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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Finance Secretary John Swinney has warned that staying in the Union would cost Scotland over £50 billion as a result the UK’s massive debt problem.
 
Mr Swinney warned that Scotland currently faces seven years of cuts imposed by Westminster and that it could take 18 years before public spending returned to pre-recession levels.

Addressing delegates at the SNP conference at the SECC in Glasgow, the SNP’s Finance Minister said:

“Under the current constitutional settlement the UK’s austerity programme means Scotland’s public spending faces a further seven years of cuts.

“As part of the UK it could take 18 years before public spending returns to pre-recession levels and spending in Scotland could fall by £51 billion in the meantime.”

Mr Swinney highlighted the UK’s growing debt burden which he said was in danger of reaching over one trillion (£1000,000,000,000) pounds.

“In ten days time we will find out if the UK’s long term debt has smashed the trillion pound barrier.  A trillion pounds that we are all liable for.

“Debt that every citizen in Scotland will have to repay – independent or not.  That’s the real story of the finances of the United Kingdom.”

In his speech Mr Swinney also pointed to the latest official figures that showed Scotland again in surplus relative to the UK. 

The GERS report, published this week, showed that Scotland would have been better off to the tune of £2.3 billion had it been independent last year.  This, said Mr Swinney, increased to £8.6 billion over the last five years – equivalent to £1600 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

“Scotland contributed 9.6 per cent of UK taxes, but we received only 9.3 per cent of UK spending in return.  With only 8.4% of the UK population we paid more than our share and got less back.

“Two years ago in 2009-10 Scotland paid in 9.4% of UK taxes, but again only 9.3% came back.  Even when North Sea revenues fell by 50% Scotland paid in more money to the UK Treasury than came back.” he said.

In a speech that stressed Scotland’s healthier state when compared to the rest of the UK, Mr Swinney repeated the argument put forward by the First Minister on Saturday that Scotland could do even better with full control over resources and the full fiscal levers that independence would bring.

Mr Swinney attacked Westminster for the failure to regulate the banking system properly, and for what he termed the profligacy of investment schemes like PFI.

Responding to claims that the referendum timetable was creating uncertainty and was harming business investment Mr Swinney cited companies who had already committed major investment in Scotland – Amazon, Michelin, Dell, and Avaloq.

Mr Swinney added:

“We have seen major global players in renewables and manufacturing like Mitsubishi and Samsung make real commitments to Scotland that will deliver jobs and opportunities.

“This week Dunfermline based company Burcote Wind announced plans for a billion pounds worth of renewable energy investment and the transformation of the Nigg Yard in the Highlands to a renewable energy hub is beginning.

“According to leading accountants Ernst and Young, in a report now spread widely through Channel 4’s fact check blog, international inward investment is now more successful in Scotland than any other parts of these islands, including London.”

Mr Swinney pointed out that the UK Government itself had acknowledged the strength of Scotland’s Green energy credentials by siting the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh.

The Finance Secretary also quoted the Financial Times, which had described uncertainty claims as “disingenuous”.

“The Financial Times described Westminster’s pretext for accelerating the poll – that uncertainty is damaging the economy – as ‘disingenuous at best’.  They said that as threats go, any risks posed by a referendum were ‘as a fleabite’ compared with the all-devouring Eurozone crisis.” he said, and added:

“If there is any uncertainty facing Scotland’s economy, it comes not from the talk of a positive future with investment in the economy but from the policies of austerity and negativity being pursued by the UK Government.”

Mr Swinney warned that the challenges of the global recession would not disappear with independence, and stressed the importance of educating Scots on the economic strength of their country in the run up to the independence referendum.

Citing a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research he said:

“And it’s not just me that says that Scotland is strong enough to stand on our own two feet.  Contrary to what we sometimes hear, a recent study by the independent Centre for Economics and Business Research confirmed that Scotland receives no net subsidy from the rest of the UK. 

And they worked that out whilst allocating Scotland less than our full share of North Sea Oil and Gas.”

Mr Swinney then took a light hearted swipe at the SNP’s political opponents who he suggested had conceded Scotland was more than capable of making a success of independence.

“David Cameron – ‘It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country.’

