GERS: Figures feel painfully irrelevant as SNP spin machine whirs again

John Swinney hosted his Scottish Government briefing on the GERS figures in the sparkling Bayes Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

And everything being spick and span was the order of the day in relation to the Scottish economy, at least according to the SNP spin machine.

The central claim from the Government this year is the notional deficit has shrunk faster than the UK’s, and therefore the economy is recovering faster here than UK-wide.

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GERS figures: Scotland's deficit drops, but still twice that of UK
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The figures used for this were percentage point decreases of 10.3 for Scotland and 8.4 points for the UK.

However, when looking at how much the size of the existing deficit has reduced by, more than half of the UK’s deficit (57.9 per cent) has been cut. Scotland’s fall is 45.8 per cent.

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Mr Swinney’s response was to state the growth of revenue was “formidable” in Scotland and stuck to the agreed line of attack.

Gary Gillespie, the Government’s chief economist, when questioned on this claim simply referred reporters back to the figures quoted by the Deputy First Minister.

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Bins and litter in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh city centre. Cleansing workers at the City of Edinburgh Council are on an eleven day strike.

"I think we are just comparing percentage points and percentages,” he told reporters, but refused to deal with the substantive issue of what exactly the difference in the figures meant.

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What is more important to the economy – the speed at which the deficit is reduced or the overall size of the deficit reduction?

Journalists were certainly none the wiser, and the public got no answers beyond the usual drum beat of independence.

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Another curious line designed to help the independence cause, that revenue covers all day-to-day Scottish devolution spending, lacks the obvious detail on all the other spending an independent Scotland would require.

It was the SNP’s sparklingly clean spin machine whirring overtime.

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However, it all felt painfully irrelevant.

The setting belied the picture outside in the centre of the Scottish capital where bins have been overflowing with rubbish.

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This is due to a stubborn inability of politicians of any colour to grasp the crisis by the scruff of the neck.

Instead, the public have been subjected to desperate displays of hypocrisy and political point-scoring.

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Scotland’s politicians should be ashamed.

The fifth episode of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, is out now.

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It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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