Alex Salmond: '˜merchants of doom' were wrong about recession

Alex Salmond has slammed the BBC, Unionist politicians and the mainstream media for coverage of Scotland's GDP figures.

Alex Salmond claimed the "merchants of doom" had got economy predictions wrong. Picture: John Devlin
Alex Salmond claimed the "merchants of doom" had got economy predictions wrong. Picture: John Devlin

The Former First Minister’s comments came after the latest GDP figures revealed the Scottish economy had defied predictions and avoided a recession.

Scotland experienced a 0.8 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2017, four times the rate of UK GDP growth over the same period.

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Writing in The National, Mr Salmond took aim at economists from Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander institute who had forecast a “lost decade” and flatlining growth.

The former MP said: “No doubt a few Fraser of Allander economists are pondering..the full extent of their misreading of Scottish economic statistics.

“It may be time once again to bring out the legendary ‘Fraser eraser’.”

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Mr Salmond continued: “The first-quarter surge in Scottish GDP caught the Fraser economists by surprise. Point eight of one per cent doesn’t sound all that much but, in fact, it is FOUR times the comparable UK figure.”

The ex-SNP leader, who lost his Gordon seat in June’s General Elections, then turned his attention to rival politicians and the mainstream media.

He said: “However, whatever the embarrassment for the Fraser Institute, it is as of nothing compared to the abject humiliation of Unionist politicians, the mainstream media and the BBC. They have all been holed amidships.”

“In one fell swoop they have all been laid low and if the SNP Government is sensible they will endeavour to remind these merchants of doom of that on a daily basis for many months to come.

“It is the economy stupid and there is nothing more stupid than a politician who misreads the economy.”

Among Mr Salmond’s targets was the BBC’s Reporting Scotland programme which he claimed had not given the news of Scotland’s 0.8 per cent growth adequate prominence during the evening broadcast.

He also accused opposition parties of “talking down the country” and attacked “our friends in the deadwood press” for “wallowing in bad news - especially if they can lay the blame at the door of the Scottish Government.”

When the GDP figures were announced, Scottish economy secretary Keith Brown said: “The fundamentals of Scotland’s economy are strong. Scotland’s output is now 6 per cent above the pre-recession level and unemployment is at its lowest ever level.”

The economic rise marks the highest rate of quarterly growth in Scotland since the end of 2014. Services in Scotland grew by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, although it was more gloomy news for the construction industry which shrank by 0.7 per cent.

However, On an annual basis, Scotland saw growth of just 0.5 per cent, compared to 1.9 per cent UK-wide.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the recovery was “very encouraging”. He said: “The Scottish economy is returning to growth and I am pleased to see that the manufacturing sector in particular is making the most of export opportunities. But, over the year, Scotland has continued to lag behind the UK as a whole – so there is still a lot of work to do.”