GERS – reserved and non-identifiable spending

The Government Expenditure Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures, the authoritative account of Scotland’s public finances, are due out this week and most people expect them to be pretty bad news for supporters of Scottish independence.

The ‘union dividend’ to Scotland looks set to increase and, most importantly for people like me who live in Scotland, public expenditure will not be hamstrung by the crisis in North Sea oil and the resulting drop in Scottish revenues.  This is great news for Scotland, for Scottish people and Scottish business.

It is, however, bad news for the SNP and their sole aim of independence come what may.  Economic reality is, and always will be, one of the biggest factors in any vote, and concrete evidence of the enormous benefit from Scotland’s continued membership of the United Kingdom will not be welcomed by Scottish nationalists.

Knowing this, we can expect two things to happen this week.  First, an SNP politician will mention independence and/or another referendum in an attempt to steal the news cycle and deflect attention from the numbers.  They might even use this opportunity to confirm or deny a referendum commitment for their 2016 manifesto.

Next, the usual suspects will renew their attempts to undermine GERSs, claim they are biased, incomplete or irrelevant to independence.  This will not be a new phenomenon, in fact it started around about the same time it became clear GERS show we are better off in the UK – funny that.

authoritative
p67 of the SNP’s White Paper for independence

Previous attempts to undermine GERS have centred on the fact that the numbers are “only estimates” or even that they don’t include all revenues that are raised by Scotland.

Swinney GERS
John Swinney’s leaked memo on GERS

These desperate excuses have been dealt with comprehensively in the past (see this on chokkablog or my attempt here) but some common misconceptions remain and they are regularly used as the nationalist’s argument of last resort.

These claims tend to rely on two general themes: that Scotland is unfairly assigned a share of spending in the rest of the UK ; or that the Scottish Government is only responsible for around half the spending recorded in GERS and the rest shouldn’t count… for reasons.

As with any good myth, there is an element of truth to both that lends them credence.  However, looking closer it’s obvious the arguments just don’t stack up.

“Scotland is unfairly assigned a share of spending in the rest of the UK…”

This myth rests on misunderstanding the concept of non-identifiable spending.  The GERS figures attribute two types of spending to Scotland: identifiable and non-identifiable.

Identifiable is “expenditure that can be directly identified as having been spent for the benefit of a country or region within the UK” (emphasis is Scottish Government’s).  This is easily understood.  If £5m is spent on a school in Dundee, this is clearly Scottish expenditure.  If it’s spent on a school in Dunstable, it is not.  Simple.

Non-identifiable is “expenditure that is considered to occur on behalf of the UK as a whole and which cannot be decomposed on an individual country or regional basis“.  Take HMRC as an example: a body whose work applies to the entire UK equally, it is only right that everyone in the UK pays towards its costs – not just those areas which happen to house HMRC offices.

Some have attempted to twist this to claim that London infrastructure such as Crossrail is included as non-identifiable spending and that GERS includes an unfair cost to Scotland for these projects.  This is demonstrably untrue and I cover that in great detail here.

For the last available figures at the time of writing (2013-14), Scotland was attributed £7.6bn of non-identifiable spending, broken down thus:

non-ident
Taken directly from GERS

The vast majority of this spending, £7.27bn, is spent on the first four categories: public and common services, international services, public sector debt interest and defence.  The cost for each of these is shared across the entire UK on a population share basis.

Some, including the thinly veiled SNP-front Business for Scotland, have attempted to claim that Scotland should not be responsible for our fair share of debt interest which I’ve covered in #4 of the GERS Denying article and won’t repeat here.

Similarly, there have been claims that Scotland shouldn’t assume a population share of defence spending because not all of that money is physically spent within Scotland’s borders, indeed the Scottish Government has alluded to as much in official reports.   Again, this is a scandalously desperate attempt at misdirection.  Why should Scotland only pay for defence forces actually within our border?  Does Norway not pay for its forces in Afghanistan?  Does Canada not pay for its presence in Iraq?

Britain’s armed forces maintain bases in Germany, Cyprus and the Falklands; not to mention overseas forces in Afghanistan, Gibraltar, Kenya, Brunei and Sierra Leone.  Why should Scotland not pay a population share of this?  A straight per capita split of defence spending is entirely fair and sees Scotland receive the full benefit of £36.3bn of defence forces for a £3bn investment.

