The Scottish “Wendy Commission”, a review of powers set up by everyone but the SNP, so not discussing independence, will also discuss finance. Its been said before though, Gordon came out with talk of giving the Scottish parliament more tax powers. This idea is brought up again and again so we English think something is being done about the formula, while nothing is for fear of upsetting the Scots. The Barnett formula means that Scotland receives £1500 per person more in identifiable government spending.
Apparently a paper will be produced on how the Barnett formula works. Surely everyone knows this, despite attempts to muddy the waters by pro-unionists. Essentially, funding for the nations of the UK is determined by population, starting from a higher per head public spend in Scotland, Wales and NI compared to England. In theory the spending levels should converge (Barnett squeeze) but the lower population growth in Scotland and arbitrary decisions by government as to what is included in Barnett mean this has not happened.
The one useful thing this review could do is make a proper analysis of Scottish Oil revenue vs Barnett pay back. I have read so many unsourced claims about England subsidising Scotland and Scotland subsidising England I can’t help thinking the real truth is somewhere in between and it is probably a break even situation.
Either way it is not just about money. Scotland should not be controlled by a UK government grant it goes against the principle that those who spend money should raise it. As English spending determines Scottish spending, it is also a justification for the West Lothian Question, whereby Scottish MPs vote on English-only matters. They also matter to Scotland through Barnett consequentials. It is well known that Scottish Labour MPs are the least likely to rebel, we need this group of yes men to have to work harder to justify this unjust situation.
Either way, I predict reviews, reports, discussions and consultations. I predict regular newspaper articles like this one to make us think something is being done. I predict come next election absolutely nothing will have changed, but there maybe some manifesto ‘commitments’ to try and buy off both SNP and English Tory voters.
You can’t please us both Gordon. UK-wide, consistent, needs based review on a local level, and if Scotland ends up with more fair enough. Or full financial independence. Nothing else is acceptable.