There are few sights more absurd in British politics than the time and energy exerted by the SNP Scottish government and its senior politicians to discredit the foundation of their own financial figures that tell the public about how much Scotland raises in tax revenues and how much it spends.
The SNP Scottish government has 100% control over the manner of compiling GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) and they formed the entire basis for the economic programme of the Scottish government’s prospectus for an independent Scotland in 2013. Because in 2017 the GERS figures paint an unflattering vision of Scotland’s public finances the SNP now commands its hierarchy to impugn the basis under which the figures are compiled as well what they can tell about the future economic position of an independent Scotland.
In the history of fledgling sovereign states there surely have been few preparing for their impending day of national becoming by fomenting a campaign to undermine the very financial statistics that form the basis of the economic prospectus they are simultaneously proffering to the citizenry to convince them of the prosperous nirvana awaiting should they chose the path of partition.
Yet as we countdown to the day of Scotland’s second constitutional showdown this is precisely what the vanguard of Caledonian secessionism devote their resources to doing. The SNP’s First Minister, Education Minister, Finance Secretary as well as its phalanx of Westminster MP’s all routinely diminish the trustworthiness of their own government’s economic figures and suggest they can tell us nothing about the prospects of Scotland outside the UK.
Further, the nationalist cybersphere is awash with rumours of hidden North Sea oil fields, concealed whiskey import duties and English conspiracies to compel Scots to fund disproportionate levels of London transport infrastructure. The implication is that GERS can tell the public nothing credible about any economic situation worth considering.
Can you imagine the sight of a company publishing its end of year audited accounts, then setting its executives into immediate PR overdrive to discredit the basis under which the financial figures were compiled and declaring that shareholders should pay no attention to the accounts when considering the financial position of the company in any possible future?
Can you then envision the same CEO and his senior team enabling a squadron of customers to peddle stories about clandestine revenues and profit centres conspiratorially suppressed by nefarious forces whilst purposely sabotaging the reputations of their own accounts department staff in open public view?
And then try and foresee a scenario in which this company was behaving in such a manner as it attempted to sell billions of pounds worth of shares to the public?
Such a company would be considered hideously dysfunctional and chronically uninvestable. It would be the short sell darling of the hedge fund community and a sizeable profit would be made betting on its misfortune.
Yet this is the allegorical endeavour the bosses of Scotland PLC exercise considerable effort in pursuing as they enact their plans to secede from the United Kingdom.
It was only four years ago that the very same people now pursuing a Trumpian campaign of GERS-defamation lauded these very same figures as the basis for which an independent Scotland would be the fifth richest nation in the world and by which Scots would see a permanent end to Tory austerity via a bountiful economic programme of increased public spending, tax cuts and extra borrowing.
Alas, perhaps one protests too much as this incredulous line of attack can only backfire. Much like when the SNP attempt to persuade Scots of the horrors that await them should they separate from one loosely integrated political union - the EU, in order to justify leaving a far more integrated and important political union - the UK, the internal logic of the SNP’s argument defeats itself.
When one’s opponent is making a mistake it is prudent to stand back and allow them to continue unimpeded.
It is perhaps not only Scottish floating voters who recoil in astonishment when watching the SNP savage the integrity of their own economic figures.
Observers in the European Union, NATO and the international debt markets must also be watching in startled bewilderment as the very figures the SNP will be presenting to them to justify an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU, commitments to military spending to defend fellow NATO members and to borrow billions of pounds to build the institutions of a sovereign state are excoriated by the Scottish government in full public view.
The GERS figures are the responsibility of the Scottish Government's Chief Statistician, the Independence White Paper declared "GERS is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances" and they are produced in accordance with the highest professional standards of the UK statistics authority.
Nothing eviscerates the economic case for Scottish independence than the co-ordinated zeal of the SNP to castigate the very credibility of the national economic figures for which they have complete control over the manner of assembling.