Sunday, 24 January 2016

Marr Fails To Grill Sturgeon

Whilst nursing the effects of a night spent celebrating the immortal memory of Robert Burns - and contemplating the possibility that I may have bought the joys o'er dear - I watch the  BBC's Andrew Marr show this morning.

I was treated to the sight of Nicola Sturgeon being interviewed at Bute House


She sat fast by an ingle, bleezing finely
interview'd wi' care, treated divinely

As I glowr'd, amaz'd, and curious
an exchange took place that made me furious
to hear her lengthen'd, sage advices
on tax revenues and North Sea prices


[34:20]

Andrew Marr: 
“At the time of the referendum the Scottish Government was predicting a 7.9 … up to a 7.9 billion revenue coming in from North Sea oil & Gas to the Scottish Government; that’s now .. a 13th1 of that is likely so it’s a huge, huge hole in the revenues. How does that change your thinking?
Nicola Sturgeon:
“Firstly let me say that the projections the Scottish Government made were in-line with [chuckle] all [/chuckle] external projections for prices and for revenues …
Andrew Marr (interrupting):
“I’m not saying they’re not”


What Sturgeon said is demonstrably untrue and Marr's panicky response suggests that - at best - he was poorly briefed.

Nobody could accuse Marr of interviewing her as if he was holding her toes to that handily placed fire, but maybe she felt on the back foot because - well - he was making a rather pertinent point to which the SNP have no good answer.

They have a bad answer though and it's the one that Sturgeon gave.

Those of you who read my recent post on The Masters of Spin will know the following, but let's take it step by step;
  1. The SNP will always answer questions about oil revenue forecasts with statements about oil price forecasts. Revenue and price are quite obviously not the same thing: North Sea revenue is a function of prevailing tax rates and oil producers' profit (which in turn is a function of price, extraction costs and production volume).

  2. Even asserting that the Scottish Government's $110 price assumption was in-line with all external projections is a stretch. In March 2013 (fully 8 months before the White Paper was published) the OBR was assuming $97 for 2016-17 (revised to $97.4 in the OBR's Dec 2013 forecast).

  3. This sophistry around price assumptions is par for the course. But in her reply Sturgeon either made an uncharacteristic slip or attempted to blatantly misinform the audience: she added the words "and for revenues".
    • In March 2013 the OBR (the Office for Budget Responsibility - the clue is in the name) were projecting £4.3bn2 revenue
    • In December 2013 (the month after the White Paper was published) the OBR were projecting £3.2bn2 revenue
    • Marr's question actually referred to the projections that were being made "at the time of the referendum" - by March 2014 (fully 6 months before the referendum) the OBR were projecting £2.9bn2 revenue

That's a lot of numbers so let's look at the data in a graph (including more recent OBR projections);


It's very clear: no matter how generously we try and interpret Sturgeon's statement - even if she missed the caveat "at the time of the referendum" or she was thinking of  the lower £6.8bn scenario that the White Paper used - there is no credible way to argue that the Scottish Government projections used to make the case for independence were ever in-line with contemporaneous OBR forecasts. Or are we now to hear that the phrase "external projections" is somehow to be construed to exclude the OBR?

When pressed how the Scottish Government would fill the gap that's left "if you lose £7bn of revenues annually into the Scottish Exchequer" Sturgeon's response included the following:


[35:25]

Nicola Sturgeon
"Well, I've said our growth in onshore revenues over the next few years is projected to [chuckle] significantly [/chuckle] outstrip the decline in offshore revenues ..."
[...]
"the case for Scotland as a strong independent country was never based on oil"
[...]
"our projections were not out of line with external projections"


Let's take each of those in turn:
  1. For the growth in onshore revenues to significantly outstrip the decline in offshore revenues being referred to we'd need to see significantly more than £7bn of (real) growth in on-shore tax revenues. In 2013-14 our total onshore tax revenues (per GERS) were £50bn, so we'd need to see significantly more than 14% real growth in onshore tax revenues to "outstrip the decline". Given that the latest figures show a nominal rate of GDP growth for Scotland of 2.5% pa,  I'm curious as to which projections she's referring to and what she means by "the next few years".  It's also worth bearing in mind that we are used to seeing long-run real-terms increases in public expenditure - is Sturgeon suggested we would freeze Scottish public spending in real terms for the "few years" it would take for onshore revenue growth to fill the gap? How does that compare to what we can expect to experience in (Barnett funded) public expenditure growth over those same "few years" as a result of remaining in the UK?

