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Bye Bye Barnett?

Nick Robinson | 08:28 UK time, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

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.

Scottish Parliament buildingYesterday 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.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 09:11 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • DOMENIC wrote:

Nic,

You're right. However, that will probably lead to zero Conservative MSP's and MP's in Scotland.

  • 2.
  • At 09:27 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Peter wrote:

About time!! We live in a crazy society where Scotland gets all the benefits of our tax money without any of the extra burden! If they want to be able to offer benefits that we in England can't get, they should have to pay for them themselves!

Yet another Brown review, nothing will happen.

As I write here this is not the first time this idea has been mooted, but nothing has been or will be done.

Surely only a UK-wide needs based assesment, or full financial independence are justifiable solutions.

And while we're at it, the English portion of this money should be allocated by an English, not UK, parliament.

  • 4.
  • At 09:45 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Stuart Leckie wrote:

I've never been one to harp on about the BBC's London-centric reporting, but the very start of your piece shows a very supercilious nature.

This news item affects 5 million citizens, almost as many as those voting in the London Mayoralty, and yet no journalist would begin a package with "So, why should anyone outside the M25 give a hoot about this election?"

Of course you should explain the importance of this Commission to everyone, regardless of whether they be a Geordie or a Weegie, but please don't act like this is a report on the Epworth Bring and Buy Sale.

  • 5.
  • At 09:51 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

My personal take is that constitutional reform that more properly recognises the regions fairly and equitably is the way forward. England, Wales, and Scotland all have their pluses and minuses, and I've seen too much of the minuses lately. I don't think dumb and unbalanced rules help.

I'm not interested in political posturing over this. It just leads to more absurdity and egos trying to own agendas. It's dumb behaviour like that that got us into the mess in the first place. A garden shed wouldn't be built this way so why be foolish with something that effects more people's lives?

Personally, I'm not too convinced by Jack Straw's approach to reform or Miliband's approach to China but things are not always what they seem or may change. I think, Wendy Alexander is more likely to be in line with the Prime Minister's view. She is, I suspect, a True Believer™.

All hail Blessed Leader!

Whatever the conclusion of the commission, or the review, or whatever the Labour party deigns to call it these days, it will not be enough.

Middle England has not stopped complaining about 'Scottish subsidy junkies' even after that myth was debunked. It's rather silly to suggest that a little extra fiscal autonomy will change their minds.

Full fiscal autonomy, where Scotland raises its own taxes and pays a block grant to England for services rendered, is off the table. If we had such an arrangement, it would prove that an independent Scotland is financially viable, and that would mean that a large number of Scots, who would vote against independence solely on the economic argument, just might change their minds.

And we all know that the unionist parties have made their minds up about independence before the review has even begun. I wonder what other parts of the review will be pre-determined?

  • 7.
  • At 10:18 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • dotcommentator@gmail.com wrote:

People in Aberystwyth probably already know why it matters to them. There has been debate in Wales about the Barnett formula for a couple of years.

  • 8.
  • At 10:58 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • David wrote:

ow if you live nearer Acton or Accrington or Aberystwyth than Aberdeen you may wonder why this matters to you.

Aberystwyth people should know about it, as it applies to Wales as well as Scotland!

  • 9.
  • At 11:02 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Doug wrote:

As a Scot I'd be happy to get rid of Barnett in exchange for total control of our economic policies. Besides advantages from good economic management it would also make MSPs far more accountable for their spending if they had to manage the negative effect of taxes on their constituency support. While Brown ranted about so many consecutive quarters of economic growth the Scottish economy went into recession at least 3 times. Also having strong Welsh, Scottish and N. Irish economies would ease the pressures on the South East & London from people having to move there for job opportunities and good wages. It would also provide a buffer against turbulence when the City hiccups every few years.

One other consideration for the future is that Trident must never be considered a part of the money Scotland benefits from and must be on the books in Westminster. If Scotland is to be economically burdened with the nations nuclear deterrent then there are more than enough Scots who will support kicking Trident out of Scotland.

