(Before retiring, John Jappy was a senior civil servant in the Inland Revenue, working for the Accountant & Comptroller
General's Branch based at Somerset House in London. His duties involved liaising closely with Treasury officials to prepare
accounts and financial information for UK government ministers.)
As a civil servant in London, and being part of the establishment, I always accepted the general view that an independent
Scotland would not be able to survive on its own without financial help from the London Exchequer.
However, when in
1968 I was able to examine the so-called "books" for the first time, I was shocked to find that the position was exactly the
opposite and that Scotland contributed much more to the UK economy than its other partners. This was, of course, before
the oil boom.
I realised that the Treasury would wish to keep this a secret, as it might feed nationalistic tendencies north of the border,
which at that time were very weak. I took the decision to keep an eye on the situation to see how long it would
take for the true facts to emerge, which I felt would only be a short time. However, the Treasury and the Establishment
did an excellent job, aided and abetted by the media, to keep the myth about Scotland alive.
In fact it took
another 30 years before the first chink in their armour started to appear. This came unexpectedly on 13 January 1997
when, in reply to a series of questions put by SNP Leader in the Commons, Alex Salmond MP to the then Tory government, Treasury
Minister William Waldegrave admitted that Scotland had paid a massive £27 billion more to the London Exchequer than it had
received since the Tories came to power in 1979. Statistically this works out at £5,400 for every Scot.
were no attempts to refute these figures, which caused much embarrassment to the Tory Government of the day. However,
the facts were quickly covered up by the Unionist controlled media.
Then a year later with a Labour government now
in power came a further bombshell. Following further promptings by the SNP, on 21 August 1998, Mr Salmond received
a letter from the House of Commons Library (ref. 98/8/56 EP/rjt) which gave a table showing that based on Scotland's GDP per
capita, Scotland would occupy 7th place in the world's wealth league. The UK was at 17th Place.
When the Labour
government came to power it announced a 1p cut in the standard rate of income tax. From my detailed knowledge of income
tax, I felt that this was the worst possible thing that they could do, as extra monies would be needed following on from the
Thatcher era, if they were to fulfil even a fraction of their promises to the electorate. I came to the conclusion,
and I still feel that I was right, that this was done by Labour to prove to the voters of Middle England that they could match
the Tories in tax cuts.
Despite the disclosures of 1998, attempts to deceive the Scottish electorate did
not end there. In March 1999 a Labour Party leaflet appeared which said that if the SNP were to forego Gordon Brown's
1p cut in the standard rate of income tax, every family in Scotland would be £250 worse off. This became the major
topic of a TV debate between Alex Salmond and Donald Dewar. Salmond tried to point out to Dewar that he was using
the wrong figures. Watching the debate, I saw Dewar's eyes roll in his head for a few moments but he carried on regardless.
After the debate it took the Labour Party a whole week to admit that they were wrong. There was in fact
a whole chain of errors which the Labour Party tried to blame on "printing mistakes". However Labour could not deny
the fact that in their calculations the UK average figure, which included the high wage earners in the city of London and
the booming economy in the South East corner of England (which if I may say so were the result of the selfish policies of
Mrs Margaret Thatcher), the figure used was almost double those of the average Scottish wage which at that time stood at £17,000
Looking closely at the figures and taking the year 2006 as a benchmark, I found that Scotland had an annual
relative surplus of £2,8 billion, which works out at £560 for every man, woman and child. In contrast the UK had
a deficit of £34.8 billion.
In November 2006, the U.N. published its annual "Human Development Index".
For the sixth year running, oil rich Norway topped the list, and won on such factors as generous welfare payments, education,
high income and a long life expectancy. Norway wisely created an "oil fund" in 1995 which in 5 years reached a
total of £250 billion, so that Norway sailed through the Credit Crunch.
