Plus ca change

I have to say that the Institute for Fiscal Studies has always been respected and the only time I remember doubts about its work was when it reported on Scotland’s economy and happily quoted oil statistics from the Office of Budget Responsibility which had already been questioned as unduly pessimistic. The money for this latest effort comes from the Economic and Social Research Council which is in fact a non departmental government body with funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, so make up your own mind about motivation. Any thoughts on its publication the day before the Scottish government’s financial report…obviously coincidental. No?

I can’t argue with any of their figures but as ever it is the conclusions they draw which cause concern. The reason is that they don’t appear able to take account of any variation in their modelling, as the call it. It means, like all of these reports it bases everything on what we know now and presume there will no change in anything much after independence. In fact, as Swinney pointed out, further into the report, they concede that it is the case by saying that…there are “alternative assumptions about inward migration, future productivity growth, the change in revenues from North Sea activity, the initial allocation of accumulated debt between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK, and the interest rate payable on public debt. These factors are inherently uncertain and could also evolve differently if Scotland were independent rather than part of the UK; in addition, they could be substantially affected by the policies chosen by the government of an independent Scotland.”

So you can’t dispute, I think, the report on Scotland’s budget shortfall as far it goes but, like all these think tank efforts, it doesn’t – can’t – say what will actually happen.

Why shouldn’t Scotland negotiate a better deal on its share of national debt for example? It’s even suggested that could lead to a deal on Trident for a period of years. Will Scotland’s economy never grow any bigger…will there be no entrepreneurs…no boom in business…no savings in budgets, some of which we know are already unfairly attributed to Scotland? To read the report and to listen to an increasingly shrill Alastair Darling, you’d think the future is set in stone. Is that how Alastair saw the crash coming and averted financial disaster?

The IFS should have subtitled its report: If Everything Remains the Same After Independence and All Future Projections Prove –Against All the Odds – To Be Accurate. Anyway, if they imagine a tax hike or a service cut would prevent me from voting Yes they really are lost in space. Whatever the initial costs, there can be no doubt in the mind of any Scot that we will make a better long-term fist of our country than the Unionists have. The main reason why the figures are so god-awful is our share of the ballooning national debt of the UK, heading for £1.5 TRILLION. Whose fault was that, Alastair? Who was in charge over all those years when the money was rolling in, when the oil was in its heyday, how much was invested? Don’t you find it rich for Darling, the man who was asleep at the wheel in 2007-08 and contributed massively to this obscene economic mess, to be lecturing us on prudence. In a tirade without punctuation on Radio Four he sounded like an out-of-control local councillor desperate to get the last word, a long way from the mighty statesman we were promised. He even said we were trying to base an economy entirely on oil! Eh? Does he never to stop to think what a dreary picture he paints of his own country. I accept he has a point to make about finances and is justified in using the IFS report but for him and Alexander to suggest as they do that their own countrymen couldn’t punch their way out of paper bag is one way to not to get folk onside. There is a hint, a growing one, in all this of desperation creeping in. I wonder why.

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0 thoughts on “Plus ca change

  1. Tell us what you really think, Derek. Go on…

  2. Same old, same old. Poor Scotland, lumbered with oil and rich rUK lucky to get rid of it next year. All we need now is another laugh from the scotland institute duo Robertson and Reid.

  3. Alastair Darling can see the end of the gravy train for him, and all the other Unionist comrades. That is why he is angry. This is not a man who fights over political principles or ideals. Nor is he concerned over the future of Scotland. He is fighting to preserve his status and privileges. It is telling that a growing number of SLAB figures do not support the No campaign, from Lockhart, Gray, Mosson, Canavan etc. Why is that Darling? Have they seen through the self interest of you and your ilk, among other things?

  4. Someone on Wings Over Scotland asked “If he’s like this now, 10 months out, what will he be like with a month to go?” I think he’ll have exploded long before then. Seriously though, those people who want Scotland to vote NO deserve a better spokesman than this to argue their case. Assuming there is a case.

  5. Hope the IFS launch this in England as “The cost of keeping Scotland” … scare stories cut both way 🙂

  6. It must be wrong, even Gahamski won’t talk about it!

  7. Creigs1707repeal

    In other words, if we remain in the UK we’re screwed in 50 years. Time to change the deck then….

    AYE have a dream.

  8. Good analysis Derek.

    How long did it take a journalist like you to tear this piece of tripe to bits?

    Yet our beloved BBC Scotland has been inundating us with this report “from a highly respected think tank” all day. Douglas the grim gave it the big thumbs up, so it must be true then. IFS? FFS.

    Meanwhile the Kraken oil development will be a great bonus for the UK but a burden for Scotland.

    Do you still honestly believe there isn’t an agenda in PQ?

    Even Channel 4 is in on this bit of Westminster propaganda. FiF.

  9. “All Future Projections Prove –Against All the Odds – To Be Accurate.”
    You should have made it; All the Worst Possible Scenarios of Future Projections Prove …

  10. innerbearsdenurchin

    The best comment on this set of projections based on a status quo projection, was by John Swinney to the effect, it was actually a financial comment of where Scotland would if it were still be in the UK if we vote No.

