A guest contribution by Dorice
We shouldn't be remotely surprised by the results of yesterday's Panelbase poll on attitudes in the rest of the UK towards an independent Scotland remaining part of the sterling zone and the Common Travel Area. After all, it was four of the planet's most highly-acclaimed, trusted, and respected economists who first recommended that an independent Scotland use sterling and the Bank of England, create a monetary union with rUK, create TWO 'oil funds' and a radically new tax system, and much more.
Yet the media has effectively and efficiently suppressed the work of the completely independent Fiscal Commission Working Group, leaving Better Together, Westminster, Davidson, La Mont, Gray, and all the others free to ridicule those proposals and claim that they are the work of the Scottish Government and its civil servants.
Would they dare stand in front of Sir Crawford Beveridge (Chair), Professor Sir James Mirrlees (Nobel Laureate), Professor Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate), Professor Frances Ruane, and Professor Andrew Hughes-Hallett and call THEM 'delusional', 'fantasists', and accuse them of creating all those and other proposals 'on the back of a cigarette packet'?
No, they wouldn't - but every time those things are said about the Scottish Government's proposals that's who they are ACTUALLY insulting and ridiculing.
It's high time the public were made aware of the Fiscal Commission - who its members are and what it's done and is doing.
It has published FOUR lengthy, detailed, and factual reports so far, but not a single newspaper has even mentioned them.
We all know why!
It was the Commission members who first discovered that Scotland has been paying more into the Treasury than we got back for over thirty years, and the opposition KNOW that.
But voters don't.
Please take a look at the Commission's combined CV, and then compare it to those who work for the IFS and Treasury. It's very much a case of 'master and pupil'.
Those esteemed economists have between them either run, advised, worked for, or consulted the World Bank, the OECD, the IMF, the US Federal Reserve, the EC, the UN, the IFS (yes - that 'IFS'), and dozens of governments, Central Banks, and leading financial institutions.
The IFS's two-volume taxation 'Bible' was the work of Professor Mirrlees, and the current IFS Director was his editor!!
Even arch-unionists agree that the 'Mirrlees Report' is an amazing piece of work. Innovative, radical, and forward-thinking, it condemns the current tax system, and proposes a radical, simplified, streamlined one.
How many of those unionists know it was Mirrlees who took the lead on the tax paper published by the Commission last month? It will be the basis of the forthcoming Scottish Government tax proposals, and we'll see the insults start again.
Please read those four reports (the Executive Summaries should be enough), and you'll realise why Better Together and Westminster don't actually say 'No' to anything. If they did, they'd have to challenge the Commission's findings directly - and, frankly, I'd like to see that happen.
You should also watch Professor Hughes-Hallett's BBC Scotland webcast, and note his responses. I was surprised that my (edited) question was put to him, but was delighted with his response. I asked what he thought of the Fiscal Commission's work being called 'delusional' by unionist politicians (they edited out the 'unionist'), and .... well, give it a look.
It's priceless, and should have been on the Herald and Hootsmon front pages.
I'm convinced that when the Scottish 'middle classes' - those who take more of an interest in the details - discover who is actually advising the Scottish Government, and what they have recommended and why, they'll move to 'Yes' in huge numbers.
They'll start asking why those leading economists are being insulted, and why their work is being suppressed by our media.
People NEED this information, and that's why the opposition is hiding it!
* * *
James said yesterday that he had a premonition about John Curtice. But in fact the Professor has already dropped that (also ignored) clanger.
During the summer he was a guest on Good Morning Scotland. The topic was increasing 'English' hostility towards Scotland. It was put to him that Scotland isn't being 'subsidised' by England - it's just spending its money differently. His reply was something along the lines of : "We now know that many polls operating in England start by making a misleading statement. Something like 'Did you know that Scotland gets more money to spend on services than England?', followed by the poll question : 'Do you think it's fair that Scotland gets more for services than England?'".
You do realise that Curtice is one of nine 'Fellows' being funded by Vince Cable's department to work with the (same funding) IFS 'Scottish Independence' programme? Those 'Fellows' are costing £1.2 million, on top of the many millions being poured into that 'independent' IFS programme by Westminster.
It's worth looking at those fourteen IFS reports - the parts the media avoids - the bits that say 'but an Independent Scotland can do things differently, and if it does, it will succeed'.
Of course the media always uses the average PESA (Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses) figures for the UK/England/rUK. It always has done, and the reason is obvious. Look at the Treasury figures for each of the nine English regions, plus Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and we see that on a per capita basis, Scotland isn't top of the list for public spending at all.
Number one is Northern Ireland, and number two is...London. Yes, the richest 'part' of the UK (with 'part' being defined by the Treasury as the nine regions plus Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland) also receives the highest per capita spend for all public services AND capital spending - by a lot!
And that's why the London-based media always compares Scotland to the AVERAGE figure for the nine English regions.
Remember that next time you see those comparisons being made.
As I write this, I'm listening to Neil Findlay (yes, I'm an anorak) claim that the proposals for oil funds are from the SNP's 'fantasy tree'! Yet those proposals come directly from the Fiscal Commission in its 85-page 'Stabilisation and Savings Funds For Scotland' published in October. Findlay either doesn't know about that report, or he hopes that we don't.
That has to change.
Dorice is a regular commenter at the Guardian website.