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Monday 16 January 2012

Mel Sells UK Breakup Hell Not Very Well

As with HS2, it’s not difficult to figure out what line has been dictated to his assembled hackery by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre on the prospect for Scottish independence: this is clearly A Very Bad Thing. So, following Simon Heffer’s pompous rantfest yesterday, readers are now subjected to a tirade by Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips.

The only way to save the Union is to stop throwing cash at the Scots – and treat them as equals” howls Mel, seemingly unaware that her remedy would guarantee not saving the union. Like Heffer, Mel also tells that the Scots cannot have independence unless the rest of the UK says so, but at least she would give the Welsh and Northern Irish a say, unlike the Hefferlump.

England is fed up to the back teeth with the Scots pocketing a whacking subsidy from Westminster while constantly – and offensively – whingeing about England” Mel continues, clearly unhappy at some of the UK enjoying that freedom of speech that she otherwise pretends to champion. She is clearly taxed by what is called the Barnett Formula, which gives Scotland a public spending premium.

Then we get the Euro argument, and it is here that Mel starts to unravel. There would be no compulsion for an independent Scotland to join the Euro: indeed, Ireland maintained monetary union with the UK for well over 50 years after independence from it. But one lesson from the Eurozone which I’ve mentioned recently makes Mel’s argument yet more preposterous.

What the Eurozone does not have – apart from that lender of last resort, and the need to face up to further restructuring – is what the UK calls “regional policy”, in which not just Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but regions of England distant from the South East, benefit from the farming out of Government departments, along with tax breaks and other incentives.

This, whether by a public spending premium – which also helps Wales and Northern Ireland – or otherwise, helps balance out the “pull” of London and the South East. It provides the glue that helps bind together the Union. The lack of this within the Eurozone has hindered countries on its southern periphery. To withdraw the mechanisms in place in the UK would give similar problems.

So, instead of the possibility of southern European countries being at risk of secession from the Eurozone, it would be Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at risk of breaking apart from England. Melanie Phillips is advocating a course of action that would do just this, as well as characteristically trowelling on a generous helping of gratuitous abuse.

Fortunately, someone else is running the country. Best keep it that way.

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