Tuesday 19 August 2014


Written by Steve Asaneilean in answer to a post at Wee Ginger Dug, and reproduced here with his permission.

In case anyone is in any doubt about the Barnett formula, the stated aim of Westminster is to reduce public spending so even if Barnett is retained its value to Scotland must fall if Westminster achieves its stated aims on public spending.

But, despite noises from BT?NT to the contrary, as you point out Nancy there is real doubt that Barnett will survive and its replacement will certainly not be more favourable to Scotland than Barnett. And there are plenty indications out there that all the Westminster parties want to see Barnett chopped as these quotes posted on Wings Over Scotland in February clearly demonstrate (the “best” one being from Joel Barnett himself after whom the formula is named):

David Cameron, Prime Minister “[The Barnett formula] cannot last forever, the time is approaching”

Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat) – “We do want to see Barnett scrapped. We want to see that replaced by what we call a needs based formula.”

Margaret Curran (Labour) – “I do believe that we should allocate public funding on the basis of need and it should not be around just a regional or a national demarcation around that.”

The House of Commons Justice Select Committee – “The Barnett Formula is overdue for reform and lacks any basis in equity or logic. It creates controversy in all of the constituent parts of the UK. There is controversy in England that the Barnett Formula allows for higher levels of public spending in Scotland from the UK Exchequer and does not deal with different needs in different parts of England. We urge the Government to publish its position as a matter of some urgency and to proceed to devise a new formula which is needs based, takes into account regional disparities in England as well as in Scotland and Wales, is transparent and is sufficiently robust to enable long-term planning.”

Local Government Association, England – “Council leaders in England are to campaign for Scotland’s block grant to be cut. Local government chiefs south of the Border say they are envious of the powers and funding given to a devolved Scotland and have revealed they will push for the UK Treasury to scrap the Barnett formula, the system that gives Scotland more per head of UK funds than it does to England and Wales.

The All Party Parliamentary Taxation Group – “The APPTG echoes the findings of the House of Lords Committee on the Barnett Formula in recommending that a shift is required towards a ‘needs-based’ formula, whereby a ‘dynamic’ and ‘simple, clear, and comprehensible’ system is used to allocate resources to the devolved regions ‘based on an explicit assessment of their relative needs’, calculated ‘per head of population’.”

Ruth Davidson, Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party – “Barnett was only supposed to be temporary… I do think that there will be a review of Barnett after 2014. The ground has shifted since devolution.”

Lord Lang of Monkton – “On the Barnett surplus, everyone knows that the basis of the present distribution of funds is out of date. We know that that, too, created an imbalance that can be put right. A fair-minded Scotland would agree. We need an up-to-date measurement of relative need in Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.”

The Calman Commission – “The commission has decided major changes need to be made. Significantly, however, experts believe the change will result in a drop in Scotland’s budget – which could lead to cuts in service”.

Lord Joel Barnett, who devised the formula – “It’s quite wrong. It clearly should not be based on per head expenditure but should be based on needs in particular areas. The amount of money going to Scotland on a needs basis by comparison, say with my own North West or the North East, is far higher than it should be, so it should be changed. They'd lose quite a bit in my guess, done on a proper needs basis”.

So what do you think that means for you if we are in the UK? 


  1. So what with the new oil finds we'd end up giving more and getting back even less... truly frightening, we MUST vote YES.

    1. Yes. Well get even less back form our even larger contribution


  2. Well it seems unanimous that the Barnett Formula WILL go at some point after a no vote, lets all make sure it DOES go, with a YES vote, then Scotland can spend ALL of its income on Scots.

    1. Well, as the Liberals, Tories and Labour want rid of it, and the English want rid of it... yes, it will go.

      Voting to stay with the UK is madness.

  3. tris and the other malcontents

    Given Alex and the snp lot at holyrood
    have sworn to uphold the Westminster writ
    over the Scottish peoples,
    In return for a currency union and use of English gold.

    To then turn around and even mention the Barnet formula
    is the most bare faced cheek imaginable even for an extremist nat.
    The financial constraints which Alex and the snp have already pre-agreed
    to may make the Barnet formula seem like it was manna from heaven.

    No doubt you like most of the nat drones wide eyed minds filled
    with the mush that the snp feed you sapping all common sense.are unable ,unwilling to see let alone admit the lunacy of wanting ,desiring ,begging for
    the Westminster yoke to be placed upon the Scots after Independence.

    and also to whinge and whine about wot the English dun to us and what they might to do us next..I mean really !!!

    why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

    1. "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkTnCtg_Omk">Lucy Reynolds talks to Jill Mountford

      Labour laid the foundations of privatising the NHS through their PFI at 77% interest rates amongst other things. Now the ConDems have drilled the holes ready to put in the final screws and bury the public service altogether.

    2. Oh Niko shut up.

      It's all very well for you. You won't have to live in the "even more austerity" UK.

      We will.

    3. Nico, change the record, getting boring. Personally, I'd tell Westminster to shove the pound, where the sun doesn't shine. But, as has been said, almost as often as you repeat your mantra, a short term currency union; would be beneficial to both parties in said currency union.
      Tris, in answer to your question, we'd be f@#£%d.

    4. Seriously scary stuff. They can't even undo it!!!

      So even if Labour wanted to (and I don't think they do) they cannot

      Vote to stay with the UK. Vote to get rid of the NHS and the Welfare state.

      Well people...don't say you weren't warned.

