Friday, 10 April 2015

The emptiest of threats

Not for the first time, the British parties are talking utter drivel. There is only one thing you need to know about Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) - it isn't going to happen!

I have seen some of the more deranged British nationalists talking about SNP MPs "forcing through" legislation to give Scotland FFA. Arithmetic is not the friend of those making such outlandish claims. Even if the SNP won every seat in Scotland that would only give them 59 out of 650. It's pretty safe to assume that every one of those non-SNP MPs would oppose such a move. And, given that neither of the parties which may be in government is going to introduce such legislation, it's never going to come to a vote in any case.

Talk of an "FFA threat" to Scotland's finances is palpable nonsense. There is no such threat. It is not even substantial enough to be called a phantom threat. It is no threat at all.

So, why is it even being discussed? The answer is simple. Scaremongering! Vacuous, clumsily contrived scaremongering to rival the worst of what we saw from Better Together during the referendum campaign. The hope is that if talk of a "£7.6billion black hole" is bandied around enough some of the mud will stick and the SNP will be associated with an economic catastrophe that is entirely mythical.

British nationalists will doubtless retort that Nicola Sturgeon stated that she would vote for FFA; and do so in the first year of the parliament. The British nationalists may be too stupid to know the difference between a hypothetical and a factual question, but Sturgeon most certainly isn't. Had she been asked if she would vote for an end to all disease tomorrow then she would surely have said yes. But only an idiot would imagination this to mean either that she would have the opportunity to vote on such a matter or that her vote would be meaningful.

Of course SNP MPs would vote for FFA! As a matter of principle, they will always vote for more powers for the Scottish Parliament. That doesn't alter the fact that there is not going to be a vote on FFA.

But the deception being perpetrated by the British parties does not end with silly scaremongering about an impossible scenario. It hardly needs to be said that they alo totally misrepresent the effect of FFA. They trumpet this £7.6billion deficit as if it is a consequence of FFA. It is not! Even assuming that the actual figure is not inflated, the reality is that we already have this deficit by virtue of being part of the UK.

The figure of £7.6billion is Scotland's per capita share of the the UK budget deficit. It is not something that suddenly appears as a result of FFA. It is already there. And we are already paying for it. Scotland's share of costs associated with its per capita share of the UK deficit are paid out of Scotland's contribution to UK tax revenues. In terms of the deficit and what it costs us, FFA actually changes nothing.

So all this scaremongering is doubly vacuous. There is no "threat" of FFA. and even if there was, it wouldn't be a threat.

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