More commonly, Trident is often cited as the obvious potential saving.  Ignoring any speculation as to a hypothetical independent Scotland’s defence spend or what any theoretical “Trident saving” could be spent on, let’s look at the current cost.  It is well documented that between 5 and 6% of the entire defence budget is spent on running Trident.  That works out as, at most, £181m a year for Scotland (in 2012, Alex Salmond put it at £163m).

Even assuming this money could be spent elsewhere, these are not huge sums when seen in the context of £66,388m public expenditure.  There’s a good reason the SNP always use the cumulative figure over 40 years.  Whenever someone claims that ‘savings like Trident would take care of the deficit gap’, remember that the entire Trident spend constituted just 1.5% of Scotland’s deficit from 2013/14.

Moving on, international services includes the maintenance of embassies and diplomatic relations overseas, such as those which assisted Natalie McGarry during her recent incident in Turkey, or which promote Scottish industries like oil and whisky.  It also includes Scotland’s share of international aid.  Surely no-one could claim we have no responsibility for this spend?

Similarly, public and common services are fairly straight forward.  Within this we pay for our population share of legislative and executive organs such as the House of Commons, House of Lords, HMRC, the civil service, voter registration, etc etc etc.  These are all services which serve Scotland equally and for which it is only fair that we bear our share of the cost.  Interestingly, at £364m, our share of the entire machinations of Westminster bureaucracy is around half of what John Swinney privately estimated the annual cost of just an independent Scotland’s HMRC:

swinney costs

Corresponding annual costs of tax administration in Scotland would on this basis be expected to lie in the region of £575m to £625m

So rather than non-identifiable spending being an unwarranted cost that we would jettison on independence, it’s a saving that provides economies of scale we could not otherwise achieve.

The remaining £470m is split across the other criteria in a similar fashion – on spending which is undertaken for the benefit of the UK as a whole and cannot be attributed to one particular part of the country.  This is not a nefarious accounting trick on the part of “colonising Westminster” trying to skew the books.  There is nothing in the non-identifiable spending which is in the slightest bit unfair to Scotland and if anyone wants to challenge this then please feel free to do so.

And for anyone who still thinks Scotland pays for all those London transport projects like Crossrail, have a look at the capital spend on transport:

non-ident capital

£18m.  Total.  And £7.5m of that was on HS2 as per the economic benefit attributable to Scotland according to the Scottish Government.  So no, we don’t pay for “English projects”.

“But the Scottish Government only spends £30bn…”

The second common strand of objections to GERS goes something like this:  Scotland sends £54bn of revenues to Westminster and only gets £30bn back, they spend the rest of stuff Scotland doesn’t need so who’s creating the deficit?

As you’d expect, this is nonsense on many levels and completely misunderstands reserved spending.

£30bn is roughly the block grant which the Scottish Government receives to spend on devolved matters – health, education, transport, policing, local government, some welfare powers, infrastructure, culture… basically everything that isn’t explicitly reserved.  (the total spending in 2013/14 for which the Scottish Government is responsible was £34.3bn)

Given that total spending for Scotland, according to the authoritative GERS figures, was £66.4bn, this begs the obvious question: how was the rest of the money spent?  And the equally obvious answer is: reserved spending.

Reserved spending does not mean, as some would have you believe, expenditure that has no benefit to Scotland.  As we saw above, the vast majority of spend assigned to Scotland is “identifiable expenditure”, directly attributable for the benefit of Scotland.  The fact is that the vast majority of reserved spending is spend in Scotland.

reserved devolved
p67 of White Paper, reserved spending in red

Three of the largest portions of reserved spending (debt interest, defence and international services) were dealt with above and won’t be repeated here.

The majority of reserved spending, by some margin, is “social protection”.  The full definition can be found in the UN Classifications of the Function of Government but, for the purposes of this blog, we’ll narrow it down to ‘benefits and pensions’.

reserved

For the last available figures, the UK Government paid out £16.7bn of reserved spending on benefits and pensions in Scotland.  We’re not going to pretend that this is spending which is not “to the benefit of Scotland”, are we?  And it’s worth noting that the UK Government also provides around £2bn a year of housing benefit grants to local authorities which is included in the £5.6bn shown above.

The moral of the story?  Reserved spending is still Scottish spending.  It’s just spent by our government in London, not the one in Edinburgh or your local council office.  And we should, of course, record it as Scottish spend.

As we should with our share of non-identifiable spending.  There is nothing unfair in apportioning the cost of a shared service like the British Army or HMRC equally to every person across the state.

