Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Barnett Flak

Low profile legend

As you'd expect, the Bloke's TPA paper on Barnett has not been met with universal acclaim (eg see the comments under Iain Dale's very supportive piece - once again, many thanks to him).

There's no time right now to deal with all the various points being raised - the Bloke's far to busy doing media interviews darling.

But just picking up some of them:

  • "The Bloke really wants to see the breakup of the UK and should have the guts to say so" Absolutely not - we see the current blatant unfairness as being a threat to the Union, which is actually a strong argument for fiscal decentralisation. That's not the same as calling for breakup - every other G7 country already has far less centralised tax (see paper)
  • "The report only deals with identified spending, and takes no account of all the public spending going to London (government offices, 2012, etc, etc)"- first, identified spending now accounts for the vast bulk of the total (83%), and second, the standard accepted approach to allocating spending is based on who benefits, not where the spending takes place
  • "The Scottish Government's own detailed calcs show Scotland is a net contributor, so the TPA is wrong" - we refer to the Scot Gov report in the TPA paper - we do have some quibbles with the way they've allocated and reallocated some of HMT's own spending figures, but even they can only balance the books for the recent years with high oil prices - before that, their figures show the kind of deficits we identify
  • "The TPA takes no account of all the tax paid by Scots working in England" - true, but they are mainly consuming English services, not Scottish
  • "What about the Trident subs which boost Scottish spending figures but are not wanted in Scotland" - spending on the Tridents is part of the defence budget which is included in "unidentified spending" - ie it doesn't count towards Scottish spending in the calcs
  • "We should take account of all the oil revenues stolen from Scotland" - er... we do... or at least we test the proposition that oil would have paid for the Scottish spending premium - in 18 out of the last 23 years it hasn't
  • "The TPA are a bunch of a*******s" - never proved

The Bloke has been told by one interviewer that they'd been trying to get Lord B himself to comment, but he's had enough of such discussions.

We don't blame him.

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