LESLEY Riddoch makes many excellent points in her National column (We must reach beyond the GERS figures to envision a brighter future, August 22).

But one doesn’t “reach beyond” blatant lies and false methodology that besmirches a nation. One should sweep it aside, and replace it with something accurate and better. It’s time to scrap GERS altogether

The annual General Revenue and Expenditure Report was a wizard wheeze by the Unionist New Labour and LibDem parties in the sad old bygone days of Unionist assumptionism and managerialist Government. It’s simply an annual excuse for the Unionist media to indulge in fake news headlines and fibs about Scotland.

“Scots receive £1600 more per head in public spending than the rest of the UK,” screams the Daily Fail.

Yes, because we’ve tried to defend public services as best we can against the shitstorm of 10 years of austerity, while the Tories and LibDems slashed public spending.

“£12 billion black hole” screams the Daily Repress.

Yes, but only because GERS includes our share of things we wouldn’t have to pay for as an independent country, such as Crossrail, HS2 and Trident, and doesn’t include the full count of tax receipts we would receive as an independent country, such as VAT, corporation tax, fuel, alcohol and tobacco duty, and others.

Does anybody seriously believe that Scotland – a resource-rich country with only 8.2% of the UK population – is responsible for 60% of the UK deficit?

These figures are utterly bogus. Yet for some inexplicable reason the Scottish Government continues to publish them ... allowing our opponents to claim that “the SNP’s own figures undermine the case for independence”.

Indeed, it goes further – the ludicrous GERS figures and methodology were essentially accepted and used as the basis for Andrew Wilson’s Scottish Growth Commission Report.

Many Yes activists have called for these figures to be scrapped before, and replaced with an annual document that shows both the fiscal position within the Union, and where we would be if Scotland were an independent country.

If the Scottish Government are not prepared to scrap this farce and publish something that gives voters an accurate and informed choice of the real differences between being tied to a parasitic Union and being a free, modern and independent country, then perhaps Common Weal and/or The National could undertake the annual task of producing a counter report to this Unionist lie. Perhaps in opposition to the fake news of the GERS report, such an annual counter report could be the WWCBIWWANIC report*

*Where We Could Be If We Were A Normal Independent Country!

Steve Arnott


MUCH ado about the GERS statistics and what it essentially points to is the need for a Scottish statistics agency that can give us accuracy instead of guesstimates.

What must be remembered is that with the present financial set-up, Scotland has to stay within its budget. Beyond that we are charged for much UK Government activity like foreign embassies and defence whether we want them or not! And of course we are allocated a proportion of UK debt.

So the “too wee, too poor, too useless”, mantra is rolled out again and supporters of the UK get hot under the collar.

I would point to a different scenario that is before our eyes and is much underestimated – the Edinburgh International Festival. Here we have the biggest arts festival in the world with its literary component, the Book Festival, and the glorious potpourri of the Fringe. I am certain many small countries would be over the moon to be hosting such an event attracting international artists of all cultural forms and audiences of diverse origins. We may have a moan about ticket prices and some mad Fringe production efforts but the reality is a fabulous international jamboree of fun, high (and low) culture and innovation. How many contemporary names in British theatre and comedy talk about their start in Edinburgh some time back?

To have missed poet Roger McGough on ageism or Irish writer Joseph O’Connor on friendship would have been a loss for me this year.

But what is central to the essence of any country is surely its attitude to the arts and forms of self-expression. While Edinburgh has been hosting the Festival, Glasgow hosted the wonderful spectacle of the World Pipe Band Championships.

For those who believe an independent Scotland couldn’t manage itself and its finances, I would say: Look aboot ye!

Maggie Chetty


AS usual, the publication of the annual GERS figures have produced a lot of noise but much more heat than light. Two points, that are often not highlighted, should be stressed.

Firstly, under the devolution settlement, the Scottish Parliament is expressly forbidden to spend more than it receives and only has very limited tax-raising powers. Thus it cannot run a deficit of its own. Secondly, the reason why the published figures appear to show a large deficit for Scotland’s finances is that large sums of money are spent in Scotland by the Westminster Government on matters that are reserved, such as defence and international relations. However, this expenditure by Westminster in Scotland is counted in the statistics as expenditure by the Scottish Government instead of by the UK. An independent Scotland would thus have a very small deficit, much more in keeping with those of many other small independent nations. Richard Murphy, Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at London’s City University, who has made a study of the GERS figures over the years, has long said that they should be re-named as CRAp – Completely Rubbish Approximations.

