When switching on the television and listening to a debate concerning Scotland's right to independence or at least self-government in some form, from Question Time to the punter on the street, it is only a matter of time before the same old record is played on the English turntable - the Scots are oversubsidised and receive more money than they are entitled to. "We English, who are a marvellous people, are really very generous to Scotland" opined Margaret Thatcher, the then "British" Prime Minister in February 1990. London's Evening Standard labelled the Scots "subsidy junkies" and English Tory MPs have continually attacked Scotland's apparent high level of public funding. Now with the upcoming elections to London Mayor, these absurd falsehoods have once again been resurrected, with one candidate, Trevor Phillips, even suggesting that Scotland should repay between £1 and £2 billion per year to the coffers of the city of London.
Over the past 20 years, successive unionist governments have centred the case against independence on the ignorant allegation that Scotland has a budget deficit relative to the UK - i.e. we are excessively spending more than we are receiving. Londoners and other English people are led by the media to believe that public spending is something that other people - usually Scots, and others on the "Celtic fringe" - receive. It is perceived as dole money - handouts for the economic minions of the UK. The actual truth is the complete opposite. London and the south-east of England is the most featherbedded and heavily subsidised region of the UK. Not only is it protected by the most comfortable Tory and Labour tax policies but jobs are being sacrificed in Scotland in order to keep inflation low there! The second point to make is that Scotland more than pays her fair share to the UK exchequer each year.
>Of course, it is of no concern to Siol nan Gaidheal how much money Scotland receives from Westminster and Whitehall. Our aim is for complete and full independence for Scotland, and for Scotland to be ruled at every level by Scotsmen and women using our own highly adequate finances. We seek, however, to highlight the lies bandied about by New Labour, their press and by the people of England whose sole aim in this matter is do Scotland down, rubbish our national ambitions and brainwash those who are easily susceptible to these falsehoods.
>The Westminster and media attacks on Scotland's spending allowances are always based on identifiable spending - on schools, hospitals and local authorities. Of course there is nothing said by our political and cultural enemies about the "non-identifiable" spending in the UK - such spending areas as investment in jobs, buildings, research and manufacturing in the rest of the UK, of which Scotland receives exceptionally little. And what about the jobs and contracts of the UK-wide departments, such as the Ministry of Defence, Treasury and Foreign Office? Their running costs and a large proportion of their expenditure are conveniently hidden in the mists of this so-called "non-identifiable" expenditure.
>Let us look, for example, at the following table which shows the breakdown of Ministry of Defence contracts within the UK, with an estimate for spending in 1995 - 2000 based on the same proportions.
|Area||Contracts Value||1995 - 2000 Estimate|
|South-east||£27.1 billion (41.7%)||£2.44 billion|
|England||£62.78 billion (93.6%)||£5.46 billion|
|Scotland||£3.19 billion (4.8%)||£0.28 billion|
This shows that Scotland is receiving some £239 million less than its population share (8.9%) of this particular element of defence spending. Throughout the Ministry of defence the proportion of spending and the number of servicemen and staff remain well below Scotland's population share. In terms of army personnel, in 1997 Scotland was home to just 3.87% of more than 60,000 employees in the Ministry of Defence's agencies.
As far as total civilian personnel are concerned, Scotland receives £33 million less in salary payments than a strict population share would determine. In big spending areas such as research, Scotland receives just 4% of the contracts in a £0.5 billion budget. In army infrastructure support we receive just 2.9% of the £2.93 billion budget, and in museums we get just 1.3% of a £12 billion spending, compared to 61.5% in London. The effect is the same - the jobs, purchasing impact, salaries, tax take and industrial development are all proportionately greater in the south of England than in Scotland.
