This morning’s Daily Record carries a story about Ed Balls’ policy speech on welfare yesterday. Commendably, the Labour-supporting paper isn’t shy of pointing out the implications of Balls’ comments:
“Scots could get welfare benefits at lower rates than people in wealthy parts of England under plans being worked on by Labour. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls yesterday raised the idea of a regional cap on welfare, opening the door to variations in a range of social security benefits.
Balls said the welfare cap of £25,000 a year per household should be higher in London but could be lower in parts of the UK where housing is cheaper.”
We’d have been even more impressed, though, if Wings Over Scotland hadn’t revealed the reality of what Labour’s future plans meant for Scotland almost three weeks ago.
Back on the 14th of May we published an analysis of an interview Gordon Brown gave to Scotland Tonight. In it we noted that the former Chancellor’s view on devolution was that giving the Scottish Parliament extra powers was only acceptable if it led to the diversion of money from Scotland to poor parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in order to bring about what Brown called “fiscal equalisation”.
The ex-PM was referring to taxation, but Balls’ plans are an extension of the same principle. Under his regional welfare caps proposal, money would once again flow out of Scotland, this time headed for London and other expensive areas of England.
Regional benefits would therefore obviously increase fiscal inequality between the wealthy South-East of England and the rest of the UK, meaning Scotland – according to Brown’s vision for devolution – would have to pump in even MORE tax money in order to counterbalance poverty in the other three constituent nations.
Should a Labour government be elected to Westminster in 2015, Scotland should therefore expect higher taxes but lower benefits, on top of the cuts to universal services already promised by Johann Lamont and backed up yesterday by Ed Balls.
Scotland’s future in the UK under Labour is to become a cash cow for the poor of England, Wales and Northern Ireland – just as it was when Margaret Thatcher financed mass unemployment from Scottish oil revenues in the 1980s – while Scotland’s own poor, elderly and vulnerable see a bonfire of the public services they rely on to live. Because hey, those nuclear submarines won’t pay for themselves.
It’s quite the tempting offer, isn’t it?