This is the story of the rising price of identity politics. It’s not about the viability of an independent Scotland.

Obviously it’s viable, if people want to pay (like Brexit) but the price has gone up


The chart shows the moving parts
- oil (worth next to nothing now)
- worsening Scottish revenues
- no longer any U.K. fiscal consolidation planned, so Scotland can’t assume the U.K. will do it’s fiscal dirty work for it any more

Since the SNP commissioned 2018 sustainable growth commission, the fiscal gap needed to be filled has doubled from 2.9% of GDP to 5.7%

Note: this uses all of the SNP’s standard assumptions, which would be challenged by London in independence negotiations

- It includes the lower debt service bills that are expected (London’s already spent that)

- It assumes no long term additional public spending for Covid legacy (unlikely)

-it assumes Scotland could save 1.2% of GDP on defence cuts and other shared services (eg research)

- To have credible public finances the SNP would need a tax raising plan or proposals for a lot of public spending restraint

With those, it could easily be viable and borrow in the interim

If its economy could grow faster with independence, the choices would be easier

That is true of all economies everywhere. It took Ireland about 60 years to find a growth model that was, and is, fantastically successful out of the U.K.

So, it’s possible.

Brexit makes it harder though, because it imposes border costs that stifle growth

This is the first in a @FinancialTimes series on the disunited U.K. , published over the next few days


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More from @ChrisGiles_

2 Mar
Who subsidises whom in the UK?

A much argued question with some clear answers

Sunak now faces pressure to lower tax on the Red Wall northern seats because they say they are unfairly treated on tax, paying too much and on spending, not getting the transport spending of London

Eg Miriam Cates, new Tory MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge

There are now loads of funds for levelling up
- the towns fund
- the levelling up fund
- the shared prosperity fund
- changes to the green book for investment

You’d have thought that London and the South East had been partying on the backs of northern tax revenue

Read 9 tweets
21 Feb
There is a vaccine effect now in the UK, but it is dwarfed by the lockdown effect
- With case numbers still high, suggests a need for caution
- but a delicate balance on opening up because the virus and lockowns hurt

latest with @jburnmurdoch…
@jburnmurdoch The obvious thing here is that the decreases have been almost as large in unvaccinated groups
@jburnmurdoch And the UK's lockdown and health policies have been more successful than in Israel, even with far fewer vaccinations
Read 4 tweets
16 Feb
The US is undertaking the greatest economic experiment since the Reagan reforms in the early 80s

Will this be Biden’s moment, or will it resemble Mitterrand’s France in 1981?
The US economy did well last year, not by controlling Covid, but by borrowing and spending. A lot.

Now it plans to go further, using more borrowing and spending to put its economy on a better path than pre pandemic

The assumption is it can do better. Quickly. Complete reversal from post financial crisis where everyone accepted lasting economic scars and painful fiscal consolidation

Read 5 tweets
6 Feb
Disappointingly, there isn't a vaccine effect in the English coronavirus case data yet when looked at by age

There seem to me to be three plausible explanations
1) Be patient
2) English over 80 cases were affected by other forces - eg outbreaks again in care homes
3) The one-shot vaccine isn't as effective as two for older groups

These are not mutually exclusive
Read 5 tweets
2 Feb
UPDATE: After today's @ONS data, the latest estimate for the number of excess deaths in the UK linked to coronavirus is


Note that 50,000 of these have happened in the second wave, so don't let anyone say death numbers are normal

@ONS The one thing that is true is that in the second wave, excess deaths (compared with the 5 year average) are lower than the count of deaths wihtin 28 days of a positive test and coronavirus mentions on death certificates

@ONS There are two valid interpretations of this

1) Some would have died anyway eg from flu in a normal year. See @d_spiegel

2) Now we're better at preventing flu with social distancing the 5 year average is wrong, so excess deaths is an underestimate @statsgeekclare

Read 5 tweets
26 Jan
Here is the grim UK death total by different ways of measurement - all above 100,000

28 days since positive test

Death certificates with Covid mentioned

Excess deaths
And how the charts look on a daily basis

Charts courtesy of @jburnmurdoch
Excess was higher in first wave because testing for the virus was so poor.

It's lower in the second wave because there have been fewer non-Covid-19 deaths than usual - likely to be due to social distancing limiting other respiratory illnesses
Read 5 tweets

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