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...