Dundee SNP council leader deletes X account after row over ‘misleading’ economic figures

Dundee’s SNP council chief John Alexander has deleted his X account after a row which saw him accused of peddling misleading economic figures.

Mr Alexander faced heavy criticism for claiming a major UK economic survey allocates higher interest payments to Scotland than it should.

The council leader was speaking at the Scotonomics Festival in Dundee, a pro-independence event discussing the country’s finances.

Mr Alexander said the annual Gers statistics – which analyse how much Scotland’s economy brings in against how much it spends – were “fundamentally flawed”.

He insisted 15% of the UK’s interest payments are designated to Scotland in the yearly reports, even though the country has around just 8% of Britain’s overall population.

That’s despite the Scottish Government’s own website stating that Scotland is given a “population share” of the UK’s debt interest, totalling £9.1 billion last year.

Why is Gers often controversial?

The Gers figures have developed into a key flashpoint in the independence row between those in favour and against.

Unionists regularly claim the statistics show Scotland benefits economically from being part of the UK, but independence supporters dispute this.

Mr Alexander said the decision to delete his X account was not due to the ensuing row over his remarks.

He insisted the social media site – formerly known as Twitter – had “continued to go downhill” and now had the “least value” for engaging with constituents.

The council leader, who represents the Strathmartine ward, said residents could still get in touch with him on other online platforms.

‘Fabricated claims’

Sam Taylor, who runs pro-UK think tank These Islands, flagged Mr Alexander’s comments on social media and noted the Dundee council chief had deleted his account.

He told us: “For a council leader to be pushing fabricated claims to a public audience is extremely worrying. He should make a public apology and correction.”

Mr Taylor also claimed the Dundee council leader was peddling a “baseless conspiracy theory”.

Mr Alexander denied this, saying the accusation did not merit a response.

During the economics event, he had said: “Fundamentally what we all know is, those figures in many respects are flawed.

“Under the current system, and under the current accounting processes that lead to the kind of output from Gers, there is significant variances.

“Things like the percentage associated with interest payments compared to our population share – 8.2% in terms of population share, but our percentage for the payments is 15%.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser. Image: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament.

Mid Scotland and Fife Tory MSP Murdo Fraser claimed the Dundee Scotonomics event had turned into a “car crash” – and insisted Mr Alexander was trying to “mislead” voters.

He added: “Given the weakness of the separatist case, we have become accustomed to nationalists ignoring evidence and distorting the facts.”

Angus MP Dave Doogan – who spoke at the event – also faced scrutiny for spreading a claim that the island of Islay has a bigger economy than Birmingham, due to the whisky industry.

He admitted he had no evidence for this, saying: “I don’t know if that’s true. I’d like it very much to be true.”

Mr Doogan was also critical of the Gers statistics, insisting they do not give a “complete picture” of Scotland’s economic performance.

The SNP was contacted for comment.

Source

Leave a Comment