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Scottish Independence and Scotland's Future
Ed Means Column
More mishandling of Scotland’s finances by the UK government

My preceding Electric Scotland column gave a specific example of how the UK government plans to withhold EU cash that was supposed to go to Scottish farmers. The situation has heated up since then.

According to Newsnet Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead told the Scottish Parliament that almost a quarter of a billion euros intended for Scottish farmers was to be withheld by the UK Government.

The UK government’s decision means that an estimated €223 million of extra EU cash, known as the convergence uplift, would be lost to Scotland’s rural community. The money, an accumulation of payments between 2014 and 2020, is intended as compensation for Farmers in Scotland who have the lowest per hectare payments in Europe.

An angry Mr Lochhead told Holyrood MSPs the decision was "indefensible" and compared it to a similar refusal to compensate Scottish sheep farmers hit by the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

"I thought former DEFRA Minister Hilary Benn's decision not to compensate sheep farmers for foot-and-mouth was terrible, but this is worse, said Mr Lochhead. He added, "Were it not for Scotland, the rest of the UK would get nothing extra - and therefore it is only right and proper that the UK's convergence uplift should come to Scotland."

Mr Lochhead also revealed that had Scotland been independent the EU payment Scottish farmers would have been in line to receive would not have been 230 million euros, but a staggering one billion euros.

More will be heard about this blatant larceny by the UK government. A Scottish Member of the European Parliament has raised this issue there, but nothing is likely to happen because the EU Parliament is widely regarded as a toothless joke.

Blatant insults to Scotland in the Economist – Again

On the next page is the cover of the Economist magazine’s 14 April 2012 special issue on Scotland. It was quickly replaced with a totally bland cover, but not before enough expat Scots had seen the original one and spread the word. Besides the cover being grossly insulting to all Scots, not just those in favour of independence, the content was a wildly inaccurate hatchet job.

The latest Economist (9 November 2013 included a ‘Special Report: BRITAIN’. The ‘Devolution’ section on pages 12 -13 contains the following paragraph:

What turns this [form of devolution] into a problem is that all three [Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland] receive block grants from Westminster. This is not offensive in itself: most English regions too, are net recipients of taxpayers’ money. But it becomes harder to tolerate if the devolved administrations are seen to be using English cash to avoid painful reforms.

This was either a deliberate lie or a demonstration of the Economist’s ignorance of Scotland’s finances: even the UK government now concedes that Scots pay more UK taxes per head than the folk in the rest of the UK. In other words, Scotland subsidises the rest of the United Kingdom, not the other way around.

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