Wuz we robbed?
We wuz robbed. Or wuz we? (Incidentally, on that theme, United wuz definitely robbed when Kalvenes was sent off against Killie. That ref needs to have a word with his shirt sponsor.)
Anyway, as forecast, a top grade political row over spending.
In one corner, the chancellor, the Scotland Office and Labour MSPs lobbying hard - seriously hard - to persuade the wider world of the merits of this deal.
In the other corner, SNP ministers and special advisers vigorously stressing the downside - with Scottish Government officials doing the sums.
Here’s your handy Q&A:
Has Scotland’s budget been cut? No, it’s going up, more than inflation. The row’s over the rate of increase.
Is it a tight deal? Yes, by comparison with recent years.
Has the Barnett formula been applied strictly? Yes, to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Is that a good thing? It used to be when Barnett felt generous. The formula’s been tightened over the years. Now tends to squeeze, esp in NI.
Was the formula fiddled? No
What’s this about the new baseline? The Treasury decided to recalibrate certain existing budgets for England, principally the NHS: essentially, assuming they’d got less this year than the actual out-turn figure.
Why did they do that? Version One, it was a standard statistical exercise. Version Two, it made the percentage increase for health look bigger.
Why does that affect Scotland? Barnett. Scotland experiences changes consequential upon all comparable English departments, eg health.
Is that fair? It’s the formula. Live with it - or negotiate everything from scratch, which might not be to Scotland’s advantage.
What does it do in practice? It explains why Scotland Office say the growth increase over three years is 1.8% while Scottish Government say it’s 1.4%. They’re using a different starting point.
What else? It explains why Alex Salmond says the first year growth increase is just 0.5%. The effect of changing the baseline impacts in the first year.
Has Scotland been punished for voting SNP? Alex Salmond is not making that assertion. Neither am I. There is no evidence for that.
Did SNP ministers see this coming? Mostly, yes. The Treasury had been clear this would be a tight round. But John Swinney says he had received assurances that the impact of recalibration would be smoothed over three years.
What happens now? Scottish Government can complain to the Treasury about the first year deal.
Chances of success with that? 0.0%. In real terms.
And after that? John Swinney works out his Scottish budget details over the next month.
Will that hit their spending plans? Yes. At the very least, big schemes may have to be deferred beyond the first year.
Which is? A feeble excuse or a sound reason, according to taste.