Thursday, 4 December 2014

St George Slaughters the Poor (Again)

The most significant number in yesterday's Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne was "£13.6 billion."

This is the amount he intends to cut out of the UK economy if the Tories are reelected in 2015. He means to take all of this in 2015-6. 

This is a typical political strategy; get yourself elected on populist policies ('Google Tax!', '£15m to repair church roofs!') and then suck out of the economy sixty times more than you won from Google, Starbucks and Amazon.

These cuts* will affect Scotland disproportionally. They will be targeted on welfare and thus at Scotland's higher proportion of poor people; welfare spend is expected to be at least '... £1 billion a year lower than forecast at the Budget...' said George yesterday. And the cuts will mean big reductions in staff numbers for Civil Service jobs.  Because the Scottish economy depends more than the English on public sector jobs, we will be harder hit.


There is one other announcement that did not hit the headlines. Our George, he who would not countenance Scotland using its own oil wealth, has created a '...Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England so that the shale gas resources of the North are used to invest in the future of the North.'  

Politically this is the equivalent of a childish smack in the face for the SNP; just because the SNP proposed a similar Sovereign Wealth Fund for Scotland it can't have it. Ya boo to you. Culturally, it confirms what we already knew; Scotland is simply a colony of England, whose resources are to be sucked out of her in order to prop up the English Exchequer. 

But its real impact is social. Money from oil and gas licenses could be used in Scotland to help the poor and to develop our economy. That's OK for Yorkshire, but not for Scotland.

One day, St George, the Dragon will bite you back.

*There is more on the cuts in a Financial Times analysis here:  This uses OBR figures from, er, page 149 of their report (so not what you'd call the headlines...) to show that spending on local authorities, transport and other areas important to Scotland will have to fall from £147bn in 2014/15 to £86bn in 2019/20 to meet the Government's own targets. A lot, lot more than they will earn from taxing Google et al...

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