  • 10.
  • At 11:10 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Geraint wrote:

Is this NuLab buying more votes at the next general election? Scotland may have to raise taxes from its own people, but this should be the case anyway. Ultimately any government has to look at the way that council tax is being used to fund more and more things, and what central government should be paying for. 10 years of tinkering have lead to chaos, a review may be the best way forward for our tax system and the scottish issue as a whole.

  • 11.
  • At 11:51 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Scilla Cullen wrote:

So who is representing the interests of Wales and England in this commission? Unlike Wales, England has no national voice. British MPs representing English constituencies (so-called "English" MPs)have no remit or any desire, in most cases, to represent England's interests. England needs dedicated elections for national representation as have Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
England's future will be debated at a National conference in the Conway Hall, London on 26th April 2008
Speakers include Frank Field MP, Canon Kenyon Wright CBE, Executive Chair, Scottish Constitutional Convention, Simon Lee, senior lecturer in politics at Hull University, Professor Hugo de Burgh, Professor of Journalism, Westminster University and Robert Peedle MBE, Royal Society of St George.
Details at www.thecep.org.uk

  • 12.
  • At 12:07 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Ian wrote:

It seems a very difficult situation, the scottish politicians need to learn be more responisible with their own cash, yet if we abolish the Barnett system it looks as though we're saying goodbye to our scottish friends and family. The very existance of that system makes it difficult for full scottish devolution not to be inevitable. This is just like the west lothian question. Neither the tories nor labour in england have any answers and if they are serious about keeping a Unkited Kingdom which contains a British Scotland then they need to spend a lot of time trying to find the answers to these questions; answers which won't make the Scots feel like whitehall is pushing them to independance.

  • 13.
  • At 12:16 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • grania davy wrote:

Who thought of such a crazy formula, why should any voter enjoy the fruits of others labours? No pun intended. We need idependance for England and to get rid of unelected regional assemblies.

  • 14.
  • At 12:19 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Derek wrote:

It is clear to me and many other English people that the Union between Scotland and England is moving closer and closer and closer to a conclusion. It can't come soon enough. The UK is finished! Once we have fiscal autonomy what is left?
Perhaps we need a sort of federal arrangement in which Scotland Wales and England (and possibly N.Ireland although I don't see why they don't form an alliance with the Republic?) are partners or preferably independent allies.
We all live on the same Island so there will always presumably be some association but that's all it should be!
I personally prefer full independence for England.

  • 15.
  • At 12:27 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Craig wrote:

October 27th 2007.

First Minister Salmond propsed that both England and Scotland raise their own revenue and be responsible for their own individual spending.

Can it be any fairer than that proposal?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wnTMm6Fcy8

  • 16.
  • At 12:28 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Martin Mackay wrote:

If the correct information was put into the public domain no one would really bother with the Barrnett Formula.

From the worst perspective Scotland gets the same as the tax thats raised in it including the Oil/Gas (according to a FT report).

At its best Scotland actually loses out (According to an Oxford report).

Too many Daily Mail scare stories are taking the UK into a split over something that doesnt actually exist - a subsidy. Scotlands roads are officailly the worst in the UK - why? As the cash is going to things like free prescriptions.

If Scotland can only spend the taxes raised within in it they will request all Taxes raised within it. Including Oil/Gas and some financial taxes that are currently credited to London.

Westminster wont let that happen as the will royally lose out and there is probably no other outcome other than Independance.

Labour wont tell you Scotland is currently losing out as they will lose votes to the SNP.

The Tories wont tell you as they win votes in England by making Labour look like they are making Scotland the land of plenty at Englands expense.

Two desperate Parties fighting for power in Westminster are breaking up the UK for their own ends.

  • 17.
  • At 12:30 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • stephen wrote:

Hi folks lots of anti scots/english sentiment on this one.

Just to put a few things right for everyone.

The Uk is split into 13 regions, different regions get more/less barnet formula money.