“Ruth Davidson – ‘I believe Scotland is big enough, rich enough and good enough to be an independent country.’

“Scottish Labour deputy-leader Anas Sarwar – ‘Scotland would probably be a successful country if it was an independent country.’

“Iain Gray – ‘I do not think Scotland is too small, too poor or too stupid to stand on its own’

“David McLetchie – ‘An independent Scotland would be viable’

“And who could forget Michael Moore ‘You’ll never hear me suggest that Scotland could not go its own way.’

Mr Swinney ended the list with a quote from Michael Saunders, Chief Economist at Citigroup who said “you have to get over any misconception that Scotland cannot be a viable economy because it clearly can be.”

The Finance Secretary argued that the fiscal case in favour of independence was already clear and called on Unionist parties to address what he called the consequences of staying in the Union.

“Conference there can no longer be any argument about whether Scotland can afford to be independent. 

“The answer is yes and the case is closed.  The question our opponents have to answer is can we afford the consequences of remaining part of the UK.”


Comments  

 
#
ScotInNotts
2012-03-11 15:30

Fundamental principal:

Westminster cannot and will not ever have Scotland, Scots or their interest as their sole and first priority; Holyrood can and does.

Ergo, the more powers up to and including indpendence that Holyrood has the better it is for the Scottish populace.

wrt international relations, what do we gain as the UK from having a permanent UN security council seat and veto over EU legislation as opposed to another similar country of size, say Denmark, Norwau or the Netherlands? Apart from being seen as the lapdog of the US on foreign policy and sidelined at times from the rest of Europe i.e. France and Germany, what do we get for the exorbitant sums of money ploughed into our defence budget, which is there not only for necessary defence purposes but to continue to play the part of a world power.

wrt oil and the Scottish economy relying on this resource: We are currently taking steps to insure that our nations economy does not have to rely on this resource, something which 65+ years of Westminster government, amongst many other social failings, neglected to address. Also, I’m opent to correction, but my understanding was that the scarcer a resource the greater it’s value. The “oil is running out” is a worldwide reality, therefore requirng switches to alternate energy (got that covered) but at the same time making our oil assets ever more valuable.
 
 
#
Jiggsbro
2012-03-11 15:42

Quoting ScotInNotts:

what do we get for the exorbitant sums of money ploughed into our defence budget, which is their not only for necessary defence purposes but to continue to play the part of a world power.



A surprising number of English commenters on the BBC and elsewhere seem to think we can be scared off by pointing out that, after independence, we’d just be another ‘small, unimportant country’.

They don’t seem to realise that that’s just fine. After independence, Scotland will be the most important country in Scotland, rather than an unimportant part of a United Kingdom which has dug itself a huge financial hole by trying to be a player on the world stage.

After independence, Britons who still think they should rule the waves can do so from the deck of their new aircraft carrier, where there will be plenty of room.

 
 
#
ScotInNotts
2012-03-11 15:47

Unfortunately I have had discussions with friends who suggest that intervening in certain situations around the world and playing the world power is important. They see this as almost a moral obligation coming as we do from a developed country.

My response is, what is wrong with doing so through international institutions such as the UN and EU, just like the majority of the world’s sovereign nations?

It’s almost as if a certain sense of prestige is what really keeps some bound to this idea, of being part of the popular group at school, rather than any tangible preactical benefit; unless of course I’m missing something?
 
 
#
tartanfever
2012-03-11 17:28

They see this as almost a moral obligation coming as we do from a developed country.

I’d love to know what was moral about Iraq, maybe you could ask your friends.
 
 
#
ScotInNotts
2012-03-11 17:39

There was absoloutley nothing moral about Iraq, in the way it was conducted or the complete lack of a strategy once they had deposed Saddam.

That being said I don’t think my friends that want to retain the influence that the UK has (whatever that is?) had Iraq in mind. Rather they have bought into the line that we can be a force for good on our own without, sometimes without recourse to the UN; I honestly don’t get that way of thinking?

Surely Scotland can be a force for good on it’s own too, without that necessarily having to mean military action as a means to achieve that end. Similarly in a situation where military action is required we could participate as part of a larger combined operation, much like other nations.
 
