It's not breaking up, it's broken. The UK is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired. It's a memory, bereft of relevance. It rests in peace. If it wasn't being propped up by circumstance it would be filling history books. It's governmental processes have ceased. The UK is an ex-country.
The Treaty of Union which created the United Kingdom in 1707 will soon be no more. An independent Scotland is inevitable.
For decades, centuries really, there has been a portrayal of Scotland and the Scottish people as poor, starving, sycophants who are mercifully granted funding from London and should be grateful for every penny of English charity they receive.
The Exchequer has generally not produced complete separate economic figures for Scotland, except for gathering the minimal data required to run the Barnett formula, the scheme by which Scotland is given an allowance from Westminster. At the very least, they have not released such information publicly. Rather, they have given figures for the whole of the UK, including Scotland.
As a result, without factual basis, it has long been argued that the Scots are "Subsidy Junkies."
A Daily Mail headline ran:
A deeply divided kingdom: Scots each get £1,600 more state cash a year spent on them than the EnglishA Tory Peer recently said of the Scots:
Free Scottish services cost English families £420 a year
Scots income tax would rise 11[%] to pay it themselves
The English have had enough of subsidising Scotland, only to be treated with discourtesy. The English are fed up because they have granted Scotland a pretty fair devolution with quite a lot of money from England and they just come back wanting more. A deal was done back in the 1700s which was of great benefit to Scotland. The Blair government did another deal and now they’re not happy with that. I suppose I am saying, beware Scotland, a majority of the English think you should get independence, which would not be very good news economically for you."You Scots are living off of our charity, and should be grateful that we're not kicking you out!"
My practical view is that it would be a nightmare to break up the UK, incurring huge costs and posing all sorts of difficult questions. Even if Scotland deserves to be kicked out of the Union, I am opposed in principle.
The truth is very, very different. According to the first figures showing the breakdown between spending in Scotland and the rest of the UK the following figures emerge:
A total of £53 Billlion was raised in Scotland in the 2010/11 fiscal year.
A total of £30 Billion was returned to the Scottish government in the same year.
A further £5 billion was raised by the Scots themselves in taxes.
Figures for all previous years on record show a similar multi-billion pound disparity in the amount of money raised in Scotland and the amount of money provided to the representatives of the Scottish People.
Who subsidizes whom, now?
Including the £5 billion raised by the Scots themselves, that's a £17 billion deficit, or about £3500 for every man woman and child in Scotland, raised in Scotland, that the Scottish Government doesn't see a penny of.
This has been going on for decades. But it isn't the release of this data that has killed the United Kingdom, oh no. What will kill the UK is that despite this obvious injustice, Cameron is planning to cut the Scottish budget even further.
The question of Independence for Scots has always boiled down to a question of economics. "Will the people of Scotland be better off on their own?" Now that we finally have the numbers showing the economics of the Treaty of Union, the answer is clearly "yes."
According to Ipsos/Mori, the fundamental question about whether to support independence or not is an Economic one.
Knowing what we know about what the English think of the Scots (that they're subsidy junkies), and knowing that the UK is in the midst of the most savage spending cuts since Thatcher, it is politically impossible that this injustice will be addressed any time before the referendum on Independence.
Follow me over the jump for the figures in detail.
The big question that I can't answer is "how much will the Tories cut from Scotland." The budget fight is going on right now is for Cameron's plan of 81 billion in cuts over four years. This is the number I've heard quoted while listening to the BBC.
If the cuts were distributed fairly in Scotland, it would result in £7 billion in cuts for Scotland. Being excruciatingly specific about what I mean by fair: it would be fair if the exact amount of money cut from the Scottish Government was equal to the percentage of the overall cuts package which equals Scotland's share of the population. (Ow, my readability hurts after that sentence. Don't worry, that's the worst part of this article.)
Getting down to brass tacks, the issue of the Scottish budget is incredibly complicated, but I'll try and break things down. (And I'll do a better job than I did with that last sentence.)
Scotland is funded in two ways. First, there is a limited allowance granted to the Scottish Government by the UK parliament. That amount has been around £30 billion , with the Scots raising another 5 billion themselves. Then, the government spends about £17 billion on behalf of Scotland. On Behalf of Scotland, but not necessarily in Scotland. This figure includes Scotland's share of things like the debts being run up by the rest of the UK (Scotland has actually been running surpluses for almost every year we have on record according to GERS) the war in Iraq, the London Olympics, Scotland's share of military bases outside of Scotland, Scotland's share of subsidies for the Falklands, that sort of thing.
An important point: because of a lack of oversight by the Scottish Parliament over the expenditures made by the UK parliament, there's no way to know how much of what's being spent by the UK government on behalf of Scotland is actually spent in Scotland. As I've already illustrated, much of it isn't.
