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George Kerevan and Project Fear

When those of us on the pro-UK side warned of the profound consequences to Scottish independence in the run up to the 2014 referendum, we were dismissed as being part of ‘Project Fear’.

We were simply scaremongering because apparently we didn’t believe in Scotland like them.

Even when the enormous folly of basing your economy on volatile oil prices was exposed in the GERS figures in the spring, the nationalists still stuck to the line that Scotland would somehow instantly be better off once we had thrown off the shackles of the union.

Well the emptiness of that position has been laid bare by prominent MP George Kerevan this week. This is what he told City AM in a rare moment of candour:

“….a separate Scottish currency pegged to sterling would necessitate fiscal consolidation to assuage the foreign exchange markets. It would certainly be doable, but would require independent Scotland to cut its budget coat to fit its fiscal means.”

He later adds:

“Scotland’s post-independence fiscal consolidation should take only five years (one parliamentary cycle), lifting her economy on to a high productivity, high growth path by shifting resources from consumption to investment. That’s painful in the immediate short term but will allow Scotland to escape the ball and chain of the UK’s endemic low productivity.”

What does he mean? A separate Scottish currency and years of cuts is the price of freedom.

In fact, economics experts believe it would be worse than even George Kerevan admits. Respected blogger Kevin Hague says the cuts would be far deeper and for far longer while the proposed growth rates imagined by the SNP to counter them are fantasy.

The truth is it would take decades rather than years for Scotland to make up the fiscal gap which would appear overnight in an independent Scotland. No country has achieved the growth rates which George Kerevan asserts Scotland is capable of and there is no evidence to support his claims.

Yet both sides of this debates now accept there would be cuts - the only dispute is how deep and long they would be.

Some people may well think that is a price worth paying. Independence, right or wrong. But let’s be honest with people about the consequences. This acceptance of the very real down side to Scotland going it alone was dismissed pre-2014.

Those of us who pointed out these facts were demonised by the Yes movement for simply not wanting to self-impose a programme of deep cuts and economic depression on our fellow Scots.

George Kerevan should not be dismissed as an outlier – he is a close friend of Alex Salmond, a member of the Treasury Select Committee and crucially part of the team working out the SNP’s new currency policy.

We should feel vindicated by George Kerevan today, and re-double our efforts to prevent them putting Scotland through the misery of independence and ensure the Scottish Government get on with the job they were elected to do.

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