The 7pm Edinburgh train was crowded when it pulled out of Kings Cross on Friday. But the dining car wasn’t, so dinner became the only elegant solution. I like dinner on the train because the company of strangers usually generates some interesting chat and the food’s remarkably good.
My dinner companion for the evening worked his way through the FT and the Wall Street Journal before the food came and the conversation commenced. I’m always interested in the views of English about the Scottish question, so when it came up over coffee I was suprised by the alacrity with which the woman at the other table jumped in – “We English subsidise you Scots. You’ve got free personal care and your students don’t have to pay – it’s our money that makes this possible. etc etc.”
Unexpectedly my dinner companion jumps in and points out that for very many years Scotland has been subsidising England through oil revenues. It transpires he worked in the oil industry. And I’m always happy to point out the rubbish in GERS like the regressive nature of the defence poll tax which means that defence (and other non geographically specific UK expenditure) are allocated on a pro-rata basis. This means a highland granny pays the same as a stockbroker in Surbiton. Non specific UK expenditure should be allocated on the basis of income tax receipts – SURELY. Oh and let’s not forget the £2.9 billion of depreciation and “accounting adjustments” that we get stuck for even though they have nothing to do with how a Scotland would thrive going forwards.
But let’s not get bogged down with the detail. Mrs. England has been sold the lie that Scots are a bunch of subsidy junkies who are draining the English exchequer. And, of course she’s right. So I agree vociferously and point out that Scots have no control over the constitutional arrangement so if she want to get rid of the Scots she needs to take it up at Westminster. And, of course that I’d welcome any support that she can give as we share a common desire for Scotland and England to be Independent.
Independence – common ground for everyone! – The oil executive was Irish.