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Old August 23rd, 2016, 12:44 AM   #14001
Quirinalian
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Originally Posted by anonymous_redrum View Post
'relative fiscal position', relative being the most important word.

GERS was first established in 1990 by the then UK Tory Government, not the SNP. The then Scottish Secretary openly admitted it is a political tool against their enemies.
So what? It was useful in that regard and is still useful in that regard. That doesn't make anything it says factually inaccurate. As a tool, it is extremely effective in demonstrating the benefits of the union.

It was also used as a political tool by the SNP against their enemies on many occasions, albeit by selective reading and distortion without thinking of the future consequences. Did you ever deliver leaflets for the Yes campaign? Many used GERS figures in them. Frankly for nationalists to cry foul when the numbers don't show what they want and they can't even spin them effectively is a little rich.

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The same UK controls more than 40% of Scotlands spending, the UK borrows money on our behalf and spends it on things we either do not need or do not want or has nothing to do with us(HS2, Crossrail, Olympics, nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers with no aircraft to go on them and so on and so on).

It is a snapshot of Scotlands economy in the union, in one year. Nothing to do with what an independent Scotland would look like, as we would have full control of resources, spending and taxation.
*Sigh*. Some silly old repeated myths in there that I've shown to you indisputably to be wrong many times.

You're right - again, as I've said, it shows that an independent Scotland would have to make huge changes to those figures - by cutting public spending or raising tax (it'll obviously have to be more of the former than the latter). We've spoken about this. However when you say "Nothing to do with what an independent Scotland would look like", you're setting yourself quite apart from the SNP - whose senior politicians have said quite the opposite.

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Your position is that the UK gifts Scotland billions every year out the goodness of their heart, although some years it is virtually nothing(what was your story there then?) and that we are 'too wee, too poor, too subsidy junkied up' to go it alone.
Yes, we are literally too poor to afford that level of public spending without ramping up taxes enormously (and I expect that move would be counter productive). Do you have a problem with that fact? Does it offend you? Well, ultimately that doesn't matter a jot. If facts hurt your pride, that's really your own issue.

This is a benefit of the union: that we have a level of public spending that would otherwise be unaffordable, and relatively stable public expenditure even when volatile revenues are considered.

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Wales deficit is bigger than Scotlands, i can find that out from Google easily. Nobody can find Englands deficit as it is locked in HM Treasury accounts. It is not like you to defend England first and try to make Scotland look bad, no sirree not seen that before from you at all! The ONS figures show that without the finance industry, London is not much at all and that Scotland actually has a strong varied economy. No amount of skewed figures can make that look different.

You base all your assumptions and assertions on a set of figures that were a political tool from the onset and are lovingly splashed over right wing media to make Scotland look crap(even though UK controls most of our spending/fiscal policy). Although not in the good years, they keep quiet funnily enough.
I'm not sure what the "good years" here are. That one year we've been running a small surplus - the only one in the last 26?

There aren't any official figures on a deficit for Wales. When I Googled it I found a paper from Cardiff University suggesting a figure - they are not official statistics. You can safely assume if Scotland's deficit is higher than the UK average, and Wales's deficit is higher than the UK average (I imagine NI is probably in a similar position) then England's deficit will be quite a bit smaller than the UK's average. Again, what's your point here?
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Old August 23rd, 2016, 07:11 PM   #14002
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England(UK), good! Scotland, bad!
Tory, good! SNPBad!
Subsidy junkie, good! Independence to fix things, bad!


Plus tell constant lies about public spending.

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This data includes all spending undertaken by the UK Government on behalf of Scotland - not just expenditure on health, education and social security but also UK-wide public spending on defence, debt interest and financial interventions (or nationalising the banks).

If we look specifically at spending on welfare, we can see that Scotland not only ranks below the UK for social benefit spending per head, but also behind all bar one of the EU 15.

Fullfact.org
I have already said the SNP/Scots Gov used the GERS figures when they looked decent many times on here, they are a political tool. They still criticised GERS back then though and its huge limitations(and who published them originally).

Again, crowing over a huge deficit in GERS just means more and more people just say 'well cannot get any worse than this mess, lets go for independence'. Keep it up!
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Old August 23rd, 2016, 07:59 PM   #14003
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Originally Posted by anonymous_redrum View Post
England(UK), good! Scotland, bad!
Tory, good! SNPBad!
Subsidy junkie, good! Independence to fix things, bad!

Plus tell constant lies about public spending.
What lie have I told about Scottish public spending?

Why are you swearing?

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I have already said the SNP/Scots Gov used the GERS figures when they looked decent many times on here, they are a political tool. They still criticised GERS back then though and its huge limitations(and who published them originally).
Did they? As I've said, numerous SNP politicians said it was representative of Scotland's fiscal position. The SNP's White Paper called GERS an "authoritative publication of Scotland's public finances". John Swinney said it put Scotland's economic position "beyond any doubt".

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Again, crowing over a huge deficit in GERS just means more and more people just say 'well cannot get any worse than this mess, lets go for independence'. Keep it up!
Yet it's not a mess, it represents a far higher level of public spending. The problem is that the deficit has no effect on us as part of the UK - in an independent Scotland it is unsustainable and would lead to huge cuts in public spending. I don't think anyone thinks anything can't get any worse, when cuts of this size would decimate Scotland's education system, the NHS or any other public service they fall on.

You've posted a image from fullfact.org that didn't actually come from them - it was produced by the Scottish Government, they simply referenced it. Below it they have a heading "not the full story?", where they point out that Scotland's per capita public spending is much higher than the UK average, and indeed the highest of all UK constituent parts other than Northern Ireland.

Quite why you found the need to make that misrepresentation (and not post the link) I'm not sure.

Last edited by Quirinalian; August 23rd, 2016 at 08:07 PM.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 11:36 AM   #14004
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I know it's the Fringe but are ScotRail completely incapable of running any trains to schedule? I honestly cannot think of a single time in weeks I've been on a train that is actually on time instead of whatever the +/- 10 min technicality.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 05:17 PM   #14005
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We Need To Talk About: GERS (2015-16 Edition)

https://thecommongreen.wordpress.com...15-16-edition/

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It’s that time again. The annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland report is out. Click the link or the image below to read it for yourself.

Actually it seems like only March that the last edition was out. What’s happening here?

Well, there was a consultation that almost no-one knew about which discussed a few methodological changes to GERS in line with the ‘new powers’ we’re getting and it also asked if the next report should be brought forward. I’m completely convinced that the fact that this means that we’re getting the report well before the Council election campaign next year is absolutely just a convenient side effect(!)…but no matter. We’ve got the data.

Tomorrow’s Headline Today

Scotland’s budget deficit remains at a little under £15 billion. As with last year, don’t expect a single news outlet to go one single step further with the story than that. Except maybe to say that oil revenue has dropped from £1.802 billion last year to just £60 million this year.

So what’s happened? Why hasn’t Scotland, which is “totally dependent on oil”, completely collapsed now that oil revenues have basically dropped to zero?

Last year, total revenues dropped by around £500 million on 2013-14. This year, total revenues have INCREASED by £181 million. In fact, total revenue is higher than it was in 2012-13 when we received some £5.3 billion in oil revenue.

It’s also worth noting that if you only look at GERS 2015-16 then it looks like our deficit has increased by a couple of hundred million in the past year but if you look a bit deeper, and compare the numbers to previous GERS reports then something interesting happens.

In GERS 2014-15 our deficit was recorded as £14.8 billion but in GERS 2015-16 the 2014-15 deficit has somehow dropped by £622 million to £14.3 billion. Essentially, this shows one of the limits of GERS in that it is based on sometimes highly speculative estimates which get revised over time. It may be five years before we finally know the “true” accounts figures for this year. This accounting adjustment is extremely significant compared to, say, our “budget underspends” but unless you’ve read it here I expect it to pass entirely unnoticed.

Now, what about our all hallowed GDP? It’s down by 0.45% from £157.502 billion in 2014-15 to £156.784 billion in 2015-16 (with non-oil GDP having increased by over £2.2 billion, the highest it’s ever been).



You know, perhaps it’s time we started measuring our economy in terms other than just GDP. We know it’s flawed. We know it throws up extremely strange results like Ireland’s “economy” growing by 25% because a few American companies moved their nameplates around. We know it doesn’t even particularly correlate to things like tax and ability to service debt very well.

Maybe it’s time we started measuring (and taxing) our country based on the things which actually matter.

Dutch Disease with Scottish Characteristics

So what’s going on here? Essentially it’s the same pattern first picked up last year. As oil prices drop, so do fuel costs. Which means everything from the costs of transporting goods to the heating and lighting costs for your home drops. This means you have more money to spend in the economy and companies have fewer overheads leading to either greater profits (thus, ideally, more tax revenue) or more room to invest in expansion.

This is a clear demonstration of the so-called “Dutch Disease” where high oil prices choke off the non-oil based economy in the form of the aforementioned fuel costs (it also tends to harden one’s currency but this is less of a factor in the Scottish case given that we don’t yet have one).

At the time of the last report I was criticised for pointing this out on the grounds that the oil price collapse “hadn’t fully fed through” hence I was jumping the gun on the observation. It shall be interesting to see if anyone says the same thing now. Could revenues drop any lower?

This should serve as somewhat of a warning to those itching for the return of high oil prices and certainly for those desperate to “replace” offshore oil with onshore fracking. It’s maybe time to have a good hard rethink about what kind of resources we want to develop in Scotland. Now, to be sure, I’ve nothing against our offshore industry and for those folk out there it’s been a pretty dreadful time. It’s just that, certainly as a Green, I think our offshore industry is on the wrong side of the country and should be based on wind/wave and tide rather than oil. You can be sure that if the wind and tide stops flowing we’ll be dealing with problems a little bit larger than the state of our finances.

Sweet Fiscal Autonomy

As mentioned earlier, part of the methodological changes discussed in the GERS consultation was to do with looking at the taxes to be devolved to Scotland under the series of “vast, new powers” we’ve been generously granted.

