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This will play into the hands of the SNP. With EU taking more powers on defence, foreign policy, criminal justice and so many other national issues, Westminster's influence in Scotland will soon be negligible. The choice for Scottish Tories simple - Westminster or Brussels. If they want to continue with the Union, they must realise that Scotland is Better Off Out of the EU.

And with an unerring predictability ‘senior members’ of the voluntary Party north of the border once again demonstrate why we have been so reduced as a political force.

I’ve heard a rumour that another ‘senior former office bearer’ is drafting a discussion paper theorising that the earth is indeed flat. No doubt it will be tabled for urgent discussion at the next meeting of the Scottish Council.

The issue here is not really about the specific proposal for fiscal autonomy (which I personally find to be at least an interesting idea, worthy of consideration), or participation in the Scottish Constitutional Commission (which I actually think we are mistaken to have aligned ourselves with).

This is in fact about the general question posed in the final paragraph of your article, and the complete inability of ‘senior members’ of the voluntary party to understand that devolution is – however much they may not like it – here to stay.

The casual equation of any increase in the powers of the Parliament with crypto-separatism is facile, but comforting for those who simply can’t accept that the world has changed. The fact that such an equation, if its implications were to be followed to their logical conclusion, is politically suicidal apparently does not matter.

We tried the King Canute approach for years and it ended in the carnage of 1997, and what is so utterly depressing is that the ‘senior members’ quoted seem to want to replay it all.

What really gets under my skin about this is that there is an entirely different story that we could be discussing; the progress being made by the Conservatives in Holyrood in terms of asserting themselves as serious players in the Parliament, from a position of numeric weakness.

Here is Douglas Fraser of the Herald’s take on it:

“The interesting ones to watch are the Tories. They set out modest but achievable targets in the budget process; more money for policing, faster introduction of a small business rates relief scheme and more for drug rehabilitation. The amendments for which they got SNP support in finance committee on Tuesday urge the minister to find ways of boosting police recruitment beyond the 500 financed so far. This isn't quite a coalition, in that the Tories remain in opposition, but they are showing what they set out to demonstrate last May – that you can get some results while being in opposition to a minority administration.”

Political relevance, signs of smart strategic thinking, the achievement of Conservative goals, positive headlines from a media that in the past has been at best ambivalent towards us.

Is any of that of interest to ‘senior members with 30 years of service to numerous leaders’? Not a chance.

Is it not a good idea to speak up for rolling back devolution? If all those who voted no in the referendum voted Tory, we might be doing quite well. In Scotland we are seriously getting below our core vote, as a lot of the core vote wants to kick the "gruesome mediocrities" (Michael Fry, "The Union") and see them hounded to account for maladministration rather than have a Tory join the Holyrood love-in.

What we ought to call for is for Holyrood to sit more longer, and for committees to sit for longer-it keeps lackidasical hours and is just not able to hold the executive to account.

The greatest problem here is that the United Kingdom is being refashioned by a small minority of its citizens (the Scots) without anyone else being asked.

The Unionist response should be either a federal UK or a unitary UK. There must be symmetry and justice for all.

Special favours with different parts of the UK is separatism. It is also manifestly anti-English.

The greatest challenge for the conservative party is to give a voice to England. That could be started with a English division of the party to match those that exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I have to agree that Labour's plans for more separatism for Scotland will lead to the break up of the UK.

It would be nice to preserve the UK as it is, with all member nations having a degree of autonomy.
The longer this argument rages the more annoyed the people of England will become with "the moaning Scots", fostering resentment and perhaps a feeling that Scotland should go its own way, if just to have some peace and quiet for a change.

Any Scottish politician that advocates lower taxes and a smaller state - and God knows, there are few enough - is currently trying to push water uphill, because our political establishment is not responsible for raising the money it spends.

At the moment, we are locked into an arms race between Labour and the SNP, both of whom promise higher and higher spending, but neither of whom are responsible for going cap in hand to the voter and extorting the money from them the following financial year.

