By Andrew Barr

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has come under fire for his latest intervention into the independence debate after he gave a dire warning about the economic sustainability of Scotland.

Mr Alexander warned of an increased reliance of oil in an independent Scotland despite having previously boasted that the UK government tax raid on the North Sea was “my idea”. 

The Lib Dem MP also warned that an independent Scotland would have a large budget deficit and that financial services would flee south.

Commenting on the intervention, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said it was a further example of the anti-independence campaign’s double-speak and increasingly negative tactics.

Mr Gibson – convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee - said:

“Danny Alexander epitomises the sheer dishonesty of the anti-independence parties, who are addicted to scaremongering when it comes to the independence debate. His shambolic performance on national radio this morning portrayed someone who has zero confidence in what they are saying.

“For the man who was reported boasting about being the author of the UK government’s increase in oil taxation then to claim the same would happen in an independent Scotland is the height of hypocrisy. Mr Alexander seems to have also forgotten that the Treasury did no analysis before making these tax changes.

“Coming so soon after his other economically illiterate claims on mortgages, the question should be asked if the recent UK government budget omnishambles is reflective of a lack of competence and credibility at the heart of the Treasury.

“Maybe Mr Alexander could explain why Norway has never looked back since establishing its oil fund in the 1990s, and why Scotland should not also have the benefit of our own enormous oil wealth.

“Instead, Scotland’s wealth has been squandered by successive Westminster Governments – Tory, Labour, and Con/Dem. With over half of the value still to be extracted from North Sea oil and gas – representing a £1.5 trillion asset base – it is vital that Scotland achieves independence and establishes an oil fund so that Scotland gets the benefit of our own resources, now and into the future.”

Mr Alexander faced calls even from within his own party to resign after bragging to a group of businessmen that the £10bn North Sea tax raid was his idea.

Last year, the senior Scottish member of the Coalition said he had no regrets, declaring that the oil belonged to the UK government. Fellow Liberal Democrat MP Malcom Bruce claimed Mr Alexander was “economically illiterate” and that his plans for a tax hike could “kill off investment in the North Sea”.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury also warned in June that mortgages would rise in an independent Scotland, prompting Scottish business leader Dan Macdonald to accuse him of “scaremongering” and making “outdated” claims.

Mr Macdonald, who runs Macdonald estates, told the Herald: "The scaremongering of Alexander, Darling and others and the entrenchment of the No campaign's philosophy that we must remain dependent are irrelevant to the fundamental issue of where Scotland is and can be in the world.

"We have to seek, establish and insist on a new self- propelled way forward that sees us take responsibility for all of our own affairs.

"It is time that adult Scots stepped up to the plate and sought to preserve in difficult times a better country for future generations."

The SNP has today published a list of actions and claims made by Mr Alexander “which question his credibility and competence” as a government minister. The list includes claims by the MP that cutting the top rate of tax would be “cloud cuckoo land” despite him now supporting a budget that is doing exactly that.

Mr Alexander also recently claimed that regional public sector pay was a “distant and unlikely prospect” when it was he who previously wrote to the First Minister of Wales saying he was “keen” to see it introduced.

The list goes further to cite broken pledges to oppose an increase in VAT and tuition fees.

The campaign against independence which was launched last week by Alistair Darling pledged to run a “positive” fight for the Union, but so far has played upon a perception of weakness in Scotland.

The latest intervention by Mr Alexander adds to the perceived negativity of the campaign which launched with warnings of “uncertainty” and Scots having “no way back”, suggesting that independence could be a failure.


