Wednesday, 12 March 2014


No, nothing to do with the football team.

GERS stands for Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland - if you didn't know. It's compiled by statisticians from the Scottish Government - you might have noticed the release of the most recent version for 2012-13 out today, or not...

The Scottish press are going a bit daft reporting it as 'bad news for the Yes campaign' and presenting more 'fiscal concerns' for Scotland. It is as you would expect - 'A blow'.

Getting to the truth, is as usual a bit boring - but worth the effort - so here goes with the Idiot's Guide.

In 2011-12 Scotland ran a budget deficit of 5%, the UK's deficit was 6% so Scotland was a bit better off. (Figures.)

In 2012-13 Scotland ran a budget deficit of 5.9%, the UK's deficit was 5.8% so the rUK was a bit better off (by 0.1%.) (Figures.)


GERS is compiled within the context of expenditure the Scottish Government has no control over; defence, welfare, foreign policy, tax policy... The Scottish Government has to be scrupulously accurate - well, as accurate as statistical analysis ever can be - but Holyrood has no control over Westminster spending, it makes things incredibly skewed. 

Here we find that old Dilbert line coming into play: "Excellent. I'm in a position of direct control but oblique responsibility."


Back in 2011 this guy...

George Osborne, he controls Scotland's purse strings

started diddling with taxation around the Oil & Gas industry.

This other guy...

Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP for Mid-Sussex. (HT to Wings.)
said of the changes:

The March 2011 tax increase reduced the value of future projects by 25% overnight. My hon. Friend knows that the future development of the North sea depends in large part on clever, technical solutions at the very forefront of what is manageable for marginally economic fields, but the increase in the tax rate has rendered many of those future fields uneconomic to develop. That serious matter for the country must be addressed.
The result?

from the BBC

The last two columns represent Oil & Gas income for 2011-12 and 2012-13.  Because of Osborne's tax raid and to be fair, other planned & unplanned disruptions, there was a 41% drop in oil revenues for this year.*

You begin to see what's happening here, while nobody believes for a minute Osborne did it deliberately, the Scottish press and Better Together are having to be sponged off the ceiling such is their glee over Scotland's 'worsening' deficit.


As already described, tax & spending decisions over Oil & Gas (in this example) reside with Westminster NOT Holyrood. The former has all the control while the latter is made to shoulder the blame.

More importantly, Better Together etc are trying to convince people to vote no using as evidence conditions created by Westminster - who's members stand to lose heavily if Scotland (does the right thing and) vote yes.

Not only did Osborne help create the blip in Scotland's fiscal position, over the years Westminster governments failed to create a sovereign wealth fund - the only country with oil reserves to not have a fund - so the troughs in Oil & Gas revenues can be weathered with little or no ill effects.

Do you get it yet? Westminster are doing things that make everyone in Scotland worse off then telling us we're TOO WORSE OFF to be independent.

Reading that back actually makes me angry...

... so angry I'm going to deploy an exclamation mark and make it bold!



So when (or if) you're listening to Blair McDougall or some other Unionist mouthpiece-masquerading-as-a-proud-Scot flapping their lips over these 'disastrous' GERS figures just remember; Scotland's fiscal position is still largely predicated on decisions made at Westminster, all Holyrood can do is attenuate the worst of its stupidity.

Plus, when you tote it all up; the difference between Scotland and the rUK (which we're all expected to assume is getting on just fine) is just 0.1%

They tell us Scotland would be on the brink if we vote yes, with only a tiny sliver in it - are we not already on the brink as part of the UK?

Or would we only be on the brink if Westminster had no power over Scotland and its revenues.

I was going to try and keep this short - GERS is seriously boring stuff, oh well... Seasoned political anoraks will also notice that not once did I use the phrase: '...if you include a geographic share of north sea oil & gas...'

Unlike the mainstream press, I'm not casting any doubt on ownership: its ours.

* A 41% drop sounds like a lot - Oil & Gas accounts for ~10% of Scotland's economy so in real terms the drop would be less than 5% (probably less because Scotland's economy is bigger than Westminster would have us all believe.) Norway is more dependent on oil with it constituting ~18% of their economy. They however, took the time to build a half trillion pound oil fund, the proceeds from which, will probably never run out.


  1. PA

    As you noted Westminster pretty much controls how this works, so my guess is that the figures are going to have to be ignored for the time being and they cant be trusted to not make things worse for long term gain, they are bankers after all.

