Monday 15 June 2015

They Gied Us Lemons.

FFA, Fiscal Autonomy, Federalism, call it what you will.

It started out that we Scot’s would be about a couple of billion a year in the hole. Westminster suddenly realized that was less than what we had to pay as a part of UK debt, heck, we’re getting up there on being charged our share of London’s Olympics, Cross-rail (they didn’t offer a hand out on Edinburgh’s tram’s, did they?), being charged a pro-rata for London’s new sewer system, and god alone knows what we’ll have to pay if the World Cup comes back to England?

It’s fine, I hear, we got the Commonwealth Games, look at the subsidies there? As in what subsidies?

Then of course, there are the massive energy penalties that all Scots pay.

The amount Scotland would need subsidised began to escalate.

Five billion, seven, in the Sunday Express, it was ten billion – any advances?


You see, the Unionists quite literally scared many elderly into a no vote, they convinced others through biased propaganda, and finally there was the “VOW”. Well, not so much a VOW, but more ‘THE CON’; however although that’s largely now irrelevant, what isn’t, is that Scots voted to stay. Scots voted to be part of this Union.

What the Unionists aren’t revealing is that FFA might in the worst case be hell in a hand-basket for Scotland, but being in the Union, Westminster would still be responsible for it.

The interesting thing is that these ‘new massive deficits’ aren’t what they seem. They’re all predicated on the status quo.

So, effectively, London and her media bubble are saying ‘you can’t have it, because you can’t handle it’ while saying simultaneously ‘that debt, by the way, you’ve already got it, and we’re already covering it’

You see, the biggest part of that referendum business last year, was the ‘better together’ and ‘pooled resources’ bit.

When you look at it deeply, you quickly come to understand that what it’s all about is Westminster’s awareness that they’ve truly screwed things up; that and their unwillingness to be seen to have done so.

Let’s look at the scenarios.

Scenario one is FFA for Scots. We decide to do things differently, it’s successful, and egg gets thrown all over faces in the Palace in London.

Scenario two is we blow it with knobs on. Scenario two will not happen overnight, economies just don’t change that fast, but if we did, Westminster steps in, removes FFA and slaps Scots for being idiots, perhaps by 2% more on income tax until we pay for ‘our folly’ – they could even propose that going in – it’s a bet I’d take.

Regardless, that extra levy couldn’t really be assessed, because Scot’s are only 10% of the UK, and the UK umbrella debt wouldn’t change by much. Even if we awarded all our underprivileged double benefits, and doubled the size of the NHS, it might only add 5% more to the UK debt burden. For me, that 5% isn’t a reason to say ‘NO’ FFA.

Imagine what Westminster would gain if FFA was achieved unfettered and implemented, without requiring the Governor General’s approval. Now imagine it failing, and that little penalty being imposed for a handful of years.

Effectively you’d do what George Robertson in fact claimed of Devolution, you’d kill the demands for ‘more’ stone dead, at least you’d do so in enough Scot’s eyes to stop the Nationalists movement in its tracks.

What will happen if FFA is an unmitigated success? You will end up with a thriving economy just humming along; an economy that benefits everyone, Scots and the Union alike.

If it’s just little different, then it’ll not cost either party more, if it doesn’t actually save money. Government is returned closer to the people, never a bad thing, and responsibility returns to a more local level.

Effectively, the only reason then for Westminster not following FFA is because they believe it will succeed. And they’re scared of that, because in that success they’ll see a demand for more powers and a lessening of their own prestige and influence.

Why should they believe that? They’ve every reason in the world. Just look at Holyrood, the ‘wee pretendy parliament’, which was just called an executive but is now in the eyes of the world an actual ‘Parliament’, with a respected ‘First Minister’.

We demonstrated with Holyrood that although they ‘gied us lemons, we made lemonade’. Westminster and her backers are truly terrified to see what we might achieve with FFA.


  1. Excellent analysis,

    What do you call someone who sucks lemons?

    A Lempire!

    1. "...The interesting thing is that these ‘new massive deficits’ aren’t what they seem. They’re all predicated on the status quo..." Indeed! We are told also that they are predicated on some very unreliable raw data used in compiling the statistics. I believe that the recording of tax and other receipts from whisky production etc. is attributed to the HQ in London, or elsewhere in UK, rather than to the distillery or bottling plant in Scotland. This is not a minor technical issue and obviously has the effect of lowering the apparent contribution made by the Scottish economy to the overall UK economy.

    2. Jock, I did a blog about Harris Tweed production and profit a while back and discovered then that the profits from goods are recorded at the port of exit. For tweed this turned out to be English airports and docks. Therefore, much of the profits and export duties of goods manufactured in Scotland are not recorded against Scotland's balance of payments.

    3. Thanks Hazel. As I try to read all of your "witterings" :-), your article was certainly one of the reasons for my belief, although there would have been at least one other also. There are Westminster statistics from the fifties and earlier which show how, even in those pre-oil days, Scotland paid far more to Westminster than we obtained in services from Westminster. By the way, I would have like to have signed these articles by my real name of Tom Platt but I haven't had time to jump through all the Word Press hoops. Strength to your elbow and continued power to your voice.