Budget Battle

The annual battle between the Scottish and UK Governments on Budget Day is now well underway.

Is it a good budget for Scotland? Will it mean more cuts? What are the Barnett consequentials? Is it a real terms increase? How much is for resource or capital?

Expect a blizzard of contradictory claims, financial jargon and opaque figures to support the claims of either side.

It’s enough to make you reach for the remote control and switch over to ‘I’m a Celebrity’ although thanks to Kez even that now won’t be a complete break from Scottish politics!

From my point of view, it’s worth noting two things from the Budget.

The day we went to the polls in 2014, the leaders of the Yes campaign made clear what the consequences of the vote would be.

One, if we voted No, the NHS would be privatised. Secondly, if we voted Yes then a new oil boom would fund the lavish spending promises made during their campaign – higher pensions, better childcare and more generous social security.

Well, we did vote No and, as we insisted at the time, the Scottish NHS is no nearer to being privatised today than it has ever been. In fact, there is a debate about what level of extra funds it will get from the Budget.

It was a pernicious lie by a desperate campaign which they have never apologised for and should never be allowed to forget.

Of course, the second oil boom never materialised, which was sadly predictable. In fact, the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), as part of its budget report has further revised down oil and gas revenues and do not forecast them to rise above £700 million at any point over the next five years, nowhere near the billions we were promised.

Rather than a land of milk and honey, it would have had to have been tax rises and eye-watering cuts.

On the NHS and the oil boom, the nationalists proved why they can never be trusted with Scotland’s future.

A good budget for Scotland? Who knows, but it’s certainly a better one than we would have endured if we had left the UK. And because we voted to stay, our NHS is protected from the deep cuts it would have faced under independence.

Today was another reminder that we were right to choose to stay in the UK.