  2. If including £6.8 - 7.9bn of oil revenues in the only financial projections you offered for the independence case isn't basing your case on oil then I don't know what is - £6.8bn is £1,273 annually for every man woman and child in Scotland. To put that in context, the Yes campaign claimed that independence would make us £1,000 per person better off within 15 years (without having to raise taxes). Just adjusting for the oil forecast error means that (optimistically) they'd now be suggesting we could get to the position of only being £250 per person worse off annually after 15 years of independence.  The White Paper mentioned oil 157 times and the fabled oil "energy fund" 9 times; just because Salmond and others sometimes asserted that "oil is just a bonus" does not make it so. The case for a "strong independent Scotland" was always based on oil.

  3. She's repeating here earlier claim, so let's repeat the truth; the Yes campaign's projections demonstrably were out of line with the external projections made by the OBR.

It's disappointing that Andrew Marr didn't pick her up on any of these rather fundamental points. Maybe the SNP's BBC bashing has worked and he was fearful of getting the Nick Robinson treatment?




****

See the full interview here

1. This is simply wrong and extremely generous to the White Paper. The latest OBR forecast (published in November 2015, page 103) is for total North Sea oil revenues in 2016-17 of only £0.1bn - so in fact that's a 79th of the £7.9bn used by the Scottish Government.

2. The total North Sea projection was £4.8bn, I have assumed 90% of this to be Scotland's geographic share, slightly higher than the recent average




42 comments:

jillstephenson2014j said...

Thanks for such a speedy and comprehensive debunking of Sturgeon's economy with the truth this morning. Sad to see Andrew Marr, a Scot, not up to speed with this subject. By contrast, Andrew Neil always does his homework very thoroughly. Good to have your corrective. I'm sure Marr is apprehensive about the SNP. Remember how Salmond went for him after his comment (following Barroso) that iScotland would have difficulty getting into the EU?

Anonymous said...

Not good Mr Marr you must remember that woman does not talk for Scotland and 64 per cent of Scots DID NOT vote for the SNP. A weak interview that showed not only a lack of the true facts but a lack of proper interviewing skills. If you are not up to the job then move over.

carrew said...

It's a shame to see both sides reducing the future of รค country to entries on a graph. No one, let me repeat that for clarity, no-one forecast or foresaw the geopolitical manoeuvrings which have resulted in the current price of oil. Equally, no-one can forecast where the price of oil will be this time next year. So there would have been a negative impact this year. Pragmatically, so what? That's why Countries borrow money. Except right now Scotland can't. The UK can and is continuing to do so despite promise after promise by the UK Chancellor to stop doing so. So let's not pretend that the low revenues from oil are somehow good for the UK's debt mountain. They're not.

I think you do an excellent job in analysing numbers Kevin, truly I do. I'd love to see someone with your analytic abilities applying the same rigour to the UK treasury and economic performance and outlook. Then we'd be closer to comparing apples with apples.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say that, although I still have a great respect for Andrew Marr, I am less happy to watch him when he deals with the slippery Sturgeon or Salmond. I am sorry Andrew Marr, I cannot understand why you are far too well mannered with both of the aforementioned who are not respected at all by many Scots, and for very good reason. They have made our country a very unpleasant place to live in.

Unknown said...

The UK is borrowing to fund Scotland's deficit.

Pete Vapeman said...

Sir Ian Wood predicted it (the low oil price, not necessarily the geopolitical maneuverings that caused it). So your assertion of no-one predicting it, which you repeated, is fundamentally flawed.

As for the UK Chancellor continuing to borrow money, he has to, right up until he can balance the books. Lets not forget the state of the economy when he took charge, compared to where it currently sits. The deficit is falling, so it's working. At least to some degree. But how else do you make the necessary cuts to balance the books? Pensions, Welfare and Health are all the biggest pieces of the pie. So where do you make the cuts?

Anonymous said...


The Scottish Governments 'calculations' for the £6.8 to 7.9 billion of oil tax revenue are available here:

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Economy/Publications/oilandgas/fois

Grendal said...

