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If Annabel Goldie has said the story is not true we should believe her.

What, exactly, would be wrong with fiscal independence for Scotland? Is it just the possibility of a slippery slope to independence?

Fiscal independence for Scotland is only acceptable if other regions of the UK also receive the same.

The North West and North East(incl.Yorks)have higher populations than Scotland and should have the same independence.

Oops sounds like localism, and a good thing too, take power away from Westminster and let people decide how they wish to spend their money

This way the Union will remain to the benefit of all.

Why on earth would the Conservatives try to "buy off" the SNP with a dilution of "English Votes for English Laws"? The SNP have no territorial ambitions to govern England. They don't vote on English only issues at Westminster (neither does our sole Tory MP in Scotland). They don't care about this issue, so why would they need to be "bought off"? They're only probably going to cost us four or five seats, if at all, none of which we need to hold to win a general election.

Why is there this silly assumption that the Scots are so opposed to either English Votes for English Laws or an English Parliament? Some Scots Labour MPs might be, but as can be seen by recent election results they have never spoken for the majority of Scots.

Surely if there is going to be a pact it should be along the lines of, with the SNP winning in Scotland and the Conservatives winning in England, the Conservatives will support extra powers for the Scottish Executive and the SNP will use their votes to try and stop Labour from blocking a resolution to the West Lothian Question. Together we could even move towards a federal system, with fiscally independent parliaments for England, Scotland (and for Wales and N. Ireland), with a strong "social union" binding the four nations together. This isn't far off from what the SNP want, and I suspect a lot of Conservatives would find this to be a fair solution.

All those on our side who grumble about the current constitutional set up need to realise: we're in the ascendency now. So don't worry about what Labour have done because we are going to be the ones who fix it. A Conservative-ruled England and an SNP-ruled Scotland, shaping the future of the union on the basis of mutual respect and equality? I think it could happen. And if it doesn't, well, the union has to be strong enough to survive democracy from both sides.

One thing I will caution about, however, is that the overwhelming majority of Scots do not sit around talking about independence, nor do they divide themselves into "unionists" and "nationalists" as is done in Ulster. It's like climate change: something that excites the commentariat and political classes but which is actually pretty far down the list of priorities of most ordinary people. At the same time, as someone who is a proud Scot AND Brit (and who hopes that every Englishman is also a proud Englishman and a proud Brit) it depresses me how the endless mantra of "our first priority must be to save the union" is used to brush off all innovative thinking on this subject.

The only way to deal with the SNP is to move the UK to what it should always have been and what was demanded both in Scotland and in England in 1707 ie a federal United Kingdom.

England should have exactly what Scotland has ie a national pariament and self government. Fiscal independence to the nations of the UK- there is no precedent in English history for regionalism and it does not sit comfortably with the English only with the Scots and the British.
To suggest it is to repeat Brown's poison about "nations and regions"

Like most comment this thread dwells on Scotland and ignores England where the real injustice and probably the real discontent lies.
If you ask the English they are much more likely than the Scots to go for total independence.

"So don't worry about what Labour have done because we are going to be the ones who fix it."

Unfortunately the Conservative party seems to have no inclination to fix it. Cameron has said he has no wish to rule over England, he sees English people as sour faced little Englanders for even asking for equality, and it became clear of the importance he attached to English issues when he appointed Ken Clarke to advise on it. Hardly someone who one might look to fix it , good lord he can hardly see a British perspective when he wants to turn Westminster into no more than a regional council to Brussels so was never going to see an English perspective, as his report showed

So on what hope can you gives us that the Conservatives will fix it?

How about returning to the pre-devolution remit for the Scottish Parliament. They should have less independance, not more. Taking one example - energy policy should be a matter solely for the UK parliament. Scotland should not be able to refuse new nuclear power stations if building one there is deemed to be in national interest.

the gers report this year completely scotches the utter myth that scotland is subsidised by england so dont give us ur normal rubbish about how unfair the funding rules are for england and how the jocks have it easy etc etc etc. see this http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/06/18170334/0

thats if u can overcome ur narrow anti-scottish bigotry which it appears is now all-pervasive in the english nationalist/tory party. i for one hope this story is true - i have more than had enuf of the english tory party's attitude towards the fickle, subsidised jocks and would like a much more autonomous scotland. so since u lot have worked yourselves into such a fervour over a non-existent subsidy and now plan to cut spending to scotland why should we scots not support fiscal autonomy when the british governments own figures suggest scotland is a net contributor to the union exchequer. if you wouldnt subsidse us why should we be expected to subsidise you?

