This blog post will be a short one. It is written on the back of yesterday’s blog post – Say ‘bye-bye’ to Barnett.
Yesterday, late afternoon, the Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly launched a joint formal dispute with the Treasury to invoke the formal dispute resolution process through the Joint Ministerial Committee. The Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly, quite rightly are frustrated at the DUP deal with the UK Conservatives where the Northern Ireland Assembly will receive an additional £1 billion yet the Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly get nothing. They are entitled to £2.9 billion and £1.67 billion respectively.
A UK Government spokesman is quoted as saying “As we have made clear, this agreement is part of the government’s commitment to support growth across all parts of the UK.
“Like previous Northern Ireland support packages, and the funding of over £1bn for city deals in Scotland and Wales, this funding is a targeted intervention to address a specific set of unique challenges.
The two main points people need to pay attention to in the above quote is the part that talks about ‘a targeted intervention to address a specific set of unique challenges’ and ‘this exceptional funding will be made outside of the Barnett funding system’.
This targeted intervention to address a specific set of unique challenges can be written as ‘bribing the DUP to prop up the UK Conservatives’…this is exactly what is meant here. This is the targeted intervention (by the UK Conservatives) to address a specific set of unique challenges (gain a VERY slim majority – in other words, hold onto power).
The exceptional funding made outside of the Barnett funding system can be written as ‘finding money to pay a political party of one nation to allow the UK Conservatives to run roughshod over the other nations’…this is exactly what is meant here. This exceptional funding is really just the magic money tree growing another branch. It is being made outside the Barnett funding system because if it isn’t, then the UK Treasury will have to send money to Scotland and Wales and if that happens the DUP need not support the UK Conservatives – the deal would be dead in the water.
The UK Government circumventing Barnett like this is the first step in dismantling Barnett. If they raise enough awareness about how parts of the UK are funded and the problems it brings (even though these problems are brought on by no one other than the UK Conservatives), it will give the UK Government the impetus to get rid of it. They will drive public opinion through headlines and soundbites such as Scotland and Wales bringing down the UK Government because of Barnett and that Scotland and Wales are subsidised. This rhetoric will be aimed squarely at bringing about drastic change to Barnett – this is the start of saying ‘bye-bye’ to Barnett.
The UK Government is stressing that this funding is a bit like a City Deal, except it isn’t because City Deals require matched funding by their devolved governments. Secondly, this funding is aimed at areas within Northern Ireland which are devolved, so Barnett should apply in Wales, Scotland and England.
Let’s imagine for one second that Barnett is stripped back to equal funding on a per head basis. Rudimental but you could argue fair…well at least those who don’t understand Barnett could argue its fair. What implications would that have for rural areas in Scotland and Wales? Can you imagine the cuts the Scottish Government would HAVE to make? I will digress again, one shoe does not fit all – hence the Barnett Formula!
These cuts would be like Christmas to the three unionist parties in Scotland. They would literally be able to slander the SNP with a barrage of headlines and soundbites about how sevices are declining under the SNP. This would be made all the easier because our media does not report accurately – and a large part of the population would lap it up as SNP bad.
The SNP need to prepare for this – and quickly!
We have heard David Mundell flap on about this and that and change his stance how it suits him…or rather how it suits Number 10 and Whitehall, but what about Ruth Davidson?
Why is she not championing Scotland’s cause here?
Where are her 13 MP’s that she said would rebel against the Prime Minister if Scotland was treated unfairly?
Surely she realises just how damaging Barnett changes would be to Scotland’s rural population?
Surely she realises that her silence is damaging her own cause in Scotland?
Or is this the plan…