 
#
tartanfever
2012-03-11 17:58

Yep exactly – action through the UN in joint operations once a resolution has been passed. Thats what they did with Libya and the air strategy worked a treat. The Danes were even more successful in their sorties hitting more targets that the RAF.

Whereas Iraq was not UN sanctioned, and that intervention directly led to the 7/7 bombings. Moreover it has led to hyped and out of control politics of fear that pervade Westminster and the MOD, which I would argue is as damaging than the bombings themselves.

Looking at England since 2000, (having lived their myself from 1992-2010) I’m shocked a what a divided country it has actually become. That fear of terrorism has divided communities and severely harmed social cohesion.
 
 
#
tartanpigsy
2012-03-11 20:58

TF- I don’t know where you get that Libya was successful unless you believe the garbage spouted by our friends at the BBC, just because the UN were involved. The overthrow of Gaddhafi was just another example of disgusting european colonialism.

“Thats what they did with Libya and the air strategy worked a treat. The Danes were even more successful in their sorties hitting more targets that the RAF.”

Are you for real, its easy to sit at a laptop/pc and write that, would you like your family to be on the ground when these UN/Nato authorised hits came along, don’t you think its no coincidence that Libya dissappeared from the news soon after Gaddhafi was butchered live to the world. What has been heard since, dig around a bit and you’ll find a trail of torture and corruption, one tyrant being replaced by something which could be much worse, it is plain naive to talk like you have. If Scotland was fighting for independence and we were outwith the safety net of western europe, we would be bombed, and slaughtered into submission, why because we too have oil.
 

 
#
tartanfever
2012-03-11 17:29

After independence, Britons who still think they should rule the waves can do so from the deck of their new aircraft carrier, where there will be plenty of room.

Ha ha, brilliant !
 

 
#
Dundonian West
2012-03-11 17:00

The reasoned,restra  ined speech by John Swinney should remind us all,THANK GOODNESS WE HAVE AN OUTSTANDING CREW.Every single one.

Our political opponents are many,and the pressures on the Scottish Cabinet,at times are relentless.
From just one ordinary member,I say,THANKYOU.
 
 
#
edinburgh quine
2012-03-11 17:13

Well spake Dundonian West. They are a good bunch, aren’t they.

I’ve just had a call from the other half and he’s, as I type, leaving the SSEC and he’s absolutely delighted with the last couple of days. Inspiring is just one of the adjectives he used. I’m sure he’ll be on this site tonight/tomorrow talking about it.
 
 
#
Dundonian West
2012-03-11 17:31

Quoting edinburgh quine:

Well spake Dundonian West. They are a good bunch, aren’t they.

I’ve just had a call from the other half and he’s, as I type, leaving the SSEC and he’s absolutely delighted with the last couple of days. Inspiring is just one of the adjectives he used. I’m sure he’ll be on this site tonight/tomorrow talking about it.



“They are a good bunch, aren’t they”.
Makes me proud,the outstanding government we have here in Scotland,for EVERYONE in Scotland.
Everyone.

 
 
#
Ben Power
2012-03-12 00:08

Well said all, I reckon.
 

 
#
ianbeag
2012-03-11 21:25

Refreshed and fully motivated after two days at the SNP conference! Everyone in the SNP expects our leaders to deliver superb speeches and they certainly did not disappoint at this conference with Alex Salmond, Nicola and their Ministerial colleagues at their outstanding best. However, what was equally impressive was the great array of young talented performers in their early twenties and upwards showing enormous confidence unmatched from any party political platform in these Islands. The reassurance that the SNP is in such capable hands with an outstanding pool of leaders in waiting should be a great comfort to us all.
 

 
#
J Wil
2012-03-11 17:43

This must have been John Swinney’s speech to the conference today. Whatever happened to the BBC coverage? Nothing I could see on telly today.
 
 
#
Jemimatartandrawers
2012-03-11 18:29

Quoting J Wil:

Tis must have been John Swinney’s speech to the conference today. Whatever happened to the BBC coverage? Nothing I could see on telly today.


It’s an absolute disgrace that the coverage this conference received was only noticable by one thing… It’s absence! I have gone online and registered my complaint to the BBC, and i have asked for a reply. Can i suggest that anyone else who feels strongly about the lack of coverage for what was simply an inspirational, positive, FULL TO THE BRIM venue packed house of hope, does the same thing?! It might serve them a bit of notice if several thousand complaints arrive in their inbox.