The only way to bring sanity to the political debate is for the Scottish Executive to be required to match its spending plans with its own funds.

In the longer term, this might actually strengthen the Union, as it would put paid to the idea (erroneous, as it happens) that the English subsidise the Scots. If we want free prescriptions, university tuition and the like, then we should damn well have to pay for it.

Sorry Rob, but I don’t think that’s right.

Firstly, despite there being undoubted disappointment about the performance of the Scottish Parliament – in no small measure as a result of the unrealistic expectations built up over the twenty years preceding its creation – there is also no real appetite for disbanding it. Advocating its disbanding might gain us a handful of hard-core anti-devolution votes, but it would lose us far more as we marginalised ourselves still further from the mainstream political debate in Scotland.

You’re quite right that many people voted in May last year to kick the ‘gruesome mediocrities’, but they voted SNP to do it. That’s hardly evidence that voting intentions are aligned with attitudes towards the constitution. It’s no more the case that those who voted SNP are, in many cases, supporters of independence than that anyone who opposes devolution will vote Tory, if we were to adopt an abolitionist position. The added irony, of course, is that the author your quote (Michael Fry) latterly came out as a supporter of independence himself.

Also nobody is advocating a ‘love-in’, but if we are in any way interested in playing a role in the governance of Scotland and of advancing our own agenda then, as a matter of simple fact, engagement is necessary. Standing on the sidelines will achieve nothing.

Mr Eugenides – yes, I think that’s completely right.

Leaving aside that Mrs Goldie appears from afar as being just a tad too amenable to Scottish Labour's whiles
(I would play extremely hard to get if I were the Scots Tories )

I cannot see anything unreasonable with idea of fiscal independence of England and Scotland . It spells no danger to the Union . Fiscal and parliamentary independence within a British Union was what was wanted by most Scots in 1707 , is broadly what the Unionist Scots had been working for for many years before 1707 and what Scots are working towards now .

Scottish opinion then and now was for a federal Union with England with an overarching British parliament and a separate British budget .

Same for England of course .

In light of the abuse Cameron directed at English people for wanting some say over our issues, as a matter of balance are we going to hear him call Annabel Goldie a 'sour faced little Jock' for wanting fiscal control over Scottish revenues?

Yes, Iain, that's a tremendous idea. We'll be in single digits before you know it.

Fiscal autonomy is a way - the only way, IMO - to defuse the tensions that threaten to tear the Union apart; specifically, the chip-on-shoulder attitude still prevalent among many Scots, and the increasingly ugly hatred - not too strong a word - that is evinced by many English towards the Scots - including a few on this site. [London is more heavily subsidised than Scotland. Do we get the same level of anti-capital abuse on here? Of course not.]

With ever larger pots of cash for the UK exchequer to share, Scotland gets a plentiful budget every year. Scottish politicians take the credit for spending it, and blame others if (as this year) it is even slightly squeezed. The only way to break this cycle of more and more cash, I repeat, is for Alec Salmond to be forced to send his SNP activists out onto the doorstep to beg for it directly from voters.

Only then will there be any chance whatever of persuading my fellow Scots that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

‘sour faced little Jock'

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the English Democrat contingent descended onto this thread.

What I can’t understand is they are forever saying ‘that’s it – I quit!’, and ‘from now on, I’ll never be voting Tory again,’ but like a dog returning to its own vomit, here they are once more.

Some sensible comments here from Bill and Mr Eugenides.

"Yes, Iain, that's a tremendous idea. We'll be in single digits before you know it."

Why should it? after all Cameron thought it fine to call English people 'sour faced little Englanders' for wanting some representation, as such it shows double standards for him to permit the Scottish Conservative party to pursue a policy of fiscal autonomy, when as I say he thought it fine to abuse English people for wanting some equivalence for what Scotland already has.

