Tuesday, 6 October 2009

No Calman style Borrowing Powers for Scotland- Cameron yes, Calman no!!

Remember the Calman Commission (that's these fine ladies and gentlemen pictured)? That much trumpeted and very expensive exercise in navel gazing by the Unionists? Well it seems that even its fig leaf like suggestions are not going to come about.

What great fun that 14-member junket must have been (no representative from the actual Scottish Government though). I am sure they did not stint themselves in terms of lunches and so on. But now, post Calman Report, how quickly it has been swept under the carpet by all those loud mouthed advocates who so welcomed it as a way of saving the Union and being just to the Scots all at once.

That nasty National Conversation was lambasted by one and all of the Unionists on both sides of the border, while the dance of the blessed Calman got its own version of a ticker tape parade. I think (and I may be wrong) that every Unionist politician of note and quite a few of none at all welcomed it, Gordon Brown, Jim Murphy, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Annabel Goldie, Iain Gray, Wendy Alexander, Tavish Scott, etc, etc.

Do we also remember how David Cameron promised to be fair to the Scots as he wanted to be PM of the entire UK. Fair in so far as not actually talking to them or allowing them to be part of a debate for the totally spurious reason that the leader of the SNP is not standing to become Prime Minister. I would have thought that a party leader’s debate could be just that, and no matter how Annabel and Cameron spin it at their get together in Manchester, Alex is most definitely the “leader” of the SNP.

We have already seen the Labour Party back pedalling like mad on Calman and now it seems that Tories are doing very much the same. Remember DC has already said that the economic meltdown is so severe that he will be unable to consider a re-evaluation of the constitutional settlement until his 2nd term. (I was never quite sure what that meant, but then that’s something that often happens with Cameron pronouncements.)

But he has given us a clue as to what he meant in a recent radio interview in which he claimed that it would be difficult to allow Scotland to borrow money in her own right (despite the fact that much smaller governmental units like, say Dundee City Council, can). That apparently would make it difficult for his Government to reduce the overall UK deficit. So, no borrowing powers for Scotland.

So Scotland will not be able to borrow money against her vast natural resources to fund essential projects needed by her own people. Despite the fact that the last 12 years of Labour and the previous 16 years of the Tories have left Scotland as one of the most deprived and underfunded parts of Europe, never mind just the UK. Doubtless the Tories will want to use Scotland’s wealth to prop up the rest of the UK al la Mrs Thatcher.

What we are promised, however, despite Mr C’s vow that there will be no constitutional changes in his first term is a swingeing reduction in the number of Scottish MPs (well they are all Labour anyway) to sort out the West Lothian question; a radical revaluation of the Barnet Formula (well that is popular in England) despite the fact that it has been around since 1978 and even Mrs Thatcher did not think it was too generous to the Scots, and of course, a huge reduction in Scotland’s block grant.

So no change in the first term then? Well no, what he means is plenty changes that are popular south of the border but none that are popular north of it. That’s a great definition of the word respect David. It really is. Plenty Cameron but not very much Calman.


  1. It was clear from the start that the Calman Commission was nothing more than unionists running interference on the National Conversation. For anything from Calman to be implemented it would have to be seen in England as punitive towards the Scots. Cut the block grant - good, borrowing powers - bad. Can you imagine the backlash in the shires to agreeing something that would actually be of benefit to Scotland.

  2. Scunnert: I agree with that, but you would have thought that if the process itself was just a sop to the Scots, they might not have made it seem like the be all and end all of everything. Difficult to put the lid back on now. With any luck that will mean that expectations for the Conversation will be higher and so will support for it.

    I can well imagine outraged of Tunbridge Wells having a canary at the thought of the Jocks getting anything like self determination. Such a shame they have all that lovely oil if only it were all off Hull then it really would be "jocks away"

  3. The Calman Commission could have been a opportunity to examine what Scots really want constitutionally for the 21st century.

    It was lamentable that its remit excluded the option of independence when somewhere between 30 and 40% of the population were, according to polls which could reasonably be expected to be accurate + or - 2%...for that option and the population had actually elected an SNP government, albeit aminority one.

    History will surely reflect that, faced with the possiblility of doing something brave and honest, but difficult, Brown did what he always does and possibly the only thing he does well.

    He dithered.

    Then he chose a group of establishment figures, set them a job with a very limited remit, and with the co-operation of the English based parties managed to get through parliament that the Scottish people would pay, from their pocket money, for a farce.

    How irritating it must have been when they reported and, although nothing that they proposed could in anyway be described as "radical", there were elements of it that didn't sit easily with Brown. (Note to Brown: The trouble with using people who already have titles in these jobs, is that you can't really offer them much more, dukedoms being rather out of fashion.)

