The new Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, seems to be somewhat confused in relation to the SNP’s demand for “full fiscal autonomy” (FFA).
On the one hand he accuses the SNP of not explaining what “they mean by full fiscal autonomy”, adding that “nobody knows what it really is”.
At the same time he provides us with a perfectly satisfactory working definition of the term, asserting that FFA “would see Scotland responsible for all its own tax and spending, paying a supplement to the UK for defence and foreign affairs” (your report, 25 May).
On one thing, however, he is perfectly clear: that “there is no way” the Conservatives would agree to FFA, though he conspicuously fails to indicate why this is the case.
After all, it was not the Conservatives but the SNP who won an overwhelming democratic mandate at the recent general election to campaign for more powers for Holyrood.
Can we take it that it is now official UK Government policy simply to brazen it out for the next five years and concede absolutely nothing of any significance in negotiations with Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney?
And how precisely does he think that “No surrender” strategy will improve his party’s electoral prospects north of the Border?
IAN O BAYNE
I am grateful to hear that Scottish Secretary David Mundell is considering commissioning a study into the impact of the SNP’s full fiscal autonomy proposals (your report, 25 May).
While he is at it, perhaps the study could also consider the impact of his party’s planned, but as yet undefined, welfare cuts?
The proposed title of the report: Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
(Dr) Scott Arthur