GERS is one of the most compelling arguments for Scottish independence because it reveals how unsustainable and unequal the United Kingdom truly is. Every year, certain supporters of the Union claim that GERS confirms once and for all that Scotland can never be independent – but their arguments are illogical and short-sighted.

In fact, the figures tell a completely different story. These figures are proof of the need for change and evidence of why the Union serves Scotland so poorly. Anybody defending these figures and arguing to maintain the status quo is doing an immense disservice to the people of Scotland.

I’m writing this in advance of seeing the figures today, and so instead I’ll comment on the annual Unionist response to GERS. Maybe this year it will be different. But the pattern of behaviour and the predictable retorts of the last few years makes me sceptical.

The fervour with which Unionist commentators seize on GERS figures suggests that they are desperate to embed a particular narrative in the public domain, and they’ll no doubt trot out the same lines this year.

It’s important that the public are equipped with the facts, in order to come to their own conclusion.

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Firstly, the figures illustrate that most of the decisions are still made by the UK Government – not a fully empowered Government of an independent Scotland. The bottom line is that approximately 70% of the revenue figures (i.e. taxation) and 40% of the spending figures are reserved.

That means that the UK Government controls, in full, the powers and decision-making to arrive at those reserved figures. That includes areas that are fully controlled by the UK Government such as pensions, or areas where the UK Government spends an overall amount and an estimate is accounted to the Scottish people, based on geography or population share, like defence, foreign affairs, aid, debt payments and North Sea oil.

The Scottish Government, or the SNP, have no say over how reserved funding is raised through taxation or spent in UK budgets. The people of Scotland have very little influence over these figures either.

That is self-evidently the case when the party of the current UK Government, which determines what is taxed and what is spent, hasn’t won an election in Scotland for a very long time. It is perfectly logical and rational to argue that Scotland as an independent country might make slightly different decisions, not least considering the fact that different parties have won elections, on the basis of different manifestos, north and south of the Border.

Of course, such policy decisions would be determined by the party which won the election in an independent state.

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So, if anybody has concerns with the GERS figures then their argument should be with the body which determines how the bulk of the funding is raised or spent – and that is the current UK Government, not the SNP or the Scottish Government or a future independent government.

Secondly, the commentariat appear to forget that the Scottish Government must fully balance its budget. You cannot run a deficit, nominal, real or otherwise in such circumstances. It always amuses me to hear opposition parties arguing that Scotland has an underspend (bad SNP) and a deficit (bad SNP). I’ve never come across a bank account which can be in credit and in debit simultaneously at exactly the same time. But that’s what the opposition parties would you believe.

The truth is that the annual, infinitesimally small underspend in the Scottish Government accounts at the end of every year (which is carried forward into the following year and spent on public services) exists entirely because the Scottish Government cannot overspend.

The requirement to annually balance our circa £50 billion budget to the penny was once characterised to me by a prominent businessman as trying to land a Boeing 747 on a postage stamp. It’s almost impossible but the Scottish Government still achieves that every year.

Scotland does not have resource-borrowing powers to generate a deficit. Those have been denied to Scotland despite repeated requests.

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The Scottish Government has limited capital borrowing powers for infrastructure projects which is common practice for all governments.

Capital spend on large infrastructure projects is best committed, in part, through capital borrowing. Our resource spending, on the other hand, for day-to-day services must all come from the funding we raise through taxation or receive through the block grant. That requires careful stewardship of our resources, as we cannot overspend even when the need is great.

The government’s annual accounts, which are evaluated every year by the Auditor General and comply with all relevant standards, confirm that the Scottish Government balances its budget.

Thirdly and most importantly, these figures advertise the chronic inequalities and weaknesses inherent in the Union. GERS is a symptom of a much deeper malaise.

The regional inequality in the UK is one of the worst in the developed world. Every other country sees such regional inequality as a problem that needs tackled, not a result to champion or defend.

In fact, the rise in regional economic inequality in the UK has been more pronounced than in other industrialised economies. It is basically a story of London and the South East of England versus everywhere else – including Scotland. That gap is larger than potentially similar gaps between east and west Germany or north and south Italy.

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Across a number of different measures, like GDP per capita, productivity and disposable income, the UK has seen much starker growth in the gap between regions and nations. That leads inevitably to regional inequalities in terms of social outcomes like health and life expectancy.

The Tories have conceded this point with their whole narrative about “Levelling up”. But all they’ve done is politicise decisions, leaving certain parts of the country behind. It amazes me that Conservatives, who believe in taking responsibility, are willing to argue for continued forms of so-called subsidies (their words, not mine) or that Labour, who believe in equality, are willing to defend a chronically unequal economy.

Yet, today, on GERS day, that is precisely what you will hear.

Those that support independence believe in something better. We don’t think that indefensible levels of inequality should be championed or defended.

This isn’t as good as it gets.

For too long, the so-called Union dividend has amounted to increased poverty in a wealthy nation. It has inflicted harm on key Scottish industries through higher trader barriers and more stubborn inflation. It has hindered population growth with bureaucratic immigration processes.

Better together is not better for Scotland.

If other small, advanced economies can outperform the UK economy, then so can Scotland. We have the advantages of more natural resources and places of learning by population share – so why do other small advanced economies do so much better?

One small word: Independence. GERS should spur us on to hope for a better future.