The Government Expenditure and Revenue Statistics (GERS) report was published this week. These are the figures detail the position of Scotland’s public finances.
This year the figures show a deficit of £15bn between the Scotland raised in revenue and what it spends.
This is used by Unionists to demonstrate the perilous situation that would face Scotland if she have voted for independence.
But is evidence of a shortfall between what a government spends and what it raises evidence that Scotland would be on the abyss?
We’d have to say the answer is no. Of course Scotland could still be independent. What the GERS figures show however is how difficult the situation would be right now – all other things being equal.
But all other things wouldn’t have been equal. The figures rightly do not consider how the talks concerning the break up of UK assets and liabilities would’ve impacted on Scotland’s balance sheet. These discussions and a hundred other factors would determine how Scotland started life as an independent country.
Leaving aside the numbers what has been most indicative about the publication of the GERS figures is the willingness of Unionist parties to use them to ‘talk Scotland down’. We’re not saying this is what Unionist supporters are intending but they don’t seem to consider that what they say and what people hear are two different things.
The Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats can all tell Scotland how lucky it is to be shielded from the storm by the Union umbrella.
But by doing so they should remember that this comes across as follows. Far from being the SNP who can’t get over the referendum it is they who look like they are struggling to move on from a vote that was held nearly 18 months ago. And, it reinforces the view that they see Scotland as too wee, too poor and too stupid to go it alone.
All signs point to there being another referendum at some point in the future no matter how much some wish this not to be the case.
For some the price of independence will never be too high. There are others who will never view the Union as anything other than the natural order. But there will still be floating voters in a future referendum. People who voted Yes this time might be inclined to vote No the next and vice versa.
Unionist parties should remember this – just because a vote was won once, doesn’t mean it will be again.
For us, they need to stop viewing everything that comes out of the Scottish Government through referendum tinted specs. These figures weren’t great for Scotland but the last time we checked it’s their Scotland too.
The sooner they stop talking about the referendum the better we’ll all be.