04 Dec Scotland should “pay for itself”, says senior Tory
A prominent Conservative politician has sparked controversy with a speech calling for brutal cuts to Scotland’s budget. MP Priti Patel said that Scots were better off than those in other parts of the UK blasting the “funding imbalance” caused by the Barnett formula, which calculates the amount of money Holyrood receives from Westminster.
Ms Patel, who was on David Cameron’s Tory candidates A-list, said that Scotland should “pay for itself”, claiming the public sector costs the government billions of pounds.
Her remarks bear a striking resemblance to those by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s who said Scotland was a “something for nothing” culture as she introduced Labour’s ‘Cuts Commission’.
In Ms Patel’s speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs, a Thatcherite think-tank, she said: “Scots are basically getting a better deal than the rest of the country…These are considerable sums of money which should be reduced as part of the deficit reduction plans.”
“Failure to reform the Barnett Formula has effectively meant that Scotland receives £1600 per person more than the English average which inevitably puts a greater strain on public finances.”
She went on to call for Scotland’s budget to be slashed, saying “When you think about the prevailing doctrine in all the parties in Scotland, everyone is talking about more devolution. So there is a good opportunity now for the UK Government to actually start having discussions to make sure that Scotland actually pays for itself.”
Her comments have already received a stern rebuke from the SNP. MSP Jamie Hepburn dismissed her remarks as “unbelievable clap-trap”, and called for Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to distance herself from the remarks.
“Once again the Tory mask has slipped, and we see the true attitude of the UK Government towards Scotland.
“Scotland more than pays its way in the UK – generating 9.6% of the UK tax revenue in return for just 9.3% of expenditure – but who can doubt that the Tories would cut Scotland’s budget even further if the referendum result was No.
“These people are making all of the key decisions about how much money can be spent in Scotland – yet they have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Scottish electorate time and time again.
“Ruth Davidson herself is implicated in this row, as she has also called for a ‘review’ of Scotland’s funding formula after 2014. That is clearly Tory-speak for ‘cut’, which makes a Yes vote in the referendum essential for the sake of the public services that we all value – such as free personal care and no tuition fees. Ruth Davidson must clarify whether she agree with Priti Patel – as her previous remarks suggest – or not.”
Ms Patel’s comments will be viewed as a blow to the Better Together campaign, tasked with convincing Scots to vote against independence.
Jimmy Reid Foundation
They also come just as the Jimmy Reid Foundation has published a report describing the defence of universal policies, such as free prescriptions and university education, as “probably the single greatest achievement of the Scottish Parliament”.
The Scottish government has said that a Yes vote in the independence referendum is the best way to safeguard these policies. A spokesman said “These achievements of devolution are all under threat of being rolled back if Scotland votes No – as the report says, the ‘devolutionary contract appears to be reaching an end’.
“That is why a Yes vote in 2014 for an independent Scotland is vital, so that we can protect and build on the gains of the Scottish Parliament, and build a fair society and strong economy.”
Support Our INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM APPEAL