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I think we would be much better off concentrating on the subsidy as unfair compared to other parts of England - it's not that rich areas should not support poor areas but that this should be to the same/similar extent as rich and poor parts of England.

Scrapping the Barnett Formula and funding Scotland (and indeed Wales) on the same per capita basis (adjusted for poverty) as England then it would be fair, although a subsidy would remain.

Its not really the money but the fact that English people have no representation, as a result we get the raw end of the deal in every area. What we need is a Parliament, if it cost us £13billion it would be a price worth paying to restore a Parliamentry democracy, accountability and representation to England.

The English Democracts party election broadcast wasn't bad either.

Hmmm...wondered when that stat would emerge.

A combined 93% oppose the Barnett formula as presently arranged. Interesting.

'The Tories, ahead in the polls, may not want to touch the issue but its potentially as potent as inheritance tax.'

But didn't Ken Clarke report that the English Question was an irrelevant niggle?

Wronger than Mr Wrong in the wrong trousers from Wrongford upon Wronged.

The best way to eliminate the Barnett formula is to devolve power to all the regions allowing them to raise taxes locally and not have to rely on Westminster to dole it out.

That way the regions would have more power and we would be rid of the subsidies!!

Don't get me wrong, public spending in Scotland is unforgivable.

However, was it not the Spectator who published an article last week about a 'British' sovereign wealth fund? To play Devil's advocate - to what extent would this 'British' sovereign wealth fund be Scottish? 90% of the article was about oil revenues from the North Sea.

This is an election-winning issue. Take £2bn from the subsidy every year and promise to give £1bn to poor workers in tax relief and £1bn to nurses, teachers and police officers. It's win, win, win, win, win.

Please, as Iain says, it is not about the subsidy real or imagined, it is about the future of England as a nation recognised and represented on an equitable basis.

There is no regional fix. Brown's nations and regions effectively ends the national coherence of the oldest significant nation state in Europe. The only solution is to re-instate the English parliament.

Oh, sorry, nurse has arrived with my sedatives.

Yes, Mr Clarke, I must stop niggling and looking at the surnames of regionalising posters.

Unionist must do everything in their power to make sure that this country remains united and great - this is especially true with the conservative (and unionist) party.

If that means changing the definition of treason then so be it. No one should get away with calling for the breakup of this nation unpunished. This country was one of the last stands of liberty and democracy - devolution has just created more questions and issues than it solves. DISSOLVE the scottish parliament and return the scottish MP's.

I really wish the conservative party would be that bold at the next election - I am rather sure that being able to tap into the majority scots opinion for union would return quite a number scot tory MP's. Labour will be dead at the next election, our enemy in Scotland will be the SNP.

Yes, dissolve the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland, sell the buildings, sack the Civil Servants and give the people tax-cuts.

I BET the tories in Scotland will fight the next election in Scotland under a saltire.

The only person writing sense on this issue is Politico! All this guff about an English Parliament; Britain has been a united Kingdom for 300 years, and the Conservative Party,if it had the guts, would fight to retain it. As for the Barnett formula; more money is spent on Greater London ( plus this rubbish in 2012)than any money spent in Scotland, which is not a region of England!

It IS about the money and the vast unfairness of it.
Also its semi secrecy,the way parliament has never had a specific debate about it since its under the counter inception in 1978, the way in which all the parties have conspired with each other and with the civil service and the media to conceal it from the English (the Barnett Rules are well known and appreciated in Scotland and dicsussed in the Scotish media but only very rarely in the English media until of late - why?), the steady deterioration of the quality of life in large parts of England attributable in large part to the fact that there is and has been a consistent skimming off of England's money* to other countries.

Sadly for the Conservative party, their record in exposing this racket and pounding out the issue in the British forum where it should be pounded out ie the British parliament at Westminster,is, apart from an honourable few, one of unmitigated laziness, cowardice and conspiracy against the English .
This has been made easy by the lack of any English institutions or English fora. All we ever get is British ones and from bitter experience we know what that means.

