty
Non-domestic rates
Council tax
Other taxes, royalties and adjustments
Interest and dividends
Gross operating surplus
Rent and other current transfers

Kevin Hague said...

Final point to Anonymous:

My point is precisely as you summarise "seem to show that Scotland roughly breaks even".

That is diametrically opposed to the statements in the Wee Blue Book. It should be remembered that this also is based on Scot Gov definition of geographic share of oil so we are already getting to keep "our" oil & gas money

I covered this at length a few month's ago in my post Oil & GAs Part I: for richer for poorer"

Kevin Hague said...

Anonymous referring to my "rant of hatred": I'm guessing you missed my point about "a taste of his own medicine"? Have you read any of his *ahem* output?

Gordon Robson said...

"You do realise wings is just some guy in his bedroom, he represents Yes! Scotland as much as you do Better Together."

I think that's something of a fair comment. I'm a No voter, but the professional Yes campaign shouldn't really be criticised on the basis of what Stuart Campbell does. He's a fairly amateurish blogger - most of the stuff he comes out with amounts to little more than petulantly attacking some random Labour/Better Together representative who's stuck their head above the parapet. It shouldn't be a great surprise that his economic/political analysis isn't up to much.

I actually think Wings has done more harm than good for the Yes side. It preaches to the converted - the diehard Yes supporters who love to obsess over media bias, mock Darling and whatever else - but for floating voters that kind of abrasive campaigning probably puts more people off than it converts. Some of the more zealous people in the comments thread there even seem to actively attack floating voters on the grounds that they're not already believers - which is about as backwards a campaigning strategy as it gets. The SNP are far too sensible to go into that territory for the most part.

Kevin Hague said...

Gordon I agree with everything you say with three caveats

1. He claims he's printing 250,000 copies of the WeeBlueBook: if that's true there will be a large number of people who read it and assume its true - I think it's important that somebody somewhere points that out (although I recognise hardly any who read it will see this blog - what more can I do?)

2. As evidenced today on Twitter the official Yes Campaign (eg. @YesLinlithgow) are promoting and defending the book and its figures. That means he is being embraced by the "professional Yes" campaign

3. I am also "some guy in his bedroom" (figuratively speaking) so its appropriate that I call him out on his errors as it would be inappropriate for official No Thanks campaign to respond to him

Stuart Winton said...

Well done Kevin for having the tenacity and knowledge to actually wade through his stuff and deconstruct it. In a way it's not really that difficult, but on the other hand the sheer volume he produces and the often convoluted and contrived nature of much of it makes critiquing it something of a Herculean task.

Read quite a bit of his blogging stuff in the early days, but can't really be bothered now because it's all eminently predictable. Makes some good points, but a lot of it is just typical Yes propaganda with an emphasis on the ad hominem stuff (which is why he appeals to a certain Yes demographic).

Anyway, I didn't get beyond the covers of the WBB, and noticed that he misattributed the quotes on the back. They're the opinions of specific journalists and writers, not the publications per se that he attributes them to, presumably on the basis that that will make the opinions cited seem more flattering than they actually are (the exception being the one from Ross MacAfferty, which is very precisely attributed and is how he should have presented the other quotes, but I'm pretty sure that the reason for that is that he was trying to make a point at Ross's expense - there's nothing straightforward about Rev Stu's modus!).

Anyway, that's par for the course, and thus looked symptomatic regarding the rest of the WBB. Which is why I didn't bother reading it.

And thus ably vindicated by your own critique, not to mention several others who've taken it apart!

By the way, had to laugh at the usual lack of self-awareness/irony overload from 'Anonymous' @ 01.53. Apart from the words 'pro dependency fans' their analysis is surely more apt for Wings!

Stuart Winton said...

By the way, whatever the merits of the WBB, few will read it, thus all it's achieving is lightening the wallets of a thousand or so Yes zealots, and adding a bit more to global warming (assuming it exists!).

The type of people who will read a document of that length will have read lots already including, most obviously, the SNP's white paper. And if those types haven't made up their minds by now then I doubt if the WBB will help them along.

The WBB is the political equivalent of The Watchtower.

Anonymous said...

So it's another piece of propaganda which makes it no different from much of the Corporate backed MSM.

Anonymous said...

One thing I keep asking is.... when the NO campaign and its backers keep saying how bad it will be for Scotland, how much Scotland will suffer, all the things Scotland will not be able to do or use or be a part off.
Since when has the British government cared about Scotland, how many industries (not just businesses) has the British government closed down, how many tens of thousand of people has it put out off work. And yes I have to mention the OIL how much has it ripped Scotland off on that one.
WHY now do they feel so sorry for Scotland ??????
Doesn't that seem strange to anybody?

Anonymous said...

Aren't the lower oil revenue's in 2013-14 attributed to an increase in investment projects in the North Seas? Which will then lead to a future increase in production therefore an increase in revenues?

Plus you also cannot calculate the unknown benefit of Scotland having full control of policies including taxation which may increase business presence in Scotland thereby increasing revenue further.

