Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fare thee well, Scotland

Via Iain Dale, a swift reminder of some of the problems caused by devolution.

Note that the Barnett Formula is not a new policy and it was, in some ways, a sensible measure. Some parts of Britain were much poorer than others—and shortly to become even more so after the upheavals of the Eighties—and too sparsely populated to provide services with the available local cash.

What has pissed people right off now, though, is that the Scottish Executive has started using its large subsidy to implement concrete crowd-pleasing policies not available in England. And these policies are not funded through the higher taxation of the Scots—the Executive does, after all, have limited tax-raising powers—but through the ever-increasing tax burden on the whole of the country. Everyone pays, but those in England—and particularly the South East—pay more and do not see the benefits.

It is, essentially, this spending row is an extension of the West Lothian Question which is also causing huge tensions.

When I moved to Scotland a decade ago, there was no real appetite in England, that I was aware of, for a breaking of the Union: rather the reverse. Now, there is a real movement towards that: given the right circumstances, Scotland may find itself ejected (if it does not leave of its own free will).

It will be a pity: I firmly believe that the countries of the United Kingdom have been stronger and achieved more working together than they did apart. But perhaps it is time to give the Scots their head and let them see what they can make of things as an independent nation.

Let's hope that they don't manage to bankrupt themselves again...


John Trenchard said...

Do you have the figures on Scottish oil revenue?

I suppose, one line of argument is that during the 70s and 80s Scottish oil revenue kept the UK afloat, and now this is payback time.

if the figures don't work out , i'll take back what i said - but i'm pretty sure that's what the SNP have been saying.

But agreed on your general premise - ten years ago if you asked any English person if Scotland and England would be separated, it would have been unthinkable. Now, i'm pretty sure the vast majority of English would support Scottish independence.

( and having lots of Scottish ministers under a Scottish socialist PM is has racheted up a LOT that general feeling).

Devil's Kitchen said...

Barnett Formula and Treasury oil revenue are, I believe, roughly the same (although a government report about 18 months ago thought there was a £3 billion gap) t about £13 billion.

The North Sea oil is becoming more and more difficult to extract, especially with Gordo having hiked the profits, so the SNP should not set it hopes too high.

And remember, the biggest gas fields are off the coast of Norfolk. Scotland is not the only one with hydrocarbons.

Let Scotland go and see if they can make it. They might.


Anonymous said...

What really grates as a resident south of the Border is the outright racial discrimination that is currently being exhibited. We are all UK taxpayers and as such are entitled to the same health/social care and education. Why should the sun or daughter of a professional person resident is say Edinburgh or Glasgow be given free University education when the same is not true if they are resident South of the Border. Why should the Welsh and Scots have free presecriptions (regardless of ability to pay) when the English don't.
It time this was addressed through the Court and the Race Relations Act or via the EU Courts - lets stop the hypocracy and behave like a United Kingdom

Anonymous said...

Fuck Scotland.
Immediate referendum on English independence required.
I repeat, Fuck Scotland.

the doctor said...

God forbid , but I agree with those who want an independent Scotland , go for it you deserve it . However so do we English let England do it's own thing , but first let us ensure that Gordo and the bum boys all go scuttling back over the border .Who knows but we may benefit from a few new English (own grown) parties in our parliament.

John Trenchard said...

Regarding English independence - once plus side is that people might start wondering why we have a bunch of Germans from the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family lording it over us.

Anonymous said...

A slighted modified version of a song also posted to Iains site.

Now I'm a English wo/man
Amazed at what I am
I say what I think
That the EU stinks!
Yes I'm an English wo/man.

When we meet in the local hall
"Independence!" is the call
With a hell of a shout
Gordon's out
And the English have a ball.

Gord, you don't get me I'm part of England
You don't get me I'm part of England
You don't get me I'm part of England
Till the day I die, till the day I die.

As an English wo/man I'm wise
To Broon's spin and lies
And I don't get fooled
By the EU's rules
'Cause I always read between the lines.

And we English will get our way
We'll have our freedom back one day
No ID cards
No gatso guards
This what I say.

Gord, you don't get me I'm part of England
You don't get me I'm part of the England
You don't get me I'm part of the England
Till the day I die, till the day I die.

Since the EU and Gord appeared
We're a surveillance state, I fear
But we've got the power
To make England ours
Every day of the year.

So though I'm a working wo/man
I can ruin the government's plan
Devils Kitchen's rag
And the sight of our flag
Makes me a superwo/man.

Gord, you don't get me I'm proud of England
You don't get me I'm proud of England
You don't get me I'm proud of England
Till the day I die, till the day I die

Auntie Flo'

October 23, 2007 7:44 PM

Shug Niggurath said...

I AM Scottish - and fiercely pro-Union, always have been and always will be.