There is no attempt in GERS, which are written by the Scottish Government lest we forget, to saddle Scotland with a raft of expenditure for which we cannot be reasonably expected to accept responsibility.  Any claim to the contrary is simply desperation on the part of nationalists who are unwilling to accept that current reality is inconvenient to their cause.

 

 

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “GERS – reserved and non-identifiable spending

  1. We’ll see soon enough how the figures emerge – with possible implications extrapolated, and various stances taken, or put up.

    In the meantime, this is a very fine, clearly explicated and entirely readable review of some of the main points at issue in such economic – and in places, economics-sabotaging – debates.

    Speaking of economics saboteurs, …. when you mention “the usual suspects” (Para 5), I wonder who might be some sort of an equivalent of Keyser Söze? Will one appear – to convince the world once again? …

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  2. Still, with all this said it does not clarify the facts that with 100% of the control over our country we will have 100% over all spending and industry. At the current time industry in fading further and Privatisation is in full effect, we can build our industries back thus creating jobs thus tax income.

    For this union to work we need FULL equality across the UK that means devolved parliaments for ALL members with clear and honest records regarding their expenditure and revenue figures, oh that means an independent revenue and expenditure figure document for England also, we cannot just assume that England’s figures are just ‘whatever is left’ as this is certainly not the case due to headquarters being situated outside the countries they operate in eg, shell, BP, Tesco, Premier oil, etc… These corporate tax figures do not account to Scotland’s figures but to England’s as that is where their UK headquarters are based. You think of the missing revenues missing from Wales, N. Ireland and Scotland from these alone! Also if you look at the HMRC website on trade in this years analysis 2015-2016 EVERY other member has a surplus of trade… bar England.

    Scotland asked for the union narrowly and now England are feeling that they are short changed, how long do you think the barnett formula will last before we will have to push for independence anyway?

    The good people in England NEED the powers we have and not some false ‘EVEL’ policy which is just ANOTHER sad attempt at the UK government not having to produce figures for England.

    Clarity and fairness in this union.

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    1. Hi Lee, slight duplicate with your comments but I’ll leave them both in as they’re slightly different.

      To save time on some of your comment:

      – no, revenue is not assigned by HQ, see here – https://whytepaper.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/gers-denying-and-wishful-thinking/

      – re trade surplus, see here – https://whytepaper.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/oil-exports-unknown-region-and-trade-balances/

      – I agree with you on EVEL, it’s not a solution and I’d like to see a form of federalism introduced

      As for the “100% control” thing, we do have 100% control. It’s just that the “we” on the UK level is wider than the “we” on the ScotGov level and much wider than the “we” on the local government level. Your vote at each of these levels is worth the same as mine, someone in Belfast, someone in London, someone in Cardiff, etc etc etc.

      And rather than empty “we need powers for… stuff”, it’d be nice if someone suggested what they’d actually do with the power rather than the timid centre-rightish populism that is displayed from the Scottish Government at the moment.

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      1. Perfect, thank you for your reply.

        On the 100% control point, the eu ref and voting patterns of the uk have indicated that opinions differ acorss the UK and unless we have a full federal system in place where devolution to all is on the go, I believe we will forwver have the grievances across the uk of democracy, power, money, etc.

        The powers we have had devolved to us have benefitted scotland greatly amd as a business owner I look forward, with interest, on how these tax raising powers will be used.

        On the subject on HQ’s, I will read your blogg/article (which ever you like to call it as I wouldn’t want to offend you) in full. The whole corporate tax system is flawed, greatly, hence the reason for upset across the UK. I would like to see more evidence as to whom is actually paying more in as, as far as I can see from reports published, it is not england, so must be someone else… maybe journalists should check into this.

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      2. Social attitude surveys always show that differences across the UK are minimal and no more pronounced than differences within the constituent countries. I think we’re on a path towards a more federalish syste, it might take a while to get there but I believe this is the best outcome for all involved.

        I wouldn’t take offence to either blog or article, I use both. I’m not sure what reports you are referring to when you state that it’s not England contributing the tax. It seems pretty clear that London is the obvious big contributor with the City providing 12% of our national income. The GERS methodology is very clear, though, that corporation tax is assigned by economic activity rather than HQ location and we’re assigned a geographic share of oil and gas corporation tax based on the production in Scottish waters according to the Kemp and Stephen model.

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      3. Social surveys… I go by elections.

