Oddbins embrace "gingers", Germans and bankers.

Oddoffers.

Oddbins have decided to be kind to a number of groups in the upcoming weeks, among them "gingers", mothers, bankers, journalists and Germans, and offer them various discounts.

It's a nice thought, but why these people in particular? Oddbins explains:

Germans: "Why is everyone so mean to them? Studiously keeping their flat-pack-homed, forest-clad, industrious country immaculately clean, with their finances neatly in order".

Bankers: "A “banker” is an individual who is engaged in the business of banking. Last year the word has become a derogatory term used to refer to only a select group of rogue investment bankers. However, every time we chastise “bankers” for the financial crisis, how must this make tellers, analysts, loan officers et al feel?"

Journalists: "Why do we care what Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant are up to? And do we really want our politicians to control the only people who are able to hold them to account?"

Making a stand for equality, "Gingers": "Gender. Race. Religion. Sexuality. Weight. OK, we’re not perfect in this county when it comes to persecution, but things are improving slowly. All except the final taboo: ginger hair."

And mothers, because:"Here at Oddbins, we would like to stand up for mums across this great nation and give something back. We’d like to say thank you, mums: without you none of us would be here." Never was a truer word spoken.

 
Ginger hair: the final taboo? Photograph: Getty Images
Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.