Posted in the early hours, like me often, this on the BBC Scotland website:
Is Scotland moving towards independence?
By James Cook
Chief news correspondent for The Nine:
It’s long and OK at first until, 25 wee paras down we see:
First, the more that campaigners for the union highlight Scotland’s dependence on tax receipts from the richer south east of England, the less attractive such a state of affairs may appear. Increasing numbers of voters in England are asking why they should be writing the cheques and many north of the border are wondering why Scotland is poorer than other parts of the UK in the first place.
While some of the earlier stuff presents information as the opinion it is, with some balance, the above is stated as fact and left unchallenged.
As most of you know already, it’s just not true.
Professor Richard Murphy has fully debunked the myth. I recommend the full article, link below, but for our purpose here, the key point:
What GERS is asking us to believe is that with 8.2% of the UK population Scotland created between 54% and 60% of the UK deficit last year, depending on the basis used. And my answer is very simple: no it did not. How do I know that?
Because Scotland would not have chosen to spend some of the cost charged to it by the UK government. And because the GERS methodology is wrong when comparing income and expenditure, as I have already noted today.
But most of all it is because what this ignores is three issues. The first is that there is a massive bias in financial services in the UK that the Tax Justice Network has recently pointed out. This means value is extracted from Scotland and recorded in London.
Second, there is massive wealth inequality in the UK: Of course, there is wealth inequality too, and both represent this looting of the rest of the UK by the financial services industry in the south east of England.
And third, to suggest as the GERS notes suggest that profits are appropriately allocated to Scotland on a case by case basis is just nonsense. I have worked on issues of profit allocation for years and developed country-by-country reporting to address this issue. It is now used around the world, but there is no data in Scotland to appraise it. To then suggest that profits and so corporation tax are correctly apportioned is nonsense.
This data is, then, not just wrong. It is absurdly wrong. From the methodology, to the lack of data, to the inherent biases and the failure to correct for obviously identifiable factors, the result is intended to produce an outcome.