Who are the real subsidy
Any lingering doubt that Scotland more than pays its way, or survives on subsidies, was dispelled
by a new report published in October 2007. Whilst the Daily Mail, which by no stretch of the imagination could be described
as a supporter of Scottish nationalism, devoted a whole page to the analysis of the report which was based on tax paid per
capita as against spending, Northern Ireland received £4,212 more than it paid in tax, North East England £3,133, Wales £2,990,
N.W. England £1732, South West England £978, West Midlands £931, East Midlands £185 and lastly Scotland £38. Only the
South East corner produced a small surplus due to tax paid on the high wages within the city of London at this time (pre-Credit
It is no longer refuted that Scotland exports more per capita than the rest
of the UK. In 1968 when I first discovered that Scotland was in surplus in relation to the rest of the UK, its exports
could be broken down into whisky, meat, timber, fish, and of course tourism which is a huge hidden income. Those exports
are supported by a population of only 5,000,000 as against 45,000,000 for the rest of the UK, quite a substantial advantage.
With the oil boom, Scotland's economy was transformed. Scottish oil has to date funded the Treasury with £300
billion, which has pushed Scotland up from 7th place in World Wealth rankings, had it been in control of its own resources,
to 3rd place.
On 29 May 2008, Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling admitted in a back-handed way, that Scotland's
oil revenue had been underwriting the UK's failure to balance its books for decades. There is still 30 years of oil
supply left in the North Sea (some 150 million barrels) valued at 2008 prices at 1 trillion dollars. This excludes the
new fields being brought into production in deeper waters west of Shetland.
Meantime whisky exports, which I listed
in 1968 as one of Scotland's top assets, have risen at a phenomenal rate. For example, whisky exports to China amounted
to £1 million in 2000/2001, by 2007 they had risen to £70 million. They have continued to rise, although I don't have
more recent statistics.
On the economies of Independence, Scotland has also 18 times its requirements in North Sea
gas, which on current trading is more expensive than oil. The country exports 24% of its surplus electricity south of
the Border, with much of the back-up by Hydro Electric unused.
Even if nuclear is excluded, the future looks bright, the new Glen Doe hydro station on Loch Ness which was opened by Scotland's
First Minister last year can produce enough electricity for 240,000 homes. Further projects down the Loch which have
now reached the planning stage will increase this to over 1,000,000 homes. Wind and wave energy will also contribute
significantly in the future.
No doubt as the time draws nearer to the referendum on Scottish Independence, politicians
will do their best to distort the figures, but the truth is something that never varies.
It’s official: Scotland is the
7th Richest Nation
By John Jappy
each election, the Unionist parties, terrified of an SNP victory, turn out the old hoary statements that an independent Scotland
would become bankrupt in a short space of time and that we are ‘subsidy-junkies’ as far as the UK is concerned.
could be farther from the truth.
I first became aware of the falseness of such statements back in 1967, when, whilst working in the City of London, I held the ledgers which contained the total of UK tax receipts and expenditure,
yet it took a further 30 years before the truth began to emerge. This came unexpectedly
on the 13th January
1997, when in reply to a series of written questions by
SNP leader Alex Salmond to the then Tory government; Treasury Minister William Waldergrave admitted that Scotland paid a massive £27 billion more to the London Exchequer than it received since the Tories came to power ion 1979. That worked out to £5,400 for every Scot!
From the Government’s own figures produced at this time, it was easy to calculate that over the next five years,
a further £12.5 billion more would go into the London Treasury than Scotland received.
There were no attempts to refute these figures, which caused extreme embarrassment to the Tory Government of the day. However the facts were quickly covered up by the Unionist controlled media. Then a year later with a Labour Government now in power came another bombshell. Following further promptings by the SNP, on 21st August 1998,
Mr. Alex Salmond received a letter from the House of Commons Library (ref 98/8/56 EP/rjt) which gave a table showing that
based on Scotland’s GDP per capita, Scotland would occupy 7th place in the World’s wealth league, with the UK at 17th place out of 26 countries listed.
top eleven countries are
Interestingly, seven of these are small countries, again destroying the myth that Scotland is too small to stand on its own two feet.
