Sermon to bring Scots to their knees
Gordon Brown is against independence, and fiscal autonomy, and devo-max. But he is in favour of more powers – it’s just that he can’t tell us what they would be (your report, 14 August).
But watch this space for the next instalment of his sermon in a couple of weeks’ time!
He claimed a future Scottish Government (presumably one run by the SNP) would be calling on the “United Kingdom” for financial assistance as taxes rose and services were cut, and Scotland would be worse off with wages and benefits being inferior to elsewhere – there would be a race to the bottom. Where is the evidence for that?
The embarrassing paradox for the Unionist UK governments is that it was they who poured money into Scotland in the post-war years to thwart the rise of Nationalism, thus creating our 20 per cent per capita advantage in funding over England (which led to comments that we could not afford to stand alone) and it is they who are having to take the money out again, to such an extent that we will be viable when the economy returns to normality.
We used to have just the system Mr Brown seems to crave, with the pre-devolution Union.
It was Labour’s detestation of having a Westminster Tory regime governing Scotland without any support here that drove devolution, and it would also kill Nationalism stone dead. And they still don’t understand the anomaly of the West Lothian Question.
But Nationalism survived, and we have the SNP in power with an overall majority, thanks to Labour incompetence.
Labour is now seen to be in cahoots with the Tories to save the Union, but, with the prospect of having to choose between having an SNP government here with independence, and a Conservative UK government at Westminster after the next elections.
Is it any wonder Labour doesn’t have a clue which way to face? Regarding devo-max, Gordon Brown, as well as the rest of Unionist politicians who demand a single question referendum, seem to have overlooked the fact that the discredited Calman tax proposals, already legislated for, will be implemented automatically, only if there is a No vote, in 2016 and that would render obsolete any further discussion of any other devo option.
Ironically, devo-max would also be snuffed out by a Yes vote. So, if we prefer only more powers, but not Calman, we are being forced into voting Yes for independence.
Douglas R Mayer
While it was good to see the former Prime Minister and ex-Chancellor Gordon Brown at last making a contribution to Scotland’s ongoing constitutional debate, I am sure I am not alone in wishing he had felt able to be more positive in his critique of the “full fiscal autonomy” or “devo-max” option.
In this respect it seems far too simplistic to equate such autonomy with “more taxes” as against spending cuts.
What full fiscal autonomy actually means is that future Scottish Governments of whatever political hue, or combination of political hues, would have full control over all taxes already collected in Scotland or from Scottish sources and currently paid directly into the UK Treasury.
These taxes clearly include the oil taxation revenues which mysteriously do not seem to have rated a mention in the former Chancellor’s reported comments.
And with these oil revenues at last at his disposal, John Swinney or any of his successors as finance secretary would not necessarily require to increase any other taxes in order to maintain or even increase health and welfare spending at current levels.
After all, the Treasury has already spent more than 30 years’ worth of Scottish oil revenues, some of which, arguably, has been unwisely spent on Trident missiles and wholesale involvement in overseas conflicts, and often in that respect contrary to the apparent wishes of the Scottish electorate.
Is it not about time that we Scots – in the interests of “fairness” and “equality”, values which Mr Brown himself regards as distinctively Scottish – were at last permitted direct access to our own oil revenues?
IAN O BAYNE
It IS reported that Gordon Brown has made a high- profile return to the Scottish political scene, coming out of semi-retirement.
How do his constituents feel about that? After all, he is an elected member of the House of Commons and should be representing his constituency full time.
Catriona C Clark
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