Mundell is so proud of the fiscal traps that the UK Government is laying for the Scottish Government that he can't help boasting about them. What he is talking about is an effective transfer of Scottish tax revenue back to the British Treasury's coffers. We first saw this with the Bedroom Tax. I, and many others, asked then how long it would be before we saw Son of Bedroom Tax, Bedroom Tax 2 and Bedroom Tax: The Sequel. As it turns out, we're getting all of these and more rolled up together in the latest round of inept constitutional tinkering.
It's actually a very simple scam. Although there will inevitably be a fog of complexity intended to conceal the true purpose of the supposed "new powers". Basically, Westminter delves into the benefits paid to people in Scotland leaving a big hole which the Scottish Government has to fill from a budget which is constantly being reduced on the grounds that the Scottish Government is being granted the "power" to fill holes left by Westminster's delving.
The obvious question is, where does it end? The Scottish Government has to take money from other areas in order to fill these holes. Effectively handing that money to the British Treasury. There is a limit to the resources that the Scottish Government has for hole filling. But there is no limit imposed on Westminster's power to dig ever deeper.
The entire purpose of the measures is to tighten the British state's stranglehold on Scotland's budget so as to leave the Scottish Government (presumed to be an SNP administration) with only three choices -
- Emulate UK Government policies in Scotland
- Impose their own cuts to public services
- Increase taxation - but under constraints that make it impossible to avoid hitting the poorest
These are NOT powers. They are political and economic weapons being deployed against Scotland.
And don't imagine British Labour are innocent in all of this. They stand ready to work with their Tory allies just as they did during the referendum campaign. Just as with the Bedroom Tax, they will campaign vigorously, with the aid of the media, to force the Scottish Government into these fiscal traps. They will make ever more ridiculous demands for "mitigation" knowing full well that there is no way of funding this.
Make no mistake. The British establishment is out to destroy the SNP, which is regarded as a threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. And they don't care what damage is done to our parliament, our institutions, our economy and our people in the process. They are determined to put Scotland back in its box. And the only truly effective means we have to resist them is to bolster the democratic mandate that we afford the SNP.
The British establishment recognises that the SNP is the de facto political arm of the independence movement and the most potent anti-austerity force in the UK. They know that the SNP is the agency through which the people of Scotland will express their dissent from an anachronistic political union and neo-liberal economic orthodoxies. They will stop at nothing to neutralise the SNP.
The various groups and parties hoping to use the Yes movement as a springboard to electoral success at the expense of the SNP should take heed. For if the British state can destroy a political force such as the people of Scotland have created in the SNP, then these others will represent nothing more than a mopping-up exercise.
Forget the policy agendas. They are meaningless without independence. We must fight with the best weapon at our disposal. Like it or loathe it, that weapon is the SNP.