Anonymous said...

Do the figures you use include VAT etc. raised in Scotland but assigned to company headquarters in the rest of the UK?

I've yet to see figures that do take into account the 'loss' of Scottish VAT figures through company accounts being filed at headquarters outside Scotland - most of the major supermarkets and big chain stores have their registered address in the South of England, if I'm not mistaken.

Considering a majority of day-to-day purchases made in Scotland are made in chain stores, I would expect this to make a not insignificant difference in total tax income for Scotland.

Kevin Hague said...

Answering the VAT question:

GERS estimates VAT based on Scotland's share of UK household VAT expenditure.

This means your fear about corporate reporting of that VAT is unfounded - there is no hidden leakage of attributable VAT

Anonymous said...

One cannot help but feel you've missed the point. WBB is *explicit* about what it is: counterclaims *of equivalent kind* predominantly by those who have made statements to the opposite effect in the press. If claims of this kind are valid and newsworthy from one side, then they are newsworthy and usable from both sides *as the discourse has been defined*.

*All* the existing figures are interpretative, but only the No campaign claims otherwise. Only people like yourself claim to be 'objective' (while failing the most simple tests of objectivity).

For example, *if* public spending per capita in Scotland is higher 'because of oil' *then* why is it even higher in NI? If public spending *is* the measure of contribution to an economy, then why is the 3.5 times higher spending on England per sqkm *not* equally relevant? More crucially, if Westminster were willing to go to considerable lengths to disguise the *net* contribution of oil to the UK economy in the past (demonstrably so) then how can they defend failing to do this now *in the UK national interest*?

If you were really into 'objectively' assessing the relative validity of statistics, then you would acknowledge (as do actual independent assessors) that Scottish Government figures are, across the board, more accurate, more relevant, and more comprehensively published.

You would also note the known industry impact of specific UK Government actions on oil revenues in the period you discuss. As you don't note these, your discussion is obviously subjective - and you equally obviously have no problem with that!

Your attitude isn't in itself a problem - in political campaigns, everybody lies. (WBB illustrates this precisely by not being authoritative, while pointing out that *neither are 'authorities'*.) What makes it a problem is when you claim 'the truth' and call other people liars. It just indicates a basic failure!

The Rev. ain't claiming to be objective: Westminster *are* claiming that (although they provably aren't practicing it) and they are using everyone's money to do it. And you don't even see a problem there, do you?

Kevin Hague said...

Answering Anonymous points about future Oil & Gas and future business presence

1. In this post I am specifically addressing the assertions made in the WeeBlueBook about historical data and I show he is lying

2. The question you raise about future figures is a separate one and I'm not going to attempt to cover it in a response to a comment on this post. However ... if you read my brief magazine piece Referendum Viewpoint you won't be surprised to hear I disagree with your assertion on increasing business presence. As for Oil & Gas ... well that's a whole other topic but we can all agree it's a finite, declining and volatile income source. FWIW I agree one shouldn't draw too many conclusions from one year's data - and I don't attempt to.

Anonymous said...

one question. I've read the economic arguments on both sides, but I'm not an economist. it's difficult to disentangle the facts from the fiction. so, if we really don't over contribute to the UK, if we're really the poor relations, why is Westminster, full of self serving millionaires, so keen to hang on to us

Anonymous said...

Can I disagree with the analysis ?

its valid to use % or absolute figures for the tax figures so long as you are aware of the context. GERs use both themselves! certainly Scotland tax take doesn't cover its spending - but the only countries in the world currently running a surplus are Norway and CH. this is why this blog post isnt as hot as it think it is. any extra spending is debt, and the entire UK is also running at similar deficit - this is where much of the smoke and mirrors come from ?

for sure WOS is biased - but no more so than than the Daily Telegraph or this blog.



Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris said...

I've not yet read the wee blue book but while you've (perhaps correctly) pulled apart some of it's figures it seems to me it's biggest purpose was to make people question what the papers and BBC are spouting.

Having been linked to Wings blogs over the past few months it seems that he does a good job on showing up the media when they print inaccuracies or lazy lies and more joyously politicians who should know better.

I'm assuming this book contains plenty of that with quotes from one No source which has been made widely available being countered or even quaffed by a little mentioned comment often by somebody in the know.

I have no doubt that like the media Rev Stu is very selective over what he picks up but the links to the full source are provided to allow us to step back from the bias.

You may be able to question some of his own views and findings but by giving him a taste of his own medicine that's backing up that he's right to hold others up for questioning when they are wrong.

Kevin Hague said...

Anonymous (Doug):

With respect you appear to have missed the point so let me say it again: Wings is lying when he states "on average Scotland sends £1,700 more per person to the UK in taxes".

It's demonstrably untrue. I would never knowingly make such a blatantly untrue statement in my Blog.

He doesn't stop there: "Scotland's deficit is in fact considerably smaller than the UK's". That is also demonstrably untrue. Not in the most recent year, not over any of average periods he cites. Its a lie.

