Brickbats – nae bouquets

Sitting writing this at 5 o’clock on Thursday 21 Aug, while the rain batters down – mistyped that word – became betters! Freudian slip or just carelessness?
This has not been a good week for the Better Together lot. They keep howling about privatisation of the NHS in Scotland being a monstrous lie. I think that Kirsty Wark also took that view when interviewing Alex Salmond. I suspect that what is wrong with them is that they do not understand the significance of the Barnett formula; they are correct to say that the NHS in Scotland is run by the Scottish Government, who are dead against privatisation, so how could it be privatised?

Enter truth, masquerading as common sense; the Scottish allocation of cash from Westminster is governed by the Barnett Formula; we get a proportional share of the total Westminster budget, to be cut next year by £25 billion. The Scottish Government has ring fenced the NHS in Scotland, so as the money is allocated by John Swinney the NHS money will be cut. There are no plans as far as I can see for the Tories to increase public spending, rather the opposite. And as for the term “Barnett consequential” they may think it is a ring road somewhere and they are lost!

And then we have the results of the Future of England survey conducted by Edinburgh and Cardiff universities into the Scottish Referendum. The survey was carried out among 3695 people in England. A majority of 3 to 1 were opposed to independence and said there should not be a currency union if Scotland voted Yes. If a majority voted No then there should be no further powers, Scottish MPs should not be allowed to vote on English matters, and the money to Scotland should be slashed!

For some strange reason this was not raised by the Opposition at First Minister’s Questions, and the issue seems to have been ignored by the Scotsman. I always look at the electronic Scotsman but now they have a block on that – you get headlines but every attempt to get more info results in the screen being blacked out.

Let’s just put the matter straight – no spin required: if we vote Yes they will make life as difficult for us as they can, even if it costs them money (!). If we vote No then we will be kicked from here to Kingdom Come. Fair choice, but needs a bit more thought – by the English. We have obviously offended their amour propre.

Academic comment
Professor Richard Wyn Jones of Cardiff University said

Given the consistent No lead in all recent opinion polls, there has been surprisingly little scrutiny of what the pro-union parties are promising after a No victory.

Scotland has been promised that it can maintain its current advantageous position in terms of per capita public spending, and that there will be no change in the status of Scottish MPs at Westminster.

But English voters clearly do not support this.

There is strong English support for reducing levels of public spending in Scotland to the UK average – a development that would lead to savage cuts in public services north of the border. There is also overwhelming English support for limiting the role of Scottish MPs at Westminster.

The question for Scottish voters is whether they can rely on pledges about the consequences of a No vote, when such pledges do not seem to be supported in the largest and most politically important part of the union? The truth of the matter is that the English appear in no mood to be particularly accommodating however the Scots choose to vote in their independence referendum.

Liberal moves
Very welcome news, Michael Foxley, Liberal former leader of Highland Council has now joined the Yes Campaign. In the same week, John Barrett, former Liberal MP for Edinburgh West has also come out for Yes. The move is on, and will only accelerate – four weeks and the momentum for Yes is building.

Come to think of it, that answers the Future of England conundrum.