Shattering the Myth


Scotland is not subsidised by the UK. In actual fact, Scotland subsidises the UK. The Scottish economy is in surplus; the UK economy is in deficit. As an independent nation, not only would Scotland survive economically, she would positively flourish.

This reality – based on the official national accounts of the respective governments – was illustrated conclusively in a guest lecture last Tuesday evening by Professor Hughes-Hallett, an economist ranked in the top 1% worldwide, a professor who divides his time between the University of St Andrews and George Mason in Virginia, and, having previously acted as a consultant for the World Bank, the IMF, the Federal Reserve Board, the UN, the OECD, the European Commission and central banks around the world, is currently a member of the Council of Economic Advisers to the Scottish Government, appointed by the First Minister.

An alumnus of the University of St Andrews and himself an economist, First Minister Alex Salmond recently delivered a lecture at the London School of Economics, in which he too proved that Scotland receives no net subsidy from the UK, and illustrated the stronger fiscal position of Scotland relative to the UK as a whole (to the tune of £7.2 billion between 2005 and 2010), before proceeding to demonstrate the positive and prosperous financial future within the sterling zone which awaits an independent Scotland. (Hughes-Hallett and Scott 2010 paper ‘Trial budget under Fiscal Autonomy’ predicts a surplus of £219m, or 0.3% GDP, compared with a UK deficit of 2.8% GDP).

May the nonsensical and incessant insistence of UK politicians on Scotland’s financial inferiority and unique incapability to run its own affairs cease to be printed in the British media. May the unionist choir, harmonised in their lamenting as the false prophet Salmond blindly leads poor unsuspecting Scotland into inevitable ruin, cease to sing.

And may Louise Hemfrey do her research before proclaiming true the unsubstantiated scaremongering which is corrupting the Scottish independence campaign and shamelessly deceiving the voters. The figures she cites as testifying to Scotland’s financial dependence were taken from an article entitled ‘Enough of the Scottish subsidy myth’ (Google it) and were referred to ironically before being discredited.

Hemfrey’s references to oppression and to the denial of human rights are likewise quite frankly absurd and have no place in the debate on Scottish independence. (Although the concept of free media is seriously brought into question by the British Brainwashing Corporation).

Lauded in the international press for its peacefulness and democratic means, the campaign for Scottish independence is based on a very simple principle: that the people best placed to take decisions in the interests of Scotland are those who live, work, study and raise families in Scotland. It is the belief that ‘the Scottish parliament should make all decisions for Scotland’, a statement revealed by Professor John Curtice – expert on electoral behaviour and political attitudes in Britain and widely acknowledged authority on Scottish independence- as indicating support for independence in a ‘which do you agree with most’ type survey question.

Thus whilst the campaign acknowledges that the dynamic approach of the SNP government has made maximum use of the limited powers available under devolution (such as the payment of university tuition fees), completion of this home-rule through independence is essential to ensure that a fiscally autonomous government can continue to make and finance decisions in the interests of Scotland – with control over policy levers to promote economic growth and employment and tailor economic policy to Scotland’s specific needs – rather than being dictated to by a volatile and ever decreasing Westminster allocated budget.

It is about ensuring that crucial decisions affecting Scotland (such as the forthcoming welfare reform legislation) are no longer taken by a government in London whose dominant party has just one representative in Scotland.

Furthermore, independence would mean responsibility for currently reserved matters such as Foreign Affairs and Defence, allowing Scotland to take its place in the global community of nations and play a constructive role in the world, functioning as a full member of international bodies like the UN and the EU, working together on equal terms with other nations to tackle problems like climate change, war and poverty, and deciding how she wants to interact with the world around her- all the while sustaining a strong social partnership with the rest of the UK, which has much to gain from the emergence of a secure and prosperous northern ally.

And a prosperous nation she would be.

However that an independent Scotland would be undoubtedly richer should not obscure what must remain at the forefront of the campaign; meaningful debate on the right to self-determination. The SNP published its referendum consultation paper in January, proposing the question:

‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’, note: not ‘could’, and it is this distinction which I can only hope with all my heart will not be lost from the mind of the electorate when they cast their vote on referendum day.


  1. A good solid article, thank you.
    Many more myths are killed in Newsnet Scotland, well worth a look.
    Nice to find a new blog, power to your elbow!

  2. @Caadfael Thank you very much! I just felt obliged to set things straight in light of that truly terrible article entitled ‘Scottish Dependence’ which featured in the last issue. Newsnet Scotland is amazing – thanks for introducing me to it! The ‘A-Z of Unionist Myths’ is sheer genius. Thoroughly recommend any other readers to check it out, too!

  3. Marks for trying to portray the other side of this argument, the fact that this article is so passionate strikes to the very heart of this question – it’s not going to be decided on economic statistics, it’s going to be decided on a purely emotional level, and that’s why the wording of the question is manipulative. The better question is (if, as you have argued, Scotland is so capable of being independent) COULD Scotland be independent.

    Also, what about questions of how much is it going to cost the Scottish people (and for that matter, the rest of the UK) to splice Scotland from GB? And further implications of Scottish independence such as having to re-apply for EU membership and therefore joining the single currency and perhaps losing complete control of the borders in line with the Schengen aquis? Membership of the EU is imperative, as a country the size of Scotland is likely to get sidelined on the international stage.

  4. Well written, i also have a great passion for my country and hate it when i am told we could never survive, by the ignorance of those unable to think for themselves. Then when you bring up nuerous points to support the argument they have nothing left but mindless arrogance that we are going to destroy the UK, well, mybe we are, but then i ask them how long they would live beside a neighbour that steals clothes from their washing line, that uses thier garden hose each time they are out then expects them not only to be happy about it but to feel privelaged that it has happened, how long would they put up with their neighbour coming round and putting his/her feet on the couch, their hands in the fridge and their body in their beds before they stood up to them and said, enough!!! i don’t imagine it would be long!!

    @KAY The europan union stated just last week that if Scotland became indpendant then nothing would change.

  5. @Kay
    1. I recently attended a guest lecture with Professor John Curtice – expert on electoral behaviour and political attitudes in Britain and widely acknowledged authority on Scottish independence – and the conclusion of his extensive study and polling is that the independence campaign will be won or lost on the economy. Support for independence relies predominantly on confidence in the vision of an independent Scotland, and this confidence is hugely determined by confidence in the economic viability of an independent Scotland. I can send you all of Professor Curtice’s slides, if you would like to have a look at them?
    2. The situation which would arise if Scotland were to gain independence is without precedent in the context of the EU, and depends on whether Scotland would be considered as an entirely new state, or as a successor state to the UK. In the former case, so too would rUK be considered an entirely new state and have to reapply for EU membership ; the UK was formed by the Treaty of Union of Scotland and England in 1707. The state formed by that union signed EU membership. When Scotland becomes independent, the UK which signed to EU membership ceases to exist, and rUK are in exactly the same legal position as Scotland. In the latter case, both Scotland and rUK would be treated as successor states, both would continue membership, and both would renegotiate their terms of membership. (Speculatively, if the EU were to consider Scotland an entirely new state and demand reapplication, whilst allowing rUK to remain a member, then international law is very clear that Scotland would not be bound by any obligation to the UK, meaning, inter alia, that Scotland would not be liable for any UK debt).
    3. No country can be forced into the euro (just as no country can be prevented using a fully tradeable currency, such as sterling)
    4.Membership of the Schengen area is not a precondition of EU membership. Since Scotland’s only land frontier within the EU is our border with England, part of the British Isles Common Travel Area, we’d continue to remain a part of the existing Common Travel Area.


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