No further comment, but to quote Alex Massie in obvious frustration with an elite London commentariat that seems to understand less and less of how the wider country works…
We’ve just had two years of intensive constitutional politics. Time enough, you’d think, for even London-based politicians and commentators to work out how British politics actually works. But if you think that you’d be wrong. Very wrong.
Consider out old friend the Barnett Formula. Antiquated and not entirely fit for purpose – it being a 1970s convenience that was itself an updated version of the 1880s Goschen Formula – but hardly a mystery or a terribly complicated piece of financial wizardry. And yet it seems that almost no-one in the Westminster village actually understands how Barnett works.
Yesterday, you see, Jim Murphy promised that he would use Scotland’s share of the proceeds from Labour’s so-called Mansion Tax to hire an extra 1,000 nurses north of the Border. Actually, daftly, he promised to hire 1,000 more nurses than any number of nurses hired by the SNP. If the SNP were to promise 5,000 Labour would promise 6,000 even if there was no need for that many nurses. But, hey, it’s an election so, like, whatever. We cannot afford a nurses gap.
It is also, of course, a ridiculous promise since it can only be made good if Labour forms the next government at Westminster and at Holyrood. That is, Labour must win across the UK in 2015 and in Scotland in 2016 for any of this to matter at all. Good luck with that.
Nevertheless, the reaction from politicians and pundits in London has been as unhinged as it has been ignorant. The Telegraph screams Labour will tax middle-class homeowners in England to fund NHS in Scotland while Boris Johnson whines that Labour is “mugging Londoners to win votes in Scotland”.
Let us pause for a moment to reflect on the Telegraph’s quaint belief that owning one of the 100,000 most expensive properties in Britain places the poor beleaguered homeowner squarely in the middle-class. Let that sink in for a moment.
As for Boris, he might as well have complained that, if Labour win the elections, wealthy Londoners will be taxed to pay for the NHS in Sunderland, Wigan and Carlisle. Of course, London based objections to funding services in other parts of the UK are just the same as SNP complaints that revenue from Scotland subsidises spending in other parts of the UK. (Meanwhile the poor Welsh are routinely ignored despite, on the whole, receiving the worst deal of all.)