GERS: False Evidence Appearing as Real

by Jeggit

Today is like a little Christmas for Scotland’s unionists. This is the day that the GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures are released, a fiscal data set that claims to measure – or guestimate – the health of Scotland’s balance books as part of the United Kingdom. Well shock horror, wouldn’t you know – Scotland is running on a massive deficit and could never survive as an independent country. No one can be surprised by this, but we can get to that shortly. What matters is that the GERS figures give the British media the chance to tell us we’re too wee and too poor.

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As was to be expected the BBC was right in there with its analysis, pointing out that our £13.3bn deficit is an unbearable burden on the rest of the UK – accounting for a whopping 30 per cent of the total UK deficit. Isn’t England so kind, looking after us and supporting us the way it does? How would we ever get by without them bailing us lot of useless, deadbeat scroungers out?

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Naturally, according to the Financial Times, this puts the kibosh on our silly little dream of independence. Mure Dickie takes the time to remind us that back in 2014 we voted on the question of independence, and had we decided to leave the union we’d be sinking in the cold North Atlantic with a multi-billion pound millstone wrapped around our neck. We did the right thing so, we bent the knee to our benevolent London masters and Scotland is reaping the benefits as a result.

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Then we have the ITV blog getting its dig in. Our net fiscal balance – the measure of the weight we’re pulling as a burdensome member of Team GBTM – looks like it is approaching four times the weight our more competent and clever English neighbours are pulling. We really are a lost cause – a poor effort at being a real, grown up economy.

But doesn’t Peter MacMahon go and make a boo-boo? The whole of the UK has a deficit – “London, the south, and south-east of England are the only exceptions.” So let’s get this right, the part of the UK that manufactures the least for export – the so-called “golden triangle” around London – runs at such a massive surplus that it pulls up the net figures for the English balance book. How can that be?

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It’s quite simple. It all comes down to the financialisation of the British economy – read: ‘the London economy’ – a process begun under Thatcher. By demolishing the various structures such as trade unions and heavy manufacturing industries which functioned to keep wealth more evenly distributed over the whole of the UK, money was concentrated in the new financial services industries in – you guessed it – London. What this means is that the wealth produced in Scotland, the north of England, and Wales – not London – is hoarded in “the City” and increased by the alchemy of speculation and other forms of high risk legal gambling. That’s money soaked out of Scotland and its massive increase attributed to London and the English balance sheet. Nice.

Then we have the issue of what Scotland produces for export. In a country like the Netherlands for example this stuff is made and shipped off from Dutch ports and the export duties go to the national exchequer. It’s really quite simple. This isn’t how it works here in Scotland though. Most of what we make has to be shipped to the nation that most definitely isn’t our colonial master and exported from its ports. Guess where all that revenue goes? I’ll give you a clue – it isn’t Edinburgh.

Oh, wait! We have oil. This is the messy black stuff we get out of Scotland’s waters; the same messy black stuff the unionists keep insisting is worth feck all. Magically, however, Norway – a country with about the same oil production as Scotland – brought in 127.9bn krona from its oil between 2016 and 2017. That works out to about £12.7bn. Hmm, how much was our crazy, out of control deficit again? £13.3bn.

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What this all means – and please check my maths – is that when we take 12.7 from 13.3 we are left with 0.6 – so a balance for a Scotland in control of its own oil of minus £600m – not “billion,” as the man said. Surely then if we were allowed to export our own produce from our own ports and keep the revenue from that we would make up a fair whack of that much more manageable figure? Well, I’m no economist. But, then, economics is hardly a science. It’s the clever numbers racket London plays to keep us out of pocket and in its pocket.

An independent Scotland wouldn’t be wasting its money on nuclear weapons. In fact it would be making some cash from the rent it would be charging the English government for as long as it takes it to get its Trident base the hell out of our country – plus the damages. Neither would we be footing the bill for illegal wars all over the ship. Actually, the more we think about it the more that £600m looks like nothing at all. So what’s this GERS thing all about?

That too is an easy question. Don’t read on if you are easily offended. There just isn’t a more accurate way to describe what GERS is. GERS is tantamount to a rapist setting the scope of the police investigation into his crime. It is like getting an invoice from your attacker after a serious violent assault. GERS is a load of rubbish, and it has no bearing whatsoever on the fiscal health of an independent Scotland. What it is, and what it has always been, is false evidence appearing as real (FEAR), and it’s time we filed it right where it belongs.


The Butterfly Rebellion
Jason Michael
Ayrshire, Scotland

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