I agree strongly with Bill and Mr. Eugenides. I kind of doubt the Scottish Party will propose full fiscal autonomy though as the English Party wont agree to it whatever the Jockophobes on the Party backbenches might wish. The MSPs have stated this must be a cross-border agreement and so full fiscal autonomy wont be the Scottish Partys policy however much I would like it to be. Indeed its curious to contrast the MSPs attitudes to the MPs. The MSPs have stressed there must be Anglo-Scottish agreement on the new formula and that Scotland cant make it up on its own. In contrast the English MPs seem to think they'll just produce some less favourable formula and we in Scotland will just have to live with it. Kind of highlights the Scottish Conservatives = Unionists, English Conservatives = nationalists divide.

In reality though this discussion about further powers has been forced on the Scottish Party by the anti-Scottish fervour of our English MP's. They are keen to be rid of the Barnett formula but seem to think they can then just construct some new needs-based formula which is much worse for Scotland and just lump it on us. If the Jockophobe sentiments in the English Party are so great as to lead to the end of Barnett then I for one want at the very least a substantial degree of fiscal autonomy to replace not some worse funding formula landed on us by the English nationalists.

As it is there is already a Barnett squeeze limiting spending increases in Scotland and any reduction in the baseline figure will mean Scottish spending feels the squeeze even more. I dont mind that in itself but since this will be accompanied by much largr increases in spending in England even under Barnett, to my mind it would only be tolerable if we were enduring it as part of a process of moving to fiscal autonomy rather than enduring it so as to appease the English nationalists on the Tory backbenches who view Scotland with outright hostility.

Anyway why should the Scottish Party have to view every policy decision through the prism of whether it strengthens the Union when that is the last thing the English Party considers?

As usual a mixture of very good sense and uninformed nonsense on this topic. For Mr Eugenides' information the SNP are committed to lowering taxation, particularly on small business but on all business in the long run, is committed to smaller government (it has already cut the number of departments in the Scottish Government by two)and has made a start on contracting the quango state. The challenge for Tories in Scotland is to determine what is best for Scotland - not what is best for the UK Tory Party. If the union is bad for Scotland or independence would be better for Scotland honest Tories have no choice but to opt for Independence.
I agree with several posters who suspect that the Tory Party's dalliance with Labour in Scotland is doing damage to the Tory cause. Annabel was doing better earlier and her obvious skills are being squandered by being asscoiated with the anti-Independence Constutional Commission which all Scots (including those who support the union ) know is a clumsy attempt to prevent the Scots discussing Independence. Won't do to treat the Scots as bare @rsed natives, mark my words.
The three unionist parties will eventually split on the independence issue as it is the only political issue of any significance in Scotland today. And the Scots Tory Party which contains rather more pragmatic and honest elements than piss poor Labour or the LibDumbs will be the first to split.
Mark my words on this one.

agree David. I think only Ashcroft's money is keeping the Tory party in Scotland together.

A right of centre party that puts Scotland first is needed. The old imperialists will stick with the increasingly anti-EU English Tory party.

Firstly, despite there being undoubted disappointment about the performance of the Scottish Parliament – in no small measure as a result of the unrealistic expectations built up over the twenty years preceding its creation
More devolution locally with perhaps local authorities having substantial powers in Scotland and possibly a Council of Scotland comprising representatrion from these groups but with a lot of the Scottish Parliament's powers handled more locally, and a similar situation in Wales and Ulster and perhaps a Yorkshire Parliament, Lancashire Parliament, Cornwall Parliament, Mercia Parliament, Norfolk Parliament etc... with similar powers - so a UK Federal Union with localised devolution.

Yet Another Anon

So you think Europe's oldest nation is comparable to an English county?
If England wants to have local assemblies we have no objection, of course That's England's decision to make.There appears to be no appetite for it however and no reason why Scotland would choose to wait for any appetite for such a complicated scheme to develop in England.
Even if it does you would all however remain English - and we will all remain Scottish.
That's the difference and it's nothing to do with size of population. It is a determination by a disparate group of people of whatever number choosing to see themselves as a nation. And whether Scots wish to go for Independence or remain in what was sold to them as an equal union they know they are a nation.

