Jim Armitage: Sorry, SNP, these figures just don’t add up
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Thursday 17 July 2014
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.
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