Peter Swain


LIKE C Tainsh of Largs, I am at a loss to understand why the SNP leadership does not point out the serious deficiencies of the GERS figures.

When people who know what they are talking about like Richard Murphy can describe the figures as CRAp, why does the SNP not contest them more forcefully? Keith Brown in his article (We can get Scotland’s deficit to 3% within three years, August 23) seems to have completely accepted the 7% of GDP figure. He also seems to be completely thirled to what the Growth Commission said’ this despite the fact that the assemblies he held last year told him that they were very unhappy with what the Growth Commission had to say about the alleged deficit and therefore the long (and foolish) delay in introducing our own currency.

Reports on what the assemblies said were promised but have not been forthcoming. Is it because the leadership did not like what the grassroots were saying? Please, SNP leadership, the troops are trying to be patient but when you act so timidly you do nothing for morale.

Andrew M Fraser


ACCORDING to the GERS figures, Scotland is responsible for 54% of the UK national deficit, Wales for 55% and Northern Ireland for 9%. Hmm, that’s 118% of the UK deficit produced by 16% of the UK population. Add to that, Scotland, with 5.23% spend of GDP, apparently has the highest per capita spending on defense in the whole world.

Are we really expected to believe this GERS rubbish?

Tony Perridge


IN the nick of time – before we forget who he is and what he’s for – the new Secretary of State for North Britain has spoken and accuses the SNP of “scaremongering ... anger, bitterness and resentment”. This is rich indeed coming from the party which instigated Project Fear in 2014 and told us that the best way to stay in the EU was to vote No, topping off their mendacious campaign with The Vow.

These lies and dirty tricks very possibly tipped the result to No. Alister Jack and Boris Johnson have the impertinence to lecture us on nationalism when it is chauvinistic and small-minded English nationalism which has made the UK a laughing stock and will drag us into, at least, confusion and austerity, possibly economic disaster. This guff doesn’t work any more and neither does pochling the GERS sums.

David Roche


I WAS pleased and relieved to read a number of articles in Thursday’s National that debunked the calculation of our debt/GDP ratio within GERS.

However, I was distressed to read on the Scottish Government’s own website, under an FAQ section, the following:

Q: Do you use company headquarters to assign corporation tax or taxes like VAT?

A: Corporation tax on trading profits is estimated on a company-by-company basis, depending on the economic activity each company has in Scotland, not location of company headquarters. VAT is a consumption tax, and is therefore estimated based on purchases that are made in Scotland, rather than the location of a company’s head office.

This is in conflict with most of the rebuttals in Thursday’s National.

Can someone please explain why the Scottish Government website is wrong?

Alan Adair


I WOULD profoundly disagree with Alister Jack’s opinions on the nationalism of the SNP. It is certainly true that, in the past, the SNP could have been branded as narrow nationalists. However, the group that became known as Chapter 79, led by Alex Salmond and his like-minded comrades, succeeded in turning the SNP in a political direction very much based on the excellent book The Case For Left Wing Nationalism, by Stephen Maxwell.

There is no doubt the SNP remain the most left-wing of the main political parties in Scotland, and while they do so, I shall favour them with my vote in coming elections, despite the fact that, as a socialist, I have a few fundamental differences of opinion from them.

Norrie Paton


TODAY I read in awe and amazement the report of the ramblings of London’s man in Scotland. I was left asking myself if he is a fool or a rogue.

Anyone unable to differentiate between the chauvinism of a Brexiteer or a Faragist and in the inclusive nationalism espoused by the SNP has to be one or the other.

He claims to support Scottish sports teams; so what? Does it matter a damn in the great scheme of things who runs faster or kicks a ball further. Jack claims to be both British and Scottish. This means that he belongs to Britain’s northern province. A Scot is a member of the sovereign nation of Scotland, not some northern provincial.

If this man is the best that Downing Street can send up to Scotland, our Government is in for a very easy ride.

R Mill Irving

Gifford, East Lothian