# brh206 2012-07-04 07:26
Just when you think it can't get any worse than Cameron, Little Cameron(Clegg) and silly Cameron(Osbourn e) along comes the grim reaper(Alexande r). Just when you start to forget about him and can sleep a little easier at night knowing that the others are just incompetent he comes along and reminds you he is just pure nasty.
# CharlieObrien 2012-07-04 07:52
Danny Alexander is going to end up with a nickname like "DANNY the DIDDY" he just keeps on going with so many stupid ideas and calls them statements,some times he calls them "FACTS" who the boy is not ready to be a councillor never mind part of a national government.
# davemsc 2012-07-04 07:54
Any idea where he was speaking? Unless I missed it, I couldn't hear it on GMS, Today or 5 Live Breakfast.
# Marga B 2012-07-04 08:05
OT, but relevant perhaps. Reform Scotland have analysed the lastest IpsosMORI poll, and are pleased to announce:

• In a choice between Devo Plus, Independence and Status Quo, 52% of Labour voters think Scotland should remain in the UK under Devo Plus as their preferred option; 28% of SNP voters believe the same
10% of SNP voters and 24% of Labour would be more likely to vote ‘no’ if it would lead to Devo Plus
• Almost three-quarters of Labour voters want Unionists to campaign for more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

I think the bit about SNP voters not voting for independence in a 3-question referendum is particularly interesting to this "independent, non-party think-tank behind the Devolution Plus proposal":

"Remarkably, over a quarter of SNP voters believe that Scotland should remain in the UK under Devo Plus".
# Thee Forsaken One 2012-07-04 08:10
The SNP figure is being trumpeted but I think the last bullet point is the more interesting one.

Back on topic, anyone know where this list published by the SNP about Danny Alexander being unfit for office can be found?
# Marga B 2012-07-04 08:34
Now the Guardian are in their element: wait for the Scotsman and the BBC to tag along - funny how only certain kinds of news get instant airing in the MSM:

"Former Liberal Democrat MSP Jeremy Purvis, leader of the Devo Plus group, added: "The fact that only just over 60% of SNP voters support independence and also the vast majority of Labour party voters want the non-independence parties to work together for Devo Plus is highly significant.

"It shows that most ordinary people across Scotland are less interested in the contortions over the issue of the ballot paper but are wanting parties to work together on how to deliver a stronger Scottish Parliament within the UK.

"The Devo Plus proposal is a carefully considered and fully worked-up plan on how to deliver this. It's fairly clear now it's the most popular way forward also."

Note the text in bold: how can they get away with such complete untruth? It's like the famous federalist scam.
# Jim Johnston 2012-07-04 11:44
Hi Marga, (sorry for the original typo)

Why should it surprise anyone that 28% of SNP voters think in a worst case scenario, "If I cant get Independence, I'll take FFA instead".

I'd be inclined to think that way myself, but that's just being pragmatic, in a worst case scenario.

It would help if the actual questions being asked were published. i.e. the full questionnaire. I believe I'm just as bright as any "expert" analyst, certainly brighter than prof John C of the BBC. Most peoples logic processes are well capable of linking simple arithmatic to poll results whilst bearing in mind what was actually asked vs what they would have answered.
# Marga B 2012-07-04 12:33
Quite agree with you Jim, but it is annoying how many people still think that an undefined "half-way-house-to-nothing" is worth supporting.

At least would-be federalists are beginning to see the light now, hopefully the same thing will happen to the Devo-whatsit people in time.
# WRH2 2012-07-04 09:17
It needs to be remembered that Jeremy Purves lost his seat in Holyrood to SNP MSP Christine Graham. Not that this would be colouring his view, of course!
As to his LibDem friend Danny Alexander. Haven't we had this scare story before? Are we now seeing the second round of the same stories? And was this warning in the speech made yesterday to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London? I don't understand why he doesn't come up to Inverness for example, to tell us, especially since its important for us to know these kind of facts before we make our decision in 2014. I think I'll just stick to voting Yes.
# Davy 2012-07-04 08:20
I've said it before and I will say it again, Danny Alexander is the unionist's answer to senna pods, when you see and hear him in action you can fully understand why the Libdems never achevied power under their own right. He is now a tory through and through.
# McDuff 2012-07-04 10:03
I am unhappy about the positive coverage for ``devo-max`` which is quietly gathering momentum.I vote for the SNP because their goal is independence, therefor i would like them to be a bit more vocal in their rejection of a ``devo-max`` question.
# Jimbo 2012-07-04 11:17
Mr Alexander warned of an increased reliance of oil in an independent Scotland...

Unlike the UK which, he will no doubt claim, has not been relying on Scotland's oil for the past 30 odd years.