Scotland is third on the list after No1 London and no2 Northern Ireland. Scotland has the second highest GDP in uk after London.

The poorer areas are in the north of England with the lowest Barnett spending and also the lowest GDP.

If you want to make every-area get the spending on a per person basis then do so.

This is the fairest system but dont forget that the scottish government has prioritised its spending also.

No olympics, no revamp for London central, No 9 billion pounds on the london cross rail link (that alone is 1/3 of scottish public spending this year). The 60 billion paid to buy out Northern rock doubles scotlands annual public spending allowance.

Scotland last year paid 49 billion pounds in revenue to the treasury, they got 30 billion back for everything but defence and foreign policy. Works out at 61 percent of our annual taxes. This is less than the other regions in the UK.

If you also add to this that at the moment the annual oil revenue is expected to be over 20 billion pounds by years end (conservative estimate).
Which sits in scottish water (well at least 90% does)but somehow does not come under scottish revenue (amazing why have one rule for whisky exports and another for oil).

Ill watch with bated breath as both north and south seem to want fiscal autonomy for Scotland. The scots think they will be better off (certainly will be if they can persuade the English to give up the oil) The english want the Scots to be finantially more responsible, does this mean full fiscal autonomy, probably not as the treasury wont want to give the money back and with full fiscal autonomy there is the question of the oil revenues. If Scotland gets these then England would be 20 billion pounds a year worse off. This is something that westminster wont allow even if the english voters decide to dump scotland, it was the only reason thatcher kept scotland within the UK no Tory Mps, all Labour Mps not really an incentive to keep scotland but the oil revenue allowed her to make tax cuts before three general elections.

Be carefull what you wish for, scotland might get ashort term gain even without the Oil revenues but would find it hard to compete against a larger economic power next door. However if scotland takes the oil revenue with it. Considering this would almost double the amount that could be spent in scotland annually they could drastically lower business rates without harming public spending and poach larger companies from england.

Even if they did not poach larger companies from England the treasury would still lose 39 billion pounds from scotland that goes to help support the poorer regions of England this would lead to less public spending in the London and south east regions as they would have to pay more to support the other 10 remaining regions.

I think full fiscal autonomy is the only way for Scotland to go if the rest of britain wants it to remain in the UK. The scottish press and blogs all show huge results for more powers for the scottish parliament. A reduction in funding and a removal of powers will lead to the scots voting for complete independance, In which case I think we all lose

  • 18.
  • At 12:32 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Cam wrote:


2. Peter wrote:
About time!! We live in a crazy society where Scotland gets all the benefits of our tax money without any of the extra burden! If they want to be able to offer benefits that we in England can't get, they should have to pay for them themselves

*************************

All the more reason to allow Scotland the chance to vote in referendum for indpendance.

Then we can tax and spend as we wish, without wingers like the above moaning.

  • 19.
  • At 12:38 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • gordon from ayr wrote:

The real issue as I see it is the governance of England in the post-devolution era, and GB is making a pig's ear of it so far as he tries (too hard) to be more English than the English.

For too long we Celts tolerated the synonymity of England/UK and English/British in our so-called national media, but the genie's out of the bottle now and the English are being forced to confront their own national identity crisis.

There is a simple solution, but as the renewed debate on the Act of Settlement has shown the establishment is unwilling to unpick what is essentially English from that which is British. In April 1604 the English Parliament refused on legal grounds the request from James VI and I to be titled 'King of Great Britain'.

Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose!

BTW Sorry to be pedantic Nick but it is the Scottish Government not the Scotland Government

  • 20.
  • At 12:39 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • William Shand wrote:

Nick,

Completely unrelated point here, but I've wanted to ask this question for ages and figured that you would be well-equipped to answer!

Whilst watching prime Minister's Questions, I notice that seemingly random Mps stand up for no apparent reason. What is the meaning of this?

Thanks in advance!