No smoke and mirrors here: all the numbers clearly laid out for anyone who wants to interpret them I don't "spin" them - I merely un-Spin Wings errors and lies

Kevin Hague said...

Chris with respect you should maybe read the Wee Blue Book before attempting to defend it.

Either way: he is not "selectively quoting" - he is knowingly lying about the figures (see my previous comment).

That's a more heinous crime than the "bias" he accuse others of.

Mr Fyne said...

Of course both sides are beefing up their figures. It's called spin. It is normal political discourse. I'm afraid this referendum is all about that wearisome thing, the heart, and to where it owes allegiance. I have read reams of economic analysis and I am convinced that Scotland will probably be worse off after independence, nevertheless I am voting Yes, because I am Scottish.

Anonymous said...

See you tomorrow in Melrose! Game on.

Kevin Hague said...

Mr Fyne I of course respect your position.

All I am attempting to do is ensure the actual numbers are see - no beefing up involved.

I'm afraid I find "because I'm Scottish" as a reason for voting yet somewhat offensive to the millions of proud Scots who will be voting No.

Its a shame you feel the need to implicitly question the "Scottish-ness" of No voters

Kevin Hague said...


I may see you tomorrow - given you remain anonymous it will be hard to say hello though

Mr Fyne said...

I am really not questioning your Scottishness. I thoroughly understand that you have a different, though equally valid idea of Scottishness. I think we have an interesting position. I am voting Yes because I am Scottish, as are, I believe, at least the majority of the 1.5 - 2 million Scots who will vote Yes. You and your similar number are voting No because you are also proud of your Scottishness. Let us be honest and admit that in Scotland we have two very different national identities, a bit like Northern Ireland. We have a divided country. Let us not pretend it is about numbers. September 18th is about which side you are on. I know it it is a little bit worrying, but this is where we are at now.

Mr Fyne said...

In short I am putting forward the idea that all of your blogging is nothing more than a very long attempt to justify your allegiance to a British Scottish Nationalism, as Stuart Campbell's is nothing more than a very long attempt to justify his Scottish Nationalism. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

the only thing you need to understand is that under the current banking system the rich get richer while the rest of us get poorer.

I have yet to hear any talk of banking reform from the yes camp.

takeourblueback said...

Sorry dude, managed to read only 1 paragraph before falling asleep - I'm afraid the #weebluebook beats you on that, compelling, interesting and certainly a few more truths than your uninteresting attempt to dissect it #yaaawwwn

Anonymous said...

Funny, I do it every week, just for fun. Never had worse than an inquisitive look before it's popped in the till.

Anonymous said...

Quick question for the author: Do you comprehend the methodology of GERS, specifically the "Who benefits principle" of money spent 'IN' Scotland and money spent 'FOR' Scotland?
Furthermore, do you comprehend the terminology of 'non-identifiable expenditure'?

Kevin Hague said...

To last comment: yes, I understand those points.

I am responding in this post to the specific figures quoted in the "wee blue book".

I am simply showing that Wings is blatantly lying when he cites GERS as justification for:
"On average, UK spending is around £1,200 higher per person in Scotland than in the UK as a whole. But on average Scotland sends £1,700 more per person to
the UK in taxes"

There are different debates to be had about cost allocations, reserved spending etc. but that is not the intended purpose of this post.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kevin Hague said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I understand that UK spending is based on 'pooling and sharing' and the 'needs' of an area.

If Scotland had NO oil at all, then it is reasonable to assume that spending per person would still be roughly the same as Northern Ireland or Wales - similar to Scotland, despite it's oil bonus.

Partly because of geography and a sparser population. Costs per person naturally work out higher to deliver the same basic services.

It can then be argued that Scotland has received almost NO additional spending benefit from the huge oil revenues from Scottish waters.

Compare to Norway which has built up a massive oil fund - from which the investment returns alone are now approaching Scottish annual spending.

I think there is a valid point that Scotland has paid a heavy price by missing out on a similar opportunity.

Kevin Hague said...


Thank you for the last comment as it raises a couple of interesting points and shows you are thinking about this issue intelligently.

First of all we can agree I think that your points are not those the Rev was making in his Wee Blue Book when he claims on average we send £1,700 more to Westminster etc. which I have shown is clearly misrepresentation.

You make interesting side points.

1. Higher cost-to-serve because of our geographic dispersity: This is an interesting argument - we should get more spent on us because we are structurally more expensive to serve. To which the obvious riposte is: we do. As well as these numbers, look at the universal service obligations (flat rate postal and telecomms charges for example) where there is an implicit subsidy from rUK to Scotland (for the reasons you outline) which is not included in any of these analyses. The same is true of retailers (e.g. multiple grocers) who don't differentiate pricing in remoter areas. The other obvious point of course is that this "per capita cost-to-serve" disadvantage stays with us after independence, so we have to factor it in to our understanding of an iScotland's economics

2. It can be argued no additional spending benefit received. This is a little "cake and eat it" isn't it? If you believe being in a Union means others have a moral duty to spend more on us because our geographically dispersed population makes us expensive to serve, surely we too have a duty to share our oil wealth that is a luck bonus of our geographic position? IF we shared our oil revenue evenly (per capita) then of course we are heavily subsidised by rUK. I don't think that is a bad thing - I think it shows how well the Union works. I honestly don't think you can look at the last 7 years (as far as I went in this post) and conclude we have been hard done by in any way shape or form.