In terms of actual revenue, chief amongst these is income tax (excluding interest and dividends, the ability to move the Personal Allowance or to adjust the definition of “income”) and VAT (excluding any actual control at all. We’re getting the VAT added to Scottish coffers and then an equivalent amount removed from the block grant. Yay.) along with comparatively minor taxes like landfill tax, aggregate levy and air passenger duty.

In total, the Scottish government will directly receive 40.5% of Scottish revenue (£21.8 billion this year) and, given the limitations on VAT and income tax, have actual, practical control over perhaps half of that. Devolved expenditure, however, will soon sit at 63.1% of total (£43.3 billion). Basically the Scottish government can only directly control enough income to fund perhaps about a quarter of what it’s directly responsible for delivering.



There’s a side issue in all of this related to that old topic of the budget underspends. Tucked away on page 47 of GERS there’s an interesting line which looks at the confidence intervals for some of the tax revenues used. Remember that the revenues given are estimates and are subject both to revision over time and change due to circumstances that the government cannot control. For example, if you move job half way through the tax year your income, therefore income tax, can change. If your job moves you to England, your entire income tax contribution moves from the Scotland side of the budget to the rUK one. Hence, the total income tax revenue estimate is subject to a margin of error, in this case of 1.0%.

The same goes for other taxes to greater or lesser degree to the effect that the margin of error over all of the taxes measured there is 1.6% or ±£570 million.

Remember that the Scottish Government has extremely limited borrowing powers. It can only “overspend” on the current budget by £200 million in a single year and cannot exceed a total current debt of £500 million. And yet income revenue, on which expenditure must be planned, has a margin of error of ±£570 million.

In the event, this year Scotland’s “underspend” was only £150 million. If you think you can plan a budget better than this then please, send it in. If not, might be a good idea to stop reporting and moaning about underspends.

Paying For It



Another little line that seems to have been added to GERS this year (on page 37) is a breakdown of the annual costs of financing Labour’s PFI and the SNP’s replacement NPD loans. There’s been a bit of a milestone reached there with the availability costs of PFI now exceeding £1 billion per year or over 15% of Scotland’s total capital budget and slated to increase even further over the next decade unless something is done about it. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a major issue for the council elections next year.



Of course and once again you wouldn’t know this if all you did was watch our Great British Broadcaster, the BBC. Their recent “investigation” into PFI couldn’t even bring itself to mention the name of the party which lumped this crippling financial burden on us.

Finally

I could go on. We could nip-pick at details like the mysterious addition to the expenditure budget of net EU contributions (there’s always been an annex discussing this but this is first year it has explicitly been counted in a separate line in Total Expenditure) or notice that for the first time in at least five years our debt interest paid has increased as our UK debt increases have started to outweigh the effect of falling bond yields.

It’s all a shell game though. We know that GERS isn’t nearly as important as people hold it to be nor is it nearly as informative as it should be. It’s not going to change many minds on its own nor does it tell us one single thing about the finances of an independent Scotland. If we want to do that, we’re going to need to build a national budget from scratch, taking into account all of the taxes (existing and new) that an independent Scotland might choose to levy. We also need to have a look again at what Scotland actually needs to spend its money on. Could we use Citizen’s Income to create from scratch a welfare system worthy of the name? Would a Scottish Government able to issue its own bonds on its own debt be able to get a better deal than the one we have right now?

Quite simply can Scotland as a nation see ourselves as better than others would prefer us to be seen?
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Old August 24th, 2016, 08:32 PM   #14006
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Originally Posted by anonymous_redrum View Post
We Need To Talk About: GERS (2015-16 Edition)
Cool, maybe you can do it without swearing and falsely accusing me of lying this time?

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"So what’s happened? Why hasn’t Scotland, which is “totally dependent on oil”, completely collapsed now that oil revenues have basically dropped to zero"
"Being part of a United Kingdom" is the key response here. There is no doubt that such a huge slump would have caused significant effects if Scotland was independent now.

At the risk of trotting out a worn old cliché, we dodged a bullet. Of that there can really be little serious doubt.

"Last year, total revenues dropped by around £500 million on 2013-14. This year, total revenues have INCREASED by £181 million. In fact, total revenue is higher than it was in 2012-13 when we received some £5.3 billion in oil revenue."

"Now, what about our all hallowed GDP? It’s down by 0.45% from £157.502 billion in 2014-15 to £156.784 billion in 2015-16 (with non-oil GDP having increased by over £2.2 billion, the highest it’s ever been)."

Hardly surprising. The UK has benefited from fast economic growth. However it's worth noting that this growth in Scotland lagged substantially behind that of the rest of the UK.

If your GDP isn't the highest its ever been in any given year, then there's a serious problem with your economy.

"So what’s going on here? Essentially it’s the same pattern first picked up last year. As oil prices drop, so do fuel costs."

True, but it in no way makes up for having a thriving oil and gas sector.

"It’s not going to change many minds on its own nor does it tell us one single thing about the finances of an independent Scotland."

It appears the Greens disagree with the SNP on this, then.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 11:57 PM   #14007
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Originally Posted by 1M14 View Post
It would be much more interesting to see the full breakdown of why the GERS figures look like they do...

How much of them comes from higher public spending, and how much of them comes from lower tax revenues? Where are these lower revenues, or higher expenditures? What has caused them to be this way? What can and/or will be done about them if we remain part of the United Kingdom?
To address your first point, the GERS document is a useful starting point and does actually address a number of these questions. Scotland's deficit is not really not caused by lower revenues, they're caused by higher levels of expenditure. Yes, revenues per capita were £200 lower in Scotland last year, but that accounts for only a small sum of it.

You go some way to addressing the issues around fiscal transfers within a union and "dependence". It's a strange thing to get annoyed at the money that's funding our schools and hospitals. Dare I say it, I think it would take a fairly strong nationalist sentiment to resent that and endanger it.

I genuinely do not see why fiscal transfers from the wealthy suburbs of Edinburgh to urban Lanarkshire should be seen as a greater slight than transfers from wealthy London to parts of Scotland. And it is London and its environs - on a regional basis, Scotland compares quite well with most of the country. It's just London and the South East are rather wealthier. It's a great opportunity having one of the world's greatest cities on our doorstep, but equally it's also something that legitimately involves a degree of sharing around the country.

When you say the "UK is not and cannot be a fully unitary state" while Scottish nationalism exists may have some justification. But you seem to go further than that - to insist that unionists must become nationalists in order to fight nationalism. To suggest that UK democracy cannot have the final say on issues of foreign affairs, or defence, or immigration is essentially to say the UK cannot be a democracy. In which case, it cannot exist. I do not accept that, nor do I think the Scottish public were somehow daft in not realising in 2014 that being in the UK meant that there would be decisions taken at UK level.

There is no intransigence here from the unionist side. Britain's recent constitutional history in Scotland has been one of reaching out for co-operation, for compromise, for going ever further to create a polity that the majority in Scotland want. We have accepted devolution, further powers, further powers again. The only intransigence here comes from the SNP, who will not move on from an argument that was had fairly and lost not even two years ago.

You close with something I've often disparaged on here: inevitablism - the continued assertion that nationalism will, undoubtedly, win out. It has been a characteristic of the Salmondite SNP and the wider nationalist movement. It is almost an article of faith. Of course, there is nothing new under the Sun: many ideologies have held similar views. Most notably Karl Marx believed his political system was the inevitable end of capitalism - some true believers still cling to this. But in each case, the psychoanalyst in me says that people who assert certainties are often the least secure in what they believe.

I am more than willing to say I have no idea what Scottish politics will look like in 30 years. It would've taken a brave individual to suggest 30 years ago that this is what we would have now. Politics isn't necessarily about continually asserting you'll win, it's about what you're fighting for.
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Old August 25th, 2016, 10:58 PM   #14008
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Originally Posted by Quirinalian View Post
To address your first point, the GERS document is a useful starting point and does actually address a number of these questions. Scotland's deficit is not really not caused by lower revenues, they're caused by higher levels of expenditure. Yes, revenues per capita were £200 lower in Scotland last year, but that accounts for only a small sum of it.

You go some way to addressing the issues around fiscal transfers within a union and "dependence". It's a strange thing to get annoyed at the money that's funding our schools and hospitals. Dare I say it, I think it would take a fairly strong nationalist sentiment to resent that and endanger it.

I genuinely do not see why fiscal transfers from the wealthy suburbs of Edinburgh to urban Lanarkshire should be seen as a greater slight than transfers from wealthy London to parts of Scotland. And it is London and its environs - on a regional basis, Scotland compares quite well with most of the country. It's just London and the South East are rather wealthier. It's a great opportunity having one of the world's greatest cities on our doorstep, but equally it's also something that legitimately involves a degree of sharing around the country.
I don't like the idea of dependence because I see that there is a meme in the English political landscape of Scotland being a 'subsidy junkie'. While you can dismiss the possibility that this will ever become a live political issue, the same could also have been said about Eurosceptic memes.

The risk we have is that if the fiscal situation in Scotland does not improve, it will become an easier and easier target for populist politicians in England. Promising to cut the subsidy to Scotland would not lose you votes in the places where votes actually matter in our terrible FPTP system. This is especially so given the general hollowing-out of the idea of Britishness, both as a result of devolution in general and also due to increases in the feelings of English nationalism in particular. Even within British nationalism there can be the idea that as Scotland is part of Britain, it shouldn't have things any better than the rest of the UK.

It is also very true that there is definitely an element of nationalism in that you want your own country to be self-reliant. Many people in Scotland see Scotland as being their country, just as there are many who see the United Kingdom as theirs. Those who see Scotland as their country are inevitably not going to be as comfortable at the idea that we aren't able to fund the things that go on here. This is only emboldened by the way that our ability to try to change things is very limited with the powers we have. No rational government goes straight for raising taxes or cutting spending as soon as they want to make changes, as these are blunt tools which can have as much of a negative effect as a positive one.