  • 21.
  • At 12:43 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • patrick powell wrote:

As for the comment by one contributor that there will soon be no more Tory MPs or MEPs in Scotlan, perhaps, but there will always be right-of-centre politicians prepared to argue on behalf of right-of-centre voters. Granting devolution to Scotland (the irony being that it was 'granted') was mere short-term political expediency by Blair to head off the danger of the SNP garnering Labour votes and gaining power (which has now actually happened. And the cynicism of the move is reflected in the more limited powers given to Wales where Plaid Cymru posed no threat at all). As was predicted at the time, we are now seeing the slow disintegration of the Union (granted that to some that is good news). The trouble is that we now have no control over how the pieces might eventually fit together. The possible abolition of the Barnett Formula is just another chapter in this slow abolition.

  • 22.
  • At 12:57 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Gordon wrote:

So what happens to the concept of "Britishness"?

  • 23.
  • At 01:00 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Peter, Edinburgh wrote:


"2. At 09:27 AM on 26 Mar 2008, Peter wrote:
About time!! We live in a crazy society where Scotland gets all the benefits of our tax money without any of the extra burden! If they want to be able to offer benefits that we in England can't get, they should have to pay for them themselves!"

*********************************

Can't believe people are still falling for this simplistic misrepresentation. If one person is given £5 and another £3 then it does not follow that the former is being subsidised by the latter - you have to look at what each part of the UK is CONTRIBUTING as well as being allocated in order to determine who is subsidising whom - a per capita comparison does not tell you that since you are only looking at one side of the equation.

Perhaps instead of a Scottish Parliament review we could spend some money giving the UK citizens a basic maths lesson!

If Scotland is asked to pay more then we will reply with a request for full fiscal and monetary autonomy & you can then kiss the UK goodbye! Be careful what you wish for 'middle England', you may just get it!

  • 24.
  • At 01:02 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Dave wrote:

Who was Barnett?

  • 25.
  • At 01:10 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Kerensky wrote:

My father has just received a letter telling him that he is not entitled to any compensation even though he has chronic bronchitis and worked in the mining industry for 19 years. Unfortunately for my father he left the industry in January 1954 and he has now found out that the cut off date for claims is June 1954. In Scotland the cut off date is 1949. Yet another example it seems of England and Wales losing out because Scotland is getting preferential treatment. What ever happened to the United Kingdom?

  • 26.
  • At 01:14 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • MalcolmW wrote:

The whole issue of devolution was so badly handled by the Blair government that cynics could be forgiven for thinking it may have been intentional, in order to hasten the demise of the United Kingdom to make it all the easier for the constituent parts to be subsumed into a federal European framework. On the other hand, the government has been so inept over the last decade, with kneejerk reactions to everything from gun crime to immigration, that it may indeed not have foreseen the inevitable result of its actions. No matter which it was, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and almost everything it now does to pacify the clamour north of the border for more autonomy, or quieten the growing complaints about the obvious injustice to England south of it, will only increase the likelyhood of complete seperation. (Don't describe it as independence for Scotland, what about independence for England?)

A quick read of the posts on your colleague's blog "Blether with Brian" will clearly show the size of the chip on the shoulders of many Scots, despite their having the best of all worlds with the present devolution arrangements. It is England (the country, not a collection of artificial "regions" designed by politicians) that is at a major disadvantage under the existing constitutional settlement; it has to be addressed, but that of course will put our present prime minister and many of his ministers in a serious fix: already prevented from voting on domestic issues in Scotland, if the West Lothian question is solved properly it can only result in them losing the right to vote on such matters in England too. What an absurdity they have created of a once-stable constitional settlement. Still, as they made the bed thay must lie in it!

If the Scots wanted devolution, they should be made to pay for it; after all the English weren't even given a say in the matter when the referendum was held. The end result will be the beak up of the Union, and while I may have shed a tear once upon a time, the resentment I feel about the way that England has been treated under this government will keep my eyes dry now. If that is the price I must pay to rid my parliament of the Scottish mafia that currently reside there, then so be it. I just hope that when the issue is resolved, the English taxpayer is properly compensated for all the money they paid to develop the oilfields upon which the Scottish nationalists pin so much faith for their economic future. Quite what such a tiny country will do when that runs out is anyone's guess.

