Here’s Alistair Darling on Radio Clyde this morning, reported by STV:
I think it would be less successful and we’d be less prosperous if we left the UK, if you look at countries like Denmark you pay a lot more in tax, the amount of money that people have got to spend is less.”
You know we’re not going to let that one slide without a fact-check, don’t you?
AVERAGE MONTHLY SALARY AFTER TAXES (in Euros)
UK: 2496 (£2003 at current exchange rates)
Denmark: 3113 (£2499)
(Remember too that Denmark is a far more equal country than the UK – as almost all countries are – so you have more chance of actually getting that average than you do in Britain, where in reality you’re more likely to be on much less.)
“Ah”, any good Unionist will reflexively retort without a moment’s pause, “but the cost of living is higher in Denmark – don’t you know it’s £700 for a round of drinks etc etc?”
Fortunately, though, we’ve got the stats for that too. According to the OECD, prices in Denmark are 16% higher than in the UK. So we need to add 16% to the UK figure to get a fair comparison of what the average wage will buy. And that makes the figures:
In other words, even after you factor in tax rates and the cost of living, the average Danish worker is £176 a month better off than their British counterpart. Or if you prefer, the not-unhealthy sum of £2,112 a year.
Of course, you can forgive Alistair Darling for considering that sort of sum as a mere rounding error. At his typical rate for giving speeches to bankers, he can drone his way to that much money in around 14 minutes. Nevertheless, “the amount of money people have got to spend [in Denmark] is less” is still a flat-out lie, and by a long way.
Sorry that one took so long, folks. We’re a bit busy at the moment.