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When you say the "UK is not and cannot be a fully unitary state" while Scottish nationalism exists may have some justification. But you seem to go further than that - to insist that unionists must become nationalists in order to fight nationalism. To suggest that UK democracy cannot have the final say on issues of foreign affairs, or defence, or immigration is essentially to say the UK cannot be a democracy. In which case, it cannot exist. I do not accept that, nor do I think the Scottish public were somehow daft in not realising in 2014 that being in the UK meant that there would be decisions taken at UK level.

There is no intransigence here from the unionist side. Britain's recent constitutional history in Scotland has been one of reaching out for co-operation, for compromise, for going ever further to create a polity that the majority in Scotland want. We have accepted devolution, further powers, further powers again. The only intransigence here comes from the SNP, who will not move on from an argument that was had fairly and lost not even two years ago.
That is correct. The only way to resolve the problem of approximately half of your country wanting to leave is to properly sit down with them and discuss what they really want. My perspective is that a considerable proportion of these things can be resolved entirely within the UK as they are not in any way tied to any concept of nation.

For instance, one of the campaigning points in the later parts of the independence campaign was about the future of the NHS. There is clear unease in a significant proportion of the population (across both Scotland and the UK) that some decisions are being made by governments about the NHS that are not in the best interests of the service or the country as a whole. It is not as simple as the traditional argument over the merits of privatisation versus state ownership, it is that interests in the government are making bad decisions for bad reasons. In the second debate, one of the comments from an audience member that had the biggest impact was about how Alistair Darling had been paid to speak at dinners with private healthcare companies and had also been involved in some of the decisions to create markets in NHS care. If the government came to the conclusion that privatisation was good from a neutral standpoint after careful and neutral deliberation, then that would be fine and the bulk of people would accept it. That will not be the case if there can be any suspicion that there is anything else going on, ranging from dodgy deals all the way up to gentle nudges and the knowledge that a well-paid private sector position is in order after retirement from politics. That Alistair Darling is now working on the Board of Directors at Morgan Stanley, an institution that he was partly responsible for controlling back when he was Chancellor, really does not help him.

It would be very easy for the UK political system to do something about this, and other similar suspected rent-seeking behaviours. New lobbying legislation could be brought in to minimise the ability for moneyed interests to buy policies. Political party funding rules could be changed to prevent large donations from individuals or companies, as these are never done without creating some expectation of favours in return. The fact that these changes aren't happening and likely won't happen regardless of whether we have a Labour or Tory government helps boost the case for radical change. That radical change presents an opportunity to clear out the cruft and prevent bad decisions being made in future for dubious reasons. An event as momentous as independence would bring everything out into the open and as sovereignty would be returned to the people, so to speak, it would be the time to force through changes that would never happen when self-interest is so powerful in politics. If people can be persuaded that a good many of the current problems we face as a society are a consequence of dodgy deals done by powerful, unaccountable people, then we already know what the outcome can be. This unease has boosted both the Trump and Sanders campaigns and was at least a factor in the Brexit vote.

Quote:
You close with something I've often disparaged on here: inevitablism - the continued assertion that nationalism will, undoubtedly, win out. It has been a characteristic of the Salmondite SNP and the wider nationalist movement. It is almost an article of faith. Of course, there is nothing new under the Sun: many ideologies have held similar views. Most notably Karl Marx believed his political system was the inevitable end of capitalism - some true believers still cling to this. But in each case, the psychoanalyst in me says that people who assert certainties are often the least secure in what they believe.

I am more than willing to say I have no idea what Scottish politics will look like in 30 years. It would've taken a brave individual to suggest 30 years ago that this is what we would have now. Politics isn't necessarily about continually asserting you'll win, it's about what you're fighting for.
Inevitablism at least has demographic trends on its side. Every year, more No voting pensioners die off than new No voting young folk become eligible to vote. If no one changes their mind at all and this demographic replacement continues there will be a solid Yes majority eventually. If you consider the very long term, remember that young folk in Scotland grow up primarily affected by the decisions of the Scottish Parliament and government and only become individually affected by reserved matters when they reach adulthood. The perspective you have as a child has a great deal of impact upon what you'll think for the rest of your life, and if you learn that Holyrood makes decisions about the things that affect you and that you benefit from (e.g. no tuition fees), while your perspective is that Westminster does things that don't affect your or worse, things that you would also not benefit from (e.g. causing Brexit, imposing tuition fees on English folk) then it absolutely will set you up in such a way that you'll be more receptive to arguments about self-government. This means that it cannot be guaranteed that people will end up turning Unionist as they get older and more responsible (e.g. when they get a mortgage, kids, retire). Today there is basically no one in Ireland who remembers what it was like to be part of the United Kingdom and generations have grown up knowing that Dublin is their capital where decisions are made.
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Old August 26th, 2016, 12:58 AM   #14009
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I don't like the idea of dependence because I see that there is a meme in the English political landscape of Scotland being a 'subsidy junkie'. While you can dismiss the possibility that this will ever become a live political issue, the same could also have been said about Eurosceptic memes.
Possibly, but who's actually coming out with this sort of language? Scottish nationalists, not others. Once again, this is a sort of inevitablism: that nationalistic division will always win through - whether it be in Scotland or England. I simply don't believe that.

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The risk we have is that if the fiscal situation in Scotland does not improve, it will become an easier and easier target for populist politicians in England. Promising to cut the subsidy to Scotland would not lose you votes in the places where votes actually matter in our terrible FPTP system. This is especially so given the general hollowing-out of the idea of Britishness, both as a result of devolution in general and also due to increases in the feelings of English nationalism in particular. Even within British nationalism there can be the idea that as Scotland is part of Britain, it shouldn't have things any better than the rest of the UK.
Ah, but in many cases this is about delivering public services. There will always be a needs-based consideration on the basis of population density, for example. This isn't straightforward robbery here.

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It is also very true that there is definitely an element of nationalism in that you want your own country to be self-reliant.
Well, I suppose - it's what won the EU referendum for the Brexit lot, I suppose.

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That is correct. The only way to resolve the problem of approximately half of your country wanting to leave is to properly sit down with them and discuss what they really want. My perspective is that a considerable proportion of these things can be resolved entirely within the UK as they are not in any way tied to any concept of nation.
I'm not so sure. If you caught the interview with Tam Dalyell on Scotland Tonight the other day, he identified something that I believe holds rather true: nationalists do not want anything short of independence. They do not have a single bit of interest in it, accept as a means to achieve independence. Social attitudes in Scotland and England are hardly all that different, as several surveys have shown us. The priorities of people in Livingston are not all that dissimilar from those in Liverpool. There's not really policy answers here.

There's about 30-odd percent of Scotland that, frankly, unionists cannot talk to - and would, at least in the short term, be wasting their time talking to. A higher proportion would vote for the union come what may, but it still leaves about 20-30% in the middle.

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For instance, one of the campaigning points in the later parts of the independence campaign was about the future of the NHS. There is clear unease in a significant proportion of the population (across both Scotland and the UK) that some decisions are being made by governments about the NHS that are not in the best interests of the service or the country as a whole. It is not as simple as the traditional argument over the merits of privatisation versus state ownership, it is that interests in the government are making bad decisions for bad reasons. In the second debate, one of the comments from an audience member that had the biggest impact was about how Alistair Darling had been paid to speak at dinners with private healthcare companies and had also been involved in some of the decisions to create markets in NHS care. If the government came to the conclusion that privatisation was good from a neutral standpoint after careful and neutral deliberation, then that would be fine and the bulk of people would accept it. That will not be the case if there can be any suspicion that there is anything else going on, ranging from dodgy deals all the way up to gentle nudges and the knowledge that a well-paid private sector position is in order after retirement from politics. That Alistair Darling is now working on the Board of Directors at Morgan Stanley, an institution that he was partly responsible for controlling back when he was Chancellor, really does not help him.

It would be very easy for the UK political system to do something about this, and other similar suspected rent-seeking behaviours. New lobbying legislation could be brought in to minimise the ability for moneyed interests to buy policies. Political party funding rules could be changed to prevent large donations from individuals or companies, as these are never done without creating some expectation of favours in return. The fact that these changes aren't happening and likely won't happen regardless of whether we have a Labour or Tory government helps boost the case for radical change. That radical change presents an opportunity to clear out the cruft and prevent bad decisions being made in future for dubious reasons. An event as momentous as independence would bring everything out into the open and as sovereignty would be returned to the people, so to speak, it would be the time to force through changes that would never happen when self-interest is so powerful in politics. If people can be persuaded that a good many of the current problems we face as a society are a consequence of dodgy deals done by powerful, unaccountable people, then we already know what the outcome can be. This unease has boosted both the Trump and Sanders campaigns and was at least a factor in the Brexit vote.
Yes, some of the NHS stuff to come out of the Nationalists at the tail-end of the referendum was really the worst sort of politics, feeding into a narrative of division, conspiracy theory and paranoia. Their lines on TTIP, for example, were nothing more than stoking up anti-Americanism. I think we can be quite angry now that they've been entirely exposed as lies.

People value the NHS and want to do well by it. But equally, they also damage it: railing against the use of methadone to treat drug addicts, battling against local A&E closures when every bit of objective evidence shows that more distant but more specialised centres perform better, complaining about the provision of mental health treatment.

I don't think lobbying is a great problem in this country. You mention party donations - the Stronger In campaign just had its major donors released - several of whom where financial services companies. There's nothing dodgy in that - they simply realised it was in the interest of their businesses to remain in the EU.

