In the Telegraph today, The Heffer goes all John Bull, or maybe Michael Fish, with us ungrateful Scots repeating that old whopper about Scotland being subsidised by the English taxpayer.
Readers will know of course that certainty is hard to come by in the world of economic judgement. The dismal science only tends to know what it’s talking about after things have crashed. That uniquely honest economics prof, Richard Murphy, has already made very clear the impossibility of knowing exactly what the situation would be after independence. See this excellent piece:
The failing English elite can’t get its head around Scottish independence, let alone the economics that supports it
However, Channel 4’s Factcheck did inadvertently have decent go at countering the notion that England subsidises Scotland by checking evidence for the counter-argument that, in fact, Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK. With some qualification, they concluded that is was a sort of draw with this:
But the overall balance was close, according to one detailed analysis: even making concessions to nationalist arguments about Scotland’s likely historic debt, higher UK public spending on Scotland almost completely cancelled out any surplus created by “Scottish” oil.
Thus, the notion that England subsidised Scotland is demolished. Keep up Heffer!
To their credit Channel 4, unlike the Telegraph, did give the Scottish Government a right of reply and they said:
We have demonstrated to you using official government statistics that Ian Blackford’s comments are correct. The evidence shows that tax revenues per head in Scotland have been considerably higher than the UK – that has unquestionably subsidised UK public spending over the period. We have also demonstrated how your argument about public spending does not take into account the costs to Scotland of servicing UK debt that would not have been required had we been independent.