        Scotland has always be a predominantly ‘Labour’ voting country along with the north of England. Like I said a federalised UK is preferred, probably by most UK citizens but we will not get this… not under the tories.

        The ‘UK’ revenues and expenditure or what is left over after the independent figures are worked out for all devolved members, is usually taken as ‘English’ figures and until we see clarity on ‘who is the subsidiser and who is the subsidised’ there will ALWAYS be this ‘we subsidise you’ argument. A country that exports more than it imports is always going to be a prosperous nation and currently the UK as a whole is in a trade deficit.

        http://www.parliament.scot/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S4/SB_14-28.pdf

        This is quite a good read on the scrutiny of the O& G industry. The same industry that for some reason can save the UK from a deep depression yet, cannot sustain a country of less than one tenth of the population…

        I don’t believe GERS can have full access to economic activity in scotland as monies go straight to the HQ’s, I may be wrong but, unless the people at the offices of the GERS figures go through every financial document from the HQ’s, this simply cannot be calculated accurately.

        Again, thanks for your replies.

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  3. Still, with all this said it does not clarify the facts that with 100% of the control over our country we will have 100% over all spending and industry. At the current time industry in fading further and Privatisation is in full effect, we can build our industries back thus creating jobs thus tax income.

    For this union to work we need FULL equality across the UK that means devolved parliaments for ALL members with clear and honest records regarding their expenditure and revenue figures, oh that means an independent revenue and expenditure figure document for England also, we cannot just assume that England’s figures are just ‘whatever is left’ as this is certainly not the case due to headquarters being situated outside the countries they operate in eg, shell, BP, Tesco, Premier oil, etc… These corporate tax figures do not account to Scotland’s figures but to England’s as that is where their UK headquarters are based. You think of the missing revenues missing from Wales, N. Ireland and Scotland from these alone! Also if you look at the HMRC website on trade in this years analysis 2015-2016 EVERY other member has a surplus of trade… bar England.

    Scotland asked for the union narrowly and now England are feeling that they are short changed, how long do you think the barnett formula will last before we will have to push for independence anyway?

    The good people in England NEED the powers we have and not some false ‘EVEL’ policy which is just ANOTHER sad attempt at the UK government not having to produce figures for England.

    Clarity and fairness in this union.

    Sorry to say this but it will not be scotland who gets the last decision on their independence…

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      1. Well Fraser, We both know the price of oil will go up and down and the price it is at now is a stable, realistic price but then the oil companies get greedy.
        Norway has taken full advantage of its il, Scotland has more oil than Norway, it is reported,yet Norway is leading the way in their industry… even Norwegian companies are better, bigger and more profitable than UK ones… Just look at the amount of Norwegian boats in the industry compared to UK boats. They have basically the same social benefits we have also, yes I look at Norway as a model and yes I would pay more tax to keep the benefits Scotland gets. Quality over quantity and ‘god’ forbid that the UK turns into the US where their taxes are ever so slightly lower than ours but they pay SO much more to get our benefits. The US model is slowly coming to our shores… Yes this is an assumption.

        The figures need to be fully transparent.

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      2. Norway has higher production and more reserves left than Scotland. They also lucked out with the timing of their peak production – during very high price periods rather than the typically low price periods when we had peak production. Even the Yes campaign with their “conservative estimate” could only muster an oil fund of £100bn compared to the Norwegian £600bn+.

        I work in the industry and worked in Norway quite a lot over the past few years. They’ve certainly done some positive things with their industry and learned lessons from what we did wrong but then that’s the way of these things, the people who come after get the benefit of seeing what others do wrong.

        It’s hardly the UK’s fault that UKCS is such a high-cost basin just now with the ageing assets, etc. The tax relief and decomm rebates that are being offered are also universally positively received so it’s not all bad.

        As for the price… none of us are expecting it to bounce back soon and when it does we’re not expecting it to get past $70 or so due to the fracking ceiling that’s now a reality. And even if oil was to hit $100 a barrel again, Scotland wouldn’t see £10bn+ revenues. The costs are just too high and decomm rebates too prevalent to see anything like that again. North Sea oil is now about ensuring jobs are retained and I’d like to see everyone doing a bit more to make sure that happens.