IMHO hte overarching principle here is that the voters should suffer the consequences of their electoral choices, that is to say the elected bodies should only be able to spend the money they raise and are accountable for in taxation. The biggest problem with democracy in the country is that successive governments have obfuscated the issue, which includes ours;

When the loons on the left chose to plunder Liverpool, the citizens should have been left with the consequences of their choices, much as in London, the citizenship have the choice of kicking out the proflegate and alledgedly corrupt Livingston. If they do not then they have the choice to move out (which many, including myself have).

Were we to adopt this approach then Goldie would have her fiscal independence and the Scots would have to bear the full brunt of their welfarist habits. Personally I would favour fiscally independant counties throughout the UK. It would create tax competition, expose elected officials to the harsh light of the consequences of their decisions, and bring the majority of spending decisions closer to the electorate. This could only be a good thing.

Returning to the Scots, as it happens, a commentator in the states makes the point that were Scotland to be given greater independence then they would probably roll back the state. It is only the subsidy of votes and money that they get that allows them to pursue welfarism.

Go for it Annabel

What the Scottish Party should do is offer a budget cutting some of the bureaucracy and use the Parliament's tax varying powers to offer money off income tax say 2p.

This would show we were a serious alternative in Scotland, put Gordon's nose severely out of joint by showing he wasn't in sole control of the economy and cause nuclear constitutional meltdown in England as we gaze on in jealous impotent awe.

Course dave's set his face against playing the English card.

'Course dave's set his face against playing the English card.'

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring, we are going to play it for him. The latest recruits include the English nursing profession and the police following the latest, iniquitous, pay settlement that favours the Scottish equivalent at, literally, the expense of the English.

Here we go again. The decision of the Scottish Government to pay the police and the nurse their full pay rise has no effect whatsover in spending in England on either of those cases.
Devolution means different parts get to spend their allocation as they like. We haven't chosen massive motoway extensions, new underground lines, daft Domes and subsidising Northern Rock etc etc. When will England wake up to the fact that London and the South East is gobbling up all of England's money and is the most heavily subsidised area in the UK?

The SNP are Tories who happen to believe that the Tory subcultural interest would be better served by independence, and the Scottish Tories are Nationalists who happen to believe that the Nationalist interest is best served (for now) within the Union. The alliance is natural.

Meanwhile, Nick Clegg wants to be seen as the English Leader, in contrast to the Scottish Gordon Brown and the Scot-ish David Cameron. Not least for that reason, he has told The Politics Show here in the North East that he would abolish the Barnett Formula. He has not announced this nationally, nor will he. So the rest of us are just going to have to do it for him. After all, we wouldn’t want the Lib Dems accused of saying totally different things in different parts of the country. Would we?

Perhaps this is a hint that Alan Beith is going to retire, since his constituents in Berwick see on a daily basis the iniquities of the present system, with such things as free personal care for some residents of the same old people’s home, but not for them. Promising to abolish the Barnett Formula would certainly help to prevent an otherwise highly predictable Tory recapture of that seat. It would also play well in the West Country, in the corners of Lancashire where the Lib Dems sometimes do well, and in their more recent areas of growth in the Welsh Marches.

But could they stop word of it seeping across to rural Scotland or to Mid-Wales? No, and if they were any good at politics, then they wouldn’t want to. Someone should be saying what everyone knows to be the case: that the present arrangements simply guarantee gainful employment to armies of middle-class Labour voters and upper-middle-class Nationalist voters, overwhelmingly in the Central Belt of Scotland and in South Wales.

(It is, dear readers in Scotland and Wales, those upper-middle-class Nationalist voters, and not the English, who are responsible for messing up your television schedules, not with some laughable and patronising English view of Scotland or Wales, but with some laughable and patronising Central Scottish or South Welsh view of rural Scotland or rural Wales.)

