Following on from EVEL, NHS spending and Barnett consequentials in Part 1, the second installment of fact-checking SNP Nairn’s misleading electoral leaflet deals with the deficit, the Scottish budget and TTIP.
Let’s start with this graphic:
I have no real problem with the bottom half of the graphic – that there is too much focus on benefit fraud when tax evasion costs the country a hundred times more. My problem comes with the top half and the second line – “Scotland’s entire budget was £30.5 billion”.
The problem being that this is only true if you take a very narrow definition of what “Scotland’s budget” is. Here, the article is referring to the Scottish Government’s Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL), more commonly known as the block grant.
There are situations where the use of DEL is probably appropriate but certainly not where you want to use the phrase “Scotland’s entire budget”; it’s not even “the Scottish Government’s entire budget” as it excludes Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) which is demand-led spending such as benefits and pensions.
Assuming that the graphic is referring to the 2015-16 DEL (no year has had exactly £30.5b DEL so it’s hard to tell), the TME for the same year was £37.2bn.
Of course, the Scottish Government isn’t responsible for all Scottish spending. As this graphic from the independence white paper shows, billions of Scottish spending are classed as “reserved” – i.e. spent by the UK Government
Contrary to nationalist myth, this is not billions of pounds spent in the rest of the UK for which Scotland receives no benefit – the majority is social protection, i.e. benefits and pensions.
Using 2013/14 as an example (because it’s the latest year for which I have all three figures), the Scottish Government DEL was £29bn, Scottish Government TME was £34.3bn and total Scottish public spending was £66.4bn.
So Scotland’s entire budget is very much more than £30.5bn. The reason the graphic has chosen to use this narrow definition of budget is to ensure the figure is lower than that given for “banker’s [sic] bonuses”. Sadly, whilst the figure supplied for “Scotland’s budget” is fudged by using a convenient definition, the figure for “banker’s [sic] bonuses” is just a straight lie.
So £40.5bn for bonuses in the entire UK. In every industry. The bankers’ bonuses would form part of that £14.4bn assigned to finance and insurance.
An underhand attempt to create outrage or just rank incompetence? Hardly flattering for SNP’s Nairn branch either way.
And it gets worse.
Quite aside from the bare-faced hypocrisy of simultaneously criticising someone for failing to reduce xenophobia and immigration; the graphic states that George Osborne has failed to reduce “national deficit”.
Here is the trend in the UK’s deficit in cash terms…
…and as a percentage of GDP…
Those really big bars at 2010, when Osborne became chancellor, indicate the peak deficit and those bars getting progressively smaller indicate the deficit getting smaller. Which would seem to be the opposite of “grow”.
Perhaps the good people at SNP Nairn, Culloden and Shire simply don’t understand the difference between debt and deficit, although the inclusion of “national debt” on the list of things which Osborne actually *has* grown would suggest otherwise.
Either way, they’re not covering themselves in glory here and are merrily misleading the voters in the process.
To round off Part 2, we have this on TTIP from Councillor Liz MacDonald.
Now there is plenty of debate to be had on TTIP but the article includes a couple of very misleading suggestions.
First, that public services are at threat from TTIP. In a letter from European Commission to Lord Livingston, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, it was made quite clear that public services are exempt from TTIP.
In fact, as this page makes clear, public services are exempt from *all* EU trade deals.
The article also mentions ISDS, Investor-State Dispute Settlements, and their potential to undermine the democratic process by virtue of effectively implementing secret courts. I agree. ISDS clauses are undemocratic and should be challenged. And they were, with Liberal Democrat MEP’s playing a lead role in doing so.
This has resulted in the European Commission proposing that ISDS be removed and replaced with an alternative, more transparent, Investment Court System; not just in TTIP but in all existing EU trade deals.
Just a few more examples of questionable accuracy in the SNP’s election leaflet and I’m only on page 3. More to come…