  • 27.
  • At 01:40 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Techmeister wrote:

There's political gold in this for the Tories, it seems to me. If they stand at the general election calling for complete independence for Scotland, what have they got to lose? Against a Scottish, Labour PM arguing that Scotland should remain ruled by London? There's no seats for them in Scotland anyway, and if it became free it would be like Ireland in the 80s, a tiger economy right on our doorstep, rather than a beggar region dependant on English hand outs. Only issue is the remaining oil, which has practically finished.

  • 28.
  • At 01:50 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Tim wrote:

Down the history of time there has been a steady and almost inevitable drift towards larger units of political influence. The same has happened in commerce, through merger and acquisition, not to mention organic growth. The creation of the United States or, indeed, the EU are cases in point where neither would have been conceivable just 30 years prior to their conception.
Against such inevitability, it seems somehow wrong to be looking to create smaller units of influence - apart, of course, for the creation of greater individual power for those politicians who achieve it.
go on, tell me I'm misjudging Mr Salmond...

  • 29.
  • At 01:57 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • J Hutchings wrote:

How about the British government provide a block grant to England just like they do to Scotland ? It could be spent an English government , overseen by an English parliament just like Scotland's .

oh by the way , we need an inquiry into the Barnett Rules going back to their inception and the methods by which they were imposed and continued all these years out of site of any suggestion of democratic control. Does that make the political class feel uncomfortable . It should . The inquiry, by the way,to be composed of people not composed of MP's or from the British great and good ie ordinary decent people .

Scotland has had possibly £100 billion out of England over the last 40 years and is still guzzling at the teet . An effective way to repair the damage is that the British national debt be split up in accordance with the Barnett formula with an additional recognition of the amount that Scotland and Wales have deprived England of over the years .

  • 30.
  • At 02:21 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Fergus wrote:

Have I missed something? Why does Nick Robinson think that a commission established by the Unionist Party in Scotland should be of any particular significance to anyone? Has he misunderstood what the "Unionist" party is in Scotland? Not trade unionist Nick, but Conservative and Unionist. Or whatever disguise they may be going under locally.

  • 31.
  • At 02:29 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Neil Small wrote:

Alex Salmond is being his usual confrontational self. he has a single agenda not shared by the majority of Scotland. That makes him dangerous for the Scottish economy.

His main problem is that he is under the impression that North Sea oil revenue would come to Scotland. Highly unlikely and certainly not in the short term, as no doubt legal arguments would continue for years.

The Scottish economy is not particularly healthly, and being stuck at the far end of Europe doesn't help either.

I would rather see the devolved Governments dissolved, and Westminster applying a more sensible approach.

  • 32.
  • At 03:43 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Kenny wrote:

Why would you want to be independant. Scotland is part of Britain we are British people. What a proud herritage, to be scottish and British. The Scotish minister is an idiot and an embarrasment to the country. I want to be British not thats my herritage, i have a British passport. When are Scottish/British people going to remove that chip from there shoulders and face up to the fact they are British and be pround of it. Independance is just nationlisim driven by politicans who want power and a name.

  • 33.
  • At 03:58 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Robin wrote:

Free prescriptions; free university education; treatments on the NHS unavailable in England? It's time we stood up and defended ourselves.

There is no posturing in highlighting the absurdities created by the longevity of the Barnett formula; only inequalties.

Wendy Alexander should have resigned months ago at the same time as Peter Hain and she knows it.

Unfortunately, the longer NuLabour stay in power the more malpractise we witness and the more their apologists tie themselves in moralising knots.

If the dead man walking can't grasp the urgency of his predicament he will soon be forced out by his own 'supporters'. It's bye-bye Gordon, by the look of it.

