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Stick or twist?

Just curious right... and bear wae me. If you get bored of the statistics, scroll down slightly to where 'Nat' is highlighted in bold letters.

What is stopping the Northern regions of the UK from having a thriving economy like the South?

What protections are out there for the settlement of devolved powers?

Why is Scotland given 4% of the UK’s budget when our population and contribution to overall wealth are far greater than this?

Why should resources in the North be used to fund Council Tax bills in the South?

If Scotland’s exit from the UK would free up £32bn per year, could this end up mutually beneficial to the North of England?

Why are decisions on policies such as immigration and drugs determined for the whole of the UK when different areas require different strategies?

What measures can we take right now to reduce the democratic deficit within the current UK system?

…I know what some of you are thinking. What’s this ‘Nat’ moaning about now?

And if that is what you’re thinking then I’d politely ask you to delete this tab on yer phone and get yersel to Falkirk.

Don’t bother coming back either. Sick to ma back teeth of this ‘Nat’ patter for anyone seeking a better devolution settlement for Scotland.

It’s mental like. If someone were to question ‘why’ the current balance of power in decision-making isn’t working or doing as well as it should be… you’re instantly deemed a ‘Nat’ or a ‘Remoaner’ or some tut-worthy extremist who should shut up and accept what’s in front of them.

These are not just questions for the independence movement… these are questions proper federalists or, indeed, any union-favouring politicos should also be asking themselves to strengthen the status quo.

Protecting devolution and demanding better financial settlements for each UK nation doesn’t make you a delusional numpty who only cares about the saltire. The illusion that the UK Government is some generous, parental figure to Scots is not only farcical but an absolute riddy anaw.

No sayin the UK Government does noubt for Scotland… but come on. We pay our taxes and pull our weight. Too right we’re counting the pennies coming in. Behave yersel.

If we’re serious about ‘levelling up’ all four nations then why do we spend as much on ‘Defence’ as we do on the whole of Scotland? Why do we give the Home Office as much as we do Wales? Why is Northern Ireland, a country with extra special single market rules with the EU, given as much as Wales with just over half the population size?

Don’t roll yer eyes and say ‘och it’s more complex than that’… bout time we hit the budget with a fresh set of eyes and called it out for what it is. Why isn’t it a simple translation? What’s stopping us from looking at it and going, ‘aye, right enough’?

Economics, inflation, borrowing… I’ll gee you that. These things are probably due more than a ‘how’s at then?’ to explain… but budget spending choices can be called out in a fairly straightforward fashion:

We’re spending 41 billion on a new Dreadnought class of Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines. 41 thousand million.

That’s a boke man.

Speaking of spending… Norway’s as a % of GDP isn’t too dissimilar to the UK’s.

A serious question we need to be asking is why they’re able to spend 4 times as much on public services as Scotland is? (Aye, honestly. 4x)

That is surely to no fault of anything other than the financial settlement we’re handed by decision-makers in the UK.

I’m no sayin money that is given to Scotland could be spent better by our Government. I’d point you towards my article goin Heinz Lentil at the cuts to budgets on mental health and drugs or the many podcast recordings where I’ve ranted about the need for greater accountability of spending.

This is a separate issue for me. Imagine the improvements to local communities, mental health facilities and education services that would be possible with 3x the budget. Even if we were to spend it recklessly.

This may sound like just classic SNP language to paint independence as a land of milk and honey, and, as a result, putting fence-sitters off even going there because of its strong resonance to the conversation on full separation… but if we took the constitutional emotion out of it, we’d simply be asking ourselves questions of truly ‘levelling up’ all corners of the United Kingdom.

I got grief about a similar thing on Twitter recently… I said if Labour and the Lib Dems want a properly functioning federalist state to work then leading figures need to start speaking up against attacks on devolution. A start, as I also said, would be owning up to the UK Government’s part to play in the demise of the Deposit Return Scheme. A scheme implemented in nations right across Europe to get our erse into gear with protecting the planet.

The response was eh… well I’ll just let yous read it:

What about that makes me a ‘Nat’ out of interest? Why is wanting an alternative to centralised, out-of-touch and often corrupt decision-making at Westminster such a detestable way of thinking? Is that no what the majority of us want?

Some of us in a more radical way than others, aye… but poll after poll suggests that around 75% of the population are thinking that same thing.

This is something I often come back to when talking about Scotland… most of us are voting in a similar frame of mind and yet we always find a way to kick lumps out each other.

Bizarre thought but swear we’ve always done it. Could be about anything.

A mind wandering up to the Mousetrap after a Hibs game and getting squared on the door by a fellow fan because he wheedled it out of me that I wasn’t originally from Leith.

After saying I was originally from the Southside he aggressively asked ‘f*ck you jumpin about here for then? Hibs are mare a Lochend team anyway, it’s no even Leith.’

Hibs had won as well. It was a massive game and I had my jubilant mood momentarily flattened by someone else, unbelievably, in a Hibs top, looking for a scrap.

What a throwback to the 15 years prior when folk were territorial about where you mucked about. Risking a kickin if you ventured out a bit. Boltin from park to park avoiding young teams.

Patter now to be fair.

It’s obviously a massively different situation to what’s in the political chamber. Politicians are in relentless sales mode and there’s dosh & power on the line. It’s a high-roller poker game with other people’s dosh, which I’d imagine only adds to the enthusiasm for some. We all like playing with the house’s money, right?

Keeping with the poker analogy, part of the bluff is claiming the ‘moral high ground.’

Dinnae get me wrong I think most politicians are in it for good reasons but leading figures make it awfy hard for most of us to believe it.

Neither team will like me saying this but Labour and the SNP are generally cut from the same cloth… they’re by and large the same folk with a similar political vision besides those seemingly unmoveable battle lines on the independence question. Many people came from Labour to the SNP after the Iraq war, for instance.

Digging deeper battle lines to distinguish themsels isn’t working but. Pride is trumping logic and they've forgotten where poker is played: the casino. A place where everyone's a gambler. A place where the person opposite would rather bluff until they're dry than fold, and you're in the exact same frame of mind. So is the person next to you, and the other.

So much so, you'll often glance over the the best hand: competence. Tangible deliveries. This is what wins pots.

So here’s a thought… would the independence question be quashed if Scotland was handed a better fraction of Norwegian spending levels? Would it be quashed if we were to spend any excess profits from a nationalised green energy company solely in the most deprived areas in Britain? Would it be quashed if Scotland was actually given the promised state of federalism and maximised devolution… the one that Gordon Brown has since apologised for the UK dealing a hand nothing like the one proposed 9 years ago?

Aye, the river card is probably making the bluff look worse... but we now know Brown was holding a 7 and 2. Suited at best.

Bout time we start playing with a better hand... or the Scots might just walk away form the table.


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