" England's money" -sure it is England's money . For those who try to deflect debate on this horrible topic ( I wish it were not necessary and we could go on being British in the old way) and dwell upon "regional " spending let them consider this:

Right from the start and specifically so and according to none other than Ld.Barnett himself , the allocation of British government expenditure known as the Barnett Formula was done on a NATIONAL basis. ie the consideration was of spending in England , Wales and Scotland in a ratio of 100/118/128 per head per annum regarded as nations, not ever as regions, whatever that is. The actual figures vary over time .

There are identifiable areas of extra need, regions perhaps, within Scotland but there has never been any suggestion that the Formula be spent directly with reference to those areas. The Formula has always been a national one and it has always been England as a whole which is the loser and Scotland, Wales and Ulster which are the net receivers. Since 1998 the money has been paid directly to the Scottish government to do with as it wishes. No British pretence of "regionalism" here . Just nationalism. English areas of special need have to make do with England's pared down allocation-or nothing.

Perversely, the Barnett Formula is one of the very few ways in which the British governing class recognise England as a nation and a country,though only by default.
The fact that the whole formula has always been operated in direct contradiction to the very idea of Britishness by none other than that same British class ie that the whole area of Great Britain is one country with one people ie the British and that whilst the British government might well cause expenditure within that area to be varied on an area basis it would disregard any consideration of the component nations as nations in all this, is bizarre and points to the lie of it all.

There is way out however. Leaving the blame game alone, the Conservatives need to switch from their longstanding policy of "we-mustn't-talk-about-it-because-to-do-so-will-endanger-the Union" and for the sake of the Union to address the situation.

Time is moving on. The next election is about 2 years away max. The present Conservative policy of English Votes on English Matters within the British parliament will poison that parliament for sure. It is a mad policy for anyone who aspires to wants to maintain the British cuase for the future. Combine that with an end to the Barnett Rules which are simply unsustainable for much longer anyway- too many people know about them now !- and there will be a major constitutional crisis soon after the next election. Mr Salmond will spot his opportunity and act acordingly.

The way out is clear. The Conservatives should announce a concrete set of proposals for the finishing off of the constitutional reforms set in motion by Blair. Capitalising on English discontent and appealing to the instinct for fair play throughout the United Kingdom
_ the cause of an English Parliament is well understood in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and has much support there-

they should announce that there will be referendum, in England only, on the subject of an English Parliament. Blair himself let out that he thought this would attract "overwhelming" approval. It will.

From thence there should be an England Bill in the British Parliament leading to the Act. The model for this is now familiar and highly recognisable to the English. It is the Scottish Parliament and government.

This will lead to a federal United Kingdom of countries with their own parliaments, governments and budgets. The British parliament will remain as the overarching pariamentary body for British issues.
For political structures to be accepted they need to reflect reality and be understandable and logical. This will be.

Congrats to Fraser.
He deserves this award.

"The best way to eliminate the Barnett formula is to devolve power to all the regions allowing them to raise taxes locally and not have to rely on Westminster to dole it out."

Even better, do it on a County basis. No more transfers from South to North.

As right as it would be to remove the subsidy, taking it as a main election platform would electorally kill us off once and for all in Scotland. We would be seen as an English-only party, condemning Scotland to socialist rule for eternity, and the arguements against the Union would only increase. Something that needs to be done, certainly, but not something to shout about.

Just becasue we have only 1 MP in Scotland now doesn't mean we should keep it that way. Yes we have more support in England, but this is the United Kingdom, and I for one do not want to see that changed.

Jake, fully agreed, and I do like your analysis that the only time the British establishment recognise that there is a place called England is when they set out to financially screw the English.

But in respect of a referendum for an English parliament, the Conservatives, if they didn't want to back an English parliament, say that the current situation is not sustainable, and as they thought all solutions had big downsides, give the choice over to the electorate, and if we chose a Parliament, they would call convention to decide how the British state was to be federated. Simple, let the people decide, after all we are supposed to be a democracy.

"this is the United Kingdom, and I for one do not want to see that changed."