    Game, set and match to J S.

  11. Is it me or is Darling becoming increasingly isolated. He seems to be everywhere and sounding more and more desperate with each squeal on the microphone. When you look at Better Together, this is an organisation that spans the entire UK and all the pro-union political parties large and small and organisations such as Unions. Yet, most of the time we see Alastair Darling running from one studio to another, it gives an impression that Better Together is him, and him only. The odd time we may get a Gordon Brown, a Brian Wilson or a George Robertson turn up to read from a script, but really, what is going on here? Is there something brewing in the background in Westminster that will deliver a knockout blow to the YES camp nearer the referendum? Are there Unionist loons banging on BT’s door and Darling won’t let them in? Are they running out of Iain Taylor’s cash and can’t employ any other expensive Unionist politicians?

    Why is this organisation not dripping with cash, especially as it was announced today that a Yorkshire businessman is going to hand over £millions to UKIP as an election fighting war chest. Why not millions to keep Britain together, never mind out of Europe? Maybe it will come eventually. Maybe nobody likes Darling, the ego has landed and there’s no more room at the Inn. Maybe Better Together is busted and Darling is just holding it together, they certainly don’t have much in the way of grassroots support. One thing that struck me the other day is their Facebook page. Forget the ‘likes’ and concentrate on ‘people talking about this’. Now, the YES Scotland Facebook page has almost 104k likes and a healthy/normal 10-11% of that figure of ‘people talking about this’ at any given time. Better Together’s Facebook page has 95k likes but only 4-5% ‘people talking about this’, that is not a good figure of activity at all. Maybe people who care about he union are in the minority after all and Darling is feeling the chill of isolation from that.

    • innerbearsdenurchin

      Maybe Dcanmore it is just simply that, whilst he knows that DC has written off the need of Scotland in his Balliwick, maybe “red” Ed is formulating a similar plan?

      This time for Scottish gold and the non disruptive disaggregation of the UK?

  12. Getting a bit fed up with the self-congratulatory tone of many comments from pro-independence Scots. I am a lifelong SNP voter and want my country to be independent as much as any other Yes voter. I cannot help believe though that clever remarks at the expense of unionists in the comment section of blogs such as this get us nowhere. Driving home from work, listening to BBC Radio Scotland news, I heard about this report. The presenter (Gary ‘shaved-a-monkey-and-kicked-it-through-Topman’ Robertson’ then discussed it at some length with the BBC Scotland business analyst. You see where I’m going? Staunchly pro-unionist organs like the BBC make a big play on reports like this one, broadcasting to all of Scotland, and Yes voters revel in posting pithy comments online. We have no equivalent platform to get out argument across. It is worrying. If the No vote succeeds, organisations like the BBC will have played a massive part. Against that, witty comments in online comment sections are worthless.

    • You can only play with the cards your dealt. Other than witty online comments, what alternative do you suggest.

    • Are you suggesting people should stop posting comments on Derek’s blog, and instead start a new broadcaster with full reach into every home in Scotland? Otherwise, you’re suggesting people just … shut up? I’m confused.

      • I expressed a real concern. At no point did I make any suggestions. I think perhaps, based on your response, that you’re exactly the type of Yes voter who worries me.

    • That’s why the YES campaign is utilising social media to such good effect and I hope you are too!

  13. But isn’t the future of an independent Scotland uncertain? Mr Darling keeps telling us it is, in which case how can the ‘findings’ of a report present accurate figures for anything?

  14. Alistair Darling is demonstrating the Doppler effect, as the referendum date comes closer so does his pitch increase – shaking off the cobwebs of techy study – sound pressure waves increase in frequency as the event approaches.For Mr Darling the event is the referendum.
    Shaking off my economics study – statistical modelling? A bit like steering a dingy across the flow of a choppy tide. Generally heading towards your destination but the dingy bow keeps wavering about.Up and down, port to starboard.

  15. Oh! dear, Alistair Darling really set my teeth on edge. Cannot stand that man’s patronising attitude to Scottish people having the democratic right to run their own affairs.

  16. I see Alex Mosson (former Labour Provost of Glasgow)has come out in favour of YES hard on the heels of Charles Gray – the cracks are beginning to show when old stalwarts like those two gents can’t take any more of the “wee poor Scotland …” propaganda.
    Anyway, who said Independence is easy – Scots will have to work for it, but at least we’ll be working and deciding the future for ourselves and its only one possible outcome proposed by IFS which assumes nothing changes for an independent Scotland after a YES . Even the Irish and Icelanders are working their way out of the financial mire and I don’t see them in any rush to merge back with their former colonial masters.

  17. Newsnight Scotland.
    Garry Robertson. A stooge for better together he was ignorant, arrogant and totally rude to Stewart Hosie completely biased in favour of The NO camp. Thoroughly despicable individual! An embarrassment!

    Ian Gray. An excuse for a man. Just a big stupid (laughing) boy! Had no meaningful input and got the whole program to prove it.