The alternative view is that by giving the Scots all they want, in terms of autonomy, inside the Union would neuter many of the arguments for, and possible advantages they currently see they might gain from, independence.

Think about it: Fiscal independence, domestic policy freedom and vetoes, where appropriate. You also get to remain part of a world power, with huge influence and British protection overboard.

What do we English get?

Political stability, the continued existence of our country and the maintenance of our global role, the continuity of a united foreign and defence policy - and our flag.

Say what you like, I do not believe that Scottish independence would lead to anything less than an unravelling of the UK, with NI and possibly Wales to follow, and the increasingly irrelevance of the UK on the world stage. We could possibly lose our UN security council seat, influence in the Commonwealth and having competing partners for Europe/Americas ear and domestic bickering and increased nationalist sentiment.

Far better the Union remains, it is the most successful political union in history.

"if you wouldnt subsidse us why should we be expected to subsidise you?"

Well we have for 300 years, after all the Union started by England giving Scotland a pile of money to bail it out of its disastrous Darien adventure, and even if they didn't want that Scotland was a bankrupt poverty stricken country, where the rule of law hardly went beyond the confines of Edinburgh, industry was non existent, and agriculture was positively medieval. But you know what I would happily pay the CeltGeld if it brought an end to Scots interfering in English issues, for up to now we have been paying Scottish blackmail with our constitutional rights just to stop them leaving in a Celtic huff, but that I feel has been a price too high.

the gers report this . . .

All the Scottish Conservatives I ever knew, knew how to use capital letters. It's been a while but I would be amazed if that's changed.

You are a troll and I claim my £5.

We could possibly lose our UN security council seat,

Russia retained the Soviet seat after a much greater proportionate loss - it was for example only half the population.

influence in the Commonwealth and having competing partners for Europe/Americas ear and domestic bickering and increased nationalist sentiment.

Can we have a reality check here? England by itself has 90% of the UK's population and I would guess a similar proportion of GDP, and to put that into perspective, to get from 90% to an equivalent of the UK's previous GDP at 2% growth per year (admittedly problematic right now but reasonable to get an idea) would take less than six years. Many foreigners don't know there's a difference between Britain and England and few care.

The fact is the if the UK broke up it would seriously affect Scotland and the Labour Party, but the English would notice only that they were now more likely to have a Conservative govt than they were before. I don't want to offend Scottish sensibilities but that's the truth of the matter.

"Say what you like, I do not believe that Scottish independence would lead to anything less than an unravelling of the UK, with NI and possibly Wales to follow"

Would that be so bad? NI state contributes 70% of its GDP. Wales around 63%, only Scotland just gets below the NE as dependent on state spending for its GDP at around 56%.

"We could possibly lose our UN security council seat, influence in the Commonwealth"

What's so useful about that all it seems to bring us is obligations and an unworkable asylum system.

"Far better the Union remains, it is the most successful political union in history."

Successful in what terms, right now I would suggest the Union is a liability to its people for the British establishment have fogotten what they are supposed to be there for.

The editorial is quite right, this proposed 'plot' doesn't make any logical sense. The SNP won't view anything offered to them short of indepednence as a victory, and even if they did, it would surely only be a temporary delay to the SNPs campaign for full independence.

So to anyone with half a brain, its obvious that there is nothing in this for a Conservative and UNIONIST party to support. Unfortunately, my experience of dealing with my Conservative colleagues here in Stoke-on-Trent (currently engaged in propping up an unpopular and tired Labour administration) has led me to question whether our leaders actually have got half a brain. Certainly, they have no guts, or any wider view beyond the next few months.

I'm sorry to say, I suspect the national party leadership has probably got the same problem, so I fully expect this rumoured deal with the SNP to be accurate!

Speaking from a Welsh perspective I find the possibility of a deal with the SNP very worrying since the contagion will spread here.

In Wales our elected representatives generally support more powers being transferred to Cardiff whereas the rank and file of all parties, other than Plaid, have no desire for Cardiff to exercise more power. The net effect of the Welsh Assembly has been to concentrate power in Cardiff and to reduce Local Authorities, largely, to compliance with directives emanating from Cardiff.

