Scots media analysis of GERS is ‘shocking, bad and misguided’ says Fraser of Allander

Leading Scottish think tank Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) on Friday criticised as “pretty shocking” what it called the “level of misinformation and bad analysis” by the Scottish news media of the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures, the latest of which were published on Wednesday.

On the Scottish media coverage of the latest figures, FAI pointed to the “rather misguided interpretation of the notional net fiscal balance produced in GERS.”

The think tank said much more could be done “by government” to defend these statistics and proactively clear-up misunderstandings by journalists.

Fraser of Allander said in a blog: ” … there is a serious – if albeit boring – point to be made here.

“Each year, the level of misinformation and bad analysis around the GERS publication is pretty shocking.

“This year it was these claims about Scotland’s apparent share of the UK deficit.

“The last couple of years it has been that the figures somehow can’t be trusted as they rely, in part, on estimates (although with increasing fiscal devolution substantially less so).

“Before then, it was the claim that the publication is a Westminster-exercise (despite the statistics being produced by Scottish Government civil servants – who also provide technical support for Ministers in their policy agenda, including in relation to independence).

“We can’t think of any other government statistical publication – and a National Statistics publication at that – that is subject to such criticism and attack.

“The Code of Practice for Statistics is clear that organisations producing official statistics should be defending their integrity, actively preventing their misuse and promoting correct interpretation.

“Much more could be done by government to defend these statistics and proactively clear-up misunderstandings.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.