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Inevitablism at least has demographic trends on its side. Every year, more No voting pensioners die off than new No voting young folk become eligible to vote. If no one changes their mind at all and this demographic replacement continues there will be a solid Yes majority eventually. If you consider the very long term, remember that young folk in Scotland grow up primarily affected by the decisions of the Scottish Parliament and government and only become individually affected by reserved matters when they reach adulthood. The perspective you have as a child has a great deal of impact upon what you'll think for the rest of your life, and if you learn that Holyrood makes decisions about the things that affect you and that you benefit from (e.g. no tuition fees), while your perspective is that Westminster does things that don't affect your or worse, things that you would also not benefit from (e.g. causing Brexit, imposing tuition fees on English folk) then it absolutely will set you up in such a way that you'll be more receptive to arguments about self-government. This means that it cannot be guaranteed that people will end up turning Unionist as they get older and more responsible (e.g. when they get a mortgage, kids, retire). Today there is basically no one in Ireland who remembers what it was like to be part of the United Kingdom and generations have grown up knowing that Dublin is their capital where decisions are made.
The demographic argument is rubbish for several reasons. First off, it assumes that younger voters are predominantly pro-independence. This was not borne out by evidence.

The post-referendum YouGov poll showed No winning in the 16-24 age group, the 40-59 age group, the 60-64 age group and the 65+ group. The only Yes majority was among those aged 25-39. Ashcroft echoed this - it was the middle where 'Yes' won: the 18-24 year olds were won by the No campaign. It separated out 16-17 year olds, albeit with a tiny sample of 14% - which found against all previous evidence they voted Yes. You're also assuming that somehow today's middle aged people will not become tomorrow's pensioners, with similarly conservative tendencies.

Ireland is quite different. There were significant population movements, for a start. There are considerably fewer Protestants in the Irish Republic now - they've not converted, they just left. The Irish Republicans in Northern Ireland made a demographic argument too - and by their reckoning there should be a Nationalist majority there by now, if not several decades ago. It didn't really work out that way.

I think there's another population argument that's a tad more coherent. Overlay areas with high Yes votes and you'll find unemployment and poverty. Essentially where there is hopelessness, Nationalism is easily sold. As both of these things have been very much on a downward trend, I suspect improvements in living standards and life chances will be what does it for Nationalism in the long-term.
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Old August 27th, 2016, 01:20 AM   #14010
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Cool, maybe you can do it without swearing and falsely accusing me of lying this time?



"Being part of a United Kingdom" is the key response here. There is no doubt that such a huge slump would have caused significant effects if Scotland was independent now.

At the risk of trotting out a worn old cliché, we dodged a bullet. Of that there can really be little serious doubt.

"Last year, total revenues dropped by around £500 million on 2013-14. This year, total revenues have INCREASED by £181 million. In fact, total revenue is higher than it was in 2012-13 when we received some £5.3 billion in oil revenue."

"Now, what about our all hallowed GDP? It’s down by 0.45% from £157.502 billion in 2014-15 to £156.784 billion in 2015-16 (with non-oil GDP having increased by over £2.2 billion, the highest it’s ever been)."

Hardly surprising. The UK has benefited from fast economic growth. However it's worth noting that this growth in Scotland lagged substantially behind that of the rest of the UK.

If your GDP isn't the highest its ever been in any given year, then there's a serious problem with your economy.

"So what’s going on here? Essentially it’s the same pattern first picked up last year. As oil prices drop, so do fuel costs."

True, but it in no way makes up for having a thriving oil and gas sector.

"It’s not going to change many minds on its own nor does it tell us one single thing about the finances of an independent Scotland."

It appears the Greens disagree with the SNP on this, then.
I'll stop swearing when you admit GERS are political football, like I have.

Yes, if Scotland was independent i am sure the oil downturn would have had a big effect. Maybe we would have had a sovereign oil fund(Norway's economy is bouyant again btw), we would have also had full fiscal levers that could have helped us deal with it better. It is all hearsay though.

What is not hearsay is that being part of the union has not saved us from £15 billion deficit, huge job losses and people going to food banks. We have not dodged any bullet, the UK is no safehaven for our people/economy/industries or jobs. This is all before we are taken out the EU against our will, causing a recession.

Although you seem to conveniently ignore that despite a drop in £2billion of oil revenues, the deficit did not change from last year. Infact it went down a little.

Even though it is normal for a country to run a deficit, we have found out from GERS that more than £1 billion alone is from legacy PFI:

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Dr Paul Monaghan MP This week’s GERS figures confirmed that PFI payments have risen to over £1 billion per year for the first time. Labour should apologise.
No country our size needs to spend more than £3billion on defence, we are paying for Crossrail(why?), HS2(that will never get here), London Olympics, renewal of weapons of mass destruction we do not want(or need) and interest on a debt our economy did not require.

Screaming 'black holes' and 'subsidy junkie', just shows Westminsters stewardship of the economy has been a disaster and that unionists have nothing positive to add on the future of our country. Unionist parties and their lackies in the right wing media crowing over these things(scary headlines without investigating into Gers properly, of course), leads people to just believe the exact opposite. Anything that is mostly a secret when you investigate into it is worthless, HM Treasury should let the Scot Gov see all of the facts/figures then we can have a grown up discussion on Scotlands finances. Not basing your whole rhetoric on pretty much guesswork. We know they won't though.
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Old August 27th, 2016, 03:46 PM   #14011
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I'll stop swearing when you admit GERS are political football, like I have.

Yes, if Scotland was independent i am sure the oil downturn would have had a big effect. Maybe we would have had a sovereign oil fund(Norway's economy is bouyant again btw), we would have also had full fiscal levers that could have helped us deal with it better. It is all hearsay though.
Hmm, I admit they are used as a political football - as one might expect really - but that doesn't remotely impact on their accuracy.

The fact is we don't have a Sovereign Oil Fund. Had we been independent in March this year, we wouldn't have one, nor could we have credibly created one. This isn't a "we're in a bad patch" type situation either: we ran a surplus in one year of the last 27. There is no realistic prospect of such a thing, without cutting public spending even further beyond the £15 billion deficit.

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What is not hearsay is that being part of the union has not saved us from £15 billion deficit, huge job losses and people going to food banks. We have not dodged any bullet, the UK is no safehaven for our people/economy/industries or jobs. This is all before we are taken out the EU against our will, causing a recession.
It has saved us from that deficit - or at least the effects of it. It's bigger than ever, and yet we have public spending in Scotland growing.

It has indeed stopped job losses: employment is higher than it has ever been. People will of course lose jobs under any economic scenario, but there are more jobs now than at any point in our history.

Food banks? Fine. It is strange the Scottish Government hasn't done anything about them either. Probably because on some level they are aware that giving money to people who frequently find themselves in crisis situation doesn't really help matters. Perhaps we should be looking at Scotland's great civic society and asking why - bar the foodbanks - more isn't being done to help people who have unstable lives.


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Although you seem to conveniently ignore that despite a drop in £2billion of oil revenues, the deficit did not change from last year. Infact it went down a little.
No it hasn't. It increased from £14.3 billion to £14.8 billion (9.1% of GDP to 9.5%). We've spoken before about just making stuff up.

North Sea revenue dropped by £1.7 billion - which is not a major drop, because even last year the North Sea was bringing in a relative pittance.

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Even though it is normal for a country to run a deficit, we have found out from GERS that more than £1 billion alone is from legacy PFI:
Yep, £1,004 million. NPD is also generating £75m of unitary charge payments.

It is not normal for a country to run a deficit in 26 out of 27 years. Scotland's deficit is the biggest in the EU. There is nothing normal about this situation. The explanation, of course, is far higher public spending.

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No country our size needs to spend more than £3billion on defence, we are paying for Crossrail(why?), HS2(that will never get here), London Olympics, renewal of weapons of mass destruction we do not want(or need) and interest on a debt our economy did not require.
Er, on things like Crossrail we do not "pay" for it - indeed, we don't "pay" for anything in England, all of Scotland's taxes plus billions more are spent for Scotland. Indeed, quite the opposite - thanks to the Barnett Formula, the Scottish Government gets more money to spend (the opposite column, just to be clear) because of Crossrail.

As for nuclear weapons, it seems the Scottish public doesn't share your views, as polls have shown time and again. There is public support for nuclear weapons. In any case, strip out the entire defence budget (rather than the 1/20th of it we spend on Trident) and you still have a £3 billion deficit.

As for spending too much, to meet that NATO target we'd actually have to spend many millions of pounds more.

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Screaming 'black holes' and 'subsidy junkie', just shows Westminsters stewardship of the economy has been a disaster and that unionists have nothing positive to add on the future of our country.
No-one is say "subsidy junkie" except you. You can look back on this thread and find numerous times you've said it. The "black hole" has nothing to do with Scotland - it has to do with the SNP's plan for Scottish independence. You bet I'll talk that down because it's incompetent, ridiculous and completely incredible - as even some of the people involved in writing it have now admitted.

Once again, why do you believe Westminster's "stewardship of the economy has been a disaster". From these figures, it looks like it's been flipping brilliant.

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Unionist parties and their lackies in the right wing media crowing over these things(scary headlines without investigating into Gers properly, of course)
You've clearly never read it. You've got several statements you made about it wrong.

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Anything that is mostly a secret when you investigate into it is worthless, HM Treasury should let the Scot Gov see all of the facts/figures then we can have a grown up discussion on Scotlands finances.
Er, they do. There is not a single instance of the Scottish Government requesting financial data from the UK Government and being refused it.
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Old August 28th, 2016, 12:30 AM   #14012
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The demographic argument is rubbish for several reasons. First off, it assumes that younger voters are predominantly pro-independence. This was not borne out by evidence.

The post-referendum YouGov poll showed No winning in the 16-24 age group, the 40-59 age group, the 60-64 age group and the 65+ group. The only Yes majority was among those aged 25-39. Ashcroft echoed this - it was the middle where 'Yes' won: the 18-24 year olds were won by the No campaign. It separated out 16-17 year olds, albeit with a tiny sample of 14% - which found against all previous evidence they voted Yes. You're also assuming that somehow today's middle aged people will not become tomorrow's pensioners, with similarly conservative tendencies.
I disagree that the 'voting cohort' argument is rubbish.

