Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Time Labour paid the bills

With the splash from Gordon Brown's relaunch and subsequent sinking with little trace still lapping in the shallow end of politics, I want to turn to an issue of general honesty - Whitehall paying the outstanding money it owes Scotland.

I know that this is Government money (or, more correctly, taxpayer money), but it's the Labour party that has its hands on the levers of power in Whitehall at the moment, Labour that has its sweaty little paws on the purse strings.

When you take into account Labour's apparent lack of care in spending our money (various IT projects, the mess made with Swan Hunter, half a billion on a bit of a tramline in Edinburgh, the odd penny on renewing nuclear weapons, £57m in benefits paid to dead people in 2006, £500m a year wasted on PPP/PFI, and so on) and its record of massaging funding into its own coffers (cash for peerages, laundering a few quid from a children's' charity, David Abrahams, Manchester Airports Group, Cardiff 2008 and so on), I think we should be concerned about the chances of Labour dealing equitably with Scotland.

How do they rob us? Let me count the ways (with apologies to Bill):

OIL - just thought I'd remind you. The oil revenues are a separate issue, but worth remembering.

Anyway, on to the meat (or the tofu or quorn if you're that way inclined):

Attendance Allowance - £20 million in 2001, add inflation, changes in policy north and south of the border (adjustments in line with the Statement of Funding Policy, of course) and it must be worth around £37m per year now (I know I'm letting them off lightly, but go with me here).

Police and Firefighter Pensions - another £32m skimmed out of us (per annum again, of course).
Council Tax Benefit - £400m under threat because the Scottish Government dares to want to change something to create a Scottish solution to a Scottish problem (and that's another annual payment).

Foot and Mouth Compensation - £8.1m disappearing like Wee Willie Winkie (one-off).

Renewables Fund - that'll be £120m, my dear (you'll need a West Country accent).

Games Legacy - £150m is what it's cost Scotland in lost lottery funding for the London Olympics.

National Grid - unquantified additional costs

Court Fines - £8 million

Fees and Fines from the Lyon Court - Several guineas, one would think.

That's £278.1 million in straight-up one-off payments being withheld.
Plus £477 million annually.
Plus some not quantified there.

Is there more? I think there might be. I haven't had a proper look yet.

All that money being withheld from Scotland by - Alasdair Darling - and previously withheld by - Gordon Brown. These two are clearly quite willing to see their own constituents cutting the unclean end of the stick. Shameful.

Labour continues to insist that it's listening to us. Well, here's the message:

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