Today's Glasgow Herald has a rather interesting response.
Thanks to Cassilis for the image.
Unfortunately the Herald's web links usually go dead after a day or two so read now if you're interested.(*)
The message is same as I've always thought: Scotland isn't the economic basket case often portrayed, is more productive than most of the UK outside the southeast and could survive perfectly well if forced into independence. I say, "forced", because that's beginning to look like the most likely way that it could come about.
With apologies for the formatting, these are the figures (from Oxford Economics) for per-capita tax paid and government spending for 2005-06:
Tax Spending SurplusBut here's the killer quote:
Scotland 9593 9631 -38
NI 6059 10271 -4212
Wales 5979 8969 -2990
Northwest 6913 8645 -1732
Northeast 6029 9162 -3133
Yorks and Humberside 6524 8170 -1646
West Midlands 6998 7929 -931
East Midlands 7174 7359 -185
Southwest 7373 8351 -978
East 8172 7256 916
Southeast 9397 7544 1853
London 10947 9748 1199
Where does all this money come from? The big figure includes the UK's entire North Sea revenues of £9.7bn for 2005-06. That could be controversial: there is dispute about how much oil and gas is from Scottish waters. The exact size of Scotland's oil bonanza has always been open to question, a key battleground in the statistical war between Nationalists and Unionists.So without all of the oil, Scotland's screwed?
How North Sea revenue might be divided is also questioned. There are extensive gas fields off the coast of north-east England. A split might mean 75% or even 95% of the total coming to Scotland. It should be borne in mind that the £9.7bn figure came at a time when Brent crude was trading at as much as $50 per barrel. Today it is more than $90.
Well, let's see.
Ignoring today's price of $94.85 per barrel, Scotland's lowest share for the North Sea is 75%. That worst case would mean a loss of "Scottish" taxation amounting to £2.425 billion, or 4.95% of our current total of £49 billion. On that basis the per-capita Scottish tax take falls to £9,118 and our deficit rises to £513 per person (5.33% of spending). With 80% of North Sea revenues, Scotland's deficit is 4.34% of expenditure. In other words, a difference that could easily be eliminated by a spending freeze for a couple of years or so.
Needless to say, I could achieve a breakeven by rather more robust methods.
And it's not as if the UK itself doesn't have a deficit.
(*) (UPDATE: Neil Craig has pointed out that the Herald's webpages are now remaining live)