Wednesday, October 04, 2006

First Liverpool, Then Scotland, Next...

Boris Johnson is at it again. First he insulted the people of a city Liverpool, now he is taking on a country, Scotland.

While his leader Dave Cameron is tring to revive the position of his party north of the border, Boris has stampeded in with a bulldozer that is likely to scupper Scottish Conservatives' slim hope of any breakthroughs next may. Boris Signled out two Lib Dem policies when he spoke at a fringe meeting.

"The Scots should not get free university education subsidised by us in England. They shouldn't get free nursing care."

The thing is Boris the people of Scotland are turning in droves to the party that came up with these policies and away from the party that governed Scotland disastorously through the 80s. Something that Dave had to apologise for recently.

Also Boris despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament has the power to increase taxes, it has yet to do so to meet these obligations and instead is just being prudent with the pursestrings and is providing public services. Considering the Tories actually cut health spending in their last year in government I'd be careful what you bring to the fore Boris.

As for a Scot not being good enough to be Prime Minister the Earl Home and the Earl of Aberdeen must be turning in their graves.


Tristan said...

Well, he's right.

Scotland gets too much money from the rest of the UK. The Barnett formula is out of date.
And isn't it the Welsh who come out worst off? (although Wikipedia says England gets least funding)

But it is unfair that Scotland gets more funding per head than the rest of the UK, its something which must be sorted out.

It is not only unfair to the rest of the UK, it is demeaning to Scotland. It makes Scotland look like a charity case.
If Scotland wishes to provide these services, then it should come from scottish funds. All public funds in scotland should come from Scottish taxation, with money flowing to westminster for the UK based services (defence, MPs salaries etc).

Stephen Glenn said...

Fair enough Tristan and I agree that the Barnett Formula needs revisiting, even Barnett has said so. Although Scotland as with Wales and Northern Ireland, still need some assistance to maintain equality of access to services etc as the wealthy highly taxed English.

However, the main thrust of what I am saying is that Boris appears to have said that because of funding which was not present under any other regime that the Scots have received something extra. That is clearly not true, it was done within the same contraints as the last Tory administrations.

Scottish Theorist said...

The Barnett formula was invented as a means of reducing the disparity in funding betweeen Scotland and England.
It alters, preportionally per head of population, the block grant Scotland received from Westminster. Over the next thirty years or so it should destroy any spending gap.
The initial block grant was created from a number of historically agreements not based on head of population.
The fact that Scotland receives more funding per person can be argued to be justified in a number of different fashions.

1) A far more dispersed population requiring significant money for infrastructure
2) Traditional industries were far more dominant in Scotland than in the South.
3) Most of the UK wide, high level civil service positions are based in England meaning that more UK wide tax collected is spent in the South East
4) The oil industry based in Scotland generates a vast amount of tax revenue which is spread UK wide.

However post-devolution, for Scotland to have 'ownership' of its' (high cost) policies it must have to raise the tax revenue for them.
Effectively all taxes raised in Scotland should stay in Scotland, running a parallel (but not necessarilly different) tax system.
This model could be cloned in English regions who similarly have gripes regarding the preportion of public spending they receive.

Stephen Glenn said...

Well Scottish Theorist you will pleased to know that fiscal autonomy is a policy of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and during that debate I did raise the fact that the same should be true for the regions of Scotland.

However, ever under such a sytem they will still be some possible needs for regional assistance. After all we are part of Europe which recognises that support is required for the less well off regions, these have changed through time. The same will apply to some areas of Scotland (as well as elsewhere in the UK) as you said due to vast areas of dispesal that some police, health and education authorites have to face, which puts a far higher cost on providing key services per head than for other equal UK citizens.

It is a very interesting debate for which answers are not always as straightforwards as some people would like them to be.

Caron said...

Boris is such good value. Is there any group of people he hasn't offended? As a mildly entertaining wit, he's fine - as Education Secretary - very scary. Thank goodness I live in Scotland where he would have no jurisdiction over my child's education.


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