finance

Independence supporters think deficit figures are made up – research



A significant majority of Scottish independence supporters believe that official annual government economic figures are fabricated by Westminster to discredit the nationalist cause, according to new research.

The survey, by polling organisation Survation, found that a number of independence adherents believe myths on funding and it suggests there is widespread confusion over the SNP’s plans on currency.

A clear majority of voters want to keep the pound in the event of independence – a view act odds with current SNP policy.

These Islands, a pro-Union think tank that commissioned the research, described the findings as “truly disturbing”.

The survey sought attitudes on the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures published by the Scottish Government.

It found that 57% of independence supporters agreed with the statement ‘the figures used to calculate Scotland’s deficit – the GERS figures – are made up by Westminster to hide Scotland’s true wealth’.

This false statement was deemed ‘important’ or ‘very important’ too their opinion on Scottish independence, according to 90% of the sample.

These Islands chairman Kevin Hague said the GERS figures were compiled by the Scottish Government’s own statisticians and economists and were clearly not “made up by Westminster”.

He said that the myth, like others highlighted in the survey, had spread over social media, but cold be easily dispelled by a statement from the First Minister.

Other false statements backed by independence supporters included 54% agreeing to ‘Scottish revenues are understated because of Scottish exports leaving via English ports’.

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The false statement that ‘Scottish tax revenues are understated by taxes generated by the whisky industry are not properly allocated to Scotland’ was supported by 66%.

A further 55% of independence supporters questioned agreed that ‘Scotland is only seen to be running a deficit because some costs outside of Scotland, like HS2 and infrastructure spending in the South East, are charged to Scotland’.

The majority of those quizzed were unaware that that public spending in Scotland is more than the amount raised in taxes here, while more than a third (38%) believed that it was less.

Hague said: “We have been tracking the spread of economic disinformation in the Scottish independence debate for some tome now, but we are still shocked by these findings.

“The debate about Scotland’s future in the UK is obviously about a lot more than economics, but it is clear from this survey that many supporters of independence deny (or have been persuaded to deny) simple economic facts – that cannot be healthy for democracy.”

The research also suggested that only 17% were aware that keeping the pound until a new Scottish currency is adopted in SNP party policy.

The only option that is supported by the majority is to “keep the pound indefinitely”, an option that is only possible if Scotland does not become independent.

These Islands added: “Assuming the SNP accepts that joining the EU means committing to joining the euro, the end game of their policy is the option least favoured by voters, with only 25% in favour.”

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The survey of 1,047 Scottish voters was carried out 10 days ago.

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