Letter: Call for more tax powers ill-founded

BEN Thomson (Perspective, 13 June) should be applauded for his role in the Campaign for Fiscal Responsibility, but what is interesting about the ongoing debate is that the impetus for greater financial powers for Scotland seems to be coming from two largely incompatible strands.

The first seems based on the familiar tax, borrow and spend model, which relies on the Brown-esque delusion that unending economic growth means the bills can be deferred effectively indefinitely.

The second strand seems to assume full fiscal powers will somehow magically transform Scotland into a low-tax economy with greatly reduced public spending, with even talk of a tax haven and a strictly limited public sector.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, the prevailing Holyrood mindset seems to centre around bragging rights over which of the two main parties can outspend the other, while at the same time seeking to blame others when the bills inevitably come in and the spending spree has to give way to a degree of restraint.

Which in turn undermines the hypothetical argument in relation to greater fiscal responsibility, and economies as diverse as the triple-A rated UK and the more obviously dubious Greece demonstrate that, even before the global economic meltdown, theories regarding accountability don't necessarily work in practice.

Indeed, in promoting the devolution of more fiscal powers, Mr Thomson states that Scotland's share of the public spending deficit has been no worse than the UK's as a whole, which to me seems to detract from his argument rather than reassure. Perhaps Mr Thomson should be careful what he wishes for.

Stuart Winton, Dundee