Its dead easy, two gents from think tanks on the radio (at 2 hrs 9 mins-ish in, link is good for 7 days from today) on Good Morning Scotland. Euan Stuart from the No supporting Scottish Research Society - that this set-up supports a No vote already casts a shadow over its objectivity - and John McLaren from Fiscal Affairs Scotland which is unaligned. The BBC interviewer focused on the costs of a Yes vote even although the unaligned chappy had a range of results from £1000 better off to £1000 worse off.
|The Scottish Research Society report is titled, well, as above really...|
The No supporting chap was proved to be talking mince because his figures were based on a per head share of oil - which not even Better Together/Westminster use any more on account of it being a bit daft - he was saying the much-put-upon-yet-still-venerable 'Scottish Family' could be as much as £5500 worse off. Using a per capita share instead of a geographic share of oil isn't trying very hard these days, its akin to telling people to vote No because David Cameron has great hair - it is completely irrelevant.
Here's the thing though, the key point - the flaw. In order to know how much better or worse off we'd be, you have to know two things; how much cash you have to begin with and how much you're already spending.
We know very roughly how much cash we'd have to begin with (from GERS.) There are those who believe its a pretty conservative estimate because companies trading across the UK but headquartered south of the border currently have a lot of their tax counted as English income - not to mention excise duty from Scottish goods leaving the UK via English ports...
In terms of spending though - what figures are they using? Is it projections based on what Westminster spends? If it is, that's going to be pretty inaccurate given the difference in spending priorities between Holyrood and Westminster.
Another rule of thumb is; if they've used figures from the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) while they'd say it lends their report a certain gravitas - since the OBR was created by George Osborne and is widely accepted as being an arm of the Tory Party - reality says something quite different involving feelings a good bit less satisfying than those generated by gravitas.
|OBR oil projections. Its the only one going downwards.|
These reports often talk about an independent Scotland having to raise taxation and cut spending - never one or the other mind - always both. They're also invariably too busy banging on about areas where we'd have to increase spending (on the elderly is a fave) to tell us about areas where we'd be spending a lot less (like defence.)
So, when ever the Scottish media peddles a doom & gloom story about the economy, just bare in mind, the authors of the reports driving the headlines are using spending projections they know will be different to those in an independent Scotland - partially or fully based on figures from a Conservative number factory.
When Donald Trump sat in a Scottish Government inquiry jawing about wind farms damaging tourism - he claimed in support of his point: "I am the evidence." No one (except him) bought that - and so it is with many of these economic reports. Essentially, its the No campaign saying: "Listen, this is a terrible idea that'll make you all poorer. How do we know? Because we asked ourselves and we said so."
The Yes side might cherry pick stats to suit its agenda, but what it doesn't do is take projections from places like the OBR and treat them like incontrovertible fact. But that is a common refrain in the debate, if Better Together/Westminster are saying it: its fact - but if the Yes campaign/SNP are saying it: its dangerous assertion.