At the time the SNP was researching its White Paper, Sir Ian Wood was certainly not predicting plummeting oil prices or revenues. At the end of 2013 he was painting a very rosy picture indeed. Sturgeon was right to point this out to Marr and Marr correctly accepted her point.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-offshore-oil-and-gas-sir-ian-woods-interim-report-published

Anonymous said...

If no one forecast or foresaw such manoeuvrings, then surely it is all the more important to minimise the importance of a commodity such as oil, with such price volatility and sensitivity to global events outwith our control (and we do live in an uncertain and very globalised world, in an economic case for independence? Far from being minimised, it was pretty much the main theme and the basis on which Scotland would become richer. When people say (not that you have, in fairness) that 'oil is the bonus not the basis' etc. then they are ignoring the fact that, nowadays, Scotland's allocated spending per head is generally higher than our tax revenue per head, even when offshore revenues are included. So there is a fiscal black hole that in the case of independence would fall on Scotland alone to fill. Fine if you are happy with a combination of higher taxes, less public spending and higher public borrowing. But that doesn't appear to be the model of government favoured by the SNP and its supporters, or which has been pitched to the electorate.

sunshineonleith said...

A very good summary, I am very disappointed that every time Marr interviews either Sturgeon or Salmond he holds back or is he secretly an indy supporter? It is time that the FM was really pushed on her parties record in Gov which is very poor.

Kevin Hague said...

Grendal you appear not to have heard or succeeded in reading what Sturgeon actually said so let me remind you:

"were in-line with all external projections for prices and for revenues"

unless you somehow exclude the OBR from your definition of "external projections" (which would be bizarre given they are indisputably the most important and credible forecaster when it comes to - you know - budgeting responsibly) then that statement is demonstrably spectacularly false.

Alan Parker said...

With all due respect to Carrew there are already severe warnings from Saudi Arabia and other sources for the long term , they are still pumping oil and gas in countries etc that will as they put it, hopefully put Fracking and other companies in the West and particularly the USA out of business , the other consequence of these measures is job losses in the North sea industry and the likelihood that fracking in Scotland may not be viable , further harming on shore revenues.

Notwithstanding Iran back in play and hoping to flood the market eventually by 1 million barrels a day , this puts Scotland in a very vulnerable position and if the SNP think Scots believe the only a bonus lie , we don't !

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Scottish Government has the internal resources to forecast oil tax revenue. A review of the link provided below shows that all Scottish Government oil revenue calculations are just crude (!) upgraded adjustments to the OBR forecasts.

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Economy/Publications/oilandgas/fois

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Anonymous. Andrew Marr is overwhelmed by Sturgeon and Salmond. It's obvious he's a bit nervous doing interviews. They are compulsive side-steppers when comes to answering questions. I can't remember a straight answer to a question being given, ever!! They don't command respect from most Scots. They're too slippery. Scots are generally guid honest folk and they're letting the side down.

Anonymous said...

Grendel is actually correct to highlight the fact that Sturgeon was correct in what she said.

As for the OBR, I believe they have yet to actually get a forecast right...

rocoham said...

Carrew, repeat for clarity all you like, you're still missing a couple of fundamental points.

One, no-one may have predicted the full extent of the current slump in oil prices, and its consequent effect on tax revenues, but only the SNP were arguing that such a thing would never happen. A steadily rising price of oil was pitched as a certainty by that well-known oil economist Mr Salmond in the white paper. Only the SNP were betting the future of an entire country on the performance of this volatile commodity; the onus was on them to be better than hopelessly optimistic.

Two, if borrowing is necessary to service debt, the UK can do so on vastly better terms than a newly independent Scotland would have been able to. Uncertainty on currency (and much else), inadequate capital funds to underpin its financial sector, plus a poorer credit rating would have combined to make the cost of borrowing penally expensive for an iScotland.

Three, Scotland was proposing to leave the UK, not the other way round. It still remains for proponents of independence to demonstrate a viable economic case in place of the wishful thinking proposed so far. However much you may wish the UK's economic management were given the Hague scrutiny (and I'm not saying that wouldn't be a good thing), while the SNP continue to trail the prospect of an independent Scotland as a reality to their credulous supporters, they fully deserve to have their feet held to the fire. If they would firmly put the matter to bed for a generation as promised, perhaps we could all get on with the work of holding Cameron and his mob properly to account.

