Bye Bye Barnett?
The skids appear finally to be under the Barnett Formula - the Treasury formula, which some allege, ensures that Scotland gets more than its fair share of public spending. And all because of an announcement barely noticed South of the border.
Yesterday the Unionist parties in the Scottish Parliament established a Commission to examine the evolution of devolution with the backing of the UK government. Now if you live nearer Acton or Accrington or Aberystwyth than Aberdeen you may wonder why this matters to you. The answer is that the Commission will examine not just the powers but the finances of the Scottish government.
Labour's Scottish leader has argued that the Scotland government needs to take more responsibility for what it spends - in other words, having to raise taxes when it wants to raise spending or, indeed, being able to cut them if it wants to stimulate the Scottish economy. This will inevitably raise questions about our old friend Barnett.
Not nearly soon enough for a growing number of ministers in Whitehall whose fear is focussed more on the threat of the Tories in England and less on the threat of the SNP in Scotland. They fear that the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne may do to Barnett what he did to inheritance tax ie make a vote winning pre-election announcement that he is handing cash back to hard pressed English voters. Thus, they are urging that the Treasury paper setting out the way Barnett works due later this year should be the beginning of the end for the formula.