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The Barnett Trap and the expensive lunch

Posted on October 23, 2012 by

The prime raison d’etre of a government is to provide for its citizens defence, security and services that either an individual would be unable to provide for themselves, or where such services are in the public interest but cannot be adequately served by market forces. Government is there to act on our behalf and in the common interest of our society, and in order to do so is funded by the people through taxation.

It’s the responsibility of any government to ensure that the services that the public pay for are maintained and that the money that is paid in taxation is spent as effectively as possible in delivering those services. These are not “giveaways”, but the reallocation of public funds to meet the needs of the populace, a transaction in which the recipient of the service has already provided payment – in many cases far more than they would ever recoup themselves.

Historically this was the most basic founding principle of the Labour Party, which advocated socialist policies such as public ownership of key industries, government intervention in the economy, redistribution of wealth, increased rights for workers, the welfare state, publicly funded healthcare and education. These principles were duly enshrined in “Clause IV” of the Labour constitution.

In 1995, however, “Clause IV” was abolished by Tony Blair, heralding the birth of “New Labour” and the adoption of market based solutions and neo-liberalisation. Labour in Scotland was less keen to accept this new creed than its compatriots south of the border, but when Johann Lamont recently signalled Scottish Labour’s final submission to the triangulated centre-right doctrine, many whose traditional sympathies lay with the party rounded bitterly on her policy shift.

Lamont’s speech included the following passage:

“…if we wish to continue some policies as they are then they come with a cost which has to be paid for either through increased taxation, direct charges or cuts elsewhere. If we do not confront these hard decisions soon, then the choice will be taken from us when we will be left with little options.”

Thus alienated from the original goals of her party, Lamont found herself able and apparently willing to advocate ending free prescriptions (£57 million per year), abolishing free university tuition (£220 million per year), and ending the imperfect but popular Council Tax freeze that has helped keep money in the pockets of the poorest in society (£70 million per year). Labour’s “nothing is off the table” task force will also consider ending free bus travel for all over-60s (£192 million per year), and free personal care for the elderly (£340 million per year).

But while Johann Lamont may have been wrong about the affordability of universal benefits today, next year, and even the year after (the policies above combined cost under 3% of the Scottish Government’s budget), she was – perhaps somewhat to the surprise of readers of this site – not wrong in the long term. Not wrong, that is, if Scotland stays in the Union. The reason for this is the nature of the Barnett formula.

The Barnett formula, which has determined Scottish Government funding since devolution, works by taking the money spent in England on services and allocating an equivalent percentage (based on population and devolved service provision) to the Scottish Government. By its nature, the formula is therefore not linked to the actual money raised in Scotland, or even the affordability of services from our tax base – it merely gives a lump sum to Holyrood based on the previous year’s spending in England. And it’s this system that will eventually lead to the undermining of the Scottish Government’s finances.

This is largely attributable to moves by successive Westminster governments since the advent of devolution to bring market-based economics into English public-service provision, through PPP, PFI and privatisation. As more and more infrastructure is built on PFI/PPP and services are either privatised or funded through direct billing of the public in England, then less public money from government is spent on services.

This leads to an equivalent drop in the funding due to the Scottish Government under the Barnett Formula. This is despite the fact that the services in England are not losing overall funding, as this is being recouped through direct charging (such as in the case of tuition fees) or by having the service being provided completely independently of government by the private sector for profit.

Even if the people of England wound up paying substantially more for the same services, or the Scottish tax base took a rapid growth spurt upwards, it wouldn’t matter. The funding for Scotland is based on the money that Westminster and local government spends in England, and only the money they spend.

As privatisation advances and fees for previously free-at-the-point-of-need services become more commonplace, the Scottish block grant will be cut accordingly, removing the funding needed to support our public services and forcing the abolition of universal benefits, regardless of what the people of Scotland want or do.

As Nicola Sturgeon put it, “It’s a conclusion that has its roots in the deeply misguided belief… that this Parliament should be responsible for divvying up the national cake but have no power to influence the overall size of that cake.”

In other words, as the neoliberal free-market ideological consensus tightens its grip on the throat of England, so Scotland too will choke.

