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  By Martin Kelly
 
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has come under pressure to clarify whether the Barnett Formula will be scrapped after refusing to guarantee its continuation.
 
Mr Cameron was responding to a letter sent by First Minister Alex Salmond that had asked if the PM could guarantee the funding mechanism would remain in the event of a No vote.

Despite saying a change was "not on the horizon", the Conservative leader refused to confirm if that meant no future change would occur.

Mr Cameron wrote: "Your request for guarantees in perpetuity about the future is quite astonishing; I can no more bind future UK governments than you can bind future Scottish governments.

"What I can say is that reform of the Barnett formula is not on the horizon.

"Indeed, the only immediate threat to Scotland's funding is a vote for independence."

The Prime Minister’s response has been seized on by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who accused him of refusing to give any assurances on what happens in the event of a No vote despite demanding guarantees from the Scottish Government on their post Yes plans.

"David Cameron has finally let the cat out of the bag. He has admitted he is unable to give any guarantees on what will happen to Scotland’s budget in the event of a No vote – despite demanding absolute guarantees on every aspect of a future independent Scotland." said Ms Sturgeon.

Earlier this month concerns over Scotland’s future funding under Westminster were raised after an All-Party Parliamentary Group recommended the Barnett Formula, which is used to calculate funding for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be scrapped.

The Scottish Government has calculated that scrapping the system, which sees Scotland receive a budget based on English public spending, would mean a £4bn cut to the Scottish block grant.

The SNP has highlighted comments from the Prime Minister himself in which he made it clear that the Barnett Formula would soon be scrapped.

Speaking to Wales Online in 2010, Mr Cameron said: "We do think the Barnett formula is coming to the end of its life.

"But the assurance I would give to people is that if you replace the Barnett formula you have to replace it with a needs-based formula ..."

Ms Sturgeon added:
 
"His comments on what is 'on the horizon' for the Barnett formula give the game away completely because it is what is just over the horizon that people should be concerned about, and the PM himself is on record as saying Barnett is 'coming to the end of its life'.

"The Westminster parties are determined to slash Scotland's cash in the event of a No vote, by up to £4 billion a year, and only a Yes vote will prevent that.
 
"Once again David Cameron is entering the discussion on Scotland’s future without having the courage to debate the issues openly – if he is so sure of his arguments he should now agree to a head to head debate with the First Minister."

Calls for the Barnett Formula to be scrapped have been made by all Unionist parties in recent years.

In 2007, former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander gave a speech in which she said the system had to be replaced.

In their 2010 manifesto, the Lib Dems vowed to replace Barnett with a "needs-based formula".  Three months earlier, Chancellor George Osborne pledged "a needs based assessment across the UK".

In 2011, Labour councillor David Sparks claimed the system disadvantaged English councils and called for a review. 

In January 2012 several Conservative MPs called for the Barnett Formula to be scrapped.

Gordon Henderson, the MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, said: "There is increasing resentment within England about this – there is a feeling that we are treated less favourably,"

He added: "The Barnett Formula is well out of date and needs to be scrapped entirely."

In July 2012 Mr Henderson said: "It is simply wrong that English taxpayers are being asked to help subsidise for people living in Scotland a range of services not available in England, including free prescriptions, free hospital parking, free accommodation in care homes and free university tuition fees.

"There is widespread agreement that the Barnett formula has to be scrapped and replaced with a fairer system. Indeed, the House of Lords made it clear a couple of years ago that the formula was not fit for purpose.

"Something has to be done before the justifiable resentment felt by many people about the unfair subsidy English taxpayers are expected to contribute towards superior services north of the border, manifests itself in an anti-Scots backlash."

Comments  

 
# BRL 2013-12-18 23:52
So, we can see the MSM and BBC's strategy is working in England, more so than in Scotland and what a conundrum this poses for the UK establishment.

How do they pour scorn onto the Scots as drainers of the UK benefits system, which they claim is being paid for by English folk and yet still want to keep us cosy in their 'union', without a backlash?

As said before, the English folk will help bring us independence and then they'll see the state they are in because of the incessant drain of cash to London.
 