 

 
#
govanite
2012-03-11 17:54

Its been a good weekend for Scotland.
LibDems fire-fighting.
Labour greetin
SNP looking to a positive future.
Priceless

O/T – been thinking about the name for the new bridge. My view is it should be named after a regarded but lesser known figure from our pre-union history. That way, someone will always ask ‘Who ?’ and there will be a story to tell. Perhaps one of our monarchs’ consorts.
Plus, the BBC will be forced to mention them during the traffic reports, reminding us all of our long, long history. Which is nice.
 
 
#
Legerwood
2012-03-11 19:32

What about St Margaret’s Bridge. She was the wife of Malcolm III of Scotland. She established a ferry at Queensferry so that pilgrims could get to Dunfermline and in doing so gave Queensferry North and South their names.

I think she was born in Hungary where her family were in exile. Her brother was King of England for a short time – not long enough to be crowned. When the Normans invaded the family fled to Scotland.

Three of her sons became Kings of Scotland and one of her daughter was a Queen Consort of England.
 
 
#
govanite
2012-03-11 21:00

and I see, a shrine at Dunfermline too – The Queen Margaret Bridge ?
 
 
#
Legerwood
2012-03-11 21:06

Queen margaret or St Margaret either would do. But it certainly has it all: international dimension, national dimension – married to a king of Scotland and produced three more, English connection – show we are not anti-English and finally local dimension – she established a ferry and from that came the names of the towns on either side of the crossing.

What more could you ask for?
 

 
#
J Wil
2012-03-11 21:03

It had been suggested that Independence Bridge would be appropriate. It was quite funny to see the Herald giving some examples of names that have been suggested, but no mention of Independence Bridge. I wonder how long the media can steer away from reporting it to avoid putting ideas into the heads of the people? They had no hesitation though about the Bridge over the River Why.
 
 
#
Ben Power
2012-03-12 00:11

I reckon Independence Bridge or Wallace Bridge would be good names. Am not so keen about St Margaret even if she was a nice person for her times.
 

 
#
Angry_Weegie
2012-03-11 18:01

A clear and concise description of the Scottish economy and how independence can improve the lot of the Scots people, once we get rid of our share of the enormous debt run up by Westminster. And who would you prefer to be looking after the Scottish economy for the next few years, John Swinney or Ozzy Osborne.
 
 
#
ubinworryinmasheep
2012-03-11 18:11

Thats an insult to the real Ozzy. The Eton toff has nothing on the Godfather of Metal !!
 

 
#
pinkrose
2012-03-11 18:46

Serious question does anyone have the answer?

Speaking recently to a friend from London I quoted the GERS report which demonstrated that Scotland has been in surplus for several years. As a businessman he replied that these figures are just like revenue and expenditure for a branch of a large company ie. UK and that the UK being the central office as it were has other expenditure which is not taken into account for Scotland. In other words in an Independant Scotland there would be many more overheads which are not considered in the GERS report.

Can anyone out there shed some light on this as I have had others questioning Scotlands finances and don’t have answers?

Many thanks.
 
 
#
tartanfever
2012-03-11 18:59

I would have replied by saying, what about taxes raised here that go straight to Westminster that aren’t even accounted for, like VAT and the fossil fuel levy, plus the expenditure that we don’t see back in investment, like £3bn for defence when we get back less than £2bn in spending.

I think there is some leeway in the GERS figures, but for showing a trend they are perfectly fine. Scotland has been in surplus for a few years, of that there is no denying.

However, I don’t think your friend sounds as though he’s open to listening and undoubtedly would think of some other vague generalisation with which to talk down Scotland.

‘Branch of a large company’ – thats no way to talk about Scotland !
 
 
#
Edna Caine
2012-03-11 20:25

“As a businessman he replied that these figures are just like revenue and expenditure for a branch of a large company ie. UK and that the UK being the central office as it were has other expenditure which is not taken into account for Scotland”

Has your businessman friend been fiddling his taxes?

