Reading your coverage of the contents of George Osborne’s spending review (27 June), it struck me how the good fortune Scotland has enjoyed in being protected from the worst effects of the UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat government’s policies could be the undoing of all the SNP’s efforts to secure a Yes vote in next year’s referendum.
The NHS in England is being privatised root and branch, the tax revenues which maintain it now being prepared wholesale for distribution to private providers.
Its planning laws protecting the green belt, national parks and open countryside, indeed its total environment, have simply been trashed in favour of a free-for-all for developers who can hardly believe their luck.
More and more of its primary and secondary schools are being taken out of local council democratic governance and as “academies” and “free schools” are being transferred to direct control by the Secretary of State for Education; public services have been slashed by denial of funding on a quite massive scale and the incomes of public service employees year on year cut both by wage freezes and inflation.
The fastest growing activity south of the Border is food banks. If this had happened in Scotland, the resentment and the hostility to UK Westminster governance would be such a raging fire that a Yes vote would be not just in with a real chance but very very likely.
But Scotland has been spared the worst effects of the policies of the UK government because of devolution in the form of the powers of its own parliament and the Barnett Formula.
In almost all, and certainly in the most important, matters of internal governance the Union government is now kept out of Scotland. That is a very good thing. However, the law of unintended consequences still works its own unforeseeable outcomes. Scotland will vote No to independence next year because it now gets a terrific deal out of the Union while being spared what’s worst about it.
In the autumn of 2014 the SNP will find that it would have done far better with the one thing it wants most of all, what indeed it exists for, if the Scottish Parliament had not itself but a Conservative-Lib Dem majority in power.
Well, I hope our friends in the No campaign can now see clearly the “benefits” of Scotland staying in the UK. We have the prospect of an indefinite number of years of austerity and an unfair society with the unionists.
George Osborne announced that automatic yearly pay rises for public servants would cease. I was under the impression that they already had. What he is referring to are pay scales whereby a teacher, say, starts on a low pay and after about five years rises incrementally to the top of the pay scale and stays there thereafter. This rewards teaching experience.
If this ceases then teachers’ wages are cut dramatically and we would have the example of younger teachers being paid less than their colleagues who have made it to the top. I would have thought this illegal.
The only way of getting out of these awful cuts is to vote Yes. All the scare stories fade into insignificance with this prospect. A Yes vote at least offers hope for the future as opposed to the continual decline in the Union.