Mr Duncan Smith and his ‘silly salvo’
IaIn Duncan Smith’s widely reported recent remarks on Scotland’s ability to meet its social obligation after independence are so demonstrably nonsensical that they indicate a sea change in the constitutional campaign.
These remarks are based, among other misconceptions, on a perception that Scotland doesn’t do anything but oil. All those millions of Scots and thousands of Scottish companies working away and paying their taxes don’t exist.
We don’t do whisky, we don’t farm and have a hugely successful and growing food production and processing programme, we don’t export more than the UK on a per capita base, we don’t have an increasingly successful reindustrialisation programme, we don’t have a higher percentage of our people in work than the UK figure, we don’t generate a substantial surplus of power, we don’t have an economy much better balanced than the UK as a whole and we don’t more than pay our way presently in the UK.
The prime misconception by Mr Duncan Smith is that intelligent and informed Scots believe anything of what he has just foolishly said. He has opened the door to establishing that many of the unionist arguments are not just the sort of distortions we are used to but are, in fact, completely untrue. This will be hammered home relentlessly.
The other significant aspect of this is the complicity of Scotland’s media in this unionist folly. So demonstrably untrue is Mr Duncan Smith’s silly salvo that it should have been shot down in flames in our media.
That it has sailed through largely unchallenged says a lot about the probity of our fearless press.
David McEwan Hill
For many years, those in support of Scottish independence were told that Scotland as a nation was “too weak, too poor and too stupid” to survive on its own.
One thought that a corner had been turned, with those in favour of the Union arguing that Scotland could, of course, survive as an independent nation, but it was better off within the Union.
UK Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has, however, set the cause for the Union back with his ill-judged and nonsensical claim that an independent Scotland could not finance a welfare system.
He makes this bizarre assertion based on the fact that official data indicates that pension and welfare spending in Scotland is currently just over £15 billion per annum, £8.5bn more than the amount raised from North Sea oil and gas.
This indicates that he somehow believes that welfare spending is funded solely from oil and gas revenues and not from general taxation.
In fact, as official data indicates, Scotland is in a much healthier financial position than the rest of the UK, contributing 9.6 per cent of the UK’s taxation with 9.3 per cent of the spending and just over 8 per cent of the population.
This amounts to a relative surplus of £2.7bn in 2010-11, the equivalent of £500 a head for every man, woman and child in the country.
It is one thing for Scotland to continue to subsidise the benefits system for the rest of the UK, but another for a UK government minister, whose whole agenda is to dismantle the welfare system, to rub salt in the wounds by declaring that Scotland is an economic basket-case, incapable of supporting those on welfare.
Martin Sime (Perspective, 20 September) catches the failings in coalition government policy well.
“Work-for-benefits won’t reduce unemployment” but it will stigmatise the benefits and those caught on them even more. Present and further cuts in public spending reduce demand in the labour market as well as allowing inequalities to grow.
“Beveridge with a hint of Tebbit” was how Iain Duncan Smith described universal credit when he first launched it, praising Beveridge’s 1948 Voluntary Action, not his major 1942 report on social insurance.
But Beveridge began First Things First, the last chapter of the 1948 book, The 1942 Beveridge Report, “Set out a practical programme for putting first things first. There was to be bread and health for all at all times before cake and circuses for anybody at any time, so far as this order of priority could be enforced by redistribution of money.” How the money is collected is as much part of the redistribution as how it is spent.
The coalition government needs to tackle the regressive unfairness of the overall tax system where the poorest fifth contributes more of its income than the richest fifth – 38.2 per cent as opposed to 33.6 per cent, according to the government’s own figures.
Professor Emeritus of Social Policy
School of Social and Political Science
University of Edinburgh
The claim of former Scottish Labour chairman, Bob Thomson, that he would support independence to avoid Conservative policies in Scotland (your report, 19 September) is equivalent to saying, from his Labour perspective, that he would support independence to ensure England always gets the Tories.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west