    5. NIKO.

      For someone who has no dog in the fight,you do one hell of a lot of barking

  4. Oh well I win....Again its getting easier by the day

    1. Eh? What have you won? I'd stick to the poetry, or the quotes from the quote website, if I were you.

    2. Of course you win Niko. You're going to live in Cyprus. The next round of cuts, agreed by Osborne and Balls won;t affect you. Yours won;t be one of the 50,000 jobs that will be cut in Scotland in the next year.

      If I were in the civil service I'd vote YES in a second. All the Civil service jobs that Thatcher created in Scotland to try to make up for all the jobs she wiped out, and we now get blamed for by people like Ruth Davidson, they are all at risk. And when (not if) the Barnett formula is ditched look out for another hundred thousand jobs going in the health and education services.

      If we vote no, look forward to being an even more unequal and impoverished region of greater England than we already are.

      But not in Cyprus of course.

    3. Good piece from Eck there. I believe this. This is and has been since university, his dream.

      Of course he'd stand down, and (as much as it was in his power to do so) dissolve the SNP.

  5. If there's a no vote the Barnett formula will go.

    The only reason it's not been reformed is a fear of Scottish independence and if that's gone so goes Barnett.

    You can read it between the lines when people like Johann Lamont talk about the Scottish Parliament being more "accountable".

    What they actually mean is when Barnett goes down the tubes the Scottish Government is going to have to choose between raising income tax for Scots just to maintain services or cutting those services. A real Hobson's choice.

    It's also a fairly clear indication that Labour expect to lose the next Scottish Parliament even if it's a no vote.

    1. Yes, I doubt that Labour is dim enough to wish all this misery on itself. It's accepted that no one in Slab is the least bit appealing to the electorate. It accepts that, if the answer is no, it will lose the 2016 election and the SNP will be left to carry the can for the new regime imposed by Westminster, where Barnett is removed, and funding is provided on the basis of NEEDS, but the ability to vary income tax( (and ONLY income tax) is granted.

      Raising income tax without reducing VAT is a poison. Really except in a dire emergency it cannot be done. Westminster (or in short English MPs) will decide what is "needed", and what is needed will be what keeps them on the gravy train. Money spent in their constituencies; jobs created in their backyards.

      Scotland won't matter. The Tories and UKIP won't have seats here to defend. Labour will assume that no matter what happens it is safe in Scotland. Scotland will get almost none of the money...and yet we already know that the money is going to be pouring in from the North Sea and the Atlantic.

      God help us if we vote no.

  6. The Barnett Formula is the politics of giving money to the whites by taking it from the blacks. It is racist, there is a direct relationship between the proportion of whites in a territory to the amount it gets, the more whites the more money, hence Northern Ireland with the highest proportion of whites gets the most money and England with by far the highest proportion of visible ethnic minorities gets by far the least. We cannot end racism in the UK without ending the Barnett Formula.

    1. This has to be THE MOST mindbogglingly insane post I think I have ever seen!
      Not from around these here parts,
      are you pilgrim?

    2. Piss off, idiot troll.

    3. What JnA said.

      Don't spout racist nonsense on this blog again.

    4. ANON 10.59.

      If I were you I'd lay off the drugs, for a while.

    5. Or the drink... or both.

      As John said. Mindbogglingly insane and to be ignored.

      I'd remove it, but, if people want to demonstrate their ignorance, I see no reason to stop them.

  7. Tris

    An interesting dilemma for the Scottish branch of liebour. As it appears they favour less money for the most impoverished areas of Scotland, their heartlands, it will be interesting to see them spin it. I don't think the usual it's the SNP fault line will work. But anyway as has been discussed before , if Scotland stupidly votes no it will be punished and laughed at the world over. I might even be ashamed to call myself Scottish when the response is ' your from the region that used to be a country or your from Northern England because you voted to be.


    1. They don't think THAT far ahead Bruce.

      And in the long game, Ed Miliband doesn't care about Scotland except in the fact that it provides the money for the UK to continue playing the 19th century power that it was.... and therefore for people like him to play the international statesman. he can count on the Scottish Labour vote. Without it he'd have a job forming a government in the UK.

      I'll certainly be ashamed of Scots if they are stupid enough to be taken in by the British Empire stuff, and they find out, a bit too late that they are about to be peed on from a great height.

      I just read this comment on a facebook post of a friend of mine who has just managed to find work... part time, night shift, at a petrol station. He was pointing out that his wages are only JUST enough to survive on, he has to take his bike to work, regardless of the weather, because a bus fare is out of the question, and it's not a short ride. Given that the weather will get worse soon, he can expect to arrive at work soaking wet.

      This is what someone put up on his post: did you know that Britain has the second lowest industrial democracy out of 28 European countries...only Lithuania is worse. We have the second lowest rates of pay, third longest working hours and fewest holidays in Europe. Tax credits are a massive state subsidy to low pay corporations so they can pay their workers lower than the standard living wage.....taken from the Common Weal

      Proud to be British... Eh Niko?

    2. This is the guy's original post: 16hrs per week at basic, thats £403 (gross) per month, I would qualify for HB and CTB, but I would still pay £112 per month, leaving me just over £290, and thats without adding the travel costs of £10 per day if I was to use the bus (winter is coming), thats leaving me £210 a month to live with...at 24hrs per week it was just worth the hassle and effort, taking this job has made me poorer, by a large margin and pissed off my landlord, better together my ass.

      Thats a lad that is prepared to "get on his bike" and get work... any work, rather than be idle. That's what the state thinks of his efforts. I dare say the £39 breakfast man would still call him a skiver.