Meanwhile, with an ever shrinking budget, the Scottish Government has managed to maintain and expand public sector services, including free college education fees, free prescriptions, and free long term care for the elderly, things which now cost hefty fees in the rest of the UK. If they were given access to the £17 billion spent (not necessarily in Scotland, and probably outside of it) on their behalf, they could do even more.
Scotland's equal share (by population) of the proposed £81 billion cuts package would be £7 billion over four years.
So that £17 billion per year (not necessarily spent in Scotland) over which the Scots have no control? In the same time period, that will grow from £68 billion over four years to just over £75 billion because of cuts to the Scottish Government. The amount of money given to the Scottish Government will drop, but the amount of money raised in Scotland will not.
That money, £75 billion, means that the total subsidy from Scotland to England under Tory Cuts might be as high as £15000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland. That's the equivalent of $24,240. [Edit, to clarify, these figures are over the course of four years, as part of the package of Tory cuts.]
Cameron's cuts are beginning to affect Scotland now. In other news, this release of this data may as well be the first step in the official campaign for Scottish independence ahead of the 2014 referendum.
This information is going to be broken down and shown to the people of Scotland over, and over, and over again over the next two years. With these facts backing up the nationalists, there may be no effective unionist defense. There's no way to spin these numbers in favor of the Union.
Other fun facts revealed by the GERS:UK Total public sector revenue was £589 billion. Total government Expenditure was £711 billion. There is a .3% deficit between money raised in Scotland, and money spent in Scotland. The amount of money spent on England that should have, proportionally, been spent on Scotland?
While the UK was running massive deficits, the Scottish Government was running significant surpluses until 2009.
When you discount Scottish Oil, the total revenue raised in Scotland is still £45 billion, much higher than the £30 billion allowance granted by Westminster. It's percentage of the total UK GDP is still higher than it's percentage of population. That means: even without Oil, Scotland produces more per person than the rest of the UK, making it one of the richest parts of the country in terms of production.
Scottish Government expenditures are only 15% of its total GDP without oil. It's expenditures fall to only 7.5% of GDP when oil revenue is considered.
Quoting the GERS report's conclusions:
The total amount SPENT by the Scottish Government, Scottish Local Councils, and "on behalf" of the Scottish government by Westminster, "was £63.8 billion. This is equivalent to 9.3 per cent of total UK public sector expenditure."
The total amount of revenue RAISED by the Scottish Government, Scottish Local Councils, and by the UK Government in Scotland, including Scottish Oil was "£53.1 billion, 9.6 per cent of UK total public sector revenue."
That's and additional £8.4 billion, on top of the £7 billion in expected cuts over the next four years. Defecits are being racked up in Scotland's name, and Scots aren't even getting the full benefit of the reckless Cut-Taxes-And-Still-Spend Tory party called austerity.
The fact is that Scotland has been brutally used by the exchequer for years now. All the while lies have been told to the Scottish people about their wealth. Meanwhile the impoverished Glasgow is the most destitute place in all of Europe.
Scotland is a wealthy country with a GDP of over £144 billion for a population of 5 million, yet it's people are some of the worst off in the whole of Europe.
If this message is effectively communicated to the Scottish people, there's very little likelihood that the UK survives in tact. This is bad news for the Unionist parties. The only tactic they had left was fear mongering over economics. These facts completely destroy the effectiveness of that tactic.
Those who favor independence, The SNP, the Greens, and the SSP, have been consistent in using the language of hope in their campaigning. When combining that hope for a better future with these clear economic facts, I don't think the Union stands a chance.
There are two things which might save the United Kingdom. First, David Cameron should recognize the monetary disparity between what is raised in Scotland and what is spent in Scotland and increase Scotland's budget to it's appropriate share of UK expenditure, rather than cutting it.
Second, those within the English establishment who have been haughtily deriding the Scots for not showing proper gratitude for what they are given, who have been consistently insulting when they speak of Scottish culture and languages, must now recognize that their ostentatious way of life is in fact being subsidized by Scotland. They must now show Scotland and the Scottish people the same gratitude which they have themselves been demanding. A public apology would be a good first start.
These things might, and I again stress might, save the United Kingdom.
As for the likelihood of these things occurring, it is exponentially more likely that Y Brenin Arthur will return from the dead tomorrow to guarantee the independence of Cymru.
Unless the SNP manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Treaty of Union will be dissolved, and Scotland will take its rightful place as an independent nation.
The full GERS data, compiled by a nonpartisan group working for the Scottish Government, and based on Data gathered by the UK Exchequer, is here.
The first news source to confirm what I've written here is the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, the article isn't available online, because the WSJ still thinks the Internet is a passing fad. Here's a Scottish Herald article talking about the WSJ article, because they can't be bothered to do any original reporting on a story which contradicts their "independence=doom" narrative.