Banner

  By Martin Kelly
 
The campaign against Scottish independence has been hit by an embarrassing gaffe after it emerged a briefing for activists contained a glaring factual inaccuracy.
 
According to an official document circulated by the Better Together alliance, recent calculations showing an independent Scotland with a smaller deficit than if it remains in the UK, are reliant on the Barnett formula – which it points out would end with independence.

The briefing says: “This calculation assumes that the Barnett formula – used to calculate Scotland’s budget – would still be in place of Scotland voted to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom. It would not. The Barnett formula would end with independence.”

The Barnett formula is a mechanism used to calculate the block grant handed to Scotland by the UK government and is based on levels of spending south of the border.

However, in what has been described as a “humiliation” for the Unionist alliance, the SNP has pointed out that the recent calculations which showed an independent Scotland would have a smaller deficit in 2010/11, had nothing to do with the Barnett formula but were in fact based on the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS).

In a statement issued by the nationalists, they said of the Better Together claim: “This assertion is completely false as the public sector revenue calculations contained in the GERS figures are based on taxes and other Government incomes generated in Scotland and have absolutely nothing to do with the Barnett formula.”

Recently published figures from GERS show that Scotland has been in a stronger financial position than the rest of the UK for each of the last five years.

A report published last month by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) confirmed that Scotland's public finances have been stronger than the UK's in every year from 2006-07 to 2010-11 with an average fiscal deficit lower than the UK's since 2000.

The report from the London based body, compiled on the back of the latest GERS figures, also concluded that an independent Scotland would have lower debt levels than the rest of the UK.

Based on revenues contained in GERS - and with borrowing at the same rate as the UK – Scotland would have had a relative surplus of £2.7bn in 2010/11, the equivalent of £500 per head.

The SNP said the lack of understanding of Scotland’s finances was a major embarrassment for Better Together head Alistair Darling, who is a former Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn who sits on Holyrood’s Finance Committee said:

“This is either complete financial illiteracy from the anti-independence campaign, or a deliberate attempt to create an utterly misleading picture of Scotland’s finances.

“It speaks volumes about the No campaign’s lack of credibility that they appear not to even understand the basics of what the GERS figures are.

“Scotland produces a larger percentage of UK revenues than is spent in Scotland and significantly more than our population share. Those figures have absolutely nothing to do with the Barnett Formula, so why is the anti-independence campaign instructing their activists to claim that it is?

“Given the state in which he left the UK’s economy as Chancellor, perhaps we should not be surprised that a campaign headed by Alistair Darling has such little understanding of public finances.

“Misleading people in Scotland with such factually incorrect information is no way to fight a campaign and will inevitably only backfire on the anti-independence campaign.”

 

The full document from Better Together can be read here: http://b.3cdn.net/better/5b8b82ad2fa5b7fe48_1zm6i22gg.pdf

 

[Newsnet Scotland is currently on a festive break.  There will be no scheduled daily news updates in the main news area - however from time to time, if a member of the team is available, they may draft an article on a story they feel is particularly important.]

Comments  

 
# maisiedotts 2012-12-22 14:26
I sincerely hope and trust that an apology will be heard loud and clear from the NO campaign ........... err no I thought not!
 
 
# clootie 2012-12-22 14:42
“Misleading people in Scotland with such factually incorrect information is no way to fight a campaign and will inevitably only backfire on the anti-independence campaign.”

I'm afraid that is all they have and they don't care if it is discovered to be false as long as it's not reported by the compliant mainstream media.
 
 
# ds12 2012-12-22 15:25
"the barnett formula would end with independence"

Well well well,thats a bolt from the blue for us .I Take it the BBC will be headlining with that amazing piece of news.
 
 
# Jim Johnston 2012-12-22 16:50
Now be honest, does anyone seriously expect that Mr Darling, ex Chancellor of the Exchequer, should know anything at all about how finances are raised and distributed ?. He had an army of plebs looking after such gory details, it's all their bloody fault, not his !! Why should he be expected to apologise ?
 
 
# From The Suburbs 2012-12-22 17:04
Expect to see masasive coverage of this by our supine press corps and bbc ............not
 
 
# WRH2 2012-12-22 17:07
A bit OT, a report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers earlier in the year suggests that Scotland is heading in the right direction with renewable energy and likely to be a world leader in this field.
Does this kind of success and the new oil industry jobs feature ANYWHERE in the Unionist's fairy tale document? Thought not!
 
