***DISCLAIMER: When I talk about Nationalism, I talk about the political Nationalism that has emerged in Scotland regarding independence and devolution, not cultural Nationalism, because, you know, I love Scotland and all that***
I often hear that Scottish Nationalism has nothing to do with the ‘bloody English’. After all, if a country and its people choose to determine their own destiny, then what has that got to do with anyone else, right? Wrong. Politically charged Nationalism is harming the whole of the UK, not least of all, us ‘bloody English’.
The Barnett Formula has been in operation since the 1970s, and it is what determines how much money Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales get through devolution. It was not meant to last this long; it is out dated and even its creator has admitted so. Each country gets a block grant, with which it can choose how to spend it. This does not cover all areas of spending. For example, reserved areas such as defence and pensions, are not included. However, housing, health and education are all amongst areas where we see devolution alter patterns of spending. And what is so wrong with countries choosing what they spend their money on? I hear you ask. Well, nothing in theory, but in practice, a whole lot.
For the Barnett Formula is becoming increasingly unpopular as it favours certain countries, and disadvantages others. This is not a needs based system, but rather an out dated, politicised one. Evidence demonstrates that whilst Scotland gets funding that exceeds its needs as a country, Wales gets less than it needs. England’s spending, which has no devolution (as of yet), does not meet the needs of its people either. With Sturgeon promising another referendum, coupled with the fact that Scotland could, in theory, economically support itself, Scotland is a political threat to the union. Upsetting Scotland is just not in Westminster’s interests. Wales on the other hand, does not have full legislative powers and could not sustain their level of provision of services if they chose to go independent. To disadvantage Wales is not much of a problem to Westminster. It makes political sense to maintain a system which appeases the country which threatens the UK.
Much of Scottish Nationalism angers me (surprise, surprise). It presumes that you cross a border and the people of Scotland face infinitely bigger struggles than those faced in England, and so they must have more money to solve said issues. The reality is, that Scottish people are gaining the most out of anyone in the Union from the Barnett Formula and the current state of devolution. People in the North of England’s needs have been proven to be higher, yet they receive much less. Devolution, contrary to popular belief, is far from a needs based system.
Much of Scottish Nationalism presumes that disillusionment is determined by the number of miles away from Westminster you are, whereas in reality, people who live a few miles away from the Houses of Parliament in London are just as disillusioned with the government; it is absurd to presume otherwise. I still hate David Cameron just as much living in Edinburgh as I did when I lived in Warrington. I don’t gain a little more respect for tax credit cuts when I get on a train 200 miles closer to London.
Hating English people because you think they are taking money from you is a fallacy hidden behind a facade of Nationalism. In reality, the people of England, especially in the North, have needs greater than much of Scotland. Insulting us on the basis that “English people are all privileged” is again, wrong. And I’d urge you to think carefully about your free University Education compared to my £50,000 of debt. Your free prescriptions compared to the £8.20 I have to spend on every item I need at a pharmacy. This is not a competition. I am not saying that England has it worse than Scotland, but rather that the facade created mainly by the SNP of “English privilege” must be lifted with a bit of perspective.
Scottish Nationalism is my issue, as much as it is anyone else’s in the UK, and I refuse to be told otherwise.