Click to get your own widget

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

White Paper: Okay, we've got the wish list, where's the price list?

An article by me on the SNP's promise list is up at ThinkScotland. Please put any comments there:

The SNP have made these formal promises of what we will get if we vote Yes for separation. I have inserted my comments:

These included:

  • Thirty hours of childcare per week in term time for all three and four-year-olds, as well as vulnerable two-year-olds.
150,000 kids or 200,000 hours so at least another £1 billion in extra taxes. That's 3p on income tax or equivalent he is promising. While childcare in Britain costs over 40.9% of an average wage in Estonia it is only 6.6%. This is because Estonia has a libertarian attitude to freedom. Since Estonia is part of the EU our costs cannot, for once, be blamed on the EU and since Scotland has control over almost all regulation they could reduce these costs to the Estonian level if they really wanted.

  • Trident nuclear weapons, currently based on the Clyde, removed within the first parliament.
Fair enough but what about those working there who will, unless something else is provided, have no jobs.

  • Housing benefit reforms, described by critics as the "bedroom tax", to be abolished, and a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit.
That is another promise of more spending. My guess another billion.
  • It would be in Scotland's interest to keep the pound, while the Bank of England would continue as "lender of last resort".
But George Osborne has said he doesn't think it would be in England's. It would be possible for Scotland simply to keep using the English £ and let our banks print and attempt to maintain parity without government intervention but this would mean Scotland would not have "gilt edged" government borrowing. The real problem is that as "lender of last resort" the BoE is guaranteeing Scottish government debt and it is obvious why that is unattractive. Since we would be taking our share of the national debt the Scottish government will have debt to be guaranteed. Certainly there is no way a BofE would ever guarantee a higher borrowing rate in Scotland than in England and if our economy was shaky the fiscally proper thing for them to do would be to demand we borrow less - something which all Keynesians will recognise a problem with. The fact that oil prices swing wildly make it absolutely certain that Scottish government revenue will do so as well, meaning that the ability to borrow to smooth the curves is vital.
  • BBC Scotland replaced at the start of 2017 with a new Scottish broadcasting service, continuing a formal relationship with the rest of the BBC.
What sort of "independent" country allows a foreign country to control its broadcasting? While it is true that the BBC has a legal duty of "balance" (A) it makes no attempt to keep to it and (B) there is bound to be circumstances where balance means something different to a Scottish audience. For example if UKIP became a part, or the whole, of the rest of UK government a balanced BBC would be forced to cover their policies and, for example, give significant airtime to reporting that the catastrophic warming fraud is a fraud. Seeing Salmond's  enthusiastic support for the fascist thugs who attacked Nigel Farage and him promising we will be 100% on intermittent "renewables" by 2020 is it conceivable that his Scottish government could put up with an English definition of balance in state owned media?
  • Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise at least in line with inflation.
Yet we know that over a fairly long term revenue from oil will decline and the proportion of pensioners rise. That means that, other things being equal, taxes must rise.
  • A safe, "triple-locked" pension system.
This is a post dated cheque on what, if the IFS report is right, is a declining bank*. At the very least it would mean billions more in taxes.

  • Minimum wage to "rise alongside the cost of living".
Take that as you want. The SNP's partners in the Yes campaign have promised there will be no increase in living standards for 10 year, hopefully longer (their hope not mine). Anyway this is another post dated cheque.

This looks like about £2 billion in extra taxes immediately (6p on income tax or some unspecified alternative) with more to come, which along with a far higher electricity prices here because we are 100% renewable (not to mention blackouts for the same reason) seems an improbable launching pad for the growth which is the only way the IFS predictions of us being smothered in higher pensioner costs and lower oil revenue would be prevented.

I do not dispute that Scotland could grow faster than the UK, if it adopted sane free market economic and energy policies and quit the only zone of the world in recession, the EU (or indeed that the UK
could grow faster than the UK is doing currently by the same method). But their is no sign of any such sanity in any part of the Holyrood consensus.

*Ghandi's description of the British WW2 offer of post war independence to India.


Another of couple of points since:

1 - Nicola Sturgeon told Holyrood that the "only" threat to our membership of the organisation responsible for 75% of our laws, the EU was the promised 2017 referendum. That means there is no possibility of the SNP allowing us a referendum on EU membership, whatever the terms. It must be unique in the world for a nominally "independent nationalist" movement to oppose the right of the people to decide they want independence.

2 - Last night Alex Salmond assured Newsnight that there was no possibility that an independent remaining EU would ever decline to pay over the odds (currently about 3 times over normal prices) for Scottish windmill power. He also said that Scotland normally supplies 8 Gigawatts of power to England which is simply a lie. Bearing in mind that wind only produces 1/4 of its rated capacity that is would be all the power stations in Scotland working full out and us using none of it. Actually even if that were possible the cross border interconnectors would blow.

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

British Blogs.