3.Oil Fund I've covered this argument is some depth > The Oil Fund. At its simplest: we're not voting to re-run the 1980's so we should be focused on what is in front of us - even the White Paper tacitly accepts we can't afford to build an oil fund any time soon. The SNP were't arguing for an oil fund when it would have made a difference, we (the UK) would have needed to make sacrifices we didbn't make (e.g. healthcare is not free at point of use in Norway). I imagine if the UK as a whole could re-run the 1980s with 20:20 hindsight we'd have managed the oil wealth better. We can't change that and frankly the whole of the UK has as much right to feel sore about our failure to make the tough choices in the 80's as the Scots can.

None of these points change the case for me:
1/ We are not re-running the 1980s
2/ Our run-rate economic performance (tax & spend) does not suggest we would be better off purely by separating from the UK (in fact in recent years we would be worse off)
3/ The real debate for me is what additional economic impact separation will have: I see 100,000+ job losses associated with financial services, defence and those of us trading with rUK; I see distress caused to ordinary people (pensions, mortgages, interest rate) by currency instability and uncertainty, I see at best a renogotiated EU position that weakens our economy, at worst one of other of us and our largest trading partner being out of the EU ... and I don't see counter-balancing forces that come close to making these costs seem worthwhile. I recognise others may differ - but if they believe the WP promises can be delivered they are being mislead (the IFS estimates that the promises are not even half-funded by the cost-cuts and tax rises proposed).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Kevin.

I don't think that sharing oil revenues per capita is valid, when the comparison is with independence and a geographical share.

Yes, there is a moral argument that we should share with the rest of the UK, but personally I think that Scotland should have received a far better deal, perhaps a separate oil fund much the way that Shetland has.

London is booming, and we don't even have a full motorway all the way to Aberdeen yet.

I understand that figures are exaggerated on both sides but Norway is the simple comparison, and their success blows Scotland out the water.

We can't rerun the past, but when you look at the huge natural resources remaining, I find it hard to believe that we can't do better than we have done.
Our sea area is huge, and all the oil workers I talk to have no doubt that plenty remains.

I think there could be some short term pain, but long term we could be far more successful, especially if a national energy company was set up, keeping more profits in the public purse.

It all comes down to your attitude between risk and reward.

I am swinging to a YES because I believe that pragmatism would prevail, and much of our connections with the rest of the UK would continue as at present - as it is in both our interests.

Kevin Hague said...

The per capita comparison is only valid within the Union - if we are looking at the figures as a guide to the run-rate we would take into independence (pro-form figures if you like) then I agree we should look at geographic share.

To be absolutely clear - all the numbers in the original blog post and data table assume geographic share.

The Norway comparison is interesting: you will notice they have their own currency and are not in the EU - I'd argue they are pretty important differences to the White Paper proposal for an independent Scotland. I'll say again that healthcare is not free at point of use in Norway, all dental care and radiology is paid by patients etc. so simplistic comparisons are dangerous - is anyone arguing that an independent Scotland should mimic their approach to healthcare so that we can build an Oil Fund?

You find it hard to believe we couldn't do better as an independent country; for reasons outlined elsewhere on this blog I differ.

Most pertinently for me: I personally would face making people redundant as we move operations out of Scotland to avoid the risks of rUK becoming an export market to us. Treasury estimates the total jobs impact at 270,000 -- I expect that's an exaggeration; but I can certainly believe its 100,000+.

That's some "short-term pain" and - for me - I see no tangible long-term gain to offset it against.

Thanks for interacting: I expect we'll simply have to agree to differ on our conclusions (although to the original post: we can agree that we wouldn't immediately be tens of £ billions better off because Scotland is getting cheated by the Treasury!)

Norrie said...

Enjoyed your blog and will return, hopefully to see your ideas about where we may go in the future both remaining part of the Union and as an independent country. Both the present and the past are only guides your thoughts on the possibilities would interest me.

ChazMac said...

Why do the arguments always have to be about money? I lived in England for many years and left (partly) due to the terrible over-population. Crime, traffic jams whenever you wanted to go anywhere, pollution, noise, constant jostling and aggression. I love living in Scotland with friendly people, masses of beautiful countryside, space and fresh air.

