By Martin Kelly
Scotland would be in better financial shape than the rest of the UK on the first day of independence, according to the Financial Times.
A study of official figures carried out by the newspaper found that a Yes vote in September would leave Scotland richer than the rest of the United Kingdom and in the top twenty nations in terms of GDP per head, ahead of both the UK and France.
Public spending in an independent Scotland would also be more affordable, with total spending amounting to only 42.7% of the GDP of an independent Scotland as opposed to 45.5% of GDP if Scotland remains in the UK.
The article, written by Mure Dickie and Keith Fray, points out that independence would see the rest of the UK lose 8.3 per cent of its population but 9.2 per cent of its gross domestic product.
The article says: “Even excluding the North Sea’s hydrocarbon bounty, per capita GDP is higher than that of Italy. Oil, whisky and a broad range of manufactured goods mean an independent Scotland would be one of the world’s top 35 exporters.
“An independent Scotland could also expect to start with healthier state finances than the rest of the UK. Although Scotland enjoys public spending well above the UK average – a source of resentment among some in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – the cost to the Treasury is more than outweighed by oil and gas revenues from Scottish waters.”
The figures are drawn from official UK and Scottish Government reports and caused a mini-sensation on social media on Monday when they appeared. However the boost for the Yes campaign was subdued when the Scottish media employed what appeared to be a complete news blackout.
Despite media reluctance to highlight news beneficial to the Yes campaign, a recent slew of polls has suggested the pro-independence campaign is gradually closing the gap on its pro-Union rival.
“Suddenly Scottish independence has become a real consideration and people are taking this more seriously and no longer just giving a flippant answer,” political analyst Anthony Wells from YouGov told Reuters this week.
The shift in momentum from No to Yes has led to criticism of the strategy adopted by pro-Union campaign Better Together due to what many claim is an over reliance on negative tactics and scare stories.
Its leader, Labour MP Alistair Darling, has also come in for criticism for his inability to inject dynamism into the failing No campaign.
This Friday, in what some will see as an acknowledgement that the pro-Union campaign is in trouble, Prime Minister David Cameron is scheduled to make another intervention into the referendum debate when he will again urge Scots to reject Yes in the referendum.
Mr Cameron though is coming under increasing pressure to agree to debate with Alex Salmond over the issue of independence after a recent poll showed over two thirds of Scots wish to see such a debate. A smaller majority in England also want to see the two leaders take part in a televised contest.