Please lets stop playing into the hands of the nationalists.

Give Salmond his referendum now and shoot his fox dead. Labour were negligent in not calling Salmond's bluff but then such is their track record.

Tim---Is Annabel Goldie a christian?

On David Dimbleby's Question Time Annabel Goldie was described as and Elder in the Church of Scotland, though whether she still is today I don't know!

Don Dully - have you nothing to contribute other to ask the Editor whether a senior Conservative is a Christian?

The Conservative Party is secular and includes Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists.

I suggest you troll off and bore another party's activists with your moronic and tedious posts.

Far from playing around with the SNP in what will almost certainly be some self defeating "deal" which England but not Scotland will pay for
(Salmond will run rings around Dave and his team - he his vastly more clear headed than any British politician)

Mr Cameron should be announcing plans, in accordance with the Anglo Scottish fiscal independence of each other which is hinted at, for a splitting up of the British national debt.

This needs an analysis of where the money was spent - easy in the case of PFI- and who should take on responsibility for it. A good starting point is the Barnett Rules such that division of the debt should be in the same ratio.

The overall details of British national debt, other than the headline gilts, are obscure.
the central point is that England must not be left with debt atributable to Scotland and the rest.

Doing this could easily occasion a significant drop in English income tax which will be highly popular.

What a lot of patronising rubbish this post has encouraged.
The SNP will of course accept any increase in powers for the Scottish Parliament but this will not stop it going forward towards Independence at all times.
This has all the appearance of Daily Mail ruse to embarrass the SNP.
One of the most significant aspects of the recent Glasgow East by-election was the newspaper headlining of phoney polls - two of them - showing Labour 17% ahead.
Newspaper polls on Independence should be treated as similarly phoney. The SNP polled all of Glasgow East on the Independence question. The result 46% for; 26% against. Two serious polls on the same issue recently showed it neck and neck. A poll done by Argyll SNP last year into 25,000 homes (over 2000 responses) showed a majority of identified Labour and LibDem supporters in favour of Independence.
That's exactly why Tory, Labour and LibDems are blocking a referendum.

Iain - if you look at the revised figures using the new methodology from this years gers report then you will see that even in recent years the notion that you have to pay a CeltGeld is rather hard to justify. With the geographical distribution of oil revenues factored in I dont see what factual basis you have for believing scottish spending is paid for by the english taxpayer. it demonstrably is not. Furthermore the figures from the 1980s and the McCrone report demonstrate irrefutably that scotland was a large net contributor during that period. i think these figures are rather more relevant than the current account figures from the 1700s! and since that predates the industrial revolution the description you give could equally applied to many other countries at the time. i think the union has been good for scotland but to suggest that scotland only has tractors and the rule of law because of it is to rather over egg your pudding! this doesnt make me a nationalist but it does make me believe there is no basis for the recent outburst of english nationalism at least from a fiscal perspective.

as for alex swanson you are free to believe what you wish.

Murdo Fraser, Goldie's Deputy, has long been advocate of fiscal independence for Scotland. The story therefore has a ring of truth to it. Goldie may not even know what has being going on in Holyrood's smoke-free rooms.

From the SNP's perspective,there has always been a deep belief and of course fear that when faced with a real choice in a Referendum, the Scots will say no to full blown independence. Virtually every Scottish family has a blood relative somewhere in England. From an English perspective, the Scots are probably the largest, and certainly the most invisible and integrated immigrant community. Many English families have Scots names. The most prominent being our current leader (Clan Cameron- motto "Sons of the Hounds, come and eat Flesh) I believe he's a Cameron of Erracht not the main branch of Locheil.

The scenario the SNP also fear I the Quebecoise position of a neverendum. Such a referendum would be divisive within the Scots themselves. Remember the average support for Independence runs about 33-36% and this does seem to decrease when the word "separatism" is used.

For itself, I have never accepted the the fact that Scotland is over-subsidised - the real subsidy-junkie is London so fiscal independence is more than acceptable though when the real fugures are likely to be available, both the English or Scottish nationalists will likely see ther dreams shattered

There is some sense in this story. The areas the SNP are strong in are not areas where the Labour Party thrive. One of the fears of rural and urban Scotland is being controlled by a group originating from the corrupt cesspit of Labour Party politics in West Central Scotland. Some eight years ago, the Nationalist journalist John McLeod in his column in the Herald argued for a Nationalist/Tory rapprochment. Such a deal might just be good for both parties.