Nobody ever mentions the elephant in the room: immigration. Salmond intends to import millions more people to pay our future pensions and increase the population (he'll also provide them with the extra jobs, as there aren't many round here). The population now is roughly the same as that of London. Nobody seems to realise that the country will quickly lose it's Scottish identity and become multi-cultural, probably within a generation, or two. Norway is always held up as some kind of socialist utopia, but they also have increasing problems with immigration, due to the small indigenous population vs the large number of immigrants bringing their own culture. Nobody wants to mention this because it's not PC, but it's one of the few things that make me want to vote No. I don't want Scotland to become a smaller version of England, and I fear that it will in the future.

Anonymous said...

People can quote statistics for and against independence but in the end the people of Scotland have to live with the consequences of their decisions. Remember why the union was formed in the first place . Scotland was bankrupt. Perhaps we should learn from the past.

Anonymous said...

The Rev's not so hot on his geography either-"there will be no border posts at Berwick". I would hope not considering the historic border lies several miles to the north!

johntmt said...

Don't worry too much about the quoted circulation figures regarding this volume-in the 1960's the UK edition of Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book" sold by the hundreds of thousands-even I, a conservative (note the small c), bought one-but I don't remember the country falling to a Red Revolution!.

commentor said...

"the Scottish Government's (i.e. most favourable) definition of geographic share."

The Scottish Government uses the line of equidistance. The most favourable definition would probably be the "straight line to the east" maritime border before Labour changed it in 1999.

The line of equidistance is the line brought in by Labour in 1999.


Anonymous said...

Hi - 'fess up - I am "Yes" supporter.

I do feel sorry for the amount of "information" that both the "Yes" camp and the "No" camp produce - how any undecided will make their decision based on that is beyond me.

But I feel the debate has moved passed all this. Over the last number of years, across much of the UK, apathy has set in on the political process, and a distrust of the political classes and Westminister has become the norm. (Appreciate no info to back this up - but drop in voter turnout is the closest I can get).

The Scottish dimension - i.e. historically a separate country that is in a Union with England - has sharpened this feeling even more. Are the problems that Scotland faces any different from a comparable region in England - say Yorkshire - I would argue no.

However the Scottish dimension has allowed a different political dialogue to occur which could not occur in Yorkshire - i.e. lets go independent, back to being our own country, and see if we can change things for the better.

All of the arguments about currency, EU, NATO, defence etc. - I think the vast majority of Scots folk think we know there is no clear answer - just like we know there is no clear answer if we stay in the Union - i.e. you cannot predict the future.

So it comes down to a desire for real political engagement and a hope that this will bring a more responsive - and dare I say - a more democratic approach to how we are governed and how we end up - whether for the better or worse.

It many ways it may be naive to think that simply detaching from the Westminster approach and bubble will bring improvement - but can we really doubt that the further North you travel in the UK the move from the neoliberal consensus in Westminster politics morphs into a more Social Democratic consensus.

This I feel is at the heart of this debate and ultimate decision we are making. The arguments about figures simply appeal to those on either side of the committed spectrum - but the desire for things to "improve" - is what is driving the middle.

Let me finish by saying that if true Devo-Max had been offered instead to independence (more or less everything but common defence control) then I believe that would have received a 70% plus vote in favour - i.e. independence would not have been the favoured option.

However as that was not offered (and vague waving of 'more powers' does not cut the mustard) then individuals are moving to the independence argument in more numbers, than the historical 30% who in the lifetime of the SNP would have said "Yes" to independence.

So this I believe is what it comes down to - a desire to embrace a more Social Democratic and localised approach to governance (and Labour in Scotland has failed to deliver that) rather than a continuance of a neoliberal consensus in London - who still want to play on a world stage.

The vote will be close - and I have a sneaky feeling that we will just vote "Yes" and England will wake up on the 19/20th September and only then begin to realise that this is the last twitches of a centrally controlled empire dying on its feet.

If the vote is "No" the genie will not go back in the bottle - I believe powers will not be transferred in sufficient quantity, the SNP will return a majority again at the next election, a conservative led coalition will be in Downing street - and we will be back here again - with the 40+% of people in Scotland who will have voted "Yes" demanding another referendum.

Phew long comment - hope it helped bring some perspective.

Anonymous said...

"Let us not pretend it is about numbers. September 18th is about which side you are on."

And there, dear, is the reason why I'll be voting No. I, for one, am sick to death of the pseudo-sectarianism that has raised it's ugly little head in Scotland in the lead-up to this referendum. In case you really are that clueless as to what this is about - on the 18th of September, it's about what you want to see for your country. Salmond's little compilation of figures and claims don't add up. The SNP are basing their entire book of rosy promises on lies and deception. And hopefully the electorate can see through that.

Anonymous said...

Yep, agree with the last comment. And I like reading No stuff, for the same reason you like reading Yes stuff. My position is that figures can be framed to support opposing arguments: you have to use your own life experience to arrive at a viewpoint, and your own instincts in assessing situations, people and ideas. Maybe The Wee Blue Book was an easy target - how about tackling Lesley Riddoch's Blossom?

Anonymous said...

Fuck up ya twat

Anonymous said...

Typically empty yes bully-boy answer.

Torn Scone said...