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  4. Well, we ‘peaked’ in the same periods when oil prices were high but where oil is concerned, there is no ‘peak’ as the prices go up and down that often that we will never know the ‘peak’. Anything these days can send the price high or low but Norway still made a whole economy out of it, along with a host of other oil producing countries, in fact, the only oil producing countries that are not doing well are the ones that are controlled by the likes of the UK and US. Can you name a failed oil producing state with a surplus trade deficit?
    Norway’s savings were accumulated over years and ANY amount of an oil fund would benefit Scotland in the downturns, there is nothing like this in the UK, well, other than Shetland… abit of a sweetener, much like the barnett formula.

    Norway is doing well, we still are making the same mistakes over and over… there is only a sea between us but we are worlds apart under UK oil principles.

    The thing is the west coast of shetland was ‘too expensive’ back when it was discovered but now we are STILL finding MORE and MORE reserves over there which is now more reserves than Norway and will keep Scotland going for over a hundred years, some experts say. If we do not reinvest this money in green energies now, we never will and the UK gov lean towards nuclear energy while Scotland goes green but alas, anotheer green project in Scotland goes to the wall under the UK and nuclear wins the day, even though Uranium reserves are just as finite as oil.

    As for decommissioning, how do you think we will have the money when we are 1.7 trillion in debt and when the fields finally end, even though experts are also saying these wells are actually re filling with oil and that oil is no longer seen as a ‘fossil fuel’, the debt will be well into the 2 trillion mark…I don’t fancy my kids being collateral for over £50k per head of gov debt.

    Scotland would have 100% of the money and along with its vast resources and industry we would cope… Scotland does not rely on banking and services which are more volatile industries than oil, those industries are the top earners for England.

    Brent oil is the standard benchmark oil in the world, it will always be in demand as it can be used in more than just a way to fuel engines like the arab countries light cheap oil, which funny enough, make them stupidly rich. We actually sell them our good stuff and buy theirs back. Also, Do you really think decommissioning will be on the cards? Do you really see the UK gov decommissioning these fields?

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    1. To answer the first question – Venezuela.

      And I was talking about peak production, not peak price. Also Scotland currently gets 100% of the money, not to mention that being part of the UK is what makes an oil fund unnecessary given the fiscal transfer that is equivalent to what we could have drawn down from an oil fund anyway.

      Also, “re-filling with oil”? Eh?

      To answer the final questions, yes. I currently work on decommissioning projects and several fields have already been decomm’d. The decomm deeds system is already in place and working.

      Re the UK debt – it’s really not as big a deal as people make out. Our national debt has been far bigger before (as a percentage of GDP) and the market clearly still has no concerns given the historically low borrowing costs. And you’re wrong, Scotland also relies on banking and services for our onshore economy.

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      1. Venezuela has one of the worst poverty ridden populations in the world and is in the top 20 most corrupt nations in the world too, between Guinea and Chad in 14th place… in perspective that is still worse than Congo, Cambodia and Angola… I know alot of Unionists like to make this one connection with Scotland and Venezuela but not only is it quite embarrassing but it also extremely patronising too.

        Scotland does not get 100% of the oil money, this is just false. Scotland surrenders money to the treasury to then get money back… an oil fund is necessary as it helps with downturns, we have just come out a recession, some say we are still in one, you trying to tell me an oil fund would not help?

        Yes, scientists have found that well are actually refilling with oil through ‘seepage’. I used to also work in the decommission side of the oil industry, now I am more in the construction of new fields within Scottish waters as an ROV pilot, The money is tight but investment in the north sea is still amazing… Sullom Voe is another reason that the oil industry is still strong in the North Sea, lets not kid ourselves, oil is BIG business, so much so that we go to war for the stuff.

        Of course Scotland relies on banking but no I am not wrong, every country relies on banking, this is how the monetary system works, or doesn’t but look at where Scotland gets its income and where England gets its income, England relies heavily on the finance sector, not a very reliable sector either.

        Debt is 1.7 trillion pounds, it IS a big deal, that is over 30k per person, man, woman and child so cutting out the children, pensioners and people who do not work, that is a MAJOR burden on the working person. As for percentage of GDP, the UK say the worst in 2010, more than Scotland’s current GDP, off the top of my head was over 11% which is really bad. as a result, look at us now, MASSIVE austerity and the privatisation of the royal mail which was sold for one year’s revenue to peers of our government officials… and for some reason the UK is not in the top 100 most corrupt nations in the world,… although many articles have pinpointed the UK to be one of the most corrupt, even a mafia boss says it lol
        http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/when-a-mafia-expert-tells-us-britain-is-the-most-corrupt-country-in-the-world-its-time-to-start-a7057686.html

        Sorry for the late reply, really enjoying this debate.