Agree with a lot of what Sandy Jamieson says except to point out that in at least two recent polls Independence has been the most favoured option and all things will change when the SNP move onto campaigning full out for Independence.

The most significant fact is that in all polls there are now a large percentage who aren't concerned either way. The fear of Independence, brought on by years of lies by unionist parties,is now gone.
Why anyone would want any of the complicated half-way houses suggested on this and other posts I do not know. A clean and friendly break is the most sensible option.
There are, in fact, more Irish people in England than Scots. No doubt they are cut off from their families(not). Let's stop talking nonsense implying that Scottish independeence would cut off Scots from their families in England.
Unless England removes itself from the EC it can put no barriers on the free movement between Scotland and England and I can't think of any sensible reason why anybody might think it might be in England's interest to do so

This was Oborne's exclusive on saturday - looks like the Mail is getting full moneys worth from a deliberate leak from the Tories!

Wind back to Saturday last.
Is Fiscal Autonomy is dawning? – Yes they do actually listen!
Having posted at length on this subject on Saturday I shall not repeat here. Of course Annabel will deny that any such talks are taking place, as will Mundell. Cameron knows their views which is why they may well have been kept out of the loop- Who needs Wendy’s man Calman?
If the Mail’s front page lead is true and I sincerely hope that it is, then this is the first sign that David Cameron has indeed been listening to the small but influential band of MSP’s ,donors, activists and Westminster PPC’s that a Scottish Agenda must be articulated if the tide of Nationalism is to be stemmed.
The fact is that the next Conservative Government will have every bit as momentous a task in front of it as Mrs Thatcher had in 79. Clearing up the mess left behind by 13 years of Labour will be painful for us all. Apart from an economy almost drowned in the national debt; the Cameron Government will have to grasp the nettle of federalism and the constitutional issues of devolved government plus reform of the second chamber. The late John Smith was right. There will be plenty of unfinished business, what else could you expect from a half baked plan for devolved government designed only to preserve Labours fiefdom.
Of course some of our Tory MSP’s will try to stifle the debate on fiscal autonomy since they self evidently rely on the votes of an ever decreasing and aging membership for their seat at Holyrood, not the Scottish electorate. For them the politics of the flat line 15% is acceptable, averaged out as it is in most cases to well above the 6% which guarantees our 14 list members their pay cheque and of course their pension.
For sure praise is due in huge measure to Annabel and Davina for taking third in Glasgow East and holding (more or less) our share of the vote. However treading water is not enough, we need progress. If these talks are true it is the first sign that at last in Scotland, we mean business. I cannot say it often enough, if we are to make any electoral progress here at the next GE we must articulate an agenda for Scotland which recognises that we are now a federal UK. Sadly many party members remain in denial believing things can only get better. Some are even delusional when it comes to the prospects for winning seats.
Unless and until we as Scottish Conservatives face reality, we will remain an irrelevance, incapable of winning even than a handful of seats with the distinct possibility of another 97 style Armageddon.
Glasgow East was a measure of how deep is the disillusionment with Labour. The real message however is that the Scots are now well versed in tactical voting, and in my view will be easily persuaded that a large block of Nats at Westminster will be a powerful message to any Westminster government.
The debate will not be won by banging the Unionist drum – that day has gone. It simply is no longer an issue on the doorstep. The debate can be won however on both sides of the border by strengthening the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Irish as well, by giving them full revenue raising powers and making members accountable at the ballot box. At the same time underlining the strengths of being part of a United Kingdom with common Defence and Foreign policies, border controls, national security and a whole raft of other regulatory measures for industry and commerce. In other words a positive message for localism and a positive message for the Union
Yes, if the Mail story is true I will at last become a Cameroon!

This makes no sense unless viewed from the angle of Labour's 'Tartan Tories' label that they are attempting to put on the SNP. Why would the Conservatives want to give even more favours to Scotland when English demands for constitutional and fiscal equality go unanswered?

Yes, things are that desperate in the Labour camp.

"David Cameron needs to sort out his useless Scottish party"

From the Telegraph.

Not quite useless, but it needs a new Leader.

Such a lot of verbiage and so totally Scottocentric.

