By Derek Bateman
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.

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 presumes 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 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 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 Alistair Darling, you'd think the future is set in stone.  Is that how Alistair 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, Alistair?  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 [Danny] 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.

Courtesy of Derek Bateman


# neoloon 2013-11-18 18:58
Spot on about Darling's shrillness.
He really is beginning to panic.
Has someone been leaning on him?
# Davy 2013-11-18 19:10
Aye you certainly have BBC Scotland jumping on the bandwagon with undisguised glee.

Why is Scotland portrayed to be the only country in the world with oil that is getting poorer and poorer.

Its all bollocks.

Vote Yes, Vote Scotland.
# X_Sticks 2013-11-18 19:15
Hey, good to see you over here Derek.

I just commented on your article over there....

You were right on the money this morning , call me dave, Mr Bateman has come up with the goods by teatime!

Darling is cracking. Winning the referendum for "Better Together" is his last chance for ermine. With his failed chancellorship he's currently not going to get to polish the lovely leather in the HoL. He can see that chance slipping away before his eyes. Desperation personified.

As I asked over there, having seen the BBC Scotland coverage of the report "from a highly respected think-tank" (Jackie's words), do you still believe there is no agenda in PQ?


# RTP 2013-11-18 19:27
If the oil is so bad for Scotland and its running out so Darling tells us just how is the UK going to fund HS2 new airport for London without raising taxes or more cuts I would like someone to ask Darling that question.
# call me dave 2013-11-18 19:53
He cant tell you, because Darling is the ideal shield for the unionists, not in power and can't promise anything apart from the distant smell of jam tomorrow. . maybies!

Darling is expendable with no way back to reputable politics, his job is to distract and lay a false trail and do all of Scotland down, browbeating ordinary folk into a cowed herd, frightened to take what is their's by right.

We can throw in the towel or, as Mr Bateman suggests in his latest post, make use of the FIF. Which I recommend.
# iain2013 2013-11-19 14:05
Darling is aiming for far higher - a seat in the house of Lords, the highest achievement imaginable to someone from Darling's background and limited abilities.
# Alibi8 2013-11-18 19:35
The report uses OBR oil forecasts. They alone forecast a long term decline in the price of oil despite its increasing scarcity - that alone makes this report a load of keech, but that is not the main issue here. The issue is that BBC Scotland were this morning reporting these opinions as fact rather than as opinions. They were sating "This is what will happen", not "This is what someone thinks will happen". That is verging on Goebbelesque.
# jinglyjangly 2013-11-18 19:35
All the channels have this mince from the IFS, as alluded to in the article they are not impartial describing themselves as quote
As Gordon Brown said a decade ago, on our 30th anniversary, the IFS has "established itself as an indispensable British institution".
Problem is that the MSM have given it max exposure on all tv/radio channels.
I can imagine all the newspaper front pages tomorrow, were twtpts one thing for sure is that if we don't vote YES we will be too stupid to look after ourselves.
# JimW 2013-11-18 19:51
This is a good, sensible rebut of the IFS report. Not only because it makes sense and attacks the facts, buts because it attacks Darling on his record, rather than on his personality. I see too many comments on a variety of topics which make personal attacks on the BT leaders. Our case is strong. We have no need to ridicule individuals.

Well written Derek. Always worth reading.
# Rafiki 2013-11-18 21:01
What we are seeing is a desperate attempt by London to keep the oil money. How can it be the saviour of the UK and the death knell for Scotland?

Panicking because the truth is the other way about.
# Tinyzeitgeist 2013-11-19 00:12
The IFS, touted as a respected group of economists who's subsidiary the well named OBR (a tory invention), is nothing other than a collection of neoclassical economists who's 'theory's' resulted in financial deregulation and the financial crash. Go figure. And we have a supposed labour ex chancellor selling their wares! This is utter nonsense and we won't be fooled.
# gus1940 2013-11-19 06:36
Every single talking head on TV and every journalist who has mentioned the IFS 'report' has preceded IFS with the word 'respected' - what a curious sign of their recognition that the man in the street has serious doubts as to the veracity of any of the multitude of 'reports' commissioned by Project Fear.

Did IFS just produce this report spontaneously or were they commissioned to do so - if not who commissioned it, who arranged for it to be trumpeted in the media, who arranged for it to be launched the day before an important SNP paper and the week before the publication of The White Paper.

'A Neutral, Indpendent and Respected Think Tank' Aye Right.
# UpSpake 2013-11-19 08:18
Perhaps Mr. Batemen could contact Gordon McIntyre-Kemp of Business for Scotland for another view of where Scotland stands, fiscally.
Problem is, his figures make nonsense of the SNP's analysis which is accepted by most here as absolute fact. Far, far from it.
It is true however that anyone with an alternative view on Scotland's rape by Westminster, gets short shrift if it doesn't fall into line with SNP dogma.
# Paul Toy 2013-11-20 01:32
"... like all of these reports it bases everything on what we know now and presumes there will no change in anything much after independence."

That's precisely what struck me when I read my way through the IFS analysis. It purely is an analysis that's based from & within the status quo. Naturally, anything that is a departure from the status quo will throw up challenges & uncertainties. So, welcome to the future in any event.

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


Donate to Newsnet Scotland


Latest Comments