As an economist,
As an economist, I’ll tell you that to assess Scotland’s economy you need to know about how much people have to spend in the country, how much is invested in Scotland, how much the Scottish Government spends, what the country’s exports and imports are, how much is saved, and the total tax paid in Scotland.
Note that’s seven separate bits of data. And we only have reliable figures on some of what the government spends. As for the rest, Revenue Scotland is still struggling to work out which people are tax resident in Scotland and it has no clue at all on what corporation tax, VAT or other taxes are due, precisely because no-one has to declare those taxes separately for Scotland. It’s the same with imports and exports: no-one knows what these are because there are no border posts at Carlisle, Berwick-on-Tweed or Stranraer. On investment and savings, we’re equally clueless.
The message then is a simple one: when people say Scotland is in financial trouble, or running a deficit, or anything else, ask them how they know. If they say it’s the GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) report, tell them to read the home page for that report where it is quite candid about the fact that the data in it is estimated.
Sigh. We can and do measure GVA to NUTS1 regions. Even to NUTS2 ones. We even look at income to NUTS3 regions. And, of course, income, production and consumption all equal each other.
An economist would know this.
To be blunt, Westminster is saying as loudly and clearly as it can that Scotland quite literally does not count by refusing to measure what happens there.
Interestingly, let us take Ritchie’s argument seriously for a moment. For that also means that Westminster doesn’t know what is happening in England, or Wales, or, in fact, any other subset of the UK. It’s a plot I tell you, a plot!