Thursday 8 January 2015

Poor Mr Murphy

Labour’s new branch manager in Scotland has run into a little difficulty with his pledge to use the mansion tax to fund the employment of more Scottish nurses.  But I actually have some sympathy for him.
Admittedly, one part of his promise was asking for trouble – promising to employ 1,000 extra nurses, on top of anything that the SNP promise, was just plain silly.  And the implementation of his promise depends not only on Labour winning the 2015 UK election, but also winning the 2016 Scottish election, a combination of circumstances which looks more than a little unlikely at this juncture.  But let’s ignore those (albeit far from trivial) caveats and get back to the principle.
What has been openly challenged, not just by the Tories but also by his Labour colleagues, is more than just how he would like to see Scotland’s share of the money spent.  They’ve been challenging the whole principle that revenue raised from a new tax which will, because of property values, disproportionately come from one part of the UK, should be redistributed across the UK, giving Scotland a share of the proceeds.
And that’s the issue on which I have some sympathy with Murphy.  He is, after all, merely echoing the unionist line during the recent referendum on independence for Scotland, which was that by remaining part of the union, resources would be pooled.  Unusually for a Labour politician, he’s being entirely consistent in saying that under a devolved system, extra cash will get distributed, and it is for the Scots to decide how to spend their share.
What the reaction has exposed however is how shallow the commitment of other unionists to that principle of pooling really was.  It was just a line which they could use to win a particular vote; they didn’t really expect that they would have to act on it.


G Horton-Jones said...


This clearly is a union where nothing is pooled

maen_tramgwydd said...


Hey, our water is Liverpooled