In its attempts to stave off the asphyxiation of public funds, the SNP government has worked minor miracles of efficiency savings, and is taking other steps such as consolidating public services where possible, an obvious example being the amalgamation of Scotland’s police forces into a single one. Johann Lamont proposes instead to save money by reducing the provision of universal services and charging for some of them via means-testing. And then there’s also the constant background rumble within Scottish Labour with regard to ending the Council Tax freeze.

But none of these steps will solve the problem. Increasing Council Tax, for example, offers very limited scope for returns. It would be highly unpopular with Labour’s core vote to raise it across the board, so the party might propose to hike only the upper bands as a means of wealth redistribution. But a problem then arises in poor areas, which by definition tend to have very few households in the upper bands. Unless you charge the wealthiest £1m a year, the only answer is to raise the tax for the poor too.

To understand the scale of the problem, we must first note the reason the country’s finances are under such strain. Since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, the UK has only run a budget surplus for six of the last 33 years – two under the Chancellorship of John Major and four under Gordon Brown’s. When Labour took office in 1997, the nation’s debt stood at £352 billion. In 2001, after four years of “prudence” produced small surpluses, Gordon Brown declared an “end to boom and bust” and began spending more than was raised in taxes.

By 2008, before the banking crisis, the national debt had risen to £527 billion and the deficit (the amount the government was borrowing every year to finance extra spending) was £56bn a year. When Labour left office in 2010, the banking crisis had devastated public accounts and left the UK with a debt of around £760 billion and an annual deficit that had soared to £157bn.

Today, the coalition government has overseen a dramatic increase in the debt to £1,159 billion (and bear in mind that this doesn’t even count the “off the books” debt of PFI and other “creative” accounting solutions). The annual cost of simply servicing that debt amounts to around £43bn. Every household in the UK pays around £2,000 per annum in tax merely to finance the interest on the debt alone, never mind paying down the principal.

Scotland’s share of debt repayment was accounted for in GERS at £3.7bn in 2010-11 (more than we contributed to UK defence spending). That’s billions of pounds being given away every year with nothing to show for it – and what’s worse is that we have to borrow that money to pay the debt interest, from the very people we are paying it back to, with interest on top of that since we’re running a deficit. Westminster’s grand plan to drag us out of recession/depression is the economic equivalent of applying leeches to stop blood loss.

What all this means is that as the Barnett Formula continues to be applied, we’ll slowly get worse off until we cannot fund public services regardless of whether or not we can afford them. But there’s another reason too.

From GERS we know that in 2010-11 the total budget attributed to Scotland by Westminster (ie both the Scottish block grant and the money spent by London “on Scotland’s behalf”) was just under £64 billion, including all debt repayment and other costs. The total tax revenue raised in Scotland over the same period when a geographical share of North Sea revenue is included was £53 billion, which left Scotland with an estimated net fiscal balance deficit of £10.7 billion (or 7.4% of GDP).

In 2010-11, the equivalent UK position including 100 per cent of North Sea revenue was a deficit of £136 billion (or 9.2% of GDP). This means that Scotland pays for itself better than the UK as a whole.

But it has an extra burden to carry too. Scotland was allocated a share of that UK deficit, which was added to the nation’s debt balance, on a per-capita basis rather than being related to Scotland’s own finances. The per-capita share amounted to £11.4 billion, whereas as we’ve seen the actual Scottish deficit was £10.7 billion. In other words, £730 million that was not spent by or on Scotland has been added to our share of the UK’s crippling debt, in just one year.

This is an invisible annual subsidy by Scotland to the rest of the UK. It’s a bit like going out to lunch with your friend and getting a £9 main course, while your friend gets one that costs £11. When the bill comes your friend insists you split the bill at £10 each, thereby charging YOU £1 for the meal THEY ate.

That might be fine once in a while, but if it went on every week for 30 years, and all the time your friend was calling you a scrounger living off their money who should be grateful to be allowed to eat with them – after all they take you to all the nice places: the UN Security Council canteen, NATO’s sandwich shop, etc – then you might start to think it was time to get your own lunch.