Instead, not only should resources be allocated strictly on the basis of need, but the different parts of Scotland should be assessed differently for that purpose, as should the different parts of Wales, and indeed the different parts of Northern Ireland and of the vast, unwieldy, artificial English regions.

This would involve either taking away the block grants from the devolved bodies, or so directing their allocation as to amount to the same thing. At which point, there would be no remaining reason for having those bodies, while the full exposure of the nature of their activities would make them massively unpopular in the North and South of Scotland, and in North, Mid and West Wales (insofar as this is not already the case). But that would just be a bonus. This change should happen anyway.

However, it will not and cannot happen because of anything said or done by the Lib Dems. How about the Tories?

Well,at least I agree with you about the LibDems.
They have held Argyll (until the last Scottish election) on the most incredible coalition of votes.
We found Labour supporters voting LibDem to keep the Tories out and Tories voting LibDem to keep Labour out and Tories and Labour supporters voting LibDem to keep the SNP out and none of them actually voting LibDem to put the LibDems in.
I did a stint of phone canvassing an election or two ago and had phoned over 500 numbers before I got a voter who professed to be LibDem supporter and THEY WON THE SEAT.
Now that the SNP has snatched the seat back I suspect it will revert to being again an SNP/Tory marginal (if the Tories get their act together, that is).

'London and the south east is the most heavily subsidised area in the UK'-David Macewan Hill. Are you sure? What's your source for this. I thought per head it was the least subsidised part of the UK.

'Devolution means different parts get to spend their allocation as they like.'

Incorrect. There is no ring fenced English allocation, only 'British' central funding. The English regional allocations cannot be cherry picked but are subject to central government directive.

Not exactly like for like then. Is it?

Malcolm Dunn
I am absolutely sure of that, followed by Northern Ireland. The actual figures have been published in all serious newspapers recently - basically because Labour suddenly realised that the lies they invented to make the Scots think they needed subsidy from England had been picked up in England and were destroying Gordon Brown and Labour's Westminster Scottish Mafia.
I am sorry Englandism to point out that the Scottish Parliament has no say whatsover in deciding spending in England in areas in which England and Scotland have, as a result of devolution, entirely separate budgets so your point is invalid.
If you don't like Scots MPS voting on English funding choices the only sensible solution is an independent Scotland sending no MPS to London.
Any notion,however, that Scots MPS, who represent only about 8% of MPs in Westminster, have any huge power to do down English voter's is cookie-boo stuff from the xenophobic right wing English Press.
Unless,of course, English MPs are utterly useless. I wouldn't know - and don't care.

You're going to have to do better than that Dave McEwan Hill. Which papers ? When? I have a feeling you're making this up as you go along. The last time I looked London and South East England received less subsidies than anywhere else in Britain.

"have any huge power to do down English voter's is cookie-boo stuff from the xenophobic right wing English Press."

Well you shouldn't go out on a limb like that when there are very clear cases where Scottish elected MP's have been the carrying vote on an English issue, eg To up fees.

But I would agree with you that English MP's are useless, for they have put their party allegiance before the interests of English people, This we see with Labour MP's who are nothing more than lobby fodder prepared to march though what ever lobby Gordon Brown orders them through. As such its doesn’t take more than one Scottish elected MP to dictate matters in England, when the Scottish MP is Gordon Brown PM.

Malcolm Dunn
Just seen your latest post.
Can't find the record I had of the original report that was widely published about three months ago but I will paste on an extract I am using from a well respected English broadsheet.

