Back in February I was trying to work out who in the SNP actually understood economics; I was directed towards George Kerevan
@kevverage George Kerevan, lecturer in economics for over 25 years, Salmond, chief economist at RBS (when it behaved like a bank)— 2tall2BaHobbit (@namechange64) February 16, 2015
Well Salmond's tenuous grasp on economic reality is comprehensively covered in this blog but I hadn't heard much about Mr Kerevan.
I've just googled around a bit and he was (perhaps unsurprisingly) rather quiet during the independence referendum. I did find a Scotsman article (from March 8th 2013) which contains this peach;
"Far from being worse off, Scotland would be getting richer at around £500 per person per year on these figures. (By the way, the OBR only gets Scotland’s 2016-17 deficit lower than for the rest of UK by predicating unrealistically low oil prices.)"OK so he was spectacularly wrong about that but he's hardly alone there.
About a month ago I read his Buzzfeed piece responding to IFS highlighting the black-hole that would be revealed by Full Fiscal Autonomy. He's an economist so he doesn't attempt to deny the existence of the deficit gap. Instead he argues
"However, IFS is making the political assumption that any Scottish Government spending per capita – above and beyond the UK average – will have to be fully funded from Scottish resources"Now hold on a minute.
The whole independence campaign was run on a "we'd be better off" (and "we'd be getting richer") message from the Yes camp. Anybody who questioned our ability to fund our higher public spending from our own tax revenues was accused of thinking Scotland was "too wee, too poor, too stupid". But now we're told it's ridiculous to assume our spending should be funded purely from our own resources.
It's hard to know whether to laugh, cry or turn to drink.
Of course this spectacular inconsistency - this tacit admittance that the economic claims made during the indyref were nonsense - mattered not a jot. Nothing could stop the SNP juggernaut as they swept all before them at last week's general election.
In a further cruel twist it transpired that George was campaigning to be my MP. I live in what is now "his"constituency of East Lothian. This meant my interest was particularly piqued when I saw his "candidate statement" (intended for SNP eyes only, leaked originally in the Scotsman);
I apologise that the image is a little blurry - these are the words that caught my eye;
"After Home Rule, independence will follow as the UK economy implodes [..] I would relish the chance to take Scotland's fight to the enemy camp"I thought I'd seek clarification from Mr Kerevan directly;
It seems the enemy is "undemocratic Westminster". Right./@GeorgeKerevan Also can you please explain the causal link between home rule and UK economic implosion Thanks pic.twitter.com/fylMLte6nw— Kevin Hague (@kevverage) April 27, 2015
@GeorgeKerevan @Susan_Paterson @holland_tom So undemocratic that George has to resort to trying to get elected to reform it— Kevin Hague (@kevverage) April 27, 2015
But fair enough. He's been decent enough to respond and the "enemy" rhetoric is hardly surprising in an internal SNP document.@holland_tom @GeorgeKerevan Also George: you say you're taking the fight to the "enemy camp" Systems don't live in camps, people do.— Kevin Hague (@kevverage) April 28, 2015
But given he's an economist I was really more interested in understanding his "economic implosion" thesis. I found his response on that point was rather unconvincing; judge for yourself:
I tried to get clarification of his position - he was asking for my vote after all;@GeorgeKerevan 1. Shouldn't voting for you *stop* that happening? 2. Maybe reread what your statement actually says?— Kevin Hague (@kevverage) April 27, 2015
@GeorgeKerevan ... now you say if I vote for you you'll end austerity and prevent the UK economy imploding. Which is it?— Kevin Hague (@kevverage) April 27, 2015
Needless to say despite a few polite nudges I've never had a response to this question. Too late now I guess, he's my MP anyway.
Which brings us to today's piece by Mr Kerevan in that august paper of record "The National" in which he states;
"We all know that in present UK economic circumstances a fiscally autonomous Scotland would face a significant budget deficit.
At least he's consistent. Of course during the campaign his more vociferous colleagues were telling us the black-hole was "made up" and nothing to be worried about. During the indyref we were told we send more to Westminster than we get back. Now we're being told that full fiscal autonomy would be "economic suicide" because of our reliance on "UK wide fiscal balancing" to fund our higher spending.For Scotland to accept fiscal autonomy without inbuilt UK-wide fiscal balancing would be tantamount to economic suicide"
I wonder why - in what is
Maybe George is afraid that a few SNP voters might notice the staggering hypocrisy in the SNP's position if he spelled it out that clearly.