Attempts to deceive the Scottish electorate did not end there. In March
1999, a Labour Party leaflet appeared which claimed that every family in Scotland would be £250 worse off if the SNP were to forego Gordon Brown’s proposed 1p cut in the standard rate of income
tax. (This cut was done to prove to voters in Middle England that Labour could
match the Tories in tax cuts.) The figures shown in the Labour leaflet became
the subject of a TV debate between Labour’s Donald Dewar and Alex Salmond in March 1999.
Alex tried to point out to Donald that he was using the wrong figures. Donald’s
eyes rolled in his head for a few seconds, but he carried on regardless. It took
the Labour Party a whole week to yield to SNP pressure and admit they were wrong. They
even tried to blame the errors on ‘printing mistakes’ which everyone knew was nonsense.
How could such serious ‘errors’ occur? It is hard to believe,
but taking one example, Labour used the UK average wage figure in their calculations which were almost twice those of the
then Scottish average wage of £17,000 per year. Even today, many Scots earn a
great deal less than this 1999 figure.
So, if at any time you read of a ‘black hole’ in the budget of an independent Scotland, forget it. You are being lied to.
The only black hole comes from the vast sums being taken out of the Scottish economy by the London Government.
Finally, what the media keeps very quiet about is that even excluding oil,
Scotland exports more per head of population than the rest of the UK, hence the ‘balance of payments’ of an independent
Scotland would be a lot better than South of the boarder.
Scottish Oil by John Jappy
We suspected it. But now we know. The
secret documents released under the 30-year rule have revealed that Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson was convinced that
the ‘black gold’ in the North Sea could bring about what he feared most, that Scotland would seek and obtain
Secret memos were passed around as to how the Scots could be bought off. Whitehall required the revenue from Scottish oil to pay off its massive debts, so moves
were set in motion to “weaken demands and buy time.” But it was within
Scotland itself that Whitehall’s worries were scuppered,
Scots being notorious down the ages for fighting amongst themselves and pressing the self-destruct button. The chief culprits in this were Scotland’s Labour MPs
who dominated politics in central Scotland. They began to see that their main
job was at all costs not to give any credence to the SNP, or they might find themselves unemployed, with their seats at Westminster taken by Nationalists. Labour’s control of power in Scotland eventually saw off the Nationalists and then the worst happened: the
Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher came to power.
In those decades, as revenues of £5 bn per annum poured into the Treasury, the
S.E. corner of England became one of the wealthiest regions in the World. Thatcher also saw the great opportunity of keeping herself in office for unlimited time, by enacting the
Tory grail of cutting taxes; tax cut after tax cut put fortunes into the pockets of the already rich, whilst gradually the
jobs created in Scotland by the oil boom evaporated, leaving behind a vacuum and no sustainable benefits. Scotland had been robbed.
The repeated calls by the SNP to set up an oil fund were ignored. Currently, Norway with a much smaller stake in the North Sea than Scotland has a fund of around £82bn. In addition, Norway has massively improved its whole infrastructure making it the envy of most of Europe.
Even the IMF praised Norway for its foresight in using these funds wisely.
In contrast, Scotland still languishes at the bottom of the international table of European league
standards, with Glasgow being singled out as having the worst child poverty in the UK.
The SNP has recently put forward detailed proposals for an ‘Oil Windfall
Fund’ based on the successful scheme created by Norway. There are at least 28 billion barrels of oil left under the North Sea – Scotland has its hands on the Lottery Jackpot!
With the current average price of oil at $45 per barrel and 30 years worth of
oil and gas left to exploit, Scotland stands to benefit from our North Sea resources to the tune of one trillion
Whilst, unfortunately, we cannot turn the clock back, the opportunity still exists for Scots
to grasp the opportunity and realise the massive benefits independence will bring.