"Scotland pays its own way despite its depiction as a spendthrift nation abusing the generosity of English taxpayers, according to a new analysis of government spending. And far from receiving an unfair proportion of the tax pot, the breakdown shows that Scotland gets less public spending per head than Northern Ireland or London.
Tax revenues from Scotland just about match the country's £49.2bn a year public spending which is much better than the comparable figures for UK as a whole.
The research, published by the Glasgow Herald, is based on Treasury figures in Whitehall, and an analysis by consultants Oxford Economics.
Tired of the clamour from English politicians and the London-based media for Gordon Brown to rein in the Scottish executive's spending, the paper said much of the "mischief" was based on a series of myths, mistakes and misconceptions.
Critics say that Scots receive £1,500 a head more than people living in England, but the new analysis suggests the truth is very different. Despite its pockets of deprivation - one-third of the UK's landmass and far-flung communities are in Scotland - the average £9,631 public spending per head is less than London's £9,748 or Northern Ireland's £10,271. While cities such as Glasgow receive high levels of incapacity benefit, the overall welfare bill per head, £3,086, is much lower in Scotland than in large parts of northern England.
The tax take per capita from Scotland is only outranked by London, illustrating how Scots and their businesses are making their contribution to UK coffers, the report said.
Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, said: "This destroys the myth that Scotland is anything other than a resource-rich nation, well capable of flourishing with independence. Of course, the myth of the subsidised Scot has been peddled not just by Westminster Tories and the English tabloids, but also by unionist politicians in Scotland for their own partisan ends."

I expect in time the English will realise that London sucking up multi-billions is the biggest problem they have to face,not Scotland's block grant. Northern Rock is on course already to cost more than Scotland's annual block grant.

So nention of south east England and the tax per head in London is higher. I think David, you should check your facts next time.

Indeed the tax take in London per head is higher. I just said so.
Hardly surprising as they pay themselves higher wages than the rest of the UK but are no more productive. In reality London thrives on counting the money made by the industry of other people and has been doing so for at least a century.
England's problem is London sucking the rest of the country dry.
Scotland comes next in per capita tax receipts ahead of the rest of the UK.
What's your point?

In one of your earlier posts David you stated that ['London and the South East is the most heavily subsidised area in the UK'.I didn't think this was true and you have absolutely not been able to show otherwise.
Equally unsubstantiated is your assertion that 'England's problem is London sucking the rest of the country dry'.

The overall tax burden in this country is about 40% of GDP overall. Public spending, as a proportion of regional GDP, is about 32% in London, and the South East. This would suggest that London and the South East are, in fiscal terms, making very large transfers to the rest of the UK.

This would suggest that London and the South East are, in fiscal terms, making very large transfers to the rest of the UK.
London benefits from being the centre of administration by a huge amount of money that is not spent regionally but comes under UK wide figures - despite some dispersion most of the Civil Service is still in London, UK parliament is in London. If I recall correctly though London actually regionally gets more than other parts of England do, vastly more than the rest of the South East of England.

If I recall correctly though London actually regionally gets more than other parts of England do
Per capita, not just overall.

Even if it does you would all however remain English - and we will all remain Scottish.
I am British, I have nearly as much Scottish ancestry as English as well as many other things and have lived in Scotland and England.

All forms of public expenditure are taken into account in working out the share, as a proportion of GDP, on a regional basis.

One can quibble at the margins, but overall, there is no doubt - there is a very big fiscal transfer from London.

Only if you consider the huge tax receipts and other revenues from other parts that are counted in London and then included in London's account are actually London's.
And as for Government procurement!
London and the South East account for between 30% and 35% of government procurement expenditure. This is most noticeable in defence procurement.
This whole post started because some diddy (good Glasgow vernacular there) suggested that Scotland was a subsidy scrounger. In fact it contributes rather more than most UK regions as treasury figures will verify.
Good night.

Good night David. I'm glad we got the fact straight that London and the South East are are not subsidised by anyone, most certainly not from Scotland.
I agree with Mr Eugenides there should be fiscal autonomy for both countries.

The selection of Gerald Michaluk as the candidate for our Ochil and South Perthshire constituency has been greeted with enormous enthusiasm. He is a breath of fresh air and will attract many new supporters but he needs to innovate and modernise to do it.

Posted by: Sally Stewart | March 24, 2008 at 22:47

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