19 Sep 2013
The First minister has been accused of adopting a “bunker mentality” amid evidence he is increasingly dismissing the views of respected experts on the consequences of independence.
Two reports this week set out the extreme fiscal challenges a separate Scotland would face, including the prospect of higher interest rates and a budget black hole of several billion pounds.
They follow other experts questioning the SNP’s vision of a wealthier separate state, including fears raised about higher insurance premiums, increased personal taxes and forced cuts to public services.
Despite that, Alex Salmond has continued to ignore these findings, with the Yes campaign accusing anyone who questions the prosperity of independence of “talking Scotland down” or “scaremongering”.
Today at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson pointed to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, released yesterday, which showed a separate Scotland would have to find nearly £6 billion worth of savings in its first two years.
However, Alex Salmond ignored the warning, instead pointing to a passage of the report which is completely based on “substantially stronger” North Sea oil revenues than have been predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility, a measure widely recognised by experts as the most accurate.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“There’s a really unpleasant picture building up here of a bunker mentality.
“Alex Salmond has become a man who refuses to be challenged, refuses to take advice, and refuses to engage with anyone who dares question his obsession.
“It’s one thing for the First Minister to do that with fellow politicians.
“But this has now extended to renowned experts in a variety of fields, all of whom are coming at this from a neutral perspective.
“They are asking legitimate questions in order to inform the debate and they deserve to be answered rather than dismissed.
“It’s an embarrassing way for a First Minister to behave, and people are now coming to realise that this drive for separation is more about Alex Salmond’s ego than the prosperity of the people of Scotland.”
The First Minister today pointed to p8 of a report by the IFS, which pointed to positives within a separate Scotland’s finances. However, the report itself states that those assumptions were specifically hinged on North Sea oil revenues being considerably higher than the OBR estimates. Below is a chart showing OBR estimates, along with far more optimistic SNP ones:
Yesterday, the IFS stated a separate Scotland would need to slash public spending, and face a £5.9 billion black hole in its first two years:
The day before, the National Institute of Social and Economic Research said interest rates on borrowing would be considerably higher in a separate Scotland: