The Twitter diary of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, aged 64 and a third

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is on Twitter, but his tweets aren't what you'd expect.

Although the account is not verified by Twitter, the Journal.ie has confirmed that Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is definitely on Twitter. 

You'll forgive the note of scepticism, because his tweets are not the bland pleasantries typical of politicians; nor are they the Galloway-esque thunderbolts one might expect of a firebrand like Adams. Instead, they are strangely domestic.

Prepare to enter the strange world of Gerry Adams, as revealed by his tweets…

Gerry Adams likes baking.

 

 

…and he's not one of those men who's afraid of the colour pink when he does it.

 

 

He's also a big fan of flowers, be they daffodils…

 

 

Or some sort of pink shrubby flower which I don't recognise.

 

 

Gerry Adams loves this horse. He wants to ride it through the fields and take it to the horse dentist.

 

 

Gerry Adams also has an adorable Bichon Frise called Snowie who he loves very much.

 

 

Sometimes Snowie wears a hat.

 

 

Gerry Adams fries his breakfast in the shape of a smiley face.

 

 

Oh yes, and Gerry Adams really . . .

 

 

Really . . .

 

 

REALLY . . . 

 

 

Loves his teddy bears.

 

 

Gerry Adams, proud holder of a Twitter account. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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.