Believe it or not there are two in this marital Union and the English are getting heartily cheesed off with being exploited and ignored. It is absolutely typical of the British class that they should contemplate dealing away even the miserably parsimonious recognition of England encapsulated in the defective suggestion of EVOEM in the British parliament for a while of peace with the SNP.

As for cowering away from abolition of the Barnett Rules in an attempt to grovell to Salmond, this is even worse.

Scotland must have fiscal independence or there will be no hope for the uk. I would vote for that before independence but i think if we don't get it, then the only road to go down for me and my fellow scots will be independence, I'm sorry to say this as it is not what i wish but it will happen if the English keep saying no.

Scotland should have independence if it wants it (as should any other member of the Union) but it should not have special treatment.

You're in or you're out, makes yer choice

"The plan doesn't appear to make much sense" which one could say about the way Ottawa deals with Quebec.
Of course, there is one huge difference between Britain and Canada: geography. Scotland can easily be dropped. Might cause a little unease in Northern Ireland but they're used to that. Quebec and the rest of Canada are Siamese twins -- could only be separated by major surgery.

This story will be nonsense and is probably an attempt to humiliate Annabel Goldie. The right-wingers of the Scottish press such as Alan Cochrane have always belittled Annabel's leadership and will be trying to damage her unionist credentials. You can bet it began from some such course, fed maybe by a nameless disgruntled ex-MSP,ex-Tory from Stirling way. In great Scots Tory tradition, the enemy within is still alive and kicking.

Oh, and Don Dully, it's Murdo Fraser you'll want as Tory leader up here. He's an open bible basher . For what it's worth, Annabel is a quiet Church of Scotland elder.

I wasn't a fan of John Major at all and it could be argued even he did a lot to damage the Union by passing the Maastrict Treaty but he did get one thing right in that he said devolution would be a "slippery slope to separation". Who could deny now that his forecast has turned-out to be accurate? You can't appease the unappeasable and the SNP are in that category of unappeasable. Salmond and his party are fanatics. It isn't possible to constrain such people.

Glad to know I'm a fanatic for wanting no more than my country to be governed by my people.
Actually I think Britain should be ruled from Paris. It makes senses -stronger together etc etc etc. No need for expensive British embassies or Britain to have its own army, air force and navy. And of course the generous Fench with their strong economy will happily subsidise Britain.

Dave McEwan Hill
"my country to be governed by my people."


.. and we have one or two elected in your country that you could have back - Broon, Darling...

Saor Alba
Saor Sassen
..though preferably within the Union!

Has it not occured to anyone here- that we are basically austro-hungary 200 years earlier?

They fell because they devolved power away from the centre, to Budapesth; let us learn from their example and abolish devolution in Scotland altogether.

If my fellow Scots don't like it, they shall learn to live with it damn them.

A fellow Scottish Tory of the Thatcherite tradition of Unionism and not surrender to the Nat threat.

Dean Thompson,

You actually think that devolution should be abolished in Scotland? WHAT A FARCE, my "fellow Scot".

I agree - only if the alternative is full independence for Scotland.

Lets pretend that the SNP get the referendum result they want - which (in my opinion) should include votes from Scottish living abroad, and as such, independence is declared and the process is started..

What then?

Well.. after independence (in all respects) is gained, and we as a country receive what we are rightfully owe from Westminister, the SNP have stated that the country woudl be able to vote another political party in the following election.

Being that we live in a democratic country, what is to stop there from being a secondary referendum if a pro-unionist party get back into the Scottish parliment? To re-join the union.

But no, there most likely wouldn't be one due to the English happy to let us be our own country again. Many English I've spoken to already have this opinion, and I do have some English blood in my veins (also a large proportion Dutch, if you want to delve into history here) - but the moral is - whats the harm?

England would have a harder time applying for EU membership than Scotland would have alone.

I also feel it is Scotland's right as a country to say NO to nuclear energy! How is that wrong? By investing in renewables, we're not only creating an industry for the future, but we're not creating MORE problems by burying the radioactive waste created by nuclear power.. Or is that not of Tory concern?

Dave, the SNP are fanatics.. too right! We're passionate for what means most - our country, not a union in which we will be bogged down with debt that isn't ours - suffer tax increases and a substancial cut in public expendature (as clearly demonstrated with the recent budget cut).

As an independent nation, we could be more than self-sufficient, we could have un-restricted growth, something that is a long sight off as it stands presently.

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