In areas such as the civil service, Scotland has only 6.8% of the top grade civil servants compared to 51% for London. On examining a whole range of important public bodies and agencies the same picture comes up all the time - the majority of staff and spending is concentrated in London and the south-east. The government also argues that the Foreign Office represents the whole of the UK. However, when the Foreign Office speaks to the world it does so from one part of the country - south England! 100% of the 5620 UK-based staff are based in the south. In fact the Foreign Office does not spend any money in Scotland and yet this is an area "reserved" by the Westminster powers. Are we somehow incapable of sharing responsibility for the UK's foreign policy or indeed of carrying out any foreign policy of our own!!?? Salaries, running costs, capital expenditure and even pens and paper - not a penny is spent north of the border.
Some of the most absurd and laughable comments on differential spending in the UK has come from the candidates jostling for position of Mayor of London. They claim that Scotland is oversubsidised and "owes" London some £2 billion due to the fact that London's tax take is higher than its spending share. Recent parliamentary answers have identified a £2.241 billion structural subsidy of London, destroying their ridiculous and puerile argument that their smoke-filled polluted over-subsidised city should receive a £2 billion payback from Scotland.
In fact London's advantages in spending terms are more than just structural - they also acquire more than their fair share of the "sweeties" - the one-off, large infrastructure projects which happen to be beneficial "to the United Kingdom as a whole". Projects to the London infrastructure are of national significance while those in Scotland are not. Improvements to the rail and road links to the Channel Tunnel are of national importance while ferry routes to Ireland from Stranraer are a Scottish concern.
Indeed, of the £11 billion plus subsidy handed out to London, much of it is swallowed up by vast projects, such as the Jubilee Line, the Limehouse Link road in the Docklands (the so-called "second city" which has swallowed up a further £2576 million in direct aid, plus 40% of the multi-million pound enterprise Zone funding and tax and rates concessions paid for, of course, by Scottish funding to the Exchequer!!). Add the millions spent on the Channel Tunnel link, the Heathrow Express and Tube extension, the millions from Railtrack for Thameslink, the many millions being given in a grant to the Underground and the useless Millennium Dome and it is obvious what a bunch of parasites and chancers the people of London really are - pigs at the trough who are spending billions on their city at the Scottish taxpayer's expense which are of no concern to us whatsoever.
It may suit many politicians at Westminster to use Scotland and the Scots as a diversionary measure - an easy target in terms of "identifiable spending". The English electorate and many Scots can easily be fooled. After all, the idea that Scotland is dependant on England is as old as the Treaty of Union itself!
A few years ago on the instructions of the Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland, the Scottish Office produced a report arguing that Scotland was heavily subsidised by the UK government. Around this time the SNP published its own more credible argument with up-to-date figures soon after, proving that Scotland has contributed a SURPLUS OF BETWEEN £80 AND £90 BILLION to the coffers of the UK exchequer over the period 1974-1994. THIS SURPLUS IS EQUIVALENT TO BETWEEN £16,000 AND £18,000 FOR EVERY PERSON IN SCOTLAND!!! Even on the now roundly discredited Scottish Office methodology the surplus for this period is still a massive £81.2 billion. This was confirmed and accepted by the then Conservative government, and also incredibly by today's Scottish Tories. However, for some reason the old myth is still bandied about today by New Labour and their adoring press in their determination to rubbish Scotland and the nationalists in any way they can, and to make the people of Scotland perceive that we are dependant on England and English money to keep us afloat!
This demonstrates unequivocally that the unionist argument of Scottish over-subsidisation is absurd, dishonest and totally inaccurate, and is based on a complete arrogance and prejudice, itself based on decades of ignorance, rather than facts. Let us not forget what a dire state the British economy was in in the 1960s and 1970s when the government had not discovered our oil in the North Sea. The country was on its knees and the Westminster robber barons and parasites were knocking on the door of the International Monetary Fund!
Scotland is a rich nation with great potential revenues from North Sea oil, much profit to be made from the land, a burgeoning financial sector, a reputation for honesty, workplace skills and education, and a positive image in Europe and further afield. SCOTLAND IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT SUBSIDISED!!! - Scotland pays her way in the United Kingdom and would prosper greatly on her own using her own finances without English taxes and the whinging that comes with it. Keep your money and we will keep ours - and our dignity too!
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