On Wednesday the British government finally announced the West Lothian Question commission that they promised over a year ago, yesterday they gave a practical demonstration of why it’s so desperately needed.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have negotiated a £30.2m bonus from the British government because the British government have spent money in London for the British Olympics. No extra money will be spent in the rest of England where local authorities are facing cuts of about a quarter over the next few years.
The money is being handed over because of what is called Barnett Consequentials – the technical name for giving Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a big wedge of cash just because the British government have spent some money in England. Barnett Consequentials are part of the balancing mechanism to ensure Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue to get the same outrageous level of subsidy at England’s expense no matter how much capital investment the British spend in England.
Paying Barnett Consequentials because of the Olympics is a bloody liberty though because they’re not the English Olympics, they’re the British Olympics. England doesn’t have a Olympic team and the British government’s investment in London is for their Olympics, not for London or for England. Some of the facilities that are being built for the Olympics are going to be relocated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and some of the events are even being held in those countries. They will “benefit” from the British Olympics as much as the rest of England.
The British government shouldn’t have paid any Barnett money to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the British Olympics but there was nobody at the meeting representing English interests. As a consequence (excuse the pun), £30.2m of English taxpayers’ money is going to be handed over to the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish for no other reason than because the British spent some money in England for their Olympic vanity project. This has only happened because there is no English government to represent English interests, saying “no, this is your Olympic games, we’re not paying your bribes”.
There are no details as yet on who will be on the West Lothian Commission, what they will consider and whether an English Parliament will be ruled out immediately or when they report in 2013.