  • 34.
  • At 04:25 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • mike wrote:

Glad to see some coverage in the English-based media (I'm presuming that your not living north of the border Nick), given the potential impact on all of the UK.

The obvious way to do this is to give all tax (including oil and gas revenue) raised in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament, then we'll see just how badly off or otherwise, Scotland is. However I suspect that the Unionists might also be afraid of the clarity this might bring.

  • 35.
  • At 05:05 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • anglophone wrote:

The Barnett formula was developed to provide extra public assistance to areas of the UK suffering from systemic economic disadvantage...all fair and good in a unified country. The nationalists however cannot have it both ways i.e. living in a parochial bubble while expecting someone else to carry on funding their spending plans. The subsidy "myth" has not been debunked (it simply depends on the price of oil which, like your investments can go down as well as up!), if it had been, wee Alec would have been clamouring for it's immediate removal to prove his point.

I'm a fan of Scotland, I have lived there and have many friends there, but a few simple facts do escape the Saltire waving fantasists. Scotland was not "occupied" by the English and subsequently "oppressed". It requested a Union with England & Wales because it was (say it quietly) bankrupt, due to some ill-judged colonial ventures of its own. Whose to say that a future request to leave the Union won't end in the same way, with the only way out being via IMF loans with nasty policy strings attached? Goodbye to all that welfare and public spending.

Anyone visiting Scotland would think that it was an independent country in any case. It has a separate legal system, separate institutions, a fiercely parochial media (anyone seen a "UK" story in the P&J?). The only last step is full economic independance with the nasty risks attached.

But there is one last ironic sting in the tail, already known to the SNP strategists. Most Scots would never vote for independance, but you might persuade the English to vote for a kind of expulsion. The more insulting and parochial wee Alec and his type can become, the more likely it is that the Tories could succesfully campaign on the Barnett issue at the next election. Result...caledonian uproar and a sudden demand for an independence referendum. Sensible folk, in their passion, suddenly side with the knuckle-dragging Mel Gibson history fans and..hey-presto...independence arrives!

FREEDUURM...errr then what? I wonder if those French, German, Dutch etc taxpayers would like to take up the slack?

  • 36.
  • At 06:10 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Alexander wrote:

..and that Nick, will be the beginning of the end of the Union.

Back in the 1970s with their slogan It's Scotland's Oil the SNP just did not make the case for independence. The figures seemed to be too improbable but the hard pressed Treasury saw the danger hence the Barnett formula to give the Scots a bit of dosh to keep them quiet.

The result today is that one million Scottish children still live in poverty out of a population of just 5 million - something that never would have happened if the SNP had managed to move beyond sloganising.

TOday most educated Scots recognise the mistake and will act accordingly at the next Holyrood election giving Alex Salmond the mandate he needs to go for full Independence.

Ending the Barnett formula will just hasten the process. We do indeed live in interesting times.....

  • 37.
  • At 06:15 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Madasafish wrote:

The barnett formula is irrelevant compared to the West Lothian question.
Why should Scots MPs vote on English affairs.. but English ones cannot on Scots?

The key is the treasury review. However the review is being carried out to protect Labour electorally- rather than provide a just and fair United Kingdom.

Expect a few token gestures - muddying of the water with cherry picked examples from the British Regions (formally known as England) to show why not much should change.

Brown only wants to spike the guns of those campaigning for justice for England.

Frankly he's wasting his time - the English didn't vote for his party at the general election - have never voted for him to become PM and will take savage revenge on his quisling MPs in the South. ( They should start looking for new jobs now. )

Chris Walker - the so called debunking of the myth was journalism to tell Scottish readers what they wanted to hear. Don't be taken in - its a childish attempt to tell their readers what they want to hear - cherry picking figures without properly expanding on their sources.

Frankly we English are ready to call their bluff on this one.

  • 40.
  • At 01:57 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Shelley wrote:

Cam at 12.32 wrote in response to Peter -"All the more reason to allow Scotland the chance to vote in referendum for indpendance. - Then we can tax and spend as we wish, without wingers like the above moaning."

