Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Myths of Fiscal and Political Autonomy

I have decided to make a few blogs (hopefully) about dispelling the myths around devolved economics. Since the SNP victory we may well have as good a chance as we get in a while to shout for a more federalised union and more devolution of power. However when you start to discuss autonomy it inevitably turns into amateur economist’s hour. Hopefully this will sort out unproven claims (both pro and con). As such I wanted to attempt to clear up a few things I regards as misconceptions.

1) You can’t afford devolution/ I don’t see how we can afford it

This is a common argument which confuses political autonomy with fiscal autonomy.
As things currently stand All devolved government have block funding from Westminster. In the case of Scotland this equates to approximately £8 billion a year. As such it I Impossible to go over that limit, you can run out of money but you cannot go into debt. This is a critical point. It is like having a bank account without an overdraft.

Even if Cornwall had solely political autonomy, i.e. the ability to choose how the block grant is spent, but not the power to raise it itself, it would not be possible for it go into debt. Looking at it further you may have noticed, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have devolved government and none of them have gone into debt, their countries have not descended insolvency either currently or in past financial cycles. The financial problems each nation faces comes as a results of UK wide Westminster government policy and the global financial melt down.

If Cornwall were to gain political autonomy the sky would not fall in just like it hasn’t due to devolved government anywhere else in the UK.

I will end on the point that most people who assert “I don’t see how we can afford devolution” are in fact saying “I don’t understand how government funding works” which is fair enough most people don’t either but the reason this statement is made is that people are understandably scared of issues which they have no real knowledge. If I didn’t understand it I wouldn’t be inclined to go for it either.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

What is the new divide ?

As we progress

Post AV and post local and national elections, I feel ( and this is a personal feeling) that the real division that is emerging in politics is not so much a left right issue, but more a centralist Vs federalist issue.

We all know about the SNP and the positive ( and radical ) campaign and also in the last 24 hours Sinn Fein (and the DUP) have increased their votes in local council elections (and in the NI assembly) and the other parties has floundered. Is the issue now that the people are more concerned that they have no real imput into politics and feel disenfranchised ? is this a reflection that the union is too remote and dare I say it uninterested in the affairs of the Celtic fringes.

Everything out of Westminster has been reactive not proactive ! Unionism can only continue as devolutionist unionism, and not as a centralist unionism. I feel this is a critical point. Most unionist parties are default centralist parties and totally fail to engage in the fact that we have devolved nations in the UK. The Scottish Labour party campaign focused on UK issues not Scottish issues.

Until this is resolved I predict ( and it remains to be seen) that the unionist parties will decline until they start to realise that the game has shifted and adapt to it.

However its all speculation,

We live in interesting times.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Where Now for Scotland ?

Firstly ,

Congrats to the SNP and the people in Scotland on electing a government that is willing to take change as an agenda seriously. It was quite a feeling to see the 65th seat come in and realise that change can come. All the more pleasing that the Scottish government was designed by the Labour party to eliminate the the SNP, and the voting system design to prevent any majority being formed. The SNP broke all the rules. It showed that all the machinations of the labour party are no match for the will of the people.

Secondly, its shows there are still many lessons to be learned in the other Celtic nations on "how to do it" but we all keep the faith that its possible and now hopefully we have a route map. The road to fiscal federalism will be long but it now looks like we know more confidently which way to steer the ship.

oll a'n gwella