    The farce of initial welcome and then burying and then welcoming again and then pulling back have been a joke. The ditherer has lived up to his reputation in spectacular form and the Scottish tax payer has been cheated out of a sum that is estimated to be in excess of £500,000.

    When will we learn?

  4. Tris: a pretty fair appraisal of the good ladies and gentlemen of the Calman Commission. A body of navel gazers set up by navel gazers to gaze at its navel. Just what on earth did these great and good do for over a year for a half a million. Then a great fanfare and oh dear the body of yes men have not said “yes” in quite the right places. Didn’t Spud say that the most important bits could be with us within 6 months i.e. before the end of the moribund Labour Government? Well they better hurry up because Gordon Brown et al have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin. So its up to Cameron and his lot get on with putting the final touches on burying the Commissions recommendations. We the Scots might as well get used to the word “NO” because its one I imagine we will be hearing quite a lot from the Tories once they have the keys to number 10 and no longer need to pay lip service to giving us “respect”.

  5. I really don't think anyone in Tunbridge Wells cares what Scotland does. Just keep voting SNP please.

  6. I'm not far from Tunbridge Wells, and the only thing I'm outraged about is the fact that we have a load of meddling Scottish MPs and ministers in England. You're welcome to your oil and your politicans as far as I am concerned.

    Don't blame the English public, your predicament is our predicament - a dose of proper democracy and self-determination would do England the power of good.

  7. Anon: They care like hell when they think, as they are fed by their Press (and Boris the Buffoon), that what we get is being subsidised by them.

  8. I wouldn't blame the English public Toque. They are by and large a good bunch of people. They just have a different set of objectives from us Scots.

    You guys should fight for independence, and some democracy, because you're right, you have even less than we do.

  9. after English taxpayers were forced to bail out scottish banks which became magically british banks overnight,I don't think they will be amused at north sea oil becoming magically scottish oil overnight.

  10. Tally: Welcome to the blog.

    The banks that were bailed out were British. RBS was an amalgum of The Royal Bank (Scottish), Williams and Glynn (English) and National Westminster (English, and far far larger the RBS itself), BoS was largely Halifax. To all intents and purposes it was run from Yorkshire with the "show" head office in Edinburgh because it is a beautiful building, in a spectacular site in avery impressive city with a huge finacial sector. That doesn't mean that any real head office work went on there.

    The branch network of both these banks was vastly bigger in England than in Scotland. The amount of savings/mortages/loans and the number of staff in England was far larger.

    The banks were all regulated by the English/British regulatory bodies. The same ones that were supposedly overseeing Bradford and Bingly and Northern Rock. It seems that the FSA men didn't much care for travelling North lest they should be eaten by a black pudding or something. Anything out of London was passed with a nod. (This taxpayer isn't amused about funding their vast salaries when they couldn't be bothered getting off their lardy arses to go inspect banks that weren't within 50 meters of their offices.)

    When it came to a really Scottish bank/building society, the Dunfermline, the English goverment wanted sod all to do with it.

    Brown has spun and spun and better than spun so that it looks as if all that money was pumped into poor old Scotland (a country he denies exists, prefering to refer to it as North Britian. It wasn't and Browns a liar. The great bulk of that money is paying salaries and maintaining buildings in England. Brown, I repeat, is a liar.

    As for the oil. Well it is in Scottish territorial waters, as defined under international law.

    Scotland has its own legal system. The oil had to be defined as belonging to one or other of the jurisdictions for legal reasons (contracts need to be signed and witnessed under the auspices of a legal system). Although England wanted to redraw the (maritime) border (and indeed it did try), the international authorities defined the borders as they are.

    Tax payers are never amused at anything other than a tax rebate, tally. In this matter as in all others, it's tough cheese.

  11. Annon: you are probably right about that, but clearly I am right about the Jocks away bit. I'm not sure whether you are saying that from an English or a Scottish perspective.

  12. Toque: Well in that case stop being so outraged from near by Tunbridge Wells and do something about it! After all once we are gone who will you blame then?

  13. Tally: think Tris has said it all really. There is a huge English component in both banks that were supossedly saved.

    And anyway whose oil paid for you recessions of the 1980s and 90s.

    In case you have not noticed it is Scottish oil by dint of International Agreement not just geographical fact. If you are going to take our oil why not go to Iran and take theirs as well. Oh yes Winston Churchill did just that in 1953 when he orchestrated the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian Government in order to stop it from Nationalising Anglo Iranian oil fields. Thanks very much Winnie not one of your more successful moments.