I read a lot of comments like this, but they don't seem to translate into any action. You have a devolved parliament with a leader who has given his verbal commitment to Scottish Independence; so what is stopping you from pressuring your parliament to hold this all important referendum??

I'd be more impressed with your determination to become independent if I saw at least some effort to actually bring this about.


  • 41.
  • At 09:16 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Andy, Glasgow wrote:

The only thing I would warn English, Welsh and Northern Irish citizens is that 'full fiscal autonomy' for Scotland would mean the power of all the economic policies, some of which are currently reserved to Westminster. So the ability to keep the oil revenue from the North Sea waters, for example, would be reserved to the Scottish Government.

  • 42.
  • At 09:19 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Terry wrote:

“The Uk is split into 13 regions, different regions get more/less barnet formula money.”

No, the Barnett Formula applies to Scotland only. It is based on population, not need and was introduced as a short term measure in the 1970s to stem what was seen as a nationalist threat.

“Scotland is third on the list after No1 London and no2 Northern Ireland. Scotland has the second highest GDP in uk after London. “

No, Scotland receives the second largest handout (after N Ireland) for social spending. This is despite her being the second wealthiest region (out of 12 I thought?). If you take the senior civil servants, politicians, admiralty, army etc spending then you can make the figures LOOK as if London gets more than Scotland, but this money CANNOT be spent on welfare.

Barnett should be scrapped, but it won’t be because Mr Bean and his mates are Scottish and turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

  • 43.
  • At 09:42 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • JonA wrote:

What happens when a large, unwieldy entity splits into two (or more) more focused entities?
First, they each try to tempt footloose assets to their own side of the river, by targeted incentives (lower taxes, bigger jobs, lower cost of living, stimulating environment, free universities, ...).
Second, they reappraise the value of what they do in relation to their own niche and circumstances, and come up with different answers. This leads to fierce competition on some things, but capitulation on others (comparative advantage is exercised).
Third, both entities become more competitive in relation to the outside world. Things change, improving for almost everyone.
Barnett has been a small, but successful experiment. Almost everyone should want to go further.

Scottish oil? We could go back to the Draft Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999 when a future Scottish First Minister redrew the territorial waters on an illogical and partisan basis or we could dispute Scottish jurisdiction over Shetland. But hey ho, the arguments cycle ad absurdum but do nothing to diminish the blatant iniquity of the devolutionary settlement.

England has been reduced to an amalgam of administratively convenient but largely meaningless chunks.

England has no national voice, legislative representation or distinct executive power.

Brown’s Britishness and flag waving applies uniquely to England and his campaign’s sole and cynical purpose is to keep Brown in power.

The loser in all of this is the English national identity. Unrecognised, unrepresented and despised.

An English parliament is England’s Claim of Right.

‘Necessity hath no law’

Oliver Cromwell


  • 45.
  • At 10:28 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • DisgustedDorothy wrote:

I cannot, for the life of me, work out why all those ill informed English people who yell about Scotland getting more of "their" money ,want us to stay in a union which does nothing for Scotland or for that matter the North of England.
Might I remind you of the McCrone report?
Might I remind you of the Oxford report?
Might I remind you that the London mayor has one third of Scotlands total budget to waste/spend on London?
Might I remind you that Northen Rock has been given THREE TIMES the amount Scotland gets for a whole country?

  • 46.
  • At 10:52 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Gordon McCarthy wrote:

Neil Small wrote:

'The Scottish economy is not particularly healthy'

How come? - surely Scotland continues to benefit from the 'Union Dividend'?

Neil Small also wrote:

'...and being stuck at the far end of Europe doesn't help either'

Exactly - as long as Scotland's interests continue to be channelled through Westminster. Scotland needs a direct voice to the rest of Europe and beyond - from Edinburgh.

  • 47.
  • At 11:08 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Hughesy p wrote:

Why should Scotland be allowed to offer free education to all except the English when the English fund so much of the Scottish budget?