Unless the Conservative party ceases to ignore the obvious and bestirs itself to have the vision and confidence to go for an English Parliament within the United Kingdom it will not be so much changed as fairly rapidly ended.

"Another great column by Fraser Nelson"
No its not, but it does bang one of your favourite drums. Let the Scots bashing begin again.....

"but this is the United Kingdom"

That was abolished in 1997, but if you are saying that the British state wouldn't survive giving English people parity with the other nations of Britain, and that it can only survive if English people accept a constitutionally second class status, then you are giving the best argument of all to wind up the British state ASAP, for any state that relies on inequality for its existence has lost the moral case to exist at all, and has lived well past its sell by date.


What is it about the Scottish government that you do not understand? Self-styled albeit but Salmond is in place and the Scottish Conservatives are part of the process of the proposed extension of Scottish sovereign powers. Saltires or otherwise. Right here, right now: it is happening.

While England has neither executive nor legislature.

England was left out of the equation because England is the UK and the union applies, solely, to England when blame comes to shove.

The Eng Dem vid is quite impressive BTW but the anti-Scot bit seems a bit shoe horned 'deep fried Mars' et al. What has the Fathers for Justice thing got to do with the price of fish?

Is it because England has been denied access rights to democracy but still pays the maintenance to the kids?

Oh, I see.

Just read Jake's posting. He's right about ONE thing: " it is about the money and the vast unfairness of it". Britain is a vastly wealthy country and the Barnett formula is a red herring: the unfairness is the distribution of the govt funds within England. The Conservative party is "perceived" to be anti working man. When we compare the vast funding in the south of England compared to the Northern parts, we get an indication of why there is north/ south divide. How many Conservative MP's are there in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, Doncaster. At least our leader, David Cameron, recognised this problem; and rightly is tackling it.

"Unless the Conservative party ceases to ignore the obvious and bestirs itself"

Just as the Conservatives lost the nationalist vote to the SNP, and were left holding a nationality no was buying, they are at risk of doing the same all over again in England, for they seem to be taking perverse pleasure in going out of their way to not recognise the constitutional injustice done to England, and you might have thought if they did have some regard of Britain as a country, they would be doing everything in their power to sort out the mess.

'How many Conservative MP's are there in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, Doncaster.'

How many in Scotland? One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.

The North East was the only 'region' ever to be consulted on the regional agenda abolition of England. Guess what happened?

Play the English card and the whole nation stacks up. The 85% of the electorate that is England.

As a Scot living in Scotland, I understand fully what is happening in Scotland and it's Executive rule; I can only hope that the Conservative party leadership does not share your point of view, or we will have a break up of the UK. BUT, if that is the will of the English people, then so be it.
I believe in the right of the individual!
However,If the Conservatives win power at the next general election, then of course the injustice of the current voting in parliament must be corrected.

It’s not just the Barnett formula that rankles, is it? My son pays £3070 pa for his university course; my nephew in Scotland pays nothing, neither does my niece in Wales. My wife and I pay £7.10 per prescription; my brother in Scotland pays £5 and the one in Wales pays nothing. My parents can use their bus pass in England, but not in Scotland. The accumulation of these irritations is crystallizing into a sense of grievance that makes me turn off the Today programme every time I hear a government minister with a Scottish accent, and there are a good number of those.

I've just read the posting at 20.35; you miss the whole point of the importance of the UK. You are obviously an English Nationalist of the same ilk as Alex Salmond in Scotland. dangerous!

Pooter at 20.56
What a sad sad posting. " turn off the Today programme" because of a Scottish accent!
As for the other stuff of prescription charges and Uni fees; kick Labour out of Government, then we can make real changes.

Graeme Archer as a finalist? You're having a larf!

The Editor cannot seriously consider Archer to be better than Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Littlejohn, John Gaunt, Peter Hitchens, Matthew Parris or Simon Heffer. This site is becoming a parody of its former self!

I suppose we should be grateful that Danny "SDP loser" Finkelstein was not on the list.