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      2. I mentioned Venezuela as a direct answer to your question, not because I see it as a comparator for Scotland.

        Scotland does get 100% of the oil money. We raise £53.7bn in revenue, including the geographical share of oil and gas, and spend £68.6bn. That means all the revenue is spent here and then some. That’s just not in question. We, of course, ran significant surpluses in the early 80s boom years and, if you believe time starts in 1980, are still a net contributor to the UK starting from then (and will be for another 4-5 years at current deficit rates).

        Re the “seepage”, that’s quite an old story, no? I remember talking to the wells guys at work about it and they thought it was just deeper fields than had first been discovered. They thought abiotic production was far too slow to be realistic. Maybe there’s been more research since then, I don’t know. Reservoir stuff is a black art as far as I’m concerned. And yes, undoubtedly it’s still a big business but UKCS profits of old are just not coming back.

        Re reliance on financial services, I don’t believe the difference between Scotland and rUK is that great, bit out of date perhaps but – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29140457

        And yes, after the biggest global financial crash in 80 years, the UK’s deficit was massive. So were most western countries. But there’s a difference between an exceptional deficit caused by a global crash and a consistent onshore deficit caused by membership of the union enabling us to maintain higher spending even when the oil revenues deteriorate. I know this argument is often raised but they’re not comparable for me.

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      3. It is just I’ve seen this comparison so often, people taking countries with a totally different social structure to scotland to make some kind of ill point that scotland would fail, course it wouldn’t, I think we both know this.

        The thing about this whole deficit thing is that scotland may have a 10% (rounded off) deficit but Wales has a 24% and northern Ireland is way beyond that, so in essence that would mean that England are pumping out some surplus to keep us all afloat, or at least London is… I find this somewhat unbelievable especially when area of england are also in deficit, all to bring the UK to its ‘serviceable’ deficit… I will admit I am no expert in economics but I know that every pound has a story and that story isn’t as basic as two 50p’s make that pound as these financial spreadsheets make out, call me a skeptic. Times did not start in the 1980’s but, for England to stop producing these figures WAY before the 80’s due to Scotland’s finances when in 1921 Scotland was seeing a MASSIVE (at the time) 86,657,000 of the balance ‘retained’ in london (Scotland’s scrap of paper), I’m sure someone has ‘debunked this’ no doubt.

        Yes the seepage, old story yes but so is the ‘fossil fuel’ theory, time will tell I guess and it is extremely plausible as there is no evidence to state that this is not the case, not that I have found anyway.

        The link you sent was a good one but the thing is in reality there are no scottish banks, and Deutsche bank is one of those ‘untrusted’ banks after the house housing market fiasco. I find it hard using them as a reference even for positives for scotland, as to me they have zero cred left.

        Not that I look to communism for a future human life but man it seems so much simpler, this capitalism thing only works in blips and it is gambled everyday for a few people’s gain. I’m sure when George Orwell wrote his book 1984 (here is where I’m going to sound a bit crazy) he saw communism as being the future too, democracy doesn’t work, class doesn’t work, capitalism doesn’t work, fascism doesn’t work and religion doesn’t work, so there is only one route… we are already accepting of a queen being the be all and end all and are already in a communist way of thinking subconsciously, although we don’t accept it, Americans more so… Again this is my opinion that I have reached through observation and I am in no way a communist.

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      4. Yeah that 1921 thing is a bit odd and, like you say, debunked somewhat. Here’s Neil’s take on it – http://rwbblog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/in-1900-to-1921-scotland-was.html

        To my mind, Neil is rather generous in granting it any credence whatsoever. My thoughts are: where did an excel spreadsheet of 1900-1921 finances come from? And why are there several years of exact duplication in the data? I figure it’s just a nonsense.

        And no, I don’t think Scotland would “fail”, I just believe we’re better off in the union.

        And I believe that the union is a mutually beneficial relationship for all involved. Of course, at times some areas are more of a “drain” than others but even economically there are more factors than fiscal deficit – trade balances, for example. There’s also energy security to consider and then non-economic factors like education, research, human factors which all go to feeding London as the money-making machine that it is – why should the rest of the UK not get the benefits of that.

        On Orwell, I really think you’re wide of the mark there. Animal Farm doesn’t even try to hide the fact it’s a allegory of communist Russia. Socialist, certainly. But no communist.

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