Contrary to the way your friend seems to prepare his accounts, the GERS report is constructed to reflect all income and expenditure of UK Group plc. This includes overheads particular to the holding company such as WMD, war, Crossrail, House of Coofs expenses, Olympics, etc. A proportion of these overheads are then defined as appropriate to the subsiduary, although they do not benefit from, or indeed do not approve of, Group HQ’s policy in these areas.

So – HQ’s “other expenditure” is included and reallocated pro-rata to the “branch”.
 
 
#
Angry_Weegie
2012-03-11 20:28

What about Scotland’s share of non-geographical expenditure, i.e. anything that can’t be allocated to a particular area. Unfortunately (for us), though all Scottish expenditure can be identified as Scottish, a lot of English expenditure can’t be allocated to a specific English area so is put into a UK pot, which is then shared out over the whole UK, including Scotland. So that means we pay a share of English expenditure on (as I understand) prisons, tourism, and no doubt lots more.

I think that makes up for lots of “head office” costs.
 
 
#
Marga B
2012-03-11 20:49

Whaat happens to Crown Estate profits, by the way, the bit that does not benefit local communities?
 
 
#
alicmurray
2012-03-11 22:44

They also take the monies taken in fines. £20m I think it was.
 
 
#
J Wil
2012-03-12 00:37

The Westmister Government plan to give some of it back to Scotland, but in a way that will bypass Scottish Government control of its use. So it is just another away to keep their hands on the purse strings and dictate directly from London how Scottish money should be spent. You can see how it could be abused if an election is coming up and there is a close contest between two parties. Not a good way to run an economy, but the way that Westminster has always worked.
 

 
#
pinkrose
2012-03-12 00:04

Many thanks for all your helpful comments hopefully I can put the information to good use…
 
 
#
admiral
2012-03-12 12:45

Quoting pinkrose:

Serious question does anyone have the answer?

Speaking recently to a friend from London I quoted the GERS report which demonstrated that Scotland has been in surplus for several years. As a businessman he replied that these figures are just like revenue and expenditure for a branch of a large company ie. UK and that the UK being the central office as it were has other expenditure which is not taken into account for Scotland. In other words in an Independant Scotland there would be many more overheads which are not considered in the GERS report.

Can anyone out there shed some light on this as I have had others questioning Scotlands finances and don’t have answers?

Many thanks.



It is not a branch account as it also includes “attributable” expenditure. This is, funnily enough, for the most part not actually spent in Scotland and is a way for London to hide how much it actually consumes of the entire UK budget. So, Scotland gets charged for expenditure such as civil service costs, including London weightings, for “UK” civil servants who don’t actually have anything to do with Scotland, for “national infrastructure projects such as London Crossrail, that don’t actually benefit anyone in Scotland, and for “national” events such as the London Olympics, where again hardly one penny piece gets spent in Scotland.

There are numerous other examples – foreign office, where we get charged for “our share” of a diplomatic service that does not serve us, but we then get charged again if we actually want to use facilities that we are already paying for (e.g. Scotch Whisky trade missions using embassy/consulate premises). Defence is another one – we get charged “our share” of defence costs, but again what is actually spent here is a fraction of what we are charged.

Other items – BBC license fee, again a fraction of what is raised is returned here, DVLA money, court fines, Crown Estates revenue, climate change levies it goes on and on…

These figures together amount to billions, not millions, of pounds sterling. Relieved of this burden, this “Union dividend”, Scotland will be a much wealthier place, with greater choice on how we address the needs of our own country and people and not the greed of London and the South East.

 

 
#
MajorBloodnok
2012-03-11 18:55

The GERS report include (an estimate) of the expenditure in Scotland by the UK government, not just what the Scottish Government has to spend, so there are no hidden ‘overheads’.

On the contrary, there are ‘hidden revenues’ that aren’t included because the Westminster government ensures such information is made hard to find. Note also that the revenues stated in the GERS are generally underestimates.

Bottom line – yes Scotland runs a deficit overall but the Scottish deficit is less then the UK deficit – so would be better off than the rest of the UK.
 