I had a quick skim of the WBB. His section on academic research funding cites Rick Rylance of Research Councils UK describing the status quo, but implies that he is describing a post-independence scenario. It is patently wrong, and either wilfully misleading or an idiotic mis-reading, or possibly both.

Anonymous said...

New Anon person:
I feel that oil is a real red herring in this debate. Regardless of how much oil there is, there is oil in Scotland which will contribute to Scotland's treasury for a reasonable amount of years yet.
What I would like you to do is an analysis of the Scottish potential for harnessing renewable energy (which is supposedly the future), and whether Scotland have a realistic opportunity to have energy independence from renewable energy, and whether Scotland could benefit from the selling of excess renewable energy to rUK and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Just to pick some up on some points in the arguments in this blog. I didn't know much about the situation in Norway, but it is actually a socialised healthcare system. Payments are treated as an excess and thus there is maximum limit on what people in Norway pay, i think it around 300 pounds. This seems to be a perfectly reasonable system and i don't doubt that this is not the kind of system that the tories would end up introducing. I am one of the poeple that think Scotland can come up with a solution on health. Ultimately i would urge people to look on it as a long-term decision. Short term we will lose out but in the long-term we can build a better future for scotland than will be achieved in the uk. We can already view the stagnation in the population of Scotland for the last few decades as a clear symptom of how the UK solution isn't working for scotland anymore. Sure in the days of empire and early industrialisation, we reaped large rewards from being part of the uk, but in the world of globalisation, not empire, being part of a larger unwieldy entity is not necessarily a good thing.

David S said...

"Rich business man happy with the status quo" - yawn.

You spin maths one way, Stu spins it another, while Gordon Brown tells flat out lies and no-one in the media bats an eyelid.

Wake up. It's not about being £xxx a year better or worse off. It's about being able to elect a government with the mandate and ability to improve the lives of Scottish people. In case you haven't noticed, London doesn't care about the average "Jock", and they never will.

It's like you people can't see the wood for the trees. The Tories despise Scotland but are terrified of us leaving them? COME AGAIN NOW?

Ask the obvious question!! What are they getting out of us? These rich, establishment elitists!

If you don't get it, then you're just like them. Happy for the "nation" to prosper while the citizens get poorer.

As for me, I'm looking forward to a fully elected (and by PR) parliament accountable to the electorate which they serve. If they have to tighten the national belt in some areas to improve things, so be it.

(How any sane person believes the no-camp's rhetoric about being skint is beyond me though. Where are all the nutty back-benchers standing up and saying "get rid of them, we'll be better off without them anyway?". Nowhere? Right...)

Anonymous said...

David S - if you were to actually read rather than yawn, you'd see that there is no spin here. The facts speak for themselves. It appears you and others have commented on this blog, not to discuss the point at hand but to deflect from the issue presented to you. In short, you'd do well as a politician.

It's all well and good wanting something, but accepting the consequences of doing so must be taken into account. Kevin's blogs lay the numbers out for you. You only need to read them. How's that for service?

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed confirming my instinct that the prevalent concern of No voters is - money!! Which of course is comical, since the UK govt is racking up debt like a runaway train.
This is about a new opportunity to escape from the crippling inadequacy of free markets, and to a new future. Get your heads out of your wallets and..... VOTE YRS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

There we have it...the nat socialist cry eventually rears its head ...knew it would, including the shouting !!! For your information. ...more people have lost their jobs in industrial areas of the North ofEngland...shipyards, coal mines, steel production...poor you.!!! But instwad of sitting on our bahookies and moaning, we move on and explore new opportunities. ..just like the people of Bathgate who have embraced silicon situations or don't you travel between Glasgow and Edinburgh? Salmond is a self publishing, crowd seeking, political flitting non entity and regardless of the vote. ...will eventually get what he deserves. ...derision....but that might be too late if the vote is yes !!

Anonymous said...

Great energy from you and Wings Over Scotland. Both preaching to the converted and interested outsiders, mainly. But, hey, what can you do. Say what you believe, and produce arguments to back up your case.

The rest of us who are not sure what to believe, what to vote, just see your belief first, your numbers second.

I like some of your content, but your header "book (of lies)" and your big long paragraph which can't see the wood for the trees by focusing on which short-term average is best or worst for each case, followed by the conclusion that the wee book is "bollocks"...

My take is that we have had years of lies, big whopping porkers, and now we have a better idea, with some numbers from you and WoS, that help us get nearer an accurate position. Add some common sense to that through looking at what has happened to small countries in Europe, the Eurozone, the UK... and it seems pretty clear that if we want independence it will work. If we don't, it won't. so, do we want it or not?

If you call that blind faith or nationalism or head ruling heard, go ahead, in a sense that's true but missed the point. Also, of course that's what I see in your blog, your heart ruling your head. Decision first, numbers second. Lots of rhetoric to keep your camp happy.

ps thanks for permitting comments.

Hamish said...

