BBC Scotland economics heavyweights at odds over GERS

In a remarkably out-of-touch piece, Douglas Fraser who, according to an odd BBC profile page, ‘is alleged that he has degrees from Oxford and Harvard‘ has written to argue that the GERS figures seriously undermine the case of Scottish Independence.


He writes:

  • GERS shows the gap between Scottish tax take and spending is big, but coronavirus is set to make it humongous, with fiscal repairs requiring years of effort.
  • GERS shows the gap between Scottish tax take and spending is big, but coronavirus is set to make it humongous, with fiscal repairs requiring years of effort.

This is a very old view of things. Two years ago Professor Richard Murphy seemed to finally demolish the case for GERS:

Then only three days ago, Brain Taylor, Fraser’s colleague at Reporting Scotland Badly, seemed to suggest that BBC Scotland too were about to drop the GERS, with this comment on Good Mourning Scotland:

The thing to bear in mind is they [GERS]were first published in 1992 in John Major as Prime Minister and [the vampiric] Ian Lang as Scottish Secretary and yes I covered that news conference. The point is that although they are statistical calculations, from the very outset they had a political purpose at that time. It was designed to undermine what was seen as a drive toward Scottish self-government.

9 thoughts on “BBC Scotland economics heavyweights at odds over GERS

  1. I can only assume that Douglas Fraser is just preaching to those still insisting on denial of reality; NO ONE believes GERS ‘shows’ us anything anymore; it’s such a load of mince it’s a pointless time-wasting exercise, even in propaganda. You do have to wonder at anyone’s professional credibility when they try and tell us otherwise. Well, I don’t actually wonder, I know they have no credibility.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. He must have degrees in taking bulls**t, and no wonder his ‘report on the Scottish media’, ‘has been widely ignored’, lol! Scotland is being dragged out of a the EU, on top of Coronavirus where the Eng(UK) government have tightened the thumb screws on Scotland’s finances, and ensured max damage to Scotland’s economy so as to keep control of Scotland’s hugely lucrative revenues and resources. Keeping that gravy train running south, leaving Scotland to scramble around for pennies to buy in the basics, nevermind repair the terrible damage of Covid19, and what is to come from England’s catastrophic Brexit, on Scotland’s economy.
    Harvard? That’s got to be a joke.

    It looks like D. Fraser hasn’t paid off his ‘mortgage’ yet, still writing lies to line his own pockets. I don’t know how he and many other BritNats sleep st night. They seem happy to have continuation of Tory/red Tory austerity, an attack on the poorest, where children go hungry. Children, go hungry in Scotland at the hands of the English government. Despicable, this guy should hang his head in shame.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, can’t say I do. Why do they even publish them? What does it cost in £s to publish them?
      Either the ScotGov have high hopes that everyone will see GERS for what it is, that the union is bad for Scotland, or, they do as instructed by the English government, or else.

      Mostly the media have by the sounds of it, played down GERS, precisely because it exposes the union as being very bad for Scotland’s economy. It’s always amazing when people say, ‘but what will you do without the oil it’s running out’, as if Scotland has some treasure chest of cash stashed away, from the £trillions worth of oil already extracted, the current ScotGov preferring to struggle along, chug chug, rich, but poor. When in reality the ScotGov have had to mitigate terrible poverty imposed on the people of Scotland while also trying to make a start on repairing 300+ years of economic and social damage, all due to Scotland’s wealth being stolen by their southern neighbours, including of course £trillions in oil revenues.

      GERS just confirms that Scotland is all the poorer because of the union.


  3. Bob, I posted questions previously that were posed by Ken Mathieson in a comment along that line – why do they still publish it? No real answers (are they legally obliged to do so? I don’t think so, but who knows, and why not get the law changed. They were meant to produce their own, different, report but that was ditched this year. Etc)

    For anyone that missed WGD podcast with Richard Murphy, he’s produced this video on the GERS statement, covering most of the things raised

    The GERS report is not credible, (and anyone trying to make any conclusions from it isn’t really credible either to my mind)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This from Jim Cuthbert on the implementation of The Vow and the deeply flawed changes to the Barnett Formula.

