Lies and statistics

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No international commission has ever been established to determine the division of assets, liabilities, duties and obligations between England and Scotland and, now that there is only a year before the independence referendum, it is tragic that there is insufficient time to arrange one.

What should have been a serious discussion has been reduced to a sequence of conflicting statements by economists of various cults, each pronouncement being delivered with the confident 
assurance so often associated with mendacity.

Confusion has been compounded by the naive belief that information provided by the Treasury or other parts of Whitehall might be reliable.

Some years ago, the head of the British civil service was challenged in an Australian court for effectively committing perjury.

He waved aside the accusation with a patrician smirk and stated that he was just being “economical with the truth”.

That illustrates the level of veracity we may expect from Whitehall. What makes the situation so much worse is the fact that most of the information about important constitutional issues is provided to the public by the parochial London newspapers, together with those of Rupert Murdoch’s empire. The BBC struggles to provide a balanced view but usually fails.

Peter Dryburgh

Edinburgh