It must be the memory playing tricks, but some of us could have sworn that when we woke up last 19 September to the result of the Scottish independence referendum, the SNP had lost. Not just lost, but been defeated by a barrowload of votes – a 10 per cent majority for the No campaign – with 28 out of the 32 voting regions rejecting Alex Salmond and all his works and pomps.
So, what is puzzling now is to see those same humiliated nationalists dictating a new, unworkable, unfair constitution and fiscal settlement to the rest of the United Kingdom that will impose upon the other constituent nations and severely disrupt its governance. On the face of it, although Alex Salmond, the fire-eating, haggis-guzzling former First Minister of Scotland, has resigned after his defeat he is still dictating terms to Westminster from beyond the political grave.
But that is not the true explanation for this extraordinary submission by the United Kingdom to the Scottish Left. The real fault does not lie with Salmond but with the three English party “leaders” who cravenly made the “Vow” to give Scotland the Moon and anything else it might demand, during a moment of panic shortly before the referendum vote. One opinion poll – just one out of dozens – momentarily gave the Yes vote a flimsy 2-point lead. That was enough to panic the girlie men who run the three legacy parties at Westminster.
Dave went to Scotland and blubbed pathetically before a hard-faced audience of benefits junkies, pleading with them to continue to grace the Union with their notoriously demanding patronage. While a pantechnicon delivered emergency supplies of brown trousers and bicycle clips to CCHQ, Dave grovelled for votes and promised the Earth in return. If you thought the heat was on last September, Dave – just wait until next May. Scotland duly voted No, as it had always intended to: the Scottish dependency culture never had the slightest intention of removing its gob from the Westminster teat.
In reward, the Smith Commission, chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, who described himself on Thursday as “Santa’s little helper”, has now awarded Scotland full control of income tax, apart from tax on savings or dividends, with the power to set tax bands and rates, while Westminster retains the authority to set personal allowances. That makes a dog’s dinner of the previously seamless fiscal system of the United Kingdom. It is an axiom that you cannot have two fiscal systems within a unitary state (the United States is a centuries-old federation, which is why it works there, but that is a special case), so this will subvert the Union.
Holyrood control of air passenger duty will damage business at English airports. State benefits in Scotland will go through the roof, with the Scottish government empowered even to create new benefit payments. But that is okay, surely, since Scotland will now be responsible for raising its own revenue, making the Scottish government accountable to voters? Oh, no, it’s not. That would have been the case if Scotland had voted for independence; but under this so-called Devo-Max settlement the Scots get all the benefits they want, but the rest of the UK does not escape from footing the bill.
Incredibly, the infamous Barnett Formula – the grotesque arrangement that last year allocated £10,152 per head of public expenditure to Scotland compared with £8,529 to England – is to be retained. If, as Alex Salmond told us daily during the referendum campaign, Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, why does it need so discriminatory a bung from English taxpayers? Should the imbalance in public spending not be the other way around?
At least, you might think, the West Lothian Question – the anomaly whereby Scottish MPs at Westminster vote on English matters (schools, hospitals, fox hunting, you name it) over which English MPs have no control in Scotland – will now receive a dusty answer. Not a bit of it. While Dave is babbling consoling mantras about “English votes for English laws” the reality is that Scottish MPs will continue to vote on the Budget, setting tax rates and bands for English taxpayers which, for Scots, are devolved to Holyrood.
What a mess. Scots and Lib Dems say this is a good opportunity to turn the United Kingdom into a federal state. The British people do not want a federal system, swamped with new tiers of politicians and bureaucrats on the make: Two Jags Prescott’s North-East assembly proposal got short shrift in a referendum. Why should the long-established, successful pattern of British governance be vandalised at the behest of a bunch of imperious mendicants from the unfashionable side of Hadrian’s Wall?
The Scottish tail has wagged the UK dog once too often. The separatists’ bluff was called on 18 September. Only Dave’s cowardice and the Labour Party’s reliance on Scottish dinosaur socialist votes to make England a country fit for Lenin to live in have caused this pathetic deference towards a defeated separatist faction. The Scots voted to stay in the club; let them now cease disrupting it. And let wimpish Westminster politicians stop selling out Britain to appease them.