A lot of thought’s being put into the practical implications of Scottish independence – I suspect that if the country doesn’t become independent this time (which more English voters support than Scottish voters), it probably will in the next decade or two.
It’s the practical ramifications which are increasingly causing Alex Salmond touble. The problem being that the SNP likes to have its cake and eat it, too. Take fiscal devolution – when the TaxPayers’ Alliance proposed full fiscal devolution to the Scottish Parliament (an SNP manifesto policy), SNP spokesmen blew their lid because the report also called for an end to English Barnett Formula subsidies for Scotland.
So it has been with Alex Salmond’s plan for full independence – he wants to take as many powers and assets as possible, but leave the nation’s debts squarely on the shoulders of English taxpayers.
For example, he thinks that North Sea oil and gas should be allocated geographically (giving the Scots over 80% of the revenue) but national debt should be allocated on a per capita basis only (giving the Scots just over 8% of the total bill). This is particularly relevant when you start to consider where the debt and liability for RBS would fall in you took a geographical approach to where debt should be allocated.
Happily, someone on the Government E-petitions site has come up with an elegant solution. When we calculate the share of the national debt to be allocated to an independent Scotland, why not use the Barnett Formula?
Yes, is means each Scottish person would have 22% more debt than each English person, but if it’s fair for dishing the cash out then surely it’s fair for sharing the burden of our debts, too?
I’ve signed the e-petition here – I hope you will, too.