Saturday, 24 May 2014

Union Dividend: Distortion or What?


Herald1 20140524

Headlines and straps normally bear some relationship to the article they highlight.  Within  the referendum debate we have become used to headlines which distort a key point from an article but the example above stretches even the mean of ‘distort’.

Let’s take the headline re positive spin.  Of the article’s 423 words these are the only words about ‘positive spin on sticking with UK’.

But rather than present what the financial costs of independence would be to Scottish households, the Treasury will seek to present its findings in a more positive light, showing what the fiscal benefit of sticking with the UK will be; the so-called Union dividend. [my emphasis]


Michael Settle writes 315 words in which the Treasury / a Treasury spokesman / Danny Alexander criticise the SNP’s figures.

Positive spin from the Treasury?   Not here!


Oh!  You ask about the financial benefit mentioned in the strap?   The ‘Union dividend’?


Nothing!  Not a single word!  Well, that’s not unexpected.  So many times we hear that Better Together will make a positive case and every time the negativity increases.


But let’s look at the apparent financial benefit, at the so-called ‘Union dividend’. 

Clearly we don’t know the underlying assumptions on which the Treasury has based its calculations although we know that many analyses have assumed incorrectly that a Scottish government would follow the same agenda as the UK government.

Several thousand pounds is the claim.  What does this mean?  Must be less than £10k otherwise that would have been mentioned.  My guess is that ‘several thousands’ means between three and five thousand.  More than five would have brought us ‘just less than £10k’ .

Therefore, I’ll assume the claimed benefit is £5000.

But note this is not an annual benefit but is accrued over 20 years ==> £250 each year , £4.81 each week, 68 pence each day.

But this benefit is not for every single one of us.  No, this 68p per day is for each household. 

Data from 2011 shows the Scottish population as 5.295 million and the number of households as 2.37million.  Therefore, based on my and the Treasury assumptions, each person in Scotland would benefit by just under 31p each day by remaining in the union.


31p to stay in the union?


No thanks!


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