 
# Breeks 2012-12-22 17:44
Never mind the apologies, doesn't this just illustrate how shallow and superficial Better Together is when it comes to preparing its case for the Union?

No idea how an independent Scotland's economy would shake out? Oh, let's just use the Barnett formula to fill in the gaps to say what we want. Nobody will notice and we'll still get our negative message across.

No 2011 census figures for Scotland? Oh, lets just use 2001 census figures for Scotland and fill in the gaps to say what we want. Nobody will notice and we'll still get our negative message across.

After the Lords Economic Affairs Committee branding Mickey Moore's position 'weak', 'puzzling' and 'totally unsustainable', you can't help but wonder what opinion they'd express about Alistair Darling and his Better Together leadership.
 
 
# bringiton 2012-12-22 19:29
You don't need to be an economist to be in charge of Westminster finances or even a person of any great intelligence (as has been clear for a very long time).
What you do need are advisers who will tell you what to do and say.
Unfortunately,t he quality of these advisers at Westminster has been on the decline for some time and has resulted in poor decision making by politicians.
At least the Scottish government has not only an economist as First Minister but also a team of experienced and eminent advisers.
 
 
# rhymer 2012-12-22 19:42
Alistair must want Scotland to become independent. How else can you explain his almost weekly lies and mistakes that help make the "bitter together" bunch seem even stupider as time goes on.
I wonder, after independence will he stay here or will he emigrate?
 
 
# Teri 2012-12-22 20:07
I think Alistair only comes here at weekends as he is obliged to hold surgeries in his constituency. Like many others, London town is where his heart lies and he prefers spending his time there.

I would imagine when independence comes he'll locate there permanently and make his money doing after dinner speeches etc like those before him.
 
 
# Iaincraig 2012-12-22 20:40
Uhmm! When did the British Unionists ever let the facts get in the way of blatant lie?

The Barnett Formula will end with Independence, I creased myself when I read that. Even a five year old would understand that.
 
 
# weegie38 2012-12-22 22:16
Quote:
This is either complete financial illiteracy from the anti-independence campaign, or a deliberate attempt to create an utterly misleading picture of Scotland’s finances.

If Darling had anything to do with it, it is undoubtedly the former. The guy only became Chancellor because he would generally say "Yes" to whatever Gordon Brown, infamous as a micro manager, would tell him to do.

I can't think of any politician over the past 30 years, who advanced so far in British politics with so little perceptible talent. John Major, maybe - but at least he had some financial background as a banker. Darling has none - he was a solicitor.
 
 
# Early Ball 2012-12-22 22:50
Quoting weegie38:


I can't think of any politician over the past 30 years, who advanced so far in British politics with so little perceptible talent. John Major, maybe - but at least he had some financial background as a banker. Darling has none - he was a solicitor.


I think the double act of Gideon Osborne and Danny Alexander must be up there in the lack of talent stakes. Jim Murphy must be worth a shout for the Red Tories.
 
 
# weegie38 2012-12-22 23:07
Quoting Early Ball:
Quoting weegie38:


I can't think of any politician over the past 30 years, who advanced so far in British politics with so little perceptible talent. John Major, maybe - but at least he had some financial background as a banker. Darling has none - he was a solicitor.


I think the double act of Gideon Osborne and Danny Alexander must be up there in the lack of talent stakes. Jim Murphy must be worth a shout for the Red Tories.

I stand corrected - how could I have forgotten Darling's successor as Chancellor!
 
 
# G. P. Walrus 2012-12-23 07:35
I expect the Barnett Formula will also end if we vote No.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-12-23 08:56
Barnett Formula. Mechanism to keep Scotland in check. That and so much more will be consigned to history when the Yes vote comes in.
Barnett = Dependency. Yes vote = No More Dependency. On our own and Prospering. What a prospect voting Yes offers. More of the same, more control and more depression - Vote No for that.
Who in their right mind ?.
 
 
# Independista 2012-12-23 10:51
We shouldnt be surprised the Darling got the figures wrong, having made four second home designations he hired an accountancy firm to work out his complicated financial affairs. All charged to the taxpayer of course.
The taxpayer also footed the bill for stamp duty and legal fees on his £226,000 home in South London
 

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.

Banner

Donate to Newsnet Scotland

Banner

Latest Comments