 
# ds12 2013-12-19 06:28
Of course Alex Salmond knew what the response would be however now every time a unionist wants guarantees about future policy in an independent Scotland he has this to reply with.

"Your request for guarantees in perpetuity about the future is quite astonishing; I can no more bind future UK governments than you can bind future Scottish governments.

Cameron is right of course ,but day after day the YES campaign is asked to do this.
 
 
# Alba4Eva 2013-12-19 07:17
It is getting this understanding across to the people that will be key. I am convinced that there is still a lot of folk who, through reading their brainwashing media and watching the BBC, are not really thinking for themselves yet and repeat the mantra and use language which gives this away.
I do think however, that this will change closer to the vote, when the pressure is on to actually use the grey matter and voters are forced to critically assess the arguments.
 
 
# thejourneyman 2013-12-19 07:50
There's the answer "a needs based system" the UK Gov believes they subsidise the people and can't accept that the people are the nation - hence our need for Independence. Isn't our welfare system needs based? And look how they have treated the most needy in our society. Time for something better and it's not coming if we stay together.
 
 
# hiorta 2013-12-19 07:58
Scotland is coming to a fork in the road as she progresses - one leg leads to permanent unquantifiable shortages, deprivation and increasing poverty as Westminster 'benevolence' will be scaled according to their favourite priorities.

The other leg leads to an open future if Scotland re joins with all the other free nations. The lack of foreign wars, secret dealings, being shackled to the whims of others, shedding the gross expense of providing - and paying for - storage of WMD for another country's ambitions.

Not at all a difficult choice.
 
 
# Leswil 2013-12-19 08:14
I agree that this is quite a clever move by A.Salmond. As others have said, this by Cameron gives the SG the perfect answer to the Unionist shouts for guarantees on, well, everything!

Then, of course when they cry their eyes out that he did not give them what they demand.
The SG can point out, that neither can the UK as shown by D.Cameron.
 
 
# James01 2013-12-19 08:54
One of the first things I do in the morning is check BBC Scotland's website to check the latest independence scare story and they never let me down. Yesterday it was UK treasury claims about a funding gap and today its claims that the pound would be unstable in an independent Scotland. Yet stories such as this or quotes from the Spanish foreign minister blowing apart the veto nonsense are nowhere to be found. Something has to be done, maybe an online petition organised by pro independence websites such as NNS, WOS and Bella. The amount of people who visit these websites numbers in the 10's of thousands, surely we could get a sizeable amount of signatures.
 
 
# admiral 2013-12-19 08:59
Funny - The Times has a headline this morning saying Barnett is safe if Scots vote No.
 
 
# From The Suburbs 2013-12-19 09:13
O/T Labour / Tory Stirling Council further cutting back on Bannockburn event next year to pay for the Armed Forces Day.

archive.is/oKXRE
 
 
# Mac 2013-12-19 09:32
Barnett is gone whatever the outcome of the referendum vote.

More than ever it means;

Vote YES for prosperity.

Vote NO for more austerity.
 
 
# rabb 2013-12-19 09:55
What a tangled web Westminster weaves. Sadly for the good people of England they will be dissapointed after independence when the goldrush of public money diverted from the "Scottish subsidy" fails to materialise.

On the plus side, this will act as a catalyst for change when our friends in England realise that they have been hoodwinked. This is the real worry for Westminster as they will have some serious explaining to do!

This will be a game changer for rUK.
 
 
# theycantbeserious 2013-12-19 10:45
Scotland is a "nation" and not a region. Therefore it is entitled to be funded as a nation. The other so called nations of these islands should "grow a pair" and fight their own corner with Westminster and not cry because this Scottish Government does. And not forgetting that Scotland is their "cash cow" their "golden goose" and this golden goose is tired of being goosed...they take our resources and taxes but don't want to pay for them! They say the truth hurts, I think when the peoples of these islands eventually get the truth, Westminster, MSM and BBC etc will be in a world of PAIN!
 
 
# Jimbo 2013-12-19 11:27
Cameron could no more guarantee the Barnett Formula than he could