Kenny said...

I'm curious, Kevin. What do you make of the "£200bn oil bonanza" that David Cameron promised (and that Sturgeon mentioned this morning)? It does seem to me that as jobs vanish in Aberdeen by the thousand, we should really be asking the people who made promises about what would happen after a No vote than continuing to attack the Nats over their forecasts. After all, we did vote No and we're still seeing the oil industry eviscerated.

Also, any mention of Ian Wood should be given with the caveat that he's in the middle of sending jobs he currently keeps in Aberdeen off to India. It does make you wonder just how "patriotic" he really is. If he cared so much about achieving the best for his city and his country, surely this is the time he should be putting just a wee bit of his fortune into sustaining jobs in Aberdeen until the oil price comes back up.

Anonymous said...

Exactly!!

Anonymous said...

If there is another referendum then all these arguments will be rehashed by you and what is left of BetterTogether.

Many of us from both sides have already moved on, taking account of the changing world and the economic situation. You have not. You have to let this go sometime. The arguments are already being adapted but yours is not. As part of an economics group looking at many different scenarios I can tell you your refusal to adapt makes you look rigid and politically stale.

This perseveration and cognitive inflexibility is really not helpful in our current climate.

Alistair White said...

Why is it Denmark with a very similar population to Scotland has an economy almost twice the size, no oil. They raise, by rough calculation 80% odd more in total taxes for that similar population. Why is this not possible for Scotland? Just wondering because it does seem like lack of policy control maybe a reason.

carrew said...

I'm not going to disagree with anyone over Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon seeming to avoid tough questions from Andrew Marr, but to be fair - have you ever heard David Cameron or Gideon Osborne being given a tough time by Marr? Have they ever answered any questions about their performance? Osborne has yet to hit *any* target - and he sets his own targets.

To pickup Rocohams points, if I may.
1) Yep, the White Paper presented a "Best Case" scenario. Most forecasts at the time though oil would continue to increase in price.

2) Your assertion is highly probable but unprovable. While rates around the world remain unfeasibly low, there's equal probability that a new Scotland could have secured financing 1 or 2 percentage points above England. (See my questions below about the rates rUK would be able to achieve)

3) Agreed. It wasn't possible to create a strong enough case and it certainly wasn't possible to put such a case across. But no-one was asking any questions of the "Better Together" team so the SNP were asked to paint a picture of Scotland

Picking up on the point about financing a new Scotland, I've never seen anything written about the rates the rUK would be expected to pay if/when Scotland left. Has anyone seen any such analysis? (Genuine question - seeking some balance in the thinking). If Scotland is such a basket case and a drain on rUK then why do they keep us? Why didn't they just let Scotland go and crash and burn? Is it at all possible that Scotland does more than "wash it's face"?

Let's look at what's happened since Scotland voted No and accepted that it was better to have the "broad shoulders" of the UK supporting it:
- Steel Industry dying with no obvious UK Government support
- Tax Offices closing in Scotland, being centralised to London
- Oil industry dying on it's feet with no obvious UK Government support (just think what happens to the UK in 5 or less years when all the skilled engineers, technicians, riggers, fitters, etc, etc, have gone and the UK is importing all it's oil. I think that's worth worrying about)
- Orders for Royal Navy tankers being placed in Korea
- TTIP rumbling onwards
- NHS in England being privatised in slices. (Virgin Healthcare are recent recipients of Tory largesse)
- Student Loans going upwards
- The continuing sell-off of anything that can be sold
- The Royal Mail sell off
- EVEL (Lallands Peat Worrier wrote an excellent piece on his blog about it. I'm not sure we've not seen the real impact of this yet.)

Most of these were predicted as being the result of a No vote, although the media and Cameron repeatedly and loudly promised Scotland would only be safe as part of the UK.

Kev's analyses of the figures are great. Long may you continue please. But there's so much more to being a country than spreadsheets and forecasts. Do us all a favour and turn your attention to the real position of the UK with it's £1.6 Trillion of debt and a continuing deficit every month.



Kevin Hague said...

I have no problem with the fact that Scotland could survive as an independent country and one option would be to raise taxes by something like 16% in total (that's all taxes not just income tax).

