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[personal profile] cryptogirl
So we spotted something on the news last night that perhaps Wings over Scotland and Bella Caledonia may be interested in. I'm not usually given to doing a spot of civic journalism or whatever you call it, but this was the BBC and, well, they're not in my good books generally at the moment.

Last night, Reporting Scotland ran a story on the perils of introducing a new tax system in an independent Scotland. The figure they quoted from ICAS was £750m, which was, they said, the cost of a less complex overhaul in New Zealand. The cost might be more than that because Scaremongering Reasons, they add. Don't forget the cost of setting up a website, they holler. Michty me, will nobody think of the poor web developers in an independent Scotland? *clutches pearls to chest*

(You can watch it if you're quick on iPlayer from the 10:29 mark.)

My husband wrinkled his nose at all this (he's good at being suspicious of news facts). 'Could you fact check that figure?' he asks. I duly head off to Professor Google, but I have a hard time finding anything beyond what the UK papers are now gleefully crowing about:

- The Hootsmon runs with a figure of £3.25 billion.

- The venerable FT does exactly the same.

- And just because I needed a good therapeutic dry retch, the Sexpress moans that Salmond 'hides separation plan's true impact on tax costs'. (Fire your sub, by the way. 'What are you hidding Alex Salmond'? Really?)

Anyway. I remembered that [ profile] crazyscot is now our local friendly New Zealand correspondent, and thought I might ask him for a bit more reliable information on this. He didn't recall hearing the figure they're using, but some digging found this recent piece, claiming they're considering spending NZ$1.5bn (£750m) on a tax system overhaul. Considering. I'm assured that this paper is pretty reliable journalistically, being part of the NZ Herald group.

So, they're only considering it? Why on earth is ICAS and the Scottish media throwing the £750m thing about then?

Well, there's this piece which you'll note is dated last year. In it, MP Peter Dunne explains this is a ballpark figure, and that some parts of the system may cost more or less to overhaul. Interestingly, the interview suggests that a similar overhaul for a larger country, Australia, cost $800m and was totally disastrous. Oh, and the company mentioned in the Hawkes Bay piece, Xero, pop up a year ago too explaining how the cost could be brought down.

Let's just spell that out. They were *planning* to spend £750m on an overhaul *last year*, and they're still only *planning* to maybe do this. This is not the same as 'has already spent a wodge of cash on the tax system'. Golfclaps all round, UK media!

It's almost as if you can't tell how much anything will cost or the end result without your Magical Independence Crystal Balltm.

That's right, NOBODY KNOWS.

ICAS, by the way, have stated they are neutral in the wake of the CBI furore. It's almost as if they've stuck their pin in a map of imaginary financial disasters to scare the natives. I mean, let's not forget that in an independent Scotland supermarkets will charge extortionate amounts, all businesses will pack up and leave, you won't be able to watch Doctor Who and you'd all be left pawing sadly at the barbed wire erected over Hadrian's Wall.

Only, that's all a load of wank. Speaking of wank, I wonder if ICAS, the BBC or any of the papers are going to do some fact checking of their own. It'd be nice to know the media provide a balanced, impartial account of the upcoming referendum CBI member, the BBC.

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