Alex Massie Alex Massie

Are the SNP even more deluded than Labour? Why, yes, they are!

Scottish public spending has essentially doubled (albeit in absolute terms) since Labour came to power. (To what end, you ask? To very little end, I reply.) Now the British government has run out of money and it is obvious that there are going to have to be spending cuts if the public finances are ever going to be restored to some semblance of stability. This is obvious, I should say, to everyone but the SNP for whom any suggestion that it might be possible to cut even a tiny sliver of cash from the Scottish Government’s £35bn kitty is the vilest sort of anti-Scottish treachery.

Then again, the Nationalists aren’t responsible for raising revenue, so it’s no great surprise they howl whenever any budget is threatened. And therein lies the great problem with the devolution “settlement”; power absent the requirement to raise revenue is all but bound to become power that is bloated, feckless and irresponsible. That this should come to pass should surprise no-one.

This also applies, one should add, to the Tories’ “localism” agenda. If local councils remain dependent upon Whitehall for 85% of their income then there can’t be a real – let alone a successful – localist revolution.

UPDATE: Richard Thomson, SNP candidate for Gordon, takes issue with me, arguing that a cut in the block grant doesn’t take account of “efficiency savings” the Nats are pursuing anyway:

In fact, the Scottish Government is looking for savings of 1.5% each year within its budget, and using the savings to help fund initiatives like the council tax freeze and the Small Business Bonus scheme. Rather, what’s coming down the line is an actual cut to the Scottish budget, which will mean having to find even more efficiencies over and above those already being found if current spending lines are to be continued.

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