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Auld Lang Syne

The English/Scottish affair goes back many a year to the extent that the wood is completely obscured by the trees. As a descendent of a Scottish Royal Marine I declare my hand as a lover of the land and many of the people North of the English border. Our relationship with Scotland is complex but should not be devalued and I suspect Mr Salmond is pandering to the gallery. For every William Wallace devotee living an unrealistic dream you'll find three times the number who will vote pragmatically. Let's not even begin to understand the issues of the armed forces, currency etc.

If a devolved and independent Scotland became real the apportioning of asset and liabilities would take some heavy duty thinking. The UK National Debt would be shared accordingly, so Scotland's 5.2m people would assume a percentage of the £940bn owed by UK inc, and the bail out to the tune (played on bagpipes) of £70bn of the two big Scottish banks RBS and HBOS would need to be factored in. On the other hand the revenues from the North Sea gas and oil revenues are mostly in Scottish territorial waters and the lion share of revenue will go to their coffers but let none of us doubt that the peak of production and revenue opportunity was some time ago and the revenues are declining.

The Scottish Government has, thanks to the useless Barnett formula, been able to receive an additional £1,624 per head in public spending than its English counterpart. Without the subsidy from Westminster would Scotland be able to continue this level of support? London is a net contributor to the rest of England and England a net contributor to Scotland. Even Mr Barnett has said his formula should be scrapped.

Perhaps now is the time for Scotland to assume greater decision powers but that works both ways and Scottish MP's could be banned from participation in English affairs at Westminster (damn, there was a silver lining, Gordon Brown would have been bumped long ago). Along with the greater political powers should come more fiscal responsibility and it will be interesting to see how Salmond plays this. Perhaps the original James Watsons 1711 version plagiarised by Robbie Burns Auld Lang Syne says it all :

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
on Old long syne.

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