If that case was put forward by the SNP then we would be having a different debate. It hasn't been so we're not.

Kevin Hague said...

Anonymous - why anonymous?

I recognise that for you it's "not helpful in out current climate" to have people like me pointing out when out First Minister attempts to spread misinformation.

I'll keep pointing it out as long as she keeps doing it.

Kevin Hague said...

I do this in my spare time, I have to pick my battles. I am heavily invested in GERS and the economic arguments deployed during the referendum therefore that's what I focus on - particular when there are demonstrable falsehoods perpetrated about the Indy case that was presented.

Nobody needs me to tell them what is happening - but the news can't really report what would have happened had we voted Yes (which by the way would have included almost everything on your list and *much* more economic pain for Scotland) so that's where I'll focus my limited time.

I certainly don't claim that what I provide is everything that's needed to know what's best for our country - my aim is to provide but one piece of the jigsaw.

I'm only human after all!

RJLK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RJLK said...

Well, yes they do have higher taxes in Denmark, that much is true! I've not seen any evidence that Denmark's economy 'almost twice the size' - can you please provide the stats? Bigger, yes, but not twice the size. Happy to be corrected though. As I'm sure you would agree, it's not policy control in and of itself that actually makes the difference in GDP figures, tax receipts etc; it's the policies themselves. Denmark, as a result of its policies but also as a result of its own general individual characteristics as a country, is a highly-skilled, highly productive economy. Scotland's education and skills policy, which is one of a number of key factors in its productivity levels, is a devolved matter. So why can't we improve that now? A question for the Scottish Govt, I'd say! Then there is the fabled free, flexible labour market it has. Yes, this is a UK matter to an extent but there are significant benefits to being part of a bigger national labour market, even if there are probably some downsides for Scotland in not having control of policy in Edinburgh instead of London. In any case, there is a much bigger EU labour market of which Scotland and Denmark are equally a part. No advantage to Denmark there and decisions in that regard are made in Brussels, not Copenhagen, Edinburgh or London. So there's little control over that policy.

Then we have the issue of Denmark's decision to peg its currency at a fixed rate to the Euro via the ERM. It could obviously end this if it wanted to but it does mean that its currency is directly affected by any changes in the Euro whilst free-floating currencies are affected more indirectly. Not necessarily a major issue, all things being equal, but again, an example of opting to be controlled by the movements of a larger entity.

And then there is its land border with Germany, Europe's largest economy and consumer market. I'm quite sure that helps its exporting capability.

And then compare another small, advanced country that has full control over its policy. Iceland, although now back to being a reasonably prosperous country, was effectively bankrupted in the wake of the global financial crisis.

You're not wrong to make any comparison but, personally, I think simplistic comparisons with similar-sized countries need far more interrogation and analysis to form the basis of a strong argument. And a willingness to concede that some of the things that would be required to be replicated or emulated to achieve certain standards enjoyed by a comparable country (e.g widespread and wholesale higher taxes) aren't exactly that marketable to huge swathes of the population, and are an area of debate in themselves.

Anonymous said...

To try to answer Alistair White,
I have heard a proposition that Denmark (like the Czech republic, and Belgium) lies at the choke point of a traditional trade route. Throughput of goods keeps the economy lively (is it really twice that of Scotland?).
Scotland is not at such a choke point, and a better comparison would be Finland, or Ireland, or Portugal.
However, that's just something I heard and it may be mistaken. Denmark might exercise a policy that gives it economic success. If so, great - let's identify it and copy it.
MD

kailyard rules said...

Ferr fa' yer yoonist pompous face,
gratin' shafter o'the hodden race!
Aboon them a' ye tak yer place,
Hootsman, Mail, an' Funner;
Weel are yer words, fu' o' mince
wordy o' the praise o' Scunner.

FF said...

@Carew. I agree the future of country shouldn't be reduced to entries on a chart. But can I make a couple of observations on why this particular chart is so important?

First, the bigger picture. The arguments for and against the Union have remained essentially the same since 1707: The Union is a vote for the greater prospects, prosperity and security that comes from being part of a bigger whole. Independence is a vote for being master of our own ship and for Scotland to take its rightful place in the Pantheon of Nations. Crudely, Union for more money; Independence for more say.