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  1. 23 10 12 08:58

    The Financials | laidbackviews

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    Wings Over Scotland | The Barnett Trap and the expensive lunch « smallwhitebear

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    Tory cuts take a bit of your Barnett « Leithal Yak

  4. 19 09 13 18:48

    The affordability of independence | The Science of Independence

  5. 03 06 15 11:16

    So, what now for Scottish Nationalism? - Page 195

56 to “The Barnett Trap and the expensive lunch”

  1. charlie

    Quality research – could this be put to bullet points (or two sentences) for facebook, i know, but that’s what a lot of people will read


  2. Morag

    Thank you for that lucid explanation.  I was aware of the Barnet consequentials, but I understand it all a lot better now.
    What about the part where England decides to buy some goodies for itself, but somehow cooks the books so that Scotland doesn’t get any Barnet credit for that?

  3. Holebender

    I read somewhere that Council Tax bands are linked by some formula so it would not be possible to raise the rate for one or two bandswhile leaving the others untouched. As soon as any band is changed the formula allocates changes to all other bands as well.

  4. Morag

    I’ve also heard that.  I think that’s the case.

  5. Barontorc

    Every PFI/PPI project that has been undertaken in Scotland should be listed and the cretins who authorised them should be pilloried for what they’ve done.

    Name and shame them. Show initial cost for each project and then its final cost after payback time. 

    Name and shame! 

  6. Andrew

    Name and shame? Prosecute and surcharge mair like!

  7. douglas clark

    Really enjoy your posts on here. I am still in awe of your Cuba post.
    You say:

    The share amounted to £11.4 billion per capita,……

    Per capita usually means, per head. I am currently struggling financially but that really takes the biscuit!


  8. Macart

    Nice piece Rev., well worth a wee link elsewhere.

  9. McHaggis

    Council tax payments are based on a statutory formula with band D setting the ‘base’ and every other band being a ratio of that – in payment terms. This is why local authorities actually only set the payment for band D. 

    Of course, the formula could be amended by further legislation if it was desirable to do so. 

  10. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “Per capita usually means, per head. I am currently struggling financially but that really takes the biscuit!”

    That’s my fault in the edit, but it’s technically correct.  It needs to be read in the context of the preceding sentence and what it means is “£11.4 billion [when calculated] per capita”, but I’ll give it a tweak for better clarity.

  11. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    @Douglas – LOL,

    In this instance it means based on 8.4% of the UK Population (i.e. Scotland)…

    Its still bad though 

  12. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    @ Charlie,

    This may help you:!/Sneekyboy/media/slideshow?   

  13. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    @ Morag,

    It depends what they class it under. If they class it as expenditure for which there is an equivalent devolved capability then it will get consequentials.

    If however, they class it as a UK spend in which there is no devolved equivalent then no barnett.

    Basically they say the project is for the UK, not England         

  14. G H Graham

    The financial argument with the Unionists has in fact already been won; several including Cameron, Clegg, Milband & even Osborne have reluctantly conceded that Scotland has a viable economy post independence. Instead they are threatening voters with irrational emotional levers which of course are all rubbish; border posts at Gretna Green, the end of Come Dancing, foreign invaders, Panda internment, no miltary defences, uncontrolled immigration etc …

    Neverthless, it’s the public who will be voting in 2 years, not our Unionist die hards in London. And the average voter surely has no stomache for clever explanations of the consequentials of the Barnett formula.

    What they need is something akin to an upsetting football result on a Saturday afternoon that even a Buckfast breakfast, the morning after couldn’t spoil.

    So, while it’s enlightening to dismantle the complexities of financial policy, it is our responsibility to refrain from unraveling labyrinthine explanations & instead formulate simple, punctuated messages of fact, so simple, even Maragert Curran would get it.

    And don’t forget to click & link these pages to every other blog & news site where permitted, as frequently as possible.

    Off topic but I’ve just discovered a possible common link between Margaret Thatcher & Jimmy Savile …

    Who knew?

  15. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    @Holebender @Morag

    “I read somewhere that Council Tax bands are linked by some formula”  

    Yes, I believe that they are at present, that actually makes Lamonts argument even weaker as in order to tax those rich more she will tax the poor to a disproportionate level as a consequence, never mind that there will be some councils that just dont have ‘rich people’.   