But I would agree that there is a tendency for many people to become more small c conservative as they get older - you can characterise that postively or negatively dep on your bent - more financial and family stakes to feel protective of, the wisdom of life experience, a mid life drop in testosterone levels, a fear of change or whatever. But it definitely exists.

The changing shape of Scotland's population is another factor not mentioned. Scotland is becoming less Scottish born and there is a shift of population from areas declining/static to areas growing. Both of these likely have an effect on voting.
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Old August 28th, 2016, 12:36 AM   #14013
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The demographic argument is rubbish for several reasons. First off, it assumes that younger voters are predominantly pro-independence. This was not borne out by evidence.

The post-referendum YouGov poll showed No winning in the 16-24 age group, the 40-59 age group, the 60-64 age group and the 65+ group. The only Yes majority was among those aged 25-39. Ashcroft echoed this - it was the middle where 'Yes' won: the 18-24 year olds were won by the No campaign. It separated out 16-17 year olds, albeit with a tiny sample of 14% - which found against all previous evidence they voted Yes. You're also assuming that somehow today's middle aged people will not become tomorrow's pensioners, with similarly conservative tendencies.
I disagree that the 'voting cohort' argument is rubbish.

But I would agree that there is a tendency for many people to become more small c conservative as they get older - you can characterise that postively or negatively dep on your bent - more financial and family stakes to feel protective of, the wisdom of life experience, a mid life drop in testosterone levels, a fear of change or whatever. But it definitely exists.

The changing shape of Scotland's population is another factor not mentioned. Scotland is becoming less Scottish born and there is a shift of population from areas declining/static to areas growing. Both of these likely have an effect on voting.
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Old August 28th, 2016, 12:44 AM   #14014
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The changing shape of Scotland's population is another factor not mentioned. Scotland is becoming less Scottish born and there is a shift of population from areas declining/static to areas growing. Both of these likely have an effect on voting.
An interesting one indeed, particularly if you buy into the concept of bloc voting. I think the YouGov day-of-poll data tables had some information on origins of voters - although the tables don't seem to be on the website anymore. Ashcroft breaks it down by ethnic group, which isn't much use. Particularly given the numbers of the sub-samples, there's not a lot of information behind that.
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Old August 28th, 2016, 03:53 PM   #14015
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Hmm, I admit they are used as a political football - as one might expect really - but that doesn't remotely impact on their accuracy.

The fact is we don't have a Sovereign Oil Fund. Had we been independent in March this year, we wouldn't have one, nor could we have credibly created one. This isn't a "we're in a bad patch" type situation either: we ran a surplus in one year of the last 27. There is no realistic prospect of such a thing, without cutting public spending even further beyond the £15 billion deficit.


It has saved us from that deficit - or at least the effects of it. It's bigger than ever, and yet we have public spending in Scotland growing.

It has indeed stopped job losses: employment is higher than it has ever been. People will of course lose jobs under any economic scenario, but there are more jobs now than at any point in our history.

Food banks? Fine. It is strange the Scottish Government hasn't done anything about them either. Probably because on some level they are aware that giving money to people who frequently find themselves in crisis situation doesn't really help matters. Perhaps we should be looking at Scotland's great civic society and asking why - bar the foodbanks - more isn't being done to help people who have unstable lives.




No it hasn't. It increased from £14.3 billion to £14.8 billion (9.1% of GDP to 9.5%). We've spoken before about just making stuff up.

North Sea revenue dropped by £1.7 billion - which is not a major drop, because even last year the North Sea was bringing in a relative pittance.



Yep, £1,004 million. NPD is also generating £75m of unitary charge payments.

It is not normal for a country to run a deficit in 26 out of 27 years. Scotland's deficit is the biggest in the EU. There is nothing normal about this situation. The explanation, of course, is far higher public spending.



Er, on things like Crossrail we do not "pay" for it - indeed, we don't "pay" for anything in England, all of Scotland's taxes plus billions more are spent for Scotland. Indeed, quite the opposite - thanks to the Barnett Formula, the Scottish Government gets more money to spend (the opposite column, just to be clear) because of Crossrail.

As for nuclear weapons, it seems the Scottish public doesn't share your views, as polls have shown time and again. There is public support for nuclear weapons. In any case, strip out the entire defence budget (rather than the 1/20th of it we spend on Trident) and you still have a £3 billion deficit.

As for spending too much, to meet that NATO target we'd actually have to spend many millions of pounds more.



No-one is say "subsidy junkie" except you. You can look back on this thread and find numerous times you've said it. The "black hole" has nothing to do with Scotland - it has to do with the SNP's plan for Scottish independence. You bet I'll talk that down because it's incompetent, ridiculous and completely incredible - as even some of the people involved in writing it have now admitted.

Once again, why do you believe Westminster's "stewardship of the economy has been a disaster". From these figures, it looks like it's been flipping brilliant.



You've clearly never read it. You've got several statements you made about it wrong.



Er, they do. There is not a single instance of the Scottish Government requesting financial data from the UK Government and being refused it.
Departments of the UK Gov can't even agree on the accuracy of these figures.

Oil has went down 97% in value without affecting the economy, the deficit has hardly moved. In fact 2014-15 figures in March it was £14.9bn - it was the adjust to be lower and now this year’s is £14.8bn. Thought we needed oil to survive? Oh thats right you believe the UK hands Scotland £15 billion every year out of the goodness of its heart.

You can keep playing that game but with England reasserting its own identity, try selling these figures to people down south. Not only are you pissing people off up here with keeping the subsidy junkie myth going, the English will look at GERS and want to cut us adrift(cut the £15 billion completely).

When you start telling the truth and not squirming, is when you can save the union. If not, it is a long goodbye.
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Old August 28th, 2016, 07:28 PM   #14016
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Possibly, but who's actually coming out with this sort of language? Scottish nationalists, not others. Once again, this is a sort of inevitablism: that nationalistic division will always win through - whether it be in Scotland or England. I simply don't believe that.
No, we see it coming from voices in England.

England votes Conservative much more than Scotland. Most Conservative politicians and voters believe in a smaller state with less public spending. They see Scotland with its higher public spending, and don't like that. They have much more of a reaction to Scotland having higher public spending than they would a comparable region of England, because there is a difference (however minor) in national identity and it is part of the human condition to see different nations as 'other'.

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Ah, but in many cases this is about delivering public services. There will always be a needs-based consideration on the basis of population density, for example. This isn't straightforward robbery here.
If populist politicians in England are campaigning for cuts to or abolishment of Barnett, then such a subtle point isn't going to make any real difference. Political reality then would be that Scotland should have its budget cut, damn the consequences.

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Well, I suppose - it's what won the EU referendum for the Brexit lot, I suppose.
Yes, it's absolutely part of nationalism. Short term balances are fine, but long-term structural problems aren't. The annoyance comes from not being given the opportunity to try to resolve things. The Scottish deficit could be reduced within the UK without making the rest of the UK any worse off. Again, immigration is one of those areas, as it isn't anywhere near as much of a focus in Scotland as it is in England. We could easily have immigration targets specified per region of the UK based on that region's specific circumstances, controlled even entirely at a UK level. If landlords and employers are going to be forced to check that tenants and employees have the right to stay and work in the UK, why couldn't they also check that their visa says they have the right to stay and work in that part of the UK? It's not exactly hard for a London landlord to notice that their property hasn't magically ended up north of the Tweed. If people feel that their ability to improve their country's lot is being arbitrarily held back then they're rather unlikely to be happy.

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I'm not so sure. If you caught the interview with Tam Dalyell on Scotland Tonight the other day, he identified something that I believe holds rather true: nationalists do not want anything short of independence. They do not have a single bit of interest in it, accept as a means to achieve independence. Social attitudes in Scotland and England are hardly all that different, as several surveys have shown us. The priorities of people in Livingston are not all that dissimilar from those in Liverpool. There's not really policy answers here.

There's about 30-odd percent of Scotland that, frankly, unionists cannot talk to - and would, at least in the short term, be wasting their time talking to. A higher proportion would vote for the union come what may, but it still leaves about 20-30% in the middle.
I wasn't clear enough but I did mean that it would be necessary to talk to the half of this middle ground who now favour independence. Why would someone who wasn't gung-ho about Scotland being a nation unto itself want to break up the union? These folk will be more than aware of all of the things that the Better Together side says. They'll know about the difficulties of setting up a sovereign state and how staying in the UK isn't as much of a 'leap into the dark'. How on earth can they then think that voting for something as dangerous as independence is less bad than the option of staying in the UK?

It's these folk who make independence a live issue. On their own, the 30% of Scots who want independence regardless of the consequences or circumstances aren't enough to actually do anything about it.

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Yes, some of the NHS stuff to come out of the Nationalists at the tail-end of the referendum was really the worst sort of politics, feeding into a narrative of division, conspiracy theory and paranoia. Their lines on TTIP, for example, were nothing more than stoking up anti-Americanism. I think we can be quite angry now that they've been entirely exposed as lies.

People value the NHS and want to do well by it. But equally, they also damage it: railing against the use of methadone to treat drug addicts, battling against local A&E closures when every bit of objective evidence shows that more distant but more specialised centres perform better, complaining about the provision of mental health treatment.

I don't think lobbying is a great problem in this country. You mention party donations - the Stronger In campaign just had its major donors released - several of whom where financial services companies. There's nothing dodgy in that - they simply realised it was in the interest of their businesses to remain in the EU.
And yet, this is something that worked to add several percentage points to the the Yes vote in the end. These are folk who, again, are aware of all of the difficulties of independence. The Yes side did not create any of these concerns, it simply tapped into what people were already worried about for various reasons. There is a significant proportion of the public who are very worried about the direction in which governments are taking their countries not only in this country but abroad too. Trust in the UK government is particularly low, which isn't surprising after the disasters of the financial crisis and the Iraq War.