What was remarkable about the SNP/Yes Scotland campaign is their claim that independence would mean more money, or as they put it, it was the way to beat austerity - to spend more on welfare, the NHS and other services that would happen under the Union. This wasn't incidental to their campaign. As it were, "a bonus". It was front and centre - the main argument of their campaign.

Now about the White Paper and the specific claims it made. These prospectuses are never neutral documents. The authors want you to sign up to their agenda. Ultimately, the people it is targeted at will decide if they agree or not. But the prospectuses are nevertheless official documents. Any assertions in it have to be defendable. You can't just pick facts and numbers out of thin air - $110 per barrel; £7 billion revenues - because it looks good for your case.

This isn't an obscure point. If you did that, say, in a company takeover document, you would leave yourself open to being sued and, potentially, even ending up behind bars.

The authors of the White Paper could have just used the OBR projections. As someone pointed out above, they don't have a great record of being correct either. But that wouldn't be the SNP/Yes Scotland's problem. The OBR figures are the official ones, and are therefore defendable in this kind of document.

The problem with the OBR projections is that they imply less money for Scotland after independence, which cuts right across SNP/Yes Scotland's key anti-austerity argument.

The Scotland's Future whitepaper has exactly the same problem as the dodgy dossier put out by the Labour UK government, which asserted without any basis that Iraq had significant weapons of mass destruction that could be deployed instantly. The first was a false prospectus for independence; the second a false prospectus for war. Most Labour supporters, I'm guessing, now realise the terrible mistake made by that dossier. I don't think many SNP supporters realise that the Yes Scotland's campaign was not so much positive, as dishonest.

Kenny said...

I'll assume you skipped over my question because you've had a busy morning and that's cool. If you could get round to it I'd be very grateful though. It does seem odd though, to say that you've got limited time and then spend it all attacking an argument that lost a referendum a year and half ago rather than looking at what's happening to Scotland right now and maybe doing some analysis on that. When it comes to the oil industry in particular, we were assured that a No vote was the only way to protect the oil industry (and the HMRC offices...and the steel industry...and Glasgow's shipbuilding...) and now we see it collapsing while your man Ian Wood is shipping jobs to India. Doesn't that get your dander up at all? Isn't there some part of you that thinks "this isn't what was meant to happen?" Even if it's just because it all feed the Nat monster, don't you ever get angry at what's been done to Scotland SINCE the referendum, or only about what was said by one side immediately before it?

Grendal said...

Kevin, even the OBR was not predicting oil falling below $90 per barrel any time soon. If you want to nit-pick about Sturgeon's words "were in-line with all external projections" then go ahead but as there was, inevitably in such circumstances, a wide range of predicted figures and we can hardly hold her to account for that. We know what she meant and that is that nobody was predicting anything like $35 a barrel or anything like it.
As for the OBR being "the most important and credible forecaster when it comes to - you know - budgeting responsibly" haven't recent events re the deficit kind of -you know- undermined that assertion?
In the end, surely Scottish independence is about making better decisions for Scotland than are being made for us now. So far, all we appear to have got out of 35 years of gushing oil wells is an 8.4% share of a £1.6 trillion debt and general economic under-achievement. As the old sages used to say "when you find yourself deep in somebody else's deepening pit, sit back quietly and let him keep digging!" Oh no, that was Better Together who said that......

Grendal said...

I was sure that as a Yes activist during the referendum I wasn't telling everyone that independence was "all about oil" so I checked the SNP's White Paper, which was intoned to us repeatedly at each, daily brain-washing session and see what I found.
"Do we depend on oil and gas to become independent?
No. Scotland’s economic output per head, even without oil
and gas, is virtually the same as the UK as a whole. So oil and
gas is a bonus."
So it wasn't all about oil, then. Nicola and Alex WERE actually saying "So oil and
gas is a bonus."
Hopefully that clears that up then and nobody on this blog in future will repeat the lie "the SNP based its whole economic argument on oil." I know Kevin will be the first to point out the error.

FF said...

