SNP Manifesto Page 23: “We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people – or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”
UK Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, found himself backtracking after a Herald Scotland article reported him as saying that the UK Government would block a second Scottish Independence referendum.
Aside from falsely claiming that the Scottish Government had no mandate for such (he clearly doesn’t pay attention to Scottish elections, or the SNP Manifesto), when backtracking by refusing to answer the question posed about the UK blocking of a second referendum, Fallon instead asked, in a BBC interview, “why is unemployment growing here in Scotland and still falling in England?”
The simple response to this is that this statement is not true and highly misleading. Unemployment in the UK as a whole maybe falling, but in parts of England it has recently risen more than in Scotland, where it had also been falling. And in a wider context, there is little difference between the overall rates of unemployment in Scotland as compared to the rest of the UK.
Here’s a graph from the ONS showing the most recent unemployment figure by region, compared with the previous 12 months.
Much of a muchness, wouldn’t you say?
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) last produced its regular UK Labour Market survey in January. The “Regional labour market statistics in the UK: Jan 2017” were produced on 18 January 2017 and can be found here.
Here are some snippets.
For the 3 months ending November 2016, the highest unemployment rate in the UK was in the North East (6.8%) and the lowest was in the South East (3.4%). The unemployment rate estimates for September to November 2016 compared with June to August 2016, are showing few large changes for the regions of the UK.
For December 2016, the highest Claimant Count rate in the UK was in the North East (4.1%)
For the 3 months ending November 2016, the highest economic inactivity rate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (26.5%)
Here is where we get the line that Fallon is probably misusing.
Between June 2016 and September 2016, the largest increase in workforce jobs in the UK was in the South West, at 41,000. The largest decrease was in Scotland at 27,000.
The East of England had the largest decrease in the employment rate of 1.1 percentage points…The next largest decreases were for Wales at 1.0 percentage point and Northern Ireland at 0.9 percentage points.
The largest increase in the unemployment rate on the previous period (June to August 2016) was seen in the East of England at 0.7 percentage points.
So Fallon’s claim is bull from this report alone. The East of England had a greater rise in unemployment than Scotland did. But let’s put some more context to this about the rate of unemployment in Scotland.
However, in December:
and in January;
So, following on from months of falling unemployment, and reaching “an 8-year low”, there has been two months of rising unemployment.
Whilst the UK as a whole has seen a drop in unemployment in this period (pre-Christmas), and this is the important bit, some parts of the UK, including in England, have seen bigger rises in the number of unemployed.
What this means is that Scotland’s unemployment rate is broadly in line with the rest of the UK, and taken as a ‘region’, its rate is very much in line with rUK, and certainly not the worst. And whist the last two months have seen rises in unemployment, bucking an overall UK trend, it is a) not a Scotland/England variation, as parts of England have also seen rises, but this is after some trend-bucking falls in unemployment in 2016.
Let’s also note who is making the claim.
This is from Sir Michael Fallon, Defence Minister.
Here’s what else he has been up to:
And let’s not forget:
But to round off, let’s go back to the initial report that Fallon claimed that the UK would block a second independence referendum. He backpedalled from this pretty quickly, and the UK Government spun it into referring back to the 2014 referendum result (which again, ignores the more recent Scottish Elections and that SNP Manifesto).
This is because the UK Government knows that it would be breaking the UN Charter that it has signed-up to, if it interfered in the “self-determination” process of a group of people that wants to consider being independent – and with the SNP Manifesto about the changes in circumstances since 2014, then the UK Government simply has no leg to stand on with regard to blocking a re-vote.
So aside from keeping the UK in bed with dictators in the cause of UK arms sales, Fallon is either keeping things from MPs or making threats he knows the UK cannot keep – at least not without publicly being the oligarchy that it likes to pretend is a democracy.