    Disgraceful the BBC plumbed The depths tonight. I never thought it was possible they would sink so low, but it will not be forgotten. Who is in charge of that bunch of renegades at PQ?

    Stewart Hosie was belittled, badgered, harangued by these two morons, was constantly interrupted and not allowed to answer any question. Well handled Stewart you were a man among apes! You are a credit to your party and country (Scotland)

  18. Roll on the FIF!

  19. Heh, George Kerevan told us exactly what Scotland’s starting fiscal position would be on day one of independence.

    “If Scotland retains sterling after independence, its foreign trade earnings will flow into the common pot (as they do at present) helping reduce the current account deficit. But the moment Scotland shifts to a separate currency that changes. Instantly Scotland will start to run a trade surplus, boosting its currency and raising its international credit worthiness. That, all things being equal, will bring interest rates in Scotland down. But just the reverse happens in rUK”

    As Derek has pointed out this is before reprioritisation of tax and spend, before our trade and business begins the process of diverging our economy. Just our starting position.

    Take a wild guess at why the not so objective IFS and their favourite source for numbers the OBR, would like to paint a different picture. Its not rocket science, Scotland is cash rich and resource/asset rich. The economy waits for no one however and from day one of independence this divergence would begin. Imagine again just for starters no more monies being diverted for Trident and UK defence spend in general. We spend 3.4bn as our contribution over and above our share of Trident. Now under the SDF proposed spend of 2.4/2.5bn is a saving of approx. £900mn. No divergence yet, just monies saved and available for reprioritisation. £900mn available for what? The Hogmanay party to end all parties or the beginning of rebuilding a country?

    That’s one example, just one. Now consider the additional monies saved, everything from MPs expenses to foreign office adventures. No divergence yet, just monies saved and available for redistribution. Monies put to entirely different purpose. Infrastructure, social housing, hospitals, schools and education, rebuilding a manufacturing base… you get the drift. 🙂

  20. “Don’t you find it rich for Darling, the man who was asleep at the wheel in 2007-08 and contributed massively to this obscene economic mess, to be lecturing us on prudence.”

    I do hope you had the decency to blush when you wrote this, Derek.

    Remind us, did the SNP oppose any of the previous Labour UK government’s spending plans?

    That would be a no.

    Did they agree with the Labour Party’s bank regulation legislation?

    That would be a no – they thought it too stringent and wanted to relax regulation. Here’s Alex Salmond, professional economist, speaking before the UK had to bail out RBS and HBoS: “We are pledging a light-touch regulation suitable to a Scottish financial sector with its outstanding reputation for probity”.

    Thank goodness the SNP weren’t in charge of our economy in 2007- they weren’t so much asleep at the wheel, they believed that the Scottish financial sector – with its outstanding reputation for probity – didn’t need a wheel. Or brakes for that matter…

    • “Thank goodness the SNP weren’t in charge of our economy in 2007”

      Don’t you think it helps when you have access to all the facts? He’s been accused of much Mr Salmond but omniscience and/or precognition aren’t on the list. Although clearly had he been a member of her majesty’s cabinet that would be different. Then by all means, fire away at those responsible. And let’s be clear Mr Darling WAS the man in charge of the UK economy, yes? His job, his watch, his responsibility.

      Everyone else has been cleaning up the mess ever since.

      • Grahamski lives in a parallel universe where being reponsible for something has nothing to do with being responsible for something. Darling’s main contribution to financial theory was the principle of flipping.

    • Grahamski dillusional CONLABDEM of Falkirk (please sign off correctly)

  21. Any report that looks fifty years into the future is science fiction. What of Scotland’s leading position in fusion power, age extension technology and artificial intelligence? These are just some of the things that may, or may not, re-shape the world over the next fifty years. Any one of them could re-shape civilisation as we know it.

    It is utterly farcical to be respected for assuming that nothing will change in that period of time.

  22. Gordon Brown: BOOM & BUST are things of the past. Arise Sir Fred Goodwin. (Well done Gordy)
    ” “. : Stole £5 billion from pension funds, cause they had to much loot.
    Alistair Darling: Had Sir Fred Goodwin as one of his advisors. (Well done Alistair)

    Why do these duds & bullies in the Great British state want to destroy a poor wee defenceless country like Scotland?
    OIL, GREED and a seat at the UN beside their paymasters the yanks!

    Why did the same bullies destroy an even smaller country (Diago Garcia)? The yanks wanted a base to bomb the Middle East and rest their crews. The natives were decamped to concentration camps to live in squalor.

    DON’T GIVE THEM ONE INCH, THEY ARE EVIL.

  23. Grahamski dillusional CONLABDEM of Falkirk (please sign off correctly)

  24. For Alistair and his ilk (those of them that still poke their head over the No parapet anyway) it’s becoming apparent that relentless scary stories about independence are becoming subject to the law of diminishing returns. Witness the relaxed attitude of many people who called Kaye about continuing to use the pound after independence. It’s no’ quite so easy as it once looked, eh boys? And have you heard of the FiF? No? Come September then…

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