Blogger Grendal said...
I was sure that as a Yes activist during the referendum I wasn't telling everyone that independence was "all about oil" so I checked the SNP's White Paper ...
Hopefully that clears that up then and nobody on this blog in future will repeat the lie "the SNP based its whole economic argument on oil." I know Kevin will be the first to point out the error


The Whitepaper went into great detail (it was about 600 pages long) about all the things that the first independent Scottish government would spend money on - the NHS, welfare, the military, pension etc etc. Those spending plans were absolutely underpinned by the White Paper;s projected oil revenues. Oil revenue projections that Kevin pointed out at the time to be indefensible, and which were later proved to be false.

Anonymous said...

Grendal - basically you're perpetuating the lie printed in the White Paper.

"It's in the White Paper - it MUST be true"
"They wouldn't lie about that, would they?"

Here's the Yes campaign in a nutshell:

Yes. They lied. (O&G is 15% of our GDP; our education budget, for perspective).

Yes. You bought it (as did the minority of Scots).

Yes. I voted No as I saw through the lies and used sourced facts. (rather than confirmation bias).

Yes. You're welcome.

RJLK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Economic output per head excluding oil is more or less (slightly less as things stand but very marginally so, from what I gather) the same in Scotland as the UK as a whole. Scotland, far more often than not, though, receives higher public spending than it generates in tax revenue via the block grant/Barnett Formula. The oil price would need to be at a consistently high level to generate consistently high tax revenues (along with, of course, an element of public borrowing as required)to allow consistently high public spending akin to the level we enjoy just now, even in this age of austerity. The high average oil price suggested in the White Paper was designed to demonstrate that an independent Scotland could achieve this. But it was evidently wrong . . . by a long way! In terms of economic performance, oil may be seen as a 'bonus'; but seen in the context of fiscal policy, it is essential. Distinguishing between the two is critical and the SNP leadership are adept at blurring the lines.

Anonymous said...



With regards the post about Denmark being at a trading choke point, it is an important. Denmark has a very diverse and balanced trading pattern (one of the most diverse in the world) which is highly beneficial.)

Denmark - 16% Germany, 14% Sweden, UK(England) 10%, Norway 7%, Netherlands 5%, US 8%, China 5%, Russia 3%, Finland 3%, Italy 3%, Poland 3%, Japan 2%, HK 2%...etc...with Brazil, Argentina, Canada, etc.

Scotland - 65% rUK (pretty much sums up the difference) EU 15%, US 5%...

OECD.

The figures for inward trade follows the same patterns.

Any comparison with Denmark is therefore pretty pointless. Ireland is a better model. Denmark like Singapore, and other dynamic small econs tend to be at the confluence of major trade routes - SE England/ Germany/ Sweden etc is about as good as it gets. There is nothing to prevent Scotland from diversifying trade patterns and increasing exports elsewhere now, the fact that the UK is by far the largest export says something about the successful integration of the UK econ and the importance of Optimum Currency Area/ unified natural trading partners (where transaction costs are lowest). It seems unlikely that independence would affect this in any way except negatively with the rUK.

Keep up the good work Kev and don't let the idiots get to you. Most people - those with half a brain - including Yessers, realise the valuable contribution you have made to the debate and thank you for it.

Anonymous said...

If you cannot cope with anonymous comments find a platform which does not allow them.

You have lost any credibility you had with most undecided voters with your needless attacks on the personality and supposed intellectual inferiority of Yes and SNP voters.

Everything you accuse them of, you and your followers are just as guilty of.
When YOU stop 'playing the man and not the ball' then you can criticise other wise suck it up.

Kevin Hague said...

where on earth do you think I've made "needless attacks on the personality and supposed intellectual inferiority of Yes and SNP voters"?

Anonymous said...

That's today's meme, Kevin, no substance to it at all. Rocoham

Max Bennie said...

Anon: "You have lost any credibility you had with most undecided voters with your needless attacks on the personality and supposed intellectual inferiority of Yes and SNP voters."

If by "needless attacks on the personality and supposed intellectual inferiority of Yes and SNP voters" you mean "using facts to point out when the people running Scotland are being economical with the truth" then yes, I agree.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't remember being assured that a No vote was the only way to protect anything. What particular occasion is it that you're thinking of?
I think anyone without an axe to grind can only shudder to think what would have happened to all of the above if we had listened to "Wondrous Stories" by Yes.

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=9-BMlq_zyko

And finally, why are you yourself attacking an argument that won a referendum a year and a half ago?