The Great GERS Debate

UK Politics


Ahhhh, the good old GERS figures. If you've any interest in Scottish politics you'll know exactly what these are. One the one hand, they prove why Scottish independence is a dreadful idea from an economic perspective. On the other hand, they prove why Scottish independence is a wonderful idea form the same economic perspective. Confused? Nae wonder!

Today on BBC Radio Scotland, two men who has long standing arguments on GERS will go head to head for the first time. In the red corner, Kevin Hague. Businessman, blogger and dog food salesman (his words, not mine). In the blue corner, Richard Murphy. Professor of Practice in International Political Economy. Both big personalities. Both with differing outlooks on these figures.

I suppose we should have some music for this titanic battle...

John Beattie is the host for today's debate. Although the 12.30pm start is not going to be happening. They're blethering about osteoporosis instead...that's not even a joke.

This is why we're to prepare, prepare to fail, maybes?

HERE WE GO! Richard Murphy first up. Says they are "estimates" and says they paint a view of Scotland as if it's a part of the UK. Goes on to say there is no Scottish data on income tax among others. Needs to use real data. Says 10 years ago these figures would have been fine when independence looked unlikely. Not so much now.

"This data is not fit for purpose" says Richard Murphy at the end of his opening remark. Hague opens by saying "GERS figures tells us historically how accurate Scotland's finances are". Calls them trustworthy and made by qualified economists and statisticians.

"All it tells us is where we start from. That is all it can do" says Hague. Murphy retorts by saying they are reliable in terms of how London sees Scotland.

Murphy "Does Scotland want to make a decision about it's future based on how London sees it?" Scotland is now not part of the UK. Now it has a devolved parliament." It's now got a bit shouty. John Beattie needs to step in. This is 2014 all over again.

Murphy continues his line of "useful 10 years ago...not so much now". Hague continues his of "the data is good". If you were not clear on this before listening to this, it'll have done nothing to change your mind.