By Chris Rumbles
The Treasury’s ‘UK Dividend’ claims have been dismissed as “bizarrely inaccurate” on a day when polling showed chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander was likely to lose his seat in next year’s general election.
Mr Alexander, Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, delivered a speech in Edinburgh in which he announced findings from a new fiscal policy report published by the Treasury.
The report claims that Scotland remaining part of the UK is worth “around £1,400 per person every year over the 20 years from 2016-17”, an amount gained through “lower taxes and sustained public services”.
However, professor of politics at London School of Economics Patrick Dunleavy has said the Treasury’s report misrepresents his research that the figures are derived from.
In an interview with the Financial Times Professor Dunleavy said: “The Treasury’s figures are bizarrely inaccurate. I don’t see why the Scottish Government couldn’t do this for a very small amount of money.”
Professor Dunleavy added in a post on the LSE Politics and Policy blog that although the Scottish Government needed to clarify “some of the costs entailed in independence”, the Treasury’s analysis was “crude” and amounted to “misinformation”.
News of Professor Dunleavy’s questioning of the Treasury’s report will serve as a further setback to Mr Alexander after an ICM poll commissioned by former Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott indicated the SNP were likely to win the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency.
Lord Oakeshott resigned from the Liberal Democrats after it became clear he had commissioned a series of ICM polls to underline the party’s need for change in its leadership and direction in the wake of poor European election results.
The most recent poll had asked a random sample of 500 people in Mr Alexander’s constituency who they would vote for if a general election was held the next day with the Liberal Democrats a distant third (18 per cent) behind Labour (23 per cent) and the SNP (35 per cent).
Commenting on the poll in Mr Alexander’s constituency, Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster leader, said:
“The European election results gave us an idea of how badly the Liberal Democrats are doing as they were swept off the electoral map of Scotland – but for their senior cheer leader in the Tory-led No campaign to be relegated to third place is another humiliation. The Lib Dems are tearing themselves apart – and this poll will make Danny Alexander wince as support in his own constituency evaporates, with only a slightly higher vote than the Tories in fourth place.
“Mr Alexander’s claims on Scottish independence don’t have a shred of credibility – and this poll was conducted before he made his latest Project Fear gaffe. He has been caught red-handed trying to cook the books – he now needs to withdraw the figures immediately and apologise to the academics whose work he has distorted.”