You can try to dissuade people about these things but unless actual concrete change happens, it just adds to the distrust. Lobbying is a problem within the UK because lobbying itself is inherently destructive. Companies only spend money on lobbying because they expect the payoff to be greater returns from them as a result of government actions in their favour. If these decisions were in the best interests of the country then there would be no need to lobby in the first place, as the government and civil service would be able to find that out for themselves. The only reason for lobbying is to try to ensure that the best decision isn't actually made and instead resources flow to less optimal uses to benefit a small number of powerful people.It is rent-seeking, pure and simple. Rent-seeking behaviour is inherently cancerous because it makes other rent-seeking behaviour a more lucrative investment than real productivity that actually increases the wealth of the nation. One company lobbying forces other companies to spend similar amounts on their own lobbying efforts in order to not fall behind. Meanwhile, the only people who win are those who gain financially from the act of lobbying in the first place, and unfortunately that means politicians themselves. Politicians have little reason to stop lobbying because that behaviour is to their own personal benefit. Who wouldn't want to have that extra campaign money, those donations to their pet causes or nice things like fancy meals and presents?

If people perceive the entire political system to be rotten to the core they're going to look for a way to try to shake up the whole system. Like it or not, independence is currently the only way for the people of Scotland to actually shake up politics at its highest levels. Lynton Crosby's work to deny the SNP the possibility of influencing the governance of the UK despite 50% of Scots voting for them has now made it impossible to get change through the traditional UK electoral process.

This is again why the onus is on unionists to fix things before they get shattered into a million pieces. Scottish independence would be an incredibly traumatic experience for unionists and the UK as a whole. It would be orders of magnitude worse than letting some horrible radical Scots (the Westminster SNP faction is the radical SNP) try to shake things up for the benefit of the whole of the UK. Voting reform? The introduction of a UBI? Cleaning up the lobbying and party funding systems? All things that the SNP would really quite like to do at a UK level if they had the chance. None of these are nationalist. There is no fundamental reason why an ideologically coherent Tory party couldn't support them.

That the real life Tory party is so vehemently opposed to such things despite the fact that these would do more to stave off Scottish nationalism than anything else in their power raises some questions. Is their support for the Union really so unconditional that they would do anything to preserve it? Is it possible that they would actually prefer to keep England/the rUK the same and let Scotland go off on its own? That sounds like hyperbole but it really does not appear to be any different to what happened a hundred years ago with Ireland. Keeping Ireland within the UK could have happened if changes were made to the nature of Britain. Changes were proposed peacefully by Irish voices, ignored, and then a conflict was set up which resulted in the state becoming independent in less than wonderful circumstances. While Scottish independence could never come about as anything other than a peaceful democratic process, is it really that absurd to think that the reason for Irish independence could happen again?

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The demographic argument is rubbish for several reasons. First off, it assumes that younger voters are predominantly pro-independence. This was not borne out by evidence.

The post-referendum YouGov poll showed No winning in the 16-24 age group, the 40-59 age group, the 60-64 age group and the 65+ group. The only Yes majority was among those aged 25-39. Ashcroft echoed this - it was the middle where 'Yes' won: the 18-24 year olds were won by the No campaign. It separated out 16-17 year olds, albeit with a tiny sample of 14% - which found against all previous evidence they voted Yes. You're also assuming that somehow today's middle aged people will not become tomorrow's pensioners, with similarly conservative tendencies.

Ireland is quite different. There were significant population movements, for a start. There are considerably fewer Protestants in the Irish Republic now - they've not converted, they just left. The Irish Republicans in Northern Ireland made a demographic argument too - and by their reckoning there should be a Nationalist majority there by now, if not several decades ago. It didn't really work out that way.

I think there's another population argument that's a tad more coherent. Overlay areas with high Yes votes and you'll find unemployment and poverty. Essentially where there is hopelessness, Nationalism is easily sold. As both of these things have been very much on a downward trend, I suspect improvements in living standards and life chances will be what does it for Nationalism in the long-term.
It isn't necessary for younger voters to be actively pro-independence. It's that you can see from the demographics that older voters voted No in larger numbers. Over the long term, we're going to see a general softening of hard Unionism as more and more people grow up with more and more decisions being made in Edinburgh. For young folk in particular, it is important to remember that the policies which affect them the most as they become politically active are under control of Holyrood. Like it or not, the Yes parties have the lion's share of young voters and aren't going to upset that by implementing policies which are perceived by young people to have a negative effect. At a UK level it looks likely that this will not be the case, as the Tories do not even bother appealing to students. If you see Holyrood as the place which makes it possible for you to go to uni for free and Westminster as the place which imposes more and more tuition fees on your English peers it's going to make you less likely to see UK political control as the default. The recent abolition of Right to Buy will do more to make the lives of young Scottish people easier than almost any other policy that Holyrood could do, as now house prices aren't going to rise forever. Holyrood policies making it possible for you to build up a standard middle class quality of life, while your English peers suffer private landlords and poor accommodation, is going to keep that support for Scottish policymaking going through these young people's adult years too.
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Old August 29th, 2016, 12:40 AM   #14017
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Originally Posted by anonymous_redrum View Post
Departments of the UK Gov can't even agree on the accuracy of these figures.
Er, no. The UK Government doesn't produce GERS and the independent UK Statistics Authority certifies them as National Statistics.

UK Government statistics on occasion make different estimates of things - just as Scottish Government statistics do. That, say, a different figure can be produced for the number of nurses and midwives in Scotland does not mean that all figures around them are meaningless.

You're getting caught up in a very strange spiral of denial here.

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Oil has went down 97% in value without affecting the economy, the deficit has hardly moved. In fact 2014-15 figures in March it was £14.9bn - it was the adjust to be lower and now this year’s is £14.8bn. Thought we needed oil to survive? Oh thats right you believe the UK hands Scotland £15 billion every year out of the goodness of its heart.
I'm not really sure what any of these things have to do with one another. It's almost just like a stream of information without an argument. Yes, objectively we do benefit from fiscal transfers from the rest of the United Kingdom - no-one disputes that.

What the relevance of oil is, I don't know. Oil is no longer a major part of Scotland's revenues. It wasn't last year either. Tax revenue is up very marginally compared to last year, but down considerably on, say, 2011-12. Our onshore economy is growing to some degree - if that wasn't true, we'd be in a recession.

Oil doesn't matter when we are part of the United Kingdom. Oil revenues, however, were required for the survival of the Scottish Government's case for independence. Which is why they made ridiculously high estimates of what they would be.

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Not only are you pissing people off up here with keeping the subsidy junkie myth going, the English will look at GERS and want to cut us adrift(cut the £15 billion completely).
You seem to be suggesting fiscal transfers are a myth, despite the evidence for them being clear and undisputed by anyone serious.

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When you start telling the truth and not squirming, is when you can save the union. If not, it is a long goodbye.
I'm hardly going to take advice from the losing side, am I?
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Old August 29th, 2016, 01:53 AM   #14018
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No, we see it coming from voices in England.

England votes Conservative much more than Scotland. Most Conservative politicians and voters believe in a smaller state with less public spending. They see Scotland with its higher public spending, and don't like that. They have much more of a reaction to Scotland having higher public spending than they would a comparable region of England, because there is a difference (however minor) in national identity and it is part of the human condition to see different nations as 'other'.

If populist politicians in England are campaigning for cuts to or abolishment of Barnett, then such a subtle point isn't going to make any real difference. Political reality then would be that Scotland should have its budget cut, damn the consequences.
The problem, once again, is nationalism on both sides of the Tweed there. It's not a particularly persuasive argument for more nationalism. Yes, there are a few English nationalist voices - with nothing like the strength and gusto of Scottish nationalists - who seek to undermine the Union and what it stands for. I don't think I'll be easily persuaded that the best course of action is to accede to their demands. Nor is it in the interests of Scotland to do so.

The majority of England relies on fiscal transfers from London and the South East. I appreciate what you are saying about nationalism opposing that, but it is the normal and ordinary state of any country with a major metropolitan centre.

How do we resolve this? Stop seeing one-another as some "other".

Quote:
The Scottish deficit could be reduced within the UK without making the rest of the UK any worse off. Again, immigration is one of those areas, as it isn't anywhere near as much of a focus in Scotland as it is in England. We could easily have immigration targets specified per region of the UK based on that region's specific circumstances, controlled even entirely at a UK level. If landlords and employers are going to be forced to check that tenants and employees have the right to stay and work in the UK, why couldn't they also check that their visa says they have the right to stay and work in that part of the UK? It's not exactly hard for a London landlord to notice that their property hasn't magically ended up north of the Tweed. If people feel that their ability to improve their country's lot is being arbitrarily held back then they're rather unlikely to be happy.
Some countries do certainly have internal immigration processes. The UK at present has a every liberal migration system: not only through the EU but through the visa system. Let's not forget we have more people coming to this country from outside the EU than from within it.

The problem remains that Scotland still struggles to attract talented migrants. Even with our borders entirely open to the rest of Europe, we see far lower levels of migration than England.

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You can try to dissuade people about these things but unless actual concrete change happens, it just adds to the distrust. Lobbying is a problem within the UK because lobbying itself is inherently destructive. Companies only spend money on lobbying because they expect the payoff to be greater returns from them as a result of government actions in their favour. If these decisions were in the best interests of the country then there would be no need to lobby in the first place, as the government and civil service would be able to find that out for themselves.
That's a fetid pile of old cow-excrement. If a politician wants to find out how a decision will affect industry, it consults lobbyists. If a politician wants briefing about the views of an industry, a third sector body or anything else, it is lobbyists that provide it.

To quote from the Scottish Parliament's Standards Committee--

“The reality is that the more voices that inform the Government and the Parliament‘s thinking in Scotland, the more informed we are to legislate, to develop new policy and to scrutinise. For this reason, and on the basis that the Parliament is founded on principles of openness and accessibility, lobbying should be actively encouraged”

Scotland quite simply doesn't have as much policy apparatus as Westminster does. Lobbyists are, if anything, more important here. I'm not trying to undermine some of the complaints about lobbyists here, but your assertion that lobbying itself is somehow negative is not at all representative of the lobbying industry.