'You are obviously an English Nationalist of the same ilk as Alex'

Of an ilk that England did not create. Reap as you sow, we ain't riding the tractor nor did we seed the crop. We just pay the price.

And I am Scottish BTW.

What a sad and sorry whinge against the Scots this topic always raises.
Let me introduce (once again) some facts.
The highest per capita government spend is in N Ireland followed by London.
The highest per capita welfare spends are in parts of the North of England.
The second highest per capita tax receipts after the SE of England are from Scotland.
The Barnett Formula was designed to push Scottish spending down as against English spending and it is doing so on a year by year basis.
The decisions of the Scottish Government to spend their block grant in ways different to English spending priorities has no effect whatsover on funding available for England. If the English want the same benefits the Scottish Goverment is giving the Scottish people it is entirely up to the government in England to change their spending priorities.
The English problem is London and the South East sweeping up a disproportionate share of English funding and has nothing to do with Scotland. Even if Scotland was getting a big extra per capita benefit (which it is not) the fact that Scotland comprises only one thirteenth of UK population makes this effect negligible on overall UK funding share.
With less than 40% of UKs population the area described as the SE of England enjoys over 60% of Government purchasing and spending. The fiction of a subsidised Scotland was invented initially by the Tories then enthusiastically adopted by Labour to terrify timid Scots into voting against the SNP and Independence. This lie has been picked up by the English and is now being used to bang Gordon Brown over the head. How delicious!
England can keep Gordon Brown.We don't want him back.
The Scottish Tories would do much better if they had nothing to do with the sorry Scottish Labour party which is on the skids. They are in an unholy alliance with Labour at the moment. The Scottish Tory Party would do much better if it honestly examined the huge attractions of Scottish Independence to a party which purports to believe in sturdy self-reliance.
Both the most recent opinion polls show support for Scottish Independence running at 41% and pulling ahead of support for the status quo.
Independence is for Scotland is inevitable. This nothing to do with any dislike of England or the English people.

People should really understand that a) no country in the world allocates funding on a per person basis and fails to spend more money in less well off areas than better of ones and b) embarking on the localism agenda that this site is so keen on will naturally give rise to national variations along the lines of the tuition fees (which by the way are Conservative Party policy and are to be encouraged since that results in less taxpayer funding, rather than going back to the statist socialist way that Scotland is going).

David McEwan Hill - as a member of the SNP - what are the chances of Alex Salmond having a referendum on Scottish independence before the next Scottish Parliament elections?

Passport - British

Country - British

Which COUNTRY would I defend to the death - BRITAIN

1707 - that is when the english and scots ceased to be treated as different peoples. We are one race of brits and pathetic nationalism on both sides is not solving the problem.

Labour have created a constitutional shambles, given the SNP a platform and vastly complicated any solution. It should be treason to call for the breakup of the UK (lets see the SNP wiggle out of that), but i know that most scots are unionist and so are the english therefore - the conservative party must be bold in sorting our the mess. Wait until the SNP collapse (it WILL happen) - and then offer the scots a second referendum calling for the dissolution of the scottish parliament and a return of the scottish MP's.

Its a sad though, but perhaps total war may recapture the British spirit. Come on china/russia, what are you waiting for?

It may well be the issue that dominates the next election campaign as over 75% of Scots support the call for a referendum.
When Labour gets thumped at the next election support for a referendum and for Independence will rise and it is entirely possible that the block on a referendum by Tory/Labour/LibDem may be unsustainable.
I would judge it possible but getting likelier as the political landscape in Scotland is changing at an amazing pace.

I suspect many people are feeling powerless as our British identity is steadily eroded.

Whatever happens to the Barnett Formula, devolution has let the genie out of the bottle on independence here in Scotland. I am not a fan of the SNP, but am impressed how effectively they are moving the debate from "Why should Scotland be independent" to "Why shouldn't it be indepndent". At some point, unless they implode, there will be a referendum. Irrespective of the economic realities in Britain, the emotional arguments to remove Barnett will push independence closer. While this may offer some electoral possibilities for us, the cost - probable hastening of the end of the UK - is too high.

