Jim Armitage: Sorry, SNP, these figures just don’t add up


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Outlook The Scottish Nationalists’ cheers have rarely been louder than yesterday, when statistics gathered north of the border showed Scotland’s economic growth had outpaced the rest of the UK.

Not that I’ve got a vote in this fight, but if I did, I’d want to look at a bit more data than one quarter’s before deciding whether to believe the SNP’s brave promises of Scotland’s economic muscle.

So, for the sake of balance, let’s go back another quarter, this time using data from the Office for National Statistics (headquartered in Newport, since you ask). In the final quarter of 2013, Scotland’s GDP rose 0.2 per cent compared with the whole of the UK’s 0.7 per cent – so the growth rate south of the border was nearly four times quicker.

Again, that’s only one quarter, Scot Nats would counter. And Scotland was hampered by the fact that the Grangemouth refinery industrial dispute crimped production in those months.

That’s a fair point. But then, if the output from one plant can have such an impact on a whole country’s economy, isn’t that worrying in itself? Anyway, for the sake of balance, let’s go back to quarter three. [Drumroll…] Oh dear: Scotland GDP growth 0.5 per cent, UK 0.8 per cent.

The Scottish National Party’s triumphalist finance secretary John Swinney’s claim his statistic proves Scotland’s independent strength is simply wrong. There may be such evidence elsewhere, but this wasn’t it.