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If people perceive the entire political system to be rotten to the core they're going to look for a way to try to shake up the whole system. Like it or not, independence is currently the only way for the people of Scotland to actually shake up politics at its highest levels. Lynton Crosby's work to deny the SNP the possibility of influencing the governance of the UK despite 50% of Scots voting for them has now made it impossible to get change through the traditional UK electoral process.
Or simply the Scottish public have to accept that no UK Government in its right mind would work with those who seek to destroy the UK. Certainly people can have influence, but if they seriously expect that as an avenue, it is closed - you cannot vote for a Nationalist party and expect to have a level of influence beyond that of any other MP in the governance of the United Kingdom.

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This is again why the onus is on unionists to fix things before they get shattered into a million pieces. Scottish independence would be an incredibly traumatic experience for unionists and the UK as a whole. It would be orders of magnitude worse than letting some horrible radical Scots (the Westminster SNP faction is the radical SNP) try to shake things up for the benefit of the whole of the UK. Voting reform? The introduction of a UBI? Cleaning up the lobbying and party funding systems? All things that the SNP would really quite like to do at a UK level if they had the chance. None of these are nationalist. There is no fundamental reason why an ideologically coherent Tory party couldn't support them.

That the real life Tory party is so vehemently opposed to such things despite the fact that these would do more to stave off Scottish nationalism than anything else in their power raises some questions.
Well, for a start, people in Scotland aren't too hot on electoral reform anyway. Look at the AV referendum. There are of course arguments for First Past the Post that are widely accepted.

I don't think the average person has a great deal of understanding of lobbying beyond the headlines. That politicians should support openness is a sound principle.

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Is their support for the Union really so unconditional that they would do anything to preserve it? Is it possible that they would actually prefer to keep England/the rUK the same and let Scotland go off on its own? That sounds like hyperbole but it really does not appear to be any different to what happened a hundred years ago with Ireland.
There is certainly a line at which, if the Scottish people say "we must have this or we'll vote for independence" (something that we see is entirely theoretical: it has never actually happened nor do I really foresee it, given the close relation of social attitudes throughout the UK) then of course UK politicians will privately say "fine". In a voluntary Union - which is seems the UK level politicians are determined to maintain, despite it undermining its integrity - the Union is not and cannot be at all costs.

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It isn't necessary for younger voters to be actively pro-independence. It's that you can see from the demographics that older voters voted No in larger numbers. Over the long term, we're going to see a general softening of hard Unionism as more and more people grow up with more and more decisions being made in Edinburgh. For young folk in particular, it is important to remember that the policies which affect them the most as they become politically active are under control of Holyrood. Like it or not, the Yes parties have the lion's share of young voters and aren't going to upset that by implementing policies which are perceived by young people to have a negative effect. At a UK level it looks likely that this will not be the case, as the Tories do not even bother appealing to students. If you see Holyrood as the place which makes it possible for you to go to uni for free and Westminster as the place which imposes more and more tuition fees on your English peers it's going to make you less likely to see UK political control as the default. The recent abolition of Right to Buy will do more to make the lives of young Scottish people easier than almost any other policy that Holyrood could do, as now house prices aren't going to rise forever. Holyrood policies making it possible for you to build up a standard middle class quality of life, while your English peers suffer private landlords and poor accommodation, is going to keep that support for Scottish policymaking going through these young people's adult years too.
The Right to Buy thing is one of the more extraordinary arguments that I've heard. I've never met a young person in Scotland who seriously thinks that a lifetime council house meets their aspirations, or indeed that they would get it. Times have changed and beyond the very bottom levels of the socio-economic ladder, social housing is seen as a thing very much of the past. In theory the Scottish Government could change that - but it is not realistically going to vastly increase the social housing stock, and council housing is only now a small part of that mix.

Nor do I think students are incapable of seeing beyond the most basic arguments around tuition fees. When their universities and colleges are starved of funds, when they realise that free tuition would be literally unaffordable without fiscal transfers and, above all, that there is a moral argument that when you earn, I don't think it will do much for nationalism.

Even for those who cannot see past their own nose, there are obvious difference too. A new graduate in Scotland will see a bigger share of their salary taken in Student Loan Repayments. If they don't pay them off in full, they expire far more quickly in England than Scotland. England has the more progressive system in that regard.
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Old August 29th, 2016, 02:42 AM   #14019
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Originally Posted by Quirinalian View Post
Er, no. The UK Government doesn't produce GERS and the independent UK Statistics Authority certifies them as National Statistics.

UK Government statistics on occasion make different estimates of things - just as Scottish Government statistics do. That, say, a different figure can be produced for the number of nurses and midwives in Scotland does not mean that all figures around them are meaningless.

You're getting caught up in a very strange spiral of denial here.

I'm not really sure what any of these things have to do with one another. It's almost just like a stream of information without an argument. Yes, objectively we do benefit from fiscal transfers from the rest of the United Kingdom - no-one disputes that.

What the relevance of oil is, I don't know. Oil is no longer a major part of Scotland's revenues. It wasn't last year either. Tax revenue is up very marginally compared to last year, but down considerably on, say, 2011-12. Our onshore economy is growing to some degree - if that wasn't true, we'd be in a recession.

Oil doesn't matter when we are part of the United Kingdom. Oil revenues, however, were required for the survival of the Scottish Government's case for independence. Which is why they made ridiculously high estimates of what they would be.

You seem to be suggesting fiscal transfers are a myth, despite the evidence for them being clear and undisputed by anyone serious.

I'm hardly going to take advice from the losing side, am I?
The source of GERS figures are not from the Scottish Government, as i already mentioned(they should now look into doing their own completely but the Treasury won't budge, what they got to hide?). You are just going round in circles as usual on this matter.

I never said GERS was utterly meaningless, unless you mean in relation to independence.

If Scotland had been independent 40 years ago and put back an oil fund, we would be in surplus right now:

Quote:
Prof Brian Ashcroft

I estimate that Scotland’s share of UK debt interest amounted to £83 billion at 2001-12 prices. Subtracting this from total estimated Scottish spend of £1,440 billion we get a debt interest adjusted estimate of spend of £1,357 billion. This means that Scotland was in overall surplus by about £68 billion“.
They show the UK has managed the Scottish economy spectularly badly for over 40 years and now we have a £15 billion deficit to contend with(despite austerity not seen since 1930's). These figures include costs over defence not spent here(or do not need spent here - Trident), HS2, Crossrail, London Olympics, UK debt interest costs. £1 billion of it is PFI from Labour, who were Better Together last time i looked.

The reality is countries have good/bad years, independent or not. Scotland would borrow in low oil years, that is the same what happens now with the UK. All countries run deficits(What is Englands deficit? Not UK, Funny how cannot find that out). The Yes case however always said oil&gas was a bonus, they never pinned the whole economic argument on it. Most countries would kill for our resources anyway, you should be thanking it instead of putting it down when it saved the UK in the 70's.

The only future you can envisage for our young people is that the UK is most generous to us poor Scots, who would be a basket case without big brother London. If you seriously think they are bailing us out £15 billion a year, you are more crazy unionist than i thought(tantamount to a Trump supporter). Why would they do that? Why did they vote down the SNP motion of FFA, which would have saved rUK £15 billion?

The GERS figures are disputed from any serious people, the only ones that take it serious(not really!) are the right wing British media and their unionist party lackies.

You should listen, since it was been nothing but a pyrrhic victory and everything we said would happen has happened. Broken promises, jobs/industries gone, NHS in danger, out the EU(NI and Scotland to deal with, good luck), renewal of Trident, more austerity and ripping up Human Rights Act.

Now that England is objecting to Scottish strawberries in supermarkets and asserting their own identity, try sell GERS to them. The media down south will start picking up more on it and the pressure will build again to cut our budget, especially with article 50 coming. The more focus on GERS, the more people can pull the figures apart(which is good for people like me).

Unionists are twisting and turning so much, they are getting lost in their own disinformation. This is not over by a long shot.
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Old August 29th, 2016, 11:11 AM   #14020
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Originally Posted by Quirinalian View Post
The problem, once again, is nationalism on both sides of the Tweed there. It's not a particularly persuasive argument for more nationalism. Yes, there are a few English nationalist voices - with nothing like the strength and gusto of Scottish nationalists - who seek to undermine the Union and what it stands for. I don't think I'll be easily persuaded that the best course of action is to accede to their demands. Nor is it in the interests of Scotland to do so.

The majority of England relies on fiscal transfers from London and the South East. I appreciate what you are saying about nationalism opposing that, but it is the normal and ordinary state of any country with a major metropolitan centre.

How do we resolve this? Stop seeing one-another as some "other.
Yes, everything would be fine if everyone was happy with the idea of the UK. The fact that a considerable number of people isn't is the problem. While some of these reasons are unavoidable due to global circumstances, some of them are as a consequence of policy decisions made by the UK. Red Clydeside wouldn't have turned yellow if people had hope that their lot could actually be improved as part of the UK.

Fiscal transfers from London are conceptually good for the rest of the UK on an economic level, but so far the UK has not solved the problem of what to do with these other bits of the UK. Telling people in post-industrial reasons that they're doing fine because London can pay their healthcare and pension costs while there's no opportunities for their young people unless they're smart enough to move south and get a job in London isn't going to make them particularly happy. People want to have meaning in their lives and across wide swathes of the country this is simply not the case. These folk are going to vote for things that they see could improve their lot, damn the consequences for the UK as a whole. Brexit in a nutshell, then.

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Some countries do certainly have internal immigration processes. The UK at present has a every liberal migration system: not only through the EU but through the visa system. Let's not forget we have more people coming to this country from outside the EU than from within it.