Kevin, could you please provide a link to the document you've taken the spreadsheet image from? My google-fu is failing me. Thanks! H

Anonymous said...

what ever the result may be Scotland will be forever divided especially if the vote is 50/50 with each side blaming the other when things go wrong

Anonymous said...

Hi, could you please link me to the source showing that the Scottish Governments worst case oil prediction was 25% over optimistic in 2013-14. I'm trying to make sure I have original sources of this kind of stuff.

Kevin Hague said...

To Anonymous on forecast "miss" by Scot Gov - sorry not got time to do this neatly but I see I used this as source for actual >


And Scot Gov scenarios I'm pretty sure from White Paper itself else afraid you'll need to google

From memory £4.7bn actual vs £6.2bn lower case forecast?

Hamish said...

I still can't find the table headed "Geographic Split of Oil Revenue" from your article. Could you please link directly to it?

Anonymous said...

Scotland was not bankrupt, in fact Scotland had no national debt at the time of the union. "The equivalent", which is the money England paid to persuade Scottish nobles to join in a Union was to compensate Scotland for taking on a share of England's national debt.

Max Bennie said...

"Currency union? Try handing over a Scottish tenner in a shop down south now. You might as well hand over Syrian money."

I spend Scottish money in English shops whenever I'm down there on holiday and no one bats an eyelid.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness! A site written by someone who is sensible and backs up his points with detailed statistics.

I have briefly looked at his (Stuart's) 'Wings over Scotland' website and it is awful, full of nationalist assertions and misinterpretation.

Chokka blog, I am glad for you.

Anonymous said...

It surely has to be worth considering just how much contribution "Wings" made to the campaign and to the GE result with its misappropiated lies and false data.

A rumoured 200,000 to 600,000 Copies of the Wee Blue Book were said to be in ciculation so perhaps convinced 200,000 individuals to Vote yes or 800,000 voters in a family of 4 of voting age ? In an electorate the size of Scotlands thats a mass manipulation of a nation on the back of falsification of facts.

With the Anniversary almost on us its worth reflecting just how bad things would have been

and yet the people who can't work out the facts for themselves still go to "Wings" for the "Truth" in the apparent absence of anywhere else to do so (aprt from this Blog) this is sdaly some thing very much lacking in Scottish Politics that allows the SNP itself and Wings to produce as much dross and spin as they like.
We really need a single Website presence with the "real " truth without spin from other side to inform people openly and that something Scots take pride in anymore ?

Anonymous said...

You don't have to live in a country to want it to be better.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how little you believe in your country. I don't even live there and I know exactly what's going on. You'd rather try to degrade someone instead of sticking to sheer facts. Can you even *see* why half of Scotland is done with it all? Is there any flicker in your mind or heart that understands how great Independence can be? No one ever said getting there would be perfect and easy. But at least they WANT it.

So disappointed, Kevin.

Max Bennie said...

"I can't believe how little you believe in your country. I don't even live there and I know exactly what's going on. You'd rather try to degrade someone instead of sticking to sheer facts. Can you even *see* why half of Scotland is done with it all? Is there any flicker in your mind or heart that understands how great Independence can be? No one ever said getting there would be perfect and easy. But at least they WANT it."

Anon, you've highlighted the difference between Hague and people like you. Hague deals in facts, whereas you deal in sentiment over substance.

Hamish said...

Facts are all well and good, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: I've asked Hague twice for the source of the data behind the "Geographic Split of Oil Revenue", and he has yet to provide it.

Anonymous said...

Hamish @ 1st Feb 2016,

Google, 40 seconds.

Hamish said...

Anonymous @ 22 Feb 2016,

That document is from October 2015, more than a year after Hague posted this article.

I've looked at the equivalent documents from previous years, and found nothing to support Hague's figures. If you can link directly to a document containing Hague's figures, please go ahead.

Kevin Hague said...

Hamish, you really are remarkably obtuse about this. "Hague's figures" come straight from GERS as published each year, as sourced throughout my blog.

I'm stunned you are unable to find and follow this link

and get you way to Table c.4

It was in previous years as well of course; also easy to find

Do I take it from your continued bizarre questioning of this that

a/ you haven't read GERS

b/ and/or you think that the c.90% geographic share is too low (despite it being the Scottish Government's figure

c/ and/or you think the definition of geographic share is a material issue in this debate

Whichever of these issues you are worried about, you are swinging and missing very badly

Hamish said...

I really have no idea what you're talking about. All I have done is asked you for the source of the figures in your table. I haven't suggested that "the c.90% geographic share is too low" or that "the definition of geographic share is a material issue", or any such thing. I am no fan of Stuart Campbell and it would not surprise me at all if he were attempting to mislead. All I am doing is asking you for the source of the facts by which you demonstrate this.

Table C.4 in the spreadsheet you linked to contains the "Revisions to geographic share of North Sea Revenue 2009-10 and 2012-13". All the figures in that table are percentages. What I'm asking you for is the source of the absolute numbers in the table you posted at the bottom of the article. AFAICT, the spreadsheet you've linked to does not contain those figures.