    Bitter Together will milk it with glee , which again is fine as no matter the result I think they will be some of the most hated people in Scotland after September . They have talked down the Scottish people and Scotland with a smile, these people don't ever get to forget it, not by me anyway. They are quislings and traitors and should forever have our contempt.

    I suppose my final point is that gers is what is happening now and does not take into account future policies which will be very different when we are independent.


  2. Agreed.

    GERS isn't the be-all-and-end-all, its a snapshot and a inaccurate one at that.

    And you're quite right, the Better Together mob won't be popular what ever the result.

    I hope for a yes but if its a no, it'll be a grudging one wrung out of a fearful misinformed population.

    It won't stop either, those no voters will eventually see the truth just as others are seeing it now.

    Could be messy.

  3. I’m fond of your guides for idiots.

    I find them most helpful.

    I don’t know why. Any suggestions?

    I went into this campaign hoping that it would be conducted in a civilised manner with each side putting forward its points reasonably and fairly.

    I imagined the Independence campaign pointing out how divergent Scotland’s economy and attitude had become from the UK’s, pointing out examples, like our attitude to social security, defence, taxation, immigration, the poor, the EU, etc.

    I expected the No campaign to try to big up what they quite reasonably see as advantages of being part of something bigger, and more “important” in the world [even if I think that that importance is dependent on utter obedience to the USA, and in any case, costs us a fortune]. That after all is only one consideration. Perhaps people get some sort of thrill from seeing their prime minister rub shoulders with really important people from the US, China, Russia, India and Saudi…

    I expected that the press would be biased, along the lines of the political parties they support… but that the BBC would be above that, supposedly not supporting any particular party.

    You see, the very essence of being British (don’t you know), is always portrayed as fair play old chap, and jolly cricket, and the whole essence of the BBC, what it built its worldwide reputation on, was accuracy in news reporting.

    I’ve been sorely disappointed.

    People like Lamont and Darling have told us what proud Scots they are, but proud to be British too and then run Scotland and its popular government into the ground while bumming Britain up. They have lied over and over. They have painted ridiculous scenario after ridiculous scenario, and not once have they addressed the terminal state of the UK finances. The UK is bankrupt; it is only a matter of time before they can no longer pay pensions and social security payments because they don’t have the money and their borrowing is now totally out of control and one day will cease to be viable.

    I have come to detest them; their snide lies and their apparent disdain for their country.

    That said I’m not patriotic. Europe, the Uk, Scotland… it’s a pile of earth and rocks, some of it pretty; some of it ugly, much like any other place. The people… some of them wonderful, some monsters…just like any other place. So there’s no soppy misty eyed nationalism in it for me.

    But these people are, mainly it seems to me for their own personal good [if we fail, watch Alistair go the Lords, and Lamont won’t be long after him, knighthoods for No Blair and his likes] are condemning me to a future which I abhor.. and worse which frightens me. All my life I’ve felt relatively secure. Now I don’t feel in the least so. Jobs, pensions, etc etc are all very dubious now.

    I will toil till the day of the referendum, trying to persuade people just how, yet again, they are being conned by lying bastards like Pension Stealer End of Boom and Bust Brown, No Fees Clegg, and No VAT Increase Loads of Clout Cameron… People who have records of abject failure and total incompetence.

    But if we fail, to be honest, I’m going to find living in the same country with these people very difficult. And I’m going to find any kind of communication with neighbours and colleagues and family who have voted for this awful future to be virtually impossible.

  4. I think there is a degree of self-deception when it comes to British history, with WW2 being a useful blip (with GB being on the side of right in that case.)

    Those Brits (from all its corners) who went out and built the empire were doing it for profit, they might've hid behind a patina of philanthropy/bringing civilization to the savages blah blah blah but that was only a cover. When it comes to misty-eyed nationalism. that's it right there.

    The British establishment is a hard-nosed cynical self interested set up, fueled by Oxbridge which is in turn fueled (and maintained) by the class system.

    If it is a no, I'm going to keep going with this. I couldn't just stop.

    You mention the misty eyed nationalism and you're right to reject it. I want independence because it'll be better for Scotland in terms of cold hard cash. I would admit at this time though to wanting it slightly more because I hate being taken for a fool - which is precisely what Better Together and Unionist defenders are doing with the crap they spout.

    Its fast becoming that alone which is driving my yes vote. Yes Scotland could come out and actually say all that shit about a land of milk and honey (unionists are always accusing us of claiming it when only they ever mention it.) But I'd still vote yes.

    There are those who say I'd be voting yes for negative reasons so there-for being hypocritical. I'd say not wanting to be taken for a moron and acting accordingly is a positive thing.



Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?