The problem remains that Scotland still struggles to attract talented migrants. Even with our borders entirely open to the rest of Europe, we see far lower levels of migration than England.
You can say this, but I note that you've not responded to my point about the £35k threshold for non-EEA workers. How many jobs are there in Scotland which pay that much for locals, let alone foreigners? The average graduate starting salary for a software engineer is less than that in Scotland, even though this is a well-paid job which will make you anything but a burden on the state. The Treasury has figures on pay and jobs for the regions of the UK, so why couldn't this number be changed based upon where you are? Again, the administrative burden is already there for employers to check eligibility.

Immigrants will also head to places where there are jobs, as the only reason you would move to the UK is to find better work than you can get back at home. We're trying as hard as we can with the powers that we have to get jobs to come up here. Bleat on all you like about us not using our tax powers, but you know fine well that you would oppose the UK government tweaking income tax for that reason because you know there are better tools available to get the same results.

Quote:
That's a fetid pile of old cow-excrement. If a politician wants to find out how a decision will affect industry, it consults lobbyists. If a politician wants briefing about the views of an industry, a third sector body or anything else, it is lobbyists that provide it.

To quote from the Scottish Parliament's Standards Committee--

“The reality is that the more voices that inform the Government and the Parliament‘s thinking in Scotland, the more informed we are to legislate, to develop new policy and to scrutinise. For this reason, and on the basis that the Parliament is founded on principles of openness and accessibility, lobbying should be actively encouraged”

Scotland quite simply doesn't have as much policy apparatus as Westminster does. Lobbyists are, if anything, more important here. I'm not trying to undermine some of the complaints about lobbyists here, but your assertion that lobbying itself is somehow negative is not at all representative of the lobbying industry.
Oh yes, I know that Scotland doesn't have that much of a policy apparatus. It's the UK where most lobbying effort is concentrated, because the payoff from lobbying is far greater. This is one of the things that smaller governments are better at, as the lobbying payoff will be smaller than it would be for larger governments. Lobbying from healthcare charities or Sustrans or whatever isn't the problem, it's the lobbying from private healthcare companies, banks and defence contractors where most of the money is. Lockheed Martin would have little reason to bother lobbying the government of Denmark that hard because for the same effort, they could be successfully lobbying the US government and then get an order for 1000 units rather than 10.

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Or simply the Scottish public have to accept that no UK Government in its right mind would work with those who seek to destroy the UK. Certainly people can have influence, but if they seriously expect that as an avenue, it is closed - you cannot vote for a Nationalist party and expect to have a level of influence beyond that of any other MP in the governance of the United Kingdom.
The UK government is entirely in their rights to ignore someone if they feel that way. However, if they ignore them even when they give good advice on what that middle ground of Scots seem to want, then that's a rather brave thing to do.

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Well, for a start, people in Scotland aren't too hot on electoral reform anyway. Look at the AV referendum. There are of course arguments for First Past the Post that are widely accepted.
50% of Scotland voted for a party that advocates STV for UK elections and is now investigating the possibility for Holyrood ones too, as soon as it got the power to change it. We have a Parliamentary democracy in both Scotland and the UK as a whole. I don't see AV as being enough of a constitutional change to require a referendum. I don't agree with the idea of the EU referendum either, since foreign policy is the one area of governance where 'the sovereign will of the people' isn't the most important thing.

Quote:
There is certainly a line at which, if the Scottish people say "we must have this or we'll vote for independence" (something that we see is entirely theoretical: it has never actually happened nor do I really foresee it, given the close relation of social attitudes throughout the UK) then of course UK politicians will privately say "fine". In a voluntary Union - which is seems the UK level politicians are determined to maintain, despite it undermining its integrity - the Union is not and cannot be at all costs.
It's the very existence of that line which raises the questions. The Tories advocate themselves as being unconditional supporters of the Union. If the line is when their selfish interests are affected, as the inevitable result of these proposed changes would be to reduce the influence of Tory thinking on Britain, then it looks rather like they're lying about that unconditional unionism as well. If you're so duplicitous that you would abandon your most securely-held beliefs simply to retain power and influence within the rUK, then you're not exactly the sort of people you want to have running a country.

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The Right to Buy thing is one of the more extraordinary arguments that I've heard. I've never met a young person in Scotland who seriously thinks that a lifetime council house meets their aspirations, or indeed that they would get it. Times have changed and beyond the very bottom levels of the socio-economic ladder, social housing is seen as a thing very much of the past. In theory the Scottish Government could change that - but it is not realistically going to vastly increase the social housing stock, and council housing is only now a small part of that mix.
Oh no. Council houses aren't going to become the standard thing for people to have. What they will do is prevent house prices and private sector rents increasing, as councils have a responsibility to build to satisfy demand. The only way to make housing affordable is to increase supply, which private sector investors have little reason to do given the economics of land.

Quote:
Nor do I think students are incapable of seeing beyond the most basic arguments around tuition fees. When their universities and colleges are starved of funds, when they realise that free tuition would be literally unaffordable without fiscal transfers and, above all, that there is a moral argument that when you earn, I don't think it will do much for nationalism.

Even for those who cannot see past their own nose, there are obvious difference too. A new graduate in Scotland will see a bigger share of their salary taken in Student Loan Repayments. If they don't pay them off in full, they expire far more quickly in England than Scotland. England has the more progressive system in that regard.
You seem to be of the belief that the imposition of tuition fees has resulted in money being magicked out of thin air to pay for tertiary education.

Now, there are many areas where the creation of a private sector can result in money being magicked out of thin air. Money gets magicked out of thin air as a result of efficiency improvements caused by the profit motive. If you are a shoe manufacturer and you find a way to make shoes more efficiently, you can earn extra profit. Through competition, the amount of profit you can make is limited by competition and inevitably, the selling price of your products goes down with time. Shoes being less expensive means that more shoes can be bought, more happiness can be had and that saved money used by consumers to buy other things that they would like to have (e.g. specialised shoes). This is why capitalism has worked so spectacularly well at improving living conditions across the world when it has been implemented.

Now, if the crucial thing for success is those extra efficiencies, where are we getting them from the implementation of tuition fees? Are we seeing the profit motive ensure that we only fund worthwhile education with good returns? While a Corbynite might just whinge that it means only funding the Russell Group unis teaching economically productive courses like medicine or computer science, it should theoretically mean that less successful institutions are forced to up their game so that people still go to them, just as less efficient producers are forced to improve their products in a free market.

Is this what we're seeing? Well, all of this theory depends upon the profit motive only providing resources to worthwhile uses, but it is politically untenable to restrict tertiary education funding in this way. Implementing this policy would result in a catastrophe for the arts. Wealthier students who want to study them would still have the ability to pay for it by borrowing off of the bank of mum and dad or taking advantage of their connections and likelihood of getting well-paid graduate employment in future. Poorer students would inevitably be denied the opportunity to study the arts, which would be catastrophic in future for the teaching sector as teaching jobs require that university education but wouldn't pay enough to pay for it (that is, unless you're promising to up the pay of teachers). Instead, we have a system where people will unconditionally get the money needed for their education from HM Treasury. The system then expects them to select courses and institutions on the basis of the future repayments schedule, as you wouldn't choose a course with bad future employability, right?

Well, that's when we get to the next problem. The repayments system has a little bit of a progressive bent to it, as you will only pay it back based on earnings above a minimum threshold. This prevents tuition fee repayments from putting you into poverty, which would be bad for all involved. If you are unlucky and don't earn enough to pay it all back in the end, then your loans are written off after 30 years, and in any case your maximum repayment is still limited by your earnings each month. It's a great system, right? But, isn't the basis of the system that students will pick courses with good employability so that they would be able to afford the repayments in future? If you're making it so that their repayments are limited by their earnings anyway, where is the incentive to drive up employability and quality of courses?

Well, lots of people would rather have a comfortable middle class income than the bare minimum needed to get by. This is what makes UBI work. People will still try to pick the best course for future employability so that they'll be paid the most in future. Sounds great, but how exactly does that repayments schedule work again? You pay back based on income above a threshold, and then the remaining balance is written off after 30 years. If you never earn above the threshold, you'll never pay any of it back. If you earn more than the threshold, then you'll pay back some every month. If you just earn a little more than the threshold, then you'll get the bulk of the total amount written off after 30 years. The more you pay each month, the faster you pay it off, as interest is included, so the less you pay back in total, right? No. Because of that 30 year write-off rule, the total amount that you will pay back varies in a monumentally stupid way. The person who will pay back the most is the person who pays off the last penny of the balance the day before the balance is written off. If you earn less than that, you pay back less because of the write-off. If you earn more than that, you pay back less because you'll have less compound interest to pay off. If your parents are wealthy enough when you go to uni, your family will only pay the upfront cost of the education with no interest added.

The previous problems have basically turned the tuition fee system into a graduate tax, and an extraordinarily bad one at that. You would never defend a tax system where the highest tax bands are in the middle of the range and then you pay less as you earn more. If you're going to implement a graduate tax, then you may as well do it in the most economically efficient way possible, because in the end it is HM Treasury that is still responsible for the money. While the loans might theoretically be in the name of the student, they are backed by HM Treasury and so are fundamentally no different to normal government borrowing. Those thousands of pounds provided upfront to institutions and landlords don't appear out of mid-air. It's government borrowing put under a different accounting category. If you're going to need to borrow money as a country to fund something, then it is your duty to implement a system to repay that in future and the one we have is incredibly inefficient. Inefficiency is the opposite of efficiency, and efficiency is where we get the wealth of nations.

The marginally less liberal repayment terms in Scotland aren't as much of a problem as a you think. In the end, when Scottish policies mean that rents and mortgages won't be as expensive, it isn't really that bad that there's a little bit more of a burden on repaying student loans. For the reasons I've outlined, it seems to be more efficient than the English system, and in any case the amount of money borrowed on average is a fraction of that in England. A shorter and sharper repayment schedule on a smaller loan, combined with cheaper rents and mortgages, will leave Scottish students better off than English ones.
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