At the devolution referendum this turn of events was all too predictable, the one thing that wasn't was the sharp decline in support for Labour in Scotland at the last election which has accelerated the problems - the SNP are now cooking up as many small problems as they can, because they'll eventually be the cause of the English, quite rightly, to say 'Fuck off Jock'

Newmania said...

On the Barnett formula and the Oil revenues no they are not but a damn long way equal even if you acept that they belong to Scotland , a dubious arguement given the UK investment in them.

I did this just now ...detail

The budget for Scotland has doubled since devolution and will be increased to £30 billion next year. I think they could find the £70 million but more likely they won’t and it will be one of many staged clashes with “ The UK Parliament “. This is how we could get out of the EU were the foolish UKIPs not so determined to stay in…. but I digress

Much of this article points at regional variations across the UK in spending which , within a single country is not an issue of course. His main point concerns Oil though .
“ The Nationalists claim that tax revenue from North Sea Oil is a direct subsidy from Scotland to England ..a projected £55 billion over the next five years “OK so that’s £11 billion a year . They get £30 billion a year from us . So even accepting the Oil shtick, it is a £20 billion a year bung ,a thousand quids per household give or take .(2)
Mr. Cochrane assures us that the argument of Oil offseting the Barnett formula, has been “ Largely accepted by the Scottish public but it has not turned them into rabid little Scot-landers “
….It is unclear what point the is making once you divide up the five year figure he gives us

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

As Shug points out- the SNP are cooking up these crowd-pleasing and expensive policies to further their desire for independence. They have the British government over a barrel- withhold spending and the nationalists get to point out that Scotland is being denied money; carry on pouring a disproportionate amount of money in to Scotland and the rest of the UK grows resentful of this bias, furthering the will to grant independence either side of the Border.

Anyhoo, as for 'Scottish' oil, there isn't all that much- most North Sea oil is within English waters. Should independence ever be granted, the English should have Edinburgh returned to their possession, which would also mean a further erosion of the current Scottish maritime border, leaving it with bugger all oil.

Newmania said...

If the Orkney`s did a deal with Norway they would be really stuffed.I somehow doubt the principle of self determination extends that far

Anonymous said...

Seriously, if Scotland gains (and I use the word 'gains' completely incorrectly) independence, I'm shipping out to London. Scotland's completely fucked without the rest of the UK. I know it. You know it. Why don't these smarm-fucks in Holyrood know it?

Surreptitious Evil said...

Err, "Sorry this video is no longer available" ...

That's what I get for being offline for a couple of days.

Anonymous said...

Newmania - the Austrian government before the Hapsburg Empire collapsed invested highly in what is now the Czech Republic to turn it into the industrial heartland of the Empire.

Then the Empire collapsed (with a bit of help from Czechs operating outside the Empire to undermine it during WWI) and the Czechs made off with 70% of of the Empire's industrial infrastructure. To add insult to injury any assets owned by people living in what was now called Austria were confiscted under "nostrification" laws and compensation only grudgingly paid out which was still being done well into the 30's.

All things considered, do you think that Adolf was right to send the boys in '38?

Concerning the Orkney and Shetland getting back into bed with Norway - I have yet to meet any Shetlanders or Orcadians who are keen on paying £6 a pint (if they are lucky) or around 40% basic rate in tax or be liable for conscription. Autonomy (such as the Isle of Man or the Finland's Aaland Islands) within an independent Scotland would probably more preferable.

Personally Scotland has a lot going for it in becoming independent. As the FT once said, it would likely make Scotland grow up in terms of economic reality and make England grow up in realising it should end its imperialist aspirations (if now being Uncle Sam's bitch) and retire to the wealthy ex-empire club like the Swedes or Austrians rather than bankrupt themselves with their vanity like Portugal and Spain. Such as having wee adventures in the Middle East----

Scotland has got oil, and probably plenty more off the West Coast - they are looking for it now. We have whisky and finance. Scotland is in a stronger position than Eire or Finland was before their economic miracles. And before you start ranting about EU subsidies, tell me one thing, if EU involvement turns things around why is Portugal still an economically troubled country? The Irish used their strengths and used them wisely.

I work for a Japanese organisation. If you had suggested 150 years ago that a backward, clan ridden, isolationist state on the wrong side of the world and no natural resources to speak of would be an economic superpower or for much of its developed history a military one our forbears would have laughed. Ditto China and India. Whose laughing now.

What I would like to see is a prosperous Scotland which is prosperous on a level(ish) playing field. Much of Scotland's past wealth was built on Empire, a system of having trapped resource suppliers and trapped markets. The economics of shooting fish in a barrel.

Anonymous said...

It was reported recently by the soon to be abolished North Western regional assembly that there will be drilling for oil of the English coast in Cumbria.
Many years ago I worked for a short while on a seismic survey in County Durham. The boffins said where ever there was coal there was oil and gas, it just depended on cost and need as to when to exract it.

Terry Heath said...

Newmania, what are yur sources when you claim "The budget for Scotland has doubled since devolution and will be increased to £30 billion next year."?

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