Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scotland's social democracy

Ah, the poor English. Oppressed by the iniquitous Barnett Formula. Of all the injustices in all the bars in all the must be the worst. Yet Alex Salmond looked pretty relaxed about this on the Marr show this morning. He didn’t seem that bothered about Barnett. I’m not an economist, but if an independent Scotland had its oil revenue (£1 billion a month) and its taxpayers didn’t have to contribute towards Trident renewal and Labour’s various wars might not that go a long way? The remedy proposed by the Tories (excluding Scottish MP’s from decisions affecting only England) is in a way a logical solution to the “West Lothian Question”; but suppose Labour win the next election yet there is a majority of Tory MP’s in England. In other words, there could be a Tory majority in the “English Grand Committee” (making Cameron in effect the English First Minister) and a Labour majority in the (UK) House of Commons. I am sure this is part of the attraction of all this for the Tories who always do better in England than elsewhere (of course they also want to play the “Scottish card” against Brown who is reduced to endlessly bleating on about his “Britishness”). But I can't see why the Tory solution should be preferable to independence (which it will surely hasten) with both countries controlling their own revenue (as proposed by Salmond). As Salmond suggested this morning, of the two countries the one which might find it most difficult to go its own way is England. To me Scotland looks more progressive and outward-looking and pro-European than England. Which of the two is most prone to introverted xenophobic Euroscepticism, nostalgia for empire, and rampant neo-liberalism? As Ian McWhirter remarked in the Guardian the other day “…this SNP administration is implementing the most progressive political agenda seen in Britain for three decades”. And it’s popular. Only a few days ago I read about a scheme in deprived areas piloting universal free school meals. And in England? The top priority is abolishing inheritance tax. We should learn from the Scots...


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