Living in Scotland may seem to some to offer advantages, but the uncertainties dwarf the perceived gain. How will an independent Scotland function with reducing oil revenue, a large proportion of public service employment and a large rural geography. I dont know the answers to various points including: Would an English government keep employing Scots civil servants to support English taxpayers? On what basis would tax revenue be chargeable in Scotland on oil companies if they are incorporated in London? Would the Edinburgh based financial services companies move south? Would the EU accept an independent Scotland given the potential encouragement for elements seeking to breakup Spain and Italy?

And then I remember a former colleague on a drunken night out telling me that I and my kids (who are half Scots) would have to wear a cross of St George on our clothes if were were to live in an independent Scotland. That got a lot of laughs. But I looked into his eyes, and believe to this day that he meant it.

Unless someone tells us all to grow up, understand that the world is a dangerous place, and that we must stand together without jealousy, then Britain is finished.

"1707 - that is when the english and scots ceased to be treated as different peoples. We are one race of brits and pathetic nationalism on both sides is not solving the problem."

1998 - that is when the English and Scots were once more treated as different people... and England got the short end of the stick.

David McEwan, your facts are wrong!

Scotland received more money than EVERY SINGLE ENGLISH REGION in 2005/6 and will do for the projected 2007 figures* Scotland has received almost £60bn more than England* since 1997. That’s a lot of money when spread between 5m people, but in England (ten times Scotland’s size) it could have paid for the entire schools and universities budget

If you want to split the UK just give three nations generous welfare provisions, get one nation to pay for it (and put up with a forth class health/education service) and give the other nations greater democratic powers to ensure these wrongs cannot be righted.

Those that equal treatment for England (including a Parliament) are threatening the Union. If that is their intent, they should admit it.

* http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/economic_data_and_tools/finance_spending_statistics/pes_publications/pespub_pesa07.cfm

As we know, the SNP does the two Ss writ large: Scotland and Socialism.

David McEwan Hill, SNP activist, has some interesting views:

‘It is surely evident, I fondly believed, to all sensible persons that NATO is little more than the military arm of benighted US foreign policy.’
David McEwan Hill Says:
January 18th, 2007 at 2:38 am

‘Does it still escape the notice of many that the two biggest disasters costing many hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been visited on our world by the USA and madmen like McCain?’
Posted by: David McEwan Hill | December 29, 2007 at 06:21 PM

The SNP opposes both Trident II and NATO and is devoutly anti-American. The SNP is everything that Conservatism isn’t and yet we are working to increase the power of an executive whose agenda is not only to end the United Kingdom but also to destroy NATO in pursuit of ye olde Socialist Utopia.

And people here blame English nationalism? Every day at the Grauniad a columnist pops up to tell us about the new Scottish enlightenment and issues stern warnings that a Conservative GE victory would inevitably lead to Scottish independence.

And so it continues, relentlessly:

'The average English family has seen their council tax bill rise by more than £4,000 over the past decade - almost double the increase for Scottish families, according to figures released yesterday.'

By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 7:26am BST 18/04/2008
Daily Telegraph

The SNP, on top of this regionally specific stealth tax, now want to freeze council tax.

The source of this data? The Conservative Party.

I seem to remember David Cameron telling us that he didn't want to be prime minister of England.

I am from Scotland and I firmly believe that devolution and the Scottish Parliament should be completely abolished.

Please Conservative Party policy makers - adopt the policy of scrapping devolution.

What's more important - saving our country or trying not to upset Scottish nationalists? Save our country, our glorious British country, please!

At the very 'least' give us a referendum in Scotland on abolishing the Scottish Parliament, I will be one of the first ones banging on people's doors campaigning for it to be abolished.

Please do the right thing and save Britain!

Peter (09:11)
The horse has already bolted. Time to shut the stable doors and make England entirely autonomous. Joint matters for Britain (funny how Great Britain stopped being great during Blair's tim) then being dealt with by a trimmed down executive in Westminster. Money saved there could easily pay for the formation of a long overdue English Parliament.

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