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GERS - The Facts

The annual ding-dong over the almost mythical Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland - or GERS - figures kicks off on Wednesday with the publication of this year’s report.

Depending on what your own preconceived view is, it will demonstrate exactly why Scotland should stay in the union/become independent.

What is clear is the wind is behind the pro-UK argument at the moment - the collapse in North Sea oil revenues and the traditional higher spending levels in Scotland will show a substantial notional deficit for a would-be independent Scotland. If Scotland had voted Yes in 2014, there seems little doubt that tax rises and spending cuts would have been the order of the day.

We also know the theoretical deficit will likely be reduced from last year. The UK Government’s controversial deficit reduction programme will close the gap between spending and revenue. But it would take a huge upswing in the oil prices before Scotland is ever in surplus again like it was for many years.

So, while we await the official figures on Wednesday, we already know the outline of the choice Scotland faces - higher levels of spending as part of the UK or at least a decade of cuts under independence, as accepted (kind of) in the recent SNP Growth Commission.

Against that background, it’s no surprise there is little appetite for a second referendum and even the SNP are shying away from the issue despite internal pressure.

What it won’t stop though is the spinning of Wednesday’s figures in the best possible light for Scottish independence in spite of the black and white facts produced by their own government.

Deputy Leader Keith Brown - recently shorn of any government responsibilities - announced last week he is too busy himself with a fact checking service to counter ‘erroneous claims’ by opposition politicians and the media.

This from the party who told us Scotland was about to enjoy an oil boom, the NHS would be privatised if Scotland voted No and this government’s number one priority is education.

Scotland in Union will be monitoring Mr Brown and his colleagues very carefully this week to learn if their new-found fondness for facts manages to endure through the publication of figures this week which makes their core political project an extremely unappealing prospect for the people of Scotland.


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