 
#
UpSpake
2012-03-11 20:07

Scotland has been in fiscal surplus for years despite Westminster telling us year after year that we are not. For too long we have swollowed this tripe as truth unquestiongly. No More !.
Forensic analysis of GERS is made doubly difficult by Westminster but dogged determination produces even a larger suplus.
However it stacks up Scotland producing surplus is required to cut to meet the voracious demands of Westminster.
Why ?.
We have no need to cut here or we need to cut out tax contribution to Westminster to be neutral. They want it both ways and we comply. Mr. Swinney should have carried Mr. Salmonds statement one step further. No Cuts In Scotland.
Sadly, we have no control of taxation – yet !.
 
 
#
Hirta
2012-03-11 20:13

BBC website politics section.

Where exactly is the SNP conference mentioned?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/

How does this compare to recent Labour and Lib Dem conferences and exposure by the BBC?
 
 
#
Legerwood
2012-03-11 20:22

Quote:

How does this compare to recent Labour and Lib Dem conferences and exposure by the BBC?



A rhetorical question Hirta unless I am mistaken.

 
 
#
Marga B
2012-03-11 20:51

Some very diligent contributor here actually produced hours of coverage time for the previous Labour conference – has that same kind person kept track of the SNP coverage?
 
 
#
tartanpigsy
2012-03-11 21:17

slightly O/T as I stood watching the squirming ****** that is Brian Taylor, sitting barely acknowledging Alex Salmonds speech over the relay screens at the SECC yesterday, I thought to myself “What marvellous piece of journalistic gymnastics is he gonna come up with to twist that one round?”
Well, he managed,
bbc.co.uk/…/…
I wish I could get paid for c**p like that. And thats part of their coverage, they were all there,but they dont want anyone else to know what happened.

State sponsored censorship.

[This comment has had an offensive word edited. The use of such words is not allowed and could have resulted in your entire comment being unpublished – NNS mod team.]
 
 
#
tartanpigsy
2012-03-11 21:26

Sorry folks, will try to be more careful,
 
 
#
J Wil
2012-03-12 00:44

I am intrigued to know what suitable adjective merits six stars? The one I was thinking about would only merit four and is, I think, far more accurate as well as being satisfyingly concise.
 

 
#
alicmurray
2012-03-11 20:54

Just noticed at 23.25 – 23.55pm a programme on BBC1 – SNP Party Conference Jamie McIvor reporting highlights.
 
 
#
J Wil
2012-03-11 20:57

Another blow for the LibDems and Clegg when their conference voted down the motion supporting the changes to the health service in England. Of course they have a, ‘get out of jail’, card. They are not held to following their party’s wishes.

Also a blow to Shirley Williams who spoke in favour of the motion to support the health reforms. Clegg must have thought with her backing it was a walkover, but people are not fooled.
 
 
#
Fungus
2012-03-11 21:05

bbc.co.uk/…/…

You have to dig hard to find it though.
 
 
#
D_A_N
2012-03-11 21:07

o/t as a new joint admin of the facebook page. I’d like to invite anybody with a facebook account to please ‘like’ our page to get this demonstration against BBC bias started. Date to be announced very soon.

www.facebook.com/…/
 
 
#
balbeggie
2012-03-11 21:08

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP Conference today.

www.youtube.com/…/
 
 
#
Zed
2012-03-11 22:44

Thought Sturgeon was really good today!
 

 
#
velofello
2012-03-11 22:03

That the BBC failed to give live coverage to John Swinney’s address to the conference is a disgrace.
 
 
#
MajorBloodnok
2012-03-11 22:42

I didn’t think that this BBC report was too bad:

bbc.co.uk/…/…

At least it showed how full the SECC was.
 
 
#
Hirta
2012-03-11 23:44

Raymond Buchanan – the guy who got Stewart Stevenson (Transport Minister) the sack.
 
 
#
Angry_Weegie
2012-03-12 00:04

Wasn’t too impressed by the EBC news which highlighted NS’s comment warning drinks companies not to oppose minimum pricing (ie. let’s make it seem that everyone else is against it), ignoring all other parts of the speech and failing to mention that all other parties in the Scottish Parliament support the policy, except Labour, who can’t bring themselves to support any SNP initiative.
 
 
#
Ard Righ
2012-03-14 21:13

A public reminder of the debt Scotland was exposed to on the advent of union would be pertinent to raise peoples awareness to.
 

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