For instance, you have in your table under Public Expenditure for the UK in 2012-13 a Per Capita figure of "10,998". The only instance of a figure "10,998" in the spreadsheet you linked me to is an accounting adjustment from 2004-05. So where (for example) does the "10,998" in your table come from?

Kevin Hague said...

Blimey - Hamish the spreadsheet is mine, simple arithmetic manipulation of the raw GERS data that I've linked you to - you suggest I'm not telling you where the data comes from when I repeatedly do - it's from the GERS data tables I've provided links to several times.

Might I suggest you try and work the figure for yourself from that data source and see if you get a different answer? If you have gone to that bother I think it's reasonable to say to me "I get x why do you get Y" - but in fcat you clearly have not even attempted the most basic maths before saying I've "yet to provide" the data.

To take you example £10,998 for 2012-13 ...

use the 12-13 GERS data tables (the ones that were available then, linked in my previous comment) and look at table 5.2 and you'll see the absolute figure of £701,681 for 12-13 total UK current + capital spend.

To get per capita we need to divide by UK population.

Table 3.4 gives a revenue/capita of £9,200 and table 3.3 gives total revenue of £586,925k => implicit population of 63,796k

so £701,681/63,796 = £10,999

Of course there are more recent numbers available which I now use ... but I hope you can now see that "Hague's numbers" audit-trail through GERS.

Genuinely: you should have worked that out for yourself given I provided the data source used.

Kevin Hague said...


"I've looked at the equivalent documents from previous years, and found nothing to support Hague's figures"?

That's pretty insulting to be honest - and I hope you can now see completely unjustified

Hamish said...

Thank you for explaining where your figures come from. That's all I ever wanted!

I'll leave it up to the reader to decide whether I "should" have been able to work it out for myself. Bearing in mind that this article is essentially about how the devil is in the detail of the specific combination of raw data from the same source.

Anonymous said...

You have to love the way British Nationalists and Unionists always want to make independence all about being better or worse off financially and not about self determination and not wanting to be out voted by your bigger neighbour on issues important to Scotland. If Russia or France said they would give Scotland a better deal than Westminster would you take that cause its better financially?

Try asking ex-colony countries if they would prefer to be run by Westminster and the House of lords than run themselves even if you offered them some financial insentive. Try New Zealand first make sure you have an ice-pack for the black eye then go on to all the other countries, perhaps it could be a youtube hit where you go to each ex-British colony country and ask for them to renounce independence and come back to the mother of parliaments and submit to Westminster rule.

Might need to invent an "alien act" to encourage them though.

No Google account so Anonymous MJack

Kevin Hague said...

Dude - this blog post is a direct response to Nat propaganda suggesting (clearly wrongly) that we'd be better off. That's what I'm taking issue with - I don't think that being immediately financially worse off is in and of itself a reason not to be Indy, but I think if you lie to the electorate about that reality (as Wings and the SNP and the wider Yes campaign did) the you should be called out on it - that's what I'm doing

Max Bennie said...


The first mention of colonies betrays the "stuck-in-the-past" victim complex of the ardent nationalist. Such people need to go away and look at their history and learn that Scotland was every bit as complicit in the British Empire as England. There's a reason it's called the British Empire.

"You have to love the way British Nationalists and Unionists always want to make independence all about being better or worse off financially and not about self determination and not wanting to be out voted by your bigger neighbour on issues important to Scotland." - And you also have to love the way the nationalists always want to make independence about sentiment and grievance instead of reason and hard fact. It just shows that they have no argument and prefer to resort to evangelical "it'll be all right on the night" optimism, or hypocritical "Westminster is out to get your kids"-style doom-mongering.

Anonymous said...

Ok thanks for the quick reply to my comment. Thinking out of the box, if any or all situations could change my question to you is, what would need to change in order for you to want Scotland to be independent of Westminster and make its own way in the world? Financial? Pride? Security?


Anonymous said...

Kev talking about lieing Brown, BT and BBC Unionist spokesperson, said that we wouldnt get access to Great Almond St hospital and pensions were not going to be paid if we voted for Independence, both of those were proven lies by both GAS and the Dep of Pensions. Are they ok lies?

Kevin Hague said...

The Great Ormond Street example was I believe "Vote No Borders" so none of the people you accuse in your list - if it had been the official Better Together Campaign (lead No campaign) it would have been worse. As it was I agree it was poor - but it was very widely reported as inaccurate, including by the BBC who you suggest were complicit (which betrays your irrational paranoia)

BBC Report > Scottish independence: Vote No Borders advert pulled over child hospital claim

As for pensions; the claims I'm aware of were accurate as covered in some detail on this blog here

Chokka Blog >Wee Blue Book: Pensions Claims

Kevin Hague said...

Anonymous - I'm open minded about independence being the best option for Scotland, but the first thing that would need to change for me is that the economic reality is honestly presented to voters. If those arguing for independence start by so offering such a transparently dishonest economic case I find myself somewhat doubtful of the merits of their case