Voodoo economics

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I see William Crossan is back with his usual smoke and mirrors take on the Government and Expenditure Review Scotland (GERS) data, and this time he has surpassed himself.

What readers must realise is it’s not what Mr Crossan tells you that is important, it’s what he doesn’t tell you.

For sure Scotland pays for its share of UK defence costs for establishments which are based outwith the Scottish borders.

For example the officer training centres in Dartmouth, Sandhust and Cranhill, MI5, the counter-terrorism unit, the army training centre in Brecon and, certainly not least of all as far as Scotland is concerned, the Air Control And Surveillance Systems (ASACS) based in RAF Boulmer, which monitors Scotland’s entire airspace and extensive coastline.

It is only right that as Scotland benefits from these establishments -and many more besides- we should therefore pay our just 8.4 per cent population share of the cost of them.

Bizarrely what Mr Crossan is trying to do is to establish a case for the tax that is accrued on the earnings and spend of the employees of these establishments in the rest of the United Kingdom to be credited to Scotland.

Currently 13 per cent of all UK HMRC staff are based in Scotland, as are 11.5 per cent of UK Works And Pensions staff and 11.5 per cent of all UK MOD civilian employees…. should our Scottish government be returning their tax spend to the UK Treasury in a like for like basis?

Of course they shouldn’t, this is voodoo economics.

Scotland’s share of defence costs for last year was £3.1billion, and it is estimated that around £1billion of that is spent on Scotland’s behalf in the UK. This is what is known as ‘non-identifiable costs.’

What Mr Crossan is trying to tell you is that if the couple of £million tax which would be raised through income tax and VAT on the spend of that £1billion was credited to Scotland, then that would make our £13.3billion deficit, still the worst in Europe, disappear.

I called it voodoo economics. I could call it a lot worse.

Mike McGeachy,