    I am sorting out an article for the Rev on funding and will touch on that.  

  16. Kenny Campbell

    Personally I’m now at the stage where I think we should just walk away as an accession state, take our chances with the EU and leave the UK with the debt issue.

  17. Aplinal

    Thanks for this Scott.  I was not fully aware of the consequences on the privatisation in England/Wales, so this is important information.  How to get this out to the public?  I hope and trust that YESScotland are developing a seriously widespread information campaign with an easy to read booklet/leaflet that shows in clear simple language what has happened, is happening, and will happen if this “Union” continues. 
    On every occasion possible ALL the SNP and other pro-Independence public figures need to push the facts.  This has to be in “manageable” chunks – sound bites, if you will – and repeated and repeated!  The message will not get across any other way.

  18. Ghengis

    Great article highlighting the problems of being stuck in a union with the parasitic British state.
    However, if we have a 10 billion deficit made in Scotland as this article suggests, how is it possible to argue that public spending should not be cut?

  19. Tamson

    You can get a list of Scottish PFI/PPP projects at the Scottish Government website.

  20. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)


    We have a £10.7 Billion deficit so we need to reduce that.

    In the Union we have no options to alter how we do that and have to stick with Osbornes cuts agenda. There are alternatives however.

    For instance, taxation could be raised in order to cover some of the shortfall or money could be borrowed to pay for an economic stimulus package that would recoup more money than went into the package.

    The only real long term solution however is to grow the economy (with decent wage paying jobs) and reduce unemployment. Cuts are not the only option, but in Scotlands case there are a few that would help when we are independent.

    Lower spending on defence (£2.5 Billion instead of current £3.277) – £777 million
    The Scottish Office (comes out the Block Grant) – £7 million 
    Westminster (£498.4 million as UK), Scottish Per Capita Split – £41.87

    That would see us make £825.87 million of cuts without reducing a single service. 

    And our debt level wouldnt have risen by a further £732 million on top of our own deficit of £10.7 billion if we had been independent.!/Sneekyboy/media/slideshow?

    So independence has the inbuilt benefit of less scottish deficit and no UK debt added to our account that wasnt spent by us.

    Last year alone that would have made us £1.558 billion better off       

  21. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)


    Also dont forget that Westminster spends £17 Billion on “Scotlands behalf” and we have no control over that money.

    It includes things like: 

    the Jubylimpics
    Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya (which dont come out the defence budget as you would expect but rather a “special reserve budget” 
    High Speed Rail from London to Birmingham
    Refurbishing the palace of Westminster
    New sewer systems in London
    Funding the Monarchy
    Foreign affairs   
    Celebrating the outbreak of World War I       

    There is no reason to suspect that Scotland could not run its finances more efficiently 

  22. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “However, if we have a 10 billion deficit made in Scotland as this article suggests, how is it possible to argue that public spending should not be cut?”

    Almost every country on Earth currently runs a deficit. Having a deficit sometimes is not in and of itself a serious problem. The problem is when you can’t run a surplus in good times to absorb deficits in tougher times or build up a sovereign wealth fund to offset them against.

    Norway did exactly that and has around £300bn sitting in the bank to protect it against the tough years. Unfortunately, unlike Norway, Scotland isn’t a small country of 5m people with huge oil reserves and oh wait a minute.

  23. steve mckay

    Excellent article!   

    I think the fundamental problem plaguing the UK is inequality not subsidy.   As I am sure you know the GINI index which measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family incomes rates Sweden in the most favorable position of 136 countries listed whilst the UK is placed only 45th (and the US an abysmal 94th).

    Sweden, often referred to as an interesting model of Social Democracy, has a form of universal benefits system but with many up front charges.    In what may be viewed as an attack on the poor and vulnerable there are charges for elderly care, to visit the accident emergency, doctor, dentist and even get a prescription.    Families however, avoid being penalized for having children.   Nursery places cost around 100 pounds per month per child – but the ‘child support benefit’ is they same – so child care is effectively free.   Parents (men & women) can take up to eighteen months off work and receive state support of around 70% of their salary – if your salary is higher your level of support is higher.

