TAXES would have to rise almost 14% if they were the sole method used to fill the fiscal black hole facing the government of an independent Scotland, Britain's leading economic think-tank has warned.
The headline might just as well have read, "Warning spending will be cut if Scotland remains in UK!". At least we know that to be true. It is not a warning based on assumptions carefully selected for the purpose of leading to a preferred conclusion. Assumptions such as that an independent Scotland would want to "match the UK Government's plans" rather than have a plan of its own. Or assumptions based on figures from the notoriously unreliable and often ludicrously pessimistic Office for Budget Responsibility.
But let's suppose for a moment that the conclusions of the IFS are worth taking at face value. Let's suppose that that the projected shortfall in Scotland's finances is £5.9bn. There is nothing about becoming independent that causes this shortfall. If the projection is correct, then that is what is going to happen anyway. Because remaining in the UK does not magically inject £5.9bn into the Scottish economy.
The article uses deceptive wording to suggest that the putative shortfall is a consequence of independence. But it is not. It cannot, therefore, be a reason for declining independence. To whatever extent the IFS is right, then the fiscal prospect that it envisages is what faces Scotland regardless of which way the referendum vote goes next year. The choice is not, as the article tries to dupe us into thinking, between having a shortfall with independence or not having a shortfall by remaining in the UK.
There is no £5.9bn windfall if we vote No. The choice is simply a matter of who we want to manage the situation. Do we want to leave the management of our economy in the hands of proven incompetents that we didn't even elect? Or do we want to bring the management of our economy home and put it in the hands of a government that we have actually voted for and which has Scotland's interests as its foremost consideration?