A TOP pro-independence economist has hit back at claims he could not make the case for leaving the Union, saying he had been misrepresented in the interests of “point-scoring”.

Mark Blyth, a professor of international economics at Brown University in the US, has said he was the victim of “selective quotation” over emails he sent in which he appeared to say he was “struggling” to find evidence to back up his conversion to Yes.

Emails sent by Dundee-born Blyth, who sat on the Scottish Government’s advisory council for economic transformation, were released following a freedom of information request and were seized upon by Unionist papers as an embarrassing revelation for the SNP.

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In an email to the Scottish Government’s chief economic adviser Gary Gillespie from May last year, Blyth said: “Since David McWilliams made me into the reluctant poster child for Scottish independence, I’ve been a bit stumped. I’ve been trying to write something on the subject but keep struggling to find the positive case that I hoped for.”


Writing exclusively for The National, he said the phrase was “unfortunate” but was being misrepresented by media outlets trying to score “points”.

The National: Mark Blyth has hit out at 'point-scoring' reports which he said misrepresented his views on independence Mark Blyth has hit out at 'point-scoring' reports which he said misrepresented his views on independence

He added: “If you read the rest of the email, you can clearly see that it’s a complaint about not being able to find specific national accounts data on the Scottish Government website.

“My email was a request for data. It was not an admission of defeat.”

Top Irish economist McWilliams – who said earlier this year Scottish independence was “almost all upside” as he came out in favour of Yes – hosted Blyth in a podcast in 2020 in which the pair discussed the opportunities offered by independence.

A "nothing burger"

He said the story was a “nothing burger” and his experience of reading press coverage of his comments was as if “I woke up in selective quotation Groundhog Day”.

“What this episode shows me is that the Scottish independence question, at least in the hands of its politicians, civil society leaders, and media, has become a local version of the Brexit debates,” Blyth said.

“It’s an all-consuming distraction where partisan lines are drawn, points are scored, and emails are selectively quoted, all in a way that avoids the need for any actual engagement on the real issues facing Scotland.”

He also reiterated the economic case for leaving the Union, adding: “Scotland suffers from being attached to a broken debt and consumption-driven national growth model called the UK that teeters on the brink of collapse.

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“34% of UK GDP is generated in London. Much of the rest of the country effectively lives off transfers. Sterling has been overvalued for a generation, which has masked these problems, sucking in other people’s money to cover over the cracks.

“That model is coming to an end, soon. If you think the UK has inflation now, just wait.

“While the UK has no functioning growth model Scotland is at least trying to lay the foundations for a new and better one.

“The National Strategy for Economic Transformation was an attempt, within the existing constitutional framework, to do better.

“It spells out how and why Scotland should grow and diversify its exports while putting the all too necessary green transition at the centre of its ambitions. While Westminster peddles tax cuts Scotland tackles decarbonization and the growth of a hydrogen economy.”

The full letter to The National can be read here.