I would look for Scotland to be granted further autonomy but they should have to pay for it. If they want to offer an opportunity for Scotland, it should not be at the expense of England.

Proportionally England must take resposibility for the majority of the budget. However, this should only concern UK issues, not solely Scottish issues (this applies both ways of course).

  • 48.
  • At 12:24 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Stu wrote:

A lot of typical knee-jerk, reactionary nonsense from the Southerners. If you look at the GERS reports on taxation recepits Scotland contributes 8.6% of UK taxation with 8.1% of the population, yes we get marginally more spending p/head but did it ever occur that in order to maintain the same level of public service in Scotland it would require a 16% higher investment: Thankfully we retained our countryside and it's this sparseness of population and the island communities which require this. I was never for independence but the line alot of English (without any knowledge what so ever) have taken has changed my mind: The death knell for the UK is ringing and Gordon is burying his head in the sand.

  • 49.
  • At 01:08 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Stewart wrote:

Many interesting comments on here. Unfortunately, most revolve around the ususal anti-scots/anti-english debate which is quite sad.

The Union as it stands at the moment is finished. What happens now so that all four countries get the best possible deal out of the inevitable break-up is what we should be discussing but so many people have their heads in the sand on this issue.

However, I have to take issue on several points that have been raised.

26 MalcolmW asks what happens when the oil runs out? The SNP have a very sensible policy of an oil fund which Norway currently runs for themselves very successfully. The question should be what is Gordon Brown's strategy for the inevitable should the UK stay together or if as some claim England would have more right to the oil than Scots claim? Answer he doesn't have one.

35 Anglophone calls the Scottish media parochial questioning the last time the P&J had a UK story. Answer every day. It's a local newspaper which covers mainly local news but does cover UK stories as do all Scottish newspapers - local or national.

39 Man in a Shed mocks the Herald story. have you read Scottish newspapers? Every single one is against independence and often reproduce scare stories about independence. the fact that every single one of them has acknowledged that scotland wouldn't be worse off independence is significant. incidentally, the first figures to show Scotland was in surplus was released by the Conservative Government eleven years ago.

40 Shelley wonders why there is no referendum. Because the parliamentary maths are against the referendum. The Unionist parties are in the majority and they are scared to have a referendum despite telling us Scots are against it. I wonder why?

What everyone would benefit from was a completely independent breakdown of who pays what into the Union, who gets what back. This would have no political prejudice or national prejudice just basic facts and then we can have a proper and mature debate about the future.

  • 50.
  • At 01:08 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Terry wrote:

“Barnett has been a small, but successful experiment. Almost everyone should want to go further.”

It’s been very successful if you’re Scottish, but if you’re English it’s been a massively expensive disaster.

Scotland has received almost £60bn more than England* since 1998. That’s a lot of money when spread between 5m people, but in England (ten times Scotland’s size) it would still have paid for the entire schools and universities budget.

Only someone with vested interests in Scotland would countenance its continuance. Such a people would be Brown and Darling, who the man carrying out this review and the one that ordered it. It stinks!

*http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/13532/Scotland

  • 51.
  • At 03:16 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • EJT wrote:

I suspect the real problem is that the cannier MPs in the UK parliament realize that if Scotland, Wales, and (please, God!) Northern Ireland leave the UK, there would be no need for a UK level of government at all. Which would put all those Scottish cabinet ministers out of a job.
An independent England, like Scotland and Ireland, could be a component country within the EU in its own right.

Alternatively, and this would be my choice, if the English were given a vote first, they could leave the UK comprising just the three Celtic nations; and England could then chose for itself whether to apply to join the EC or the USA.

  • 52.
  • At 03:44 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Ian Lowe wrote:

"Why should Scots MPs vote on English affairs.. but English ones cannot on Scots?"

They shouldn't.

Scots should vote on Scotland's affairs, English on England's. OUr tax goes to our government, your tax goes to your government.

Full independence is the best solution for all concerned.

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