Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Welcoming the new Scotland Bill


By and large I am satisfied with the Scotland Bill that should be enacted into law early next year. We need to see how the negotiations over the new fiscal framework pan out, but the Westminster bill is certainly in tune with what was agreed at the Smith Commission talks last year.

Scotland has come a very long way since 1998, and is a far more civilised country to live in than the England that I left just over two years ago. I would hope that this process continues and that under the new powers, Scotland will continue to improve as a country where ordinary people can feel at home. As that happens, the differences between it and the Tory land to the south will become more and more apparent.

Scotland does not need to push for another referendum, as all it needs to do is continue along its current path and the Union will either disappear with a whimper or it will cease to have any relevance to most people and their lives even if legally it continues.

Consider the enormous differences that already exist. Council houses are no longer sold, and the bedroom tax is not applied. Claimants do not have to pay any council tax at all, and 16-18 years old students still get Education Maintenance Allowance. If they go to university then they get a grant, and the fees of all students are paid by the state. Finally, Stamp Duty on house sales has been abolished and replaced by a kind of transaction tax that does over the upper middle class far more than Stamp Duty ever did.

All that and more is under the current dispensation. Now just imagine how things could become when the new powers come into force as we head into 2017 or 2018.

Control of income tax rates and bands will pass to Holyrood, which means that the middle class can be taxed at much higher levels. If Scotland is serious about repairing the economic and social damage that has been done to the country since 1979, then taxing the middle class to start the process of repairing the damage that their votes caused in the first place strikes me as being what the Americans call a no-brainer.

Scotland has come a long way in less than twenty years, which shows that the country does not need to be fully independent to be free of that shower of two-legged cockroaches who run the show in Westminster. It just needs to use the powers that it has, and negotiate new ones. Then set it own course towards making this part of Britain a better place for the majority rather than the few.

What's not to like?

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