    “The situation post-2016 could hardly be more different. The pre-referendum ‘vow’ undertook to maintain the Barnett Formula: and the Barnett Formula does indeed continue to play an important role in the new fiscal settlement. But the overall effects of that system are, in key respects, the opposite of the old Barnett Formula. Far from having the characteristics of a properly functioning monetary union, the present fiscal settlement places Scotland in a position of significant danger, where there is a disproportionate risk of pitching Scotland into an accelerating cycle of relative economic decline. The important point to take from this paper is that the, justifiable, ambiguity about the effect of the old Barnett Formula has been swept away. Barnett in its old form is well and truly dead. Instead, the cynical way in which the vow was implemented replaced Barnett with a system which was only supposed to work to Scotland’s advantage if Scotland paid the price of implementing unacceptable neo-liberal policies. There needs to be a clear eyed appreciation of the characteristics of the current fiscal settlement before the review of that system which is scheduled to take place after it has been in operation for five years: and, indeed, before wider decisions can be made about Scotland’s political future. Hopefully, this paper will have contributed to that appreciation.”


  5. Meanwhile, back in the REAL world….🤔

    GERS was invented in 1992.

    Holyrood opened in 1999

    That detail alone, speaks volumes.

    GERS are propogandised as ‘Scotsgov’s figures” by unionists.

    Yet there was NO SCOTSGOV in








    So NOT ‘Scotsgovs’ figures at all then…🤔🤔

    WM figures to suit their anti Scots indy agenda.

    A fact borne out when all but 2 of the data sets used for GERS are WM FIGURES VIA THE ONS and the vast majority of those are ESTIMATED figures (code for: pick a scary number, treble it, present as factual).

    The big problem for Unionism, is that most Scots are not buying this propoganda any more, from a tory gov not willing to subsidise a SPARE BEDROOM in a house, even if its used for essential storage of medical aid equipment (you lose £14/week per extra bedroom from your benefits) yet who expects us to believe Scots are subsidised to the tune of the equivalence of the ENTIRE SCOTTISH NHS BUDGET every year, and at least another £1bn on top of that, because …reasons…🤔🤔🤔🙄

    And lets go deeper into the detail of the con.

    What IS this claimed £15bn ‘Scottish deficit’ exactly ?

    Well, it is the amount that WM says it spends on Scotland’s ‘behalf’ on RESERVED aspects, Defence, pensions, aspects of non devolved social security etc.

    Which is interesting to know, as we can use those numbers to calculate how much it costs to run Scotland at its highest cost.

    Devolution budget = £30bn.

    Barnett Consequentials = £3.5bn.

    Reserved WM Spending = £15bn

    Grand Total for ALL Scottish spending (to run Scotland within the Union) = £48.5bn/year.

    Yet, according to GERS itself, Scotland raised £64bn in general taxation last year.

    Note: not ALL revenue, just from general taxation.

    £64bn minus £48.5bn = £15.5bn.

    That £15.5bn is NOT a deficit, it is a SURPLUS !!!

    EVEN IF an iScotland used the GERS figures as our future budget model (£8bn for defence (as if)… etc) we would have £15.5bn left in the bank after the end of year ONE of indy.

    And thats just from GENERAL TAXATION raised in Scotland, and DOES NOT include an iScotland’s 98% share in current oil receipts (gers is based on an 8.4% share).

    Add at least another 90% of oil revenues to that £15.5bn surplus.

    If GERS allocates Scotland £1bn/year from oil, that would expand to over £10bn post indy !!

    So suddenly, the SURPLUS is over £25bn/year, and that is nearly DOUBLE the current Scotsgov Health budget !!

    An iScotland could invest an immediate £2.5bn into Health and education and STILL sit on £20bn in the bank.

    Thats enough to build THIRTEEN Queensferry crossings/YEAR !!!

    Imagine the rapid improvement in an iScottish infrastructure with such immense spending power?

    Jobs, increased tax take, economy on superboost, we would likely need a large chunk of inward migration just to keep up, which means more houses, more shops, more jobs, even higher tax take and so on.

    A veritable ‘Arc Of Prosperity’.

    GERS merely proves we are severely held back as a country, by being part of this stinking, ever toxic, union.

    If we had voted Yes in 2014, all the above would already kicked in, and you would have 60 million English people asking WM politicians some rather ‘uncomfortable’ questions.

    And thats using GERS ‘spending/income’ as the blueprint !!!

    An iScotland would make better choices, so the above is a WORSE CASE scenario !!

    What beats me is, why would No voters NOT want to be part of a rich, progressive, booming country ?

    When it happens, i bet not a single No voter says “i want no part of this, i’m moving to England, to get my lifetime of austerity”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This MUST be made crystal clear BEFORE the next indy campaign even starts.

      I’m afraid it wasn’t last time. The response to “how would this be paid for?” was “Oil” and that was it. Similarly, the currency situation must be explained in non-technical terms – especially why it should be a Scottish £, rather than a UK£.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.