There's more to Scotland than oil. The oil income would only be something to fall back on until such times as our other industries (such as Green Energy exports) have a firm footing. Better that than to ape a UK economy based on money lending.
# nchanter 2012-07-04 11:51
Alexander and Darling, a finger and a toe of the rotting corps that is Westminster but no less a part of it.
# ButeHouse 2012-07-04 12:22
Danny Alexander “scaremongering ” over independence debate.

No change there then!

I like this bit:

The SNP has today published a list of actions and claims made by Mr Alexander “which question his credibility and competence” as a government minister e.g. cutting the top rate of tax would be “cloud cuckoo land” despite him now supporting a budget that is doing exactly that.

This is what non politicos need, hard, simple to understand evidence of unionist duplicity and or scaremongering.

VOTE YES in 2014
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-07-04 14:20
Shake's head - Beaker is in a deep hole and he just keeps digging ...

UK's Nuclear Power program is now f'd as EDF have frozen bids for the £1.2 billion contract for ground work at Hinkley Point for two new nuclear reactors. England is increasingly dependent on importing electrical power from Scotland and France and in the form of natural gas from Russia.

The Westminster Parliament is heading for its 'Richard the 2nd' momment whether it will be as unpleasant as the removal of a Hitler, Hussein or a Gadafhi or a seemless transfer of power - is now in their own hands.

Westminster is like a dying star - I would suggest we are seeing the red dwarf phase at present where it tries to consume everything around it to keep going by expanding its reach but ultimately it will collapse into a black hole and consume itself.
# Koenig 2012-07-04 14:23
"The Lib Dem MP also warned that an independent Scotland would have a large budget deficit."

In the last 3 calender years the UK deficit has been £430.5 billion just under half a trillion.

In the 3 calender years Scotland's deficit has been just over £30 billion.

Which would you prefer?
# Dundonian West 2012-07-04 14:43
I've always believed that D. Alexander was appointed beyond his Level of Competence,and nothing has changed my opinion in the interim.
# maxstafford 2012-07-04 14:44
OT, but in keeping with the scaremongering theme, I notice the Herald have published another 'too wee, etc' non-story about some military expert's claim that an independent Scotland would be vulnerable to a 9/11-style attack as we would only have 'second level' military aircraft. By which I assume he means F16s or the like. Such as used extensively by NATO airforces and The USAF itself. Come to think of it, the world's mightiest military power was helpless against the original so I doubt that laser equipped flying saucers would help much either!
He must have a lot of faith in those Rapier batteries in Tower Hamlets. Perhaps we should get some for the Balgrat Flats!
# ButeHouse 2012-07-04 17:48
If the greatest military power in the world couldn't stop 9/11 then our military 'expert' is right, Scotland couldn't either, nor could Russia, France, UK, or anybody else, not from a military standpoint that is.

From a diplomatic stand point however Scotland's Governments would be far more likely to be helping smaller and poorer countries throughout the world than going to war with them and enraging their young men to take revenge.

That is essentially the difference.

VOTE YES in 2014
# Welsh Sion 2012-07-04 17:58
On the day that the Americans cheer the independence of the colonies from Britain, let us raise a glass to them and make sure that we continue to work hard to push for the independence of our own nations.

# DJ 2012-07-04 18:05
I'm still waiting to hear any American refer to today's celebrations as separation day.
# Welsh Sion 2012-07-04 18:21
Quoting DJ:
I'm still waiting to hear any American refer to today's celebrations as separation day.

Or a Unionist to spout that they would have been 'Better Together' with the home nation...
# Marga B 2012-07-04 18:02
OT but re. scaremongering, as well as the 3 statutory knocking articles today in the Scotsman there's this:

Scottish independence: SNP has failed to open any talks with UK government bodies on independence

Seems they're jumping the gun and assuming there's something talk aboutand it's only 2012!

Or maybe it's only the "No" brigade who read the Scotsman these days, to see their press releases in print ...
# call me dave 2012-07-04 21:21

5 Scottish Regiment "badges" to be saved
# mealer 2012-07-04 21:46
Danny Alexander believes that despite having bounteous resources,Scotl and cant cope without control from London.He believes we are too stupid to run our own country like everyone else does.
Shame on him.

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