    The reason I list these things is to point out that the ‘benefits’ system in Sweden, in theory, punishes the poorest and actually pays out more in certain situations to wealthier people.   Benefits are therefore not seen as a handout but as a right for every member of a society where citizens have an equal footing.   True universalism and not idealism.


    The reason this welfare model works is because Swedes are safe in the knowledge that in relation to their salaries, or crucially benefits if unemployed, costs are relatively minor, capped if long term and the service provided of a good standard.   The relationship between government and individual is one of trust and responsibility.  

    And that of course is the key – the Swedes antidote to Lamonts strange ‘something for nothing’ assertion is a ‘something for everyone’ culture.   None of the major political parties in the UK properly acknowledges inequality as the major stumbling block that will always prevent them from creating an equitable safety net for future generations.   Instead they distort the issue attacking and infantilizing those that cannot succeed in our overly competitive world.  It is one of the most bizarre and disgusting aspects of UK politics and illustrates the stranglehold that corporate power has on our politicians.

    I think its fair to say that if we had the level of equality and trust in government found in many other countries then we would be able to view universality from a different perspective in order to find a more efficient way of injecting funding directly into local services and removing any stigma.

    Preventative measures are the key to reducing public expense and in turn misery and government debt.   The first step is to accept the problems of everyone in society as our own.   Thats why I get uncomfortable when we turn the ‘subsidy slur’ on its head and reflect it back down south to illustrate that we are being held back.    Yes – I think Scotland will be wealthier if independent but unless we have a national debate that acknowledges the salary of a cleaner, bus driver or the benefits for someone ill or made redundant should be significantly raised and those of the professional and business classes moderated we will get nowhere as a society – in or out of the union.   

    Anyway – it goes without saying Scotland should be independent!   It is quite simply the only path that could lead to equality.

  24. pa_broon

    This is a really interesting post.

    Apart from the content, its also interesting that one country can take the piss out of another country in a fashion that is at the same time really very subtle and nuanced yet so shamelessly brassnecked and pernicious.

    What annoys me is, few people will take the time to understand this, they’ll dismiss it out of hand as being overly-complicated or too finicky.

    Even if £730 million isn’t a finicky amount of cash. I’m sure if you were to ask random folk if they’d like £146 at christmas (say) each year; they’d say ‘yes’. 

  25. panda paws

    Good article Sneeky and well researched. When Lamont first made this speech and people were still flabbergasted, I pointed out (here I think, possibly the Guardian) that she was right IF you assumed the continuation of the status quo and a block grant. Mind you I was far less eloquent than you!!
    Without independence, the reduction in Barnett consequentials does mean we couldn’t pay for universal benefits. This is a point that needs to be hammered home. As does the scam where English expenditure is classified as UK to avoid Barnett. If I remember correctly, they are upgrading London’s sewers on that basis (Newsnet Scotland). I believe if people in Scotland knew the half of this, they’d be weighing the Yes votes. But how do we get this info out there. I know more No voters than Yes and it’s like hitting your head off a brick wall getting them to engage!

  26. Craig P

    Morag said:
    What about the part where England decides to buy some goodies for itself, but somehow cooks the books so that Scotland doesn’t get any Barnet credit for that?

    You mean, events like the Olympics, or infrastructure projects like London crossrail or upgrading London’s sewers, which are judged to be in the national interest and therefore UK spending that we all benefit from rather than regional spending? When other projects, such as the Commonwealth games, or the new Forth Bridge, are judged to be purely Scottish spending?

    I think the answer you are looking for is ‘tough’.

    If we do stay in the union, Barnett needs to go. Not sure how that would work though.

  27. Braco

    @ G H Graham. I agree with the first section of your post but can’t help but recoil from the sneer in the paras regarding ‘buckfast breakfasts’ etc. You may not mean it in this way but it does come across as insulting the very electorate that you wish to convince. I do not believe the Barnet formulas blatant failings to be too intricate to be explained on the doorstep to the general electorate. The formula was cobbled together in order to be simply understood in Whitehall in the first place after all. No matter how dumbed down an argument you feel is needed to be effective against the Currans of this world, they will never vote for Independence and they are simply not our target audience. 
    Great article Sneekyboy. I hope admin is reading it!

  28. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    @Craig P

    “If we do stay in the union, Barnett needs to go. Not sure how that would work though”


    The Tories are keen on a per-capita split of revenues…

    Of course that would see Scotland getting 8.4% of revenues rather than the current 9.3%.

    It would be even worse than keeping the Barnett formula and SLOWLY getting less since it would be a sudden reduction in revenues to Scotland…

    And all the time the ACTUAL money raised in Scotland has no bearing on what we can fund.

    The other alternative was to give Scotland the power to raise all taxes and spend as it needs, contributing to the central pot for foreign affairs and defence…

    Oh wait…. wasnt that devo max…             

  29. muttley79

    Scott, very good article.  Like others have said, I wonder why the Yes campaign have not made more of the Barnett formula and its effects?  Surely it is one of the major issues that needs to be emphasised and tackled. 

  30. Alex Grant

    Not only do we need to get this analysis over to the voters we also need to remind them that a No vote will guarantee to make it worse as ironically the English press has told a story diametrically opposed to this. A reduction in the Barnett allocation is guaranteed and that’s before any retribution for the referendum is considered!

  31. Andrew

    Can’t someone publish an exhaustive analysis of Scotland’s financial position which takes into account everything including defence, VAT, sewers, corporation tax, etc, etc, etc. I reckon that deficit would just about disappear altogether.

  32. Keith B

    Sorry to bring a note of pessimism to proceedings; this article shows that our task might be harder than we thought.

    @panda paws

    Just a wee point; as I understand it the London sewers haven’t been classified as UK expenditure (as east London regeneration was prior to the Olympics) rather it is being paid for out of reserves – same effect though. 

  33. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)


    The Barnett formula works at the present time while the welfare state is intact and does give MUCH (not all) of the revenues that Scotland is due to us.

    If the Scottish Government starts saying how its not working then the Tories may well end up replacing it with “SOMETHING ELSE” that they can say is an improvement… 

    Plus its a complex issue that revolves around applying percentages of English funding based on the percentage of a service that is devolved to Scotland and the percantage of the scottish population in proportion to the population of England (not the uk).  

    At its basic however it boils down to:

    *The Scottish Government get a percentage of what England gets spent on it by the UK government

    *If the UK government privatise or charge for services in England then they will be replacing spending from government with charging the public.

    *Less UK government funding of England means less Scottish funding   

    *Less Scottish funding means Scotland will be forced to adopt privatisation and charges to the public.

    *It will signal the end of the Welfare state        

  34. Silverytay

    REV / Scott Minto
    Am I correct in assuming that while on paper that scotland is running a £10.7 billion deficit , that it is not as bad as that as the figures are skewed to make Scotland look bad . 
    I am sure that I read somewhere that there are millions of pounds that Scotland contributes to the u.k exchequer that are not listed as Scottish, one of these being any fines paid in Scotland go straight to the u.k exchequer .
    As others have stated, westminster fiddles the barnett formula to suit themselves .  While there might be an argument for the channel tunnel being classed as a british benefit due to the fact that we live on an island , there is no argument for the london sewer system or the biggest shopping centre in Europe being classed as a british benefit .  I ask you what benefit to Scotland is the london sewers or a shopping mall in london .     I had better not tell the wife about the shopping mall or she will be dragging me down to london on an expedition .


  35. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)


    Yes fines is one of the tricks.

    Another is the Crown Estates now that Queen Liz is to get 15% as her funding  

    Oh and the Scottish Affairs Select Committee’s own report says that:

    “The CEC has raised £10.6 million more capital by selling assets in Scotland since devolution, than it has invested in Scotland over that period”   

    Transmission Charges

    Not entirely sure about APD, whether that is applied from the UK airport you get OUT of the UK or the domestic one you started in (i.e. aberdeen to london – london to spain – who gets the APD applied?)

  36. panda paws

    Over at the Independent, they are reporting G4S in line for contracts in the privatized probation service Leaving aside ones thoughts on the suitability of G4S to run anything, will this reduce Barnett again since justice is devolved? Does anyone know the answer?

  37. Norrie

    Really difficult to create a sound bite to cover these areas. Think we may need to cloud source this idea.

  38. Norrie

    First attempt :- Scotlands tax UKs axe (Englands axe). Can here the accusations about the bracketed words already. Hopefully people will ask what you mean then you have the in to explain.

  39. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)


    If the Westminster government are paying the company then they are still spending money so Barnett applies.

    If any service that is privatised is paid for directly by the public then no barnett.

    If any service is being charged directly to the public and the governmgnet budget cut then reduced barnett. 

    The question you need to ask is will Westminster be spending less.


  40. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    @ Norrie:

    Tory cuts take a bit of your Barnett 

  41. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    “Really difficult to create a sound bite to cover these areas.”

    Scott’s image already linked to in these comments is a pretty punchy start. I’m working on other visual stuff.

  42. Norrie

    Where can I see the image?

  43. velofello

     The elephant in the UK room i reckon is the Barnet formula and the “beneficial to the UK” spending scams.As the first post here proposed, explanation of these would benefit from being  condensed to a sentence or two for the “I’m not interested in politics” brigade. One-liners are effective.
    Remember Blair’s 45 minute attack time threat by Iraq?
    Blair Jenkin’s – if Scotland was independent would you vote for union with England – is excellent.
    The SNP’s  9.6% tax remitted, 9.3% received in return, would be better emphasized as cost per household.
    I noted on Brian’s Big Debate Friday past that dear old lady Annabel Goldie was allowed to add in the £10.7 billion deficit figure to justify her too poor strategy without correction or clarification by Taylor.
    Didn’t Wendy Alexander state in 2007 that should Scotland elect an SNP government each family would be £5000 pa worse off? Is that what Lamont is alluding to should we stay with the union and vote in the SNP again?
    If the UK establishment was sincere then Devo-max would be on the table, but Devo-max would reveal to the Scots just how unfair is the UK.  Article in the I paper yesterday, the City isn’t doing so well and prediction is 2020 before a recovery. Two suicides recent off the Silver Chicken building. So a double whammy. The City isn’t laying golden eggs and Scotland votes for independence. I think a storm is approaching.
    Great article,thank you.

  44. Norrie

    My visual take on the article.

  45. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)


    I prefer your fare dodger sketch… oo er missus 

  46. steve mckay

    Is nobody worried that the incessant and patently false statements on the MSM about Scotland being subsidized are part of a tactic to pull the debate into an interminable argument and make Scots that react angrily look like they have their hands down the back of the sofa after fat uncle Bullingdon sat there.

    Yes its upsetting, and yes a calm measured response is required, but when I talk to people in Scandinavia Scots are already coming across as more interested in sticking it to the English and running off with their oil than striving for a better society.   The impression here is that Scots attitudes are, and have always been, the same as the English when it comes to deregulated banking, jumping on the house price inflation / buy to let bandwagon etc etc and to a large extent the economic and social mess we are in is largely of our own making.  

    What others think of Scotland may not matter to some but a nation that gives the impression it has been founded on the basis of self serving greed as opposed to a vision of fairness for all, not just Scots, is a far harder sell at home, in Europe and further afield.   We can’t take it for granted the rest of the world see’s the internal political relationships of the UK clearly and will assign our motivations as being principled and far sighted.

    Even if England was subsidizing Scotland we should still vote for independence because we wish to do things differently.  

  47. Johnnypict

    Fantastic article. I learned some more. We need to keep this going round. Everyone should have the oppotunitty to understand this. I’m sharing …

  48. Norrie

    Unfortunately that for some reason upset a few people thought best to do something that just might get people to read the article.

  49. Braco

    @ steve mckay. Unfortunately the people that you talk to in Scandinavia or elsewhere with that attitude are misinformed. Trying to set a course to ease these misconceptions abroad will not address the issues at home which will win this referendum. On the plus side however fortunately they do not have a vote in the forthcoming referendum. It is the perception of the Scots electorate that needs to be addressed here and countering ‘the incessant and patently false statements on the MSM about Scotland being subsidized’ is top of the agenda at the moment in order to be able to spend the latter half of the campaign expounding the positive vision of a future Scotland created through the will of its people being able to use the powers of a sovereign country. This is a long campaign and I think it’s vitally important to deal head on (and early) with the fears engendered over the decades by the UK state about the viability of an Independent Scotland. Something I do not feel is difficult but as yet has not been achieved.   

  50. Siôn Eurfyl Jones

    I’d like to correct a suggestion in a previous post (too far back for me to remember who it was) that ‘EnglandandWales’ are in the thrall of PFI/PPI. Wales is also devolved, and , apart from a couple for schools, and I think one hospital that we inherited from Westminster, we too have refused to get involved in the outrageous scam! 

  51. steve mckay

    The leaders of all parties have already admitted that Scotland is a perfectly viable country.   The discussion now is about exactly how much better off Scots will be and how badly we have been treated in the past – a tricky debate in many ways.   What riles me a bit is that each family will only be ‘better off’ if, in the short term at least, we continue with the debt levels we have.   If independence is about sticking more borrowed cash in our pockets then whats the point.   The argument should be that we will not necessarily be better off – but we will be able to reassign finances, make sweeping changes to our political system and improve levels of equality.  This in turn provides security and a long term sustainable future for Scotland.

    I think this is the positive vision that Patrick Harvey is always talking about. 

    I completely agree that misinformation is rife at home and abroad.  But I can’t agree that the attitudes of those in England, Europe and beyond do not matter just because they don’t vote.   Scotland does not, and can not, exist in a bubble – hence the fuss about NATO and coming arguments surrounding the pound and the EU etc.   If those that live outside Scotland’s boundaries are given a negative view of Scottish independence I think it can be very damaging to the Yes campaign as it is easily manipulated by the ‘Bitter Together’ mob and broadcast by the BEEB.

  52. Braco

    @ steve mckay. I think that we both share a similar vision and hope for a future Scotland but I am all too aware that many in the Scots electorate still believe the decades of financial misinformation and propaganda spouted by the UK establishment. The recent and grudging  unionist party leaderships admissions are certainly not being echoed in the media or by everyday attitudes and arguments put forward by their activists and parties mouthpieces. I live in Portugal most of the year and I can assure you that Scotland and the Portuguese view of Scotland is as a part of England. Should I take on board this point of view when formulating the best way to win the referendum in 2014? I don’t think so and as far as I am concerned your worries of how we are seen abroad can only be addressed by gaining independence and showing the world what and who we are. This is why it is essential that before we start exploring our plans for an independent Scotland with a skeptical electorate we have at first to secure the foundation of general acceptance of our superior financial situation in relative terms to the RUK. Our attractive future plans for the country may then be taken seriously as opposed to being dismissed as pipe dreams as they are so often done already. As for the Bitter Together mob, they will throw muck any which way this argument goes (see Iceland and Ireland) irrespective of facts, so that’s just another thing we can’t control and so should not waste time trying to anticipate but instead handle as best we can as and when it arises. As I say, I think this argument can be won quite quickly if we put our efforts into it, but in my opinion it must be won before we can take the electorate with us on the more exciting and inspiring trip of imagining ourselves forging a better country via the powers of the sovereign people of Scotland. I can’t wait !

  53. tartanfever

    Great article Scott, thank you.

  54. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy)

    Charlie asked for an abridged version for twitter / facebook.

    Here it is:   

  55. HighlandMartin

    Really good read Scott,  nice point about the off the books cost.  I’ve often wondered how PFI costs compare  with the ScotGov’s current alternative finance funding. Up this way, well remember the Skye Bridge PFI and toll fiasco and the extortionate cost to buy out the Inverness Airport build.  

  56. Tris

    Brilliant, Scott.
    I’m going to bookmark this and use your research, if I may, when I have to argue that we are being subsidized by England.
    Superb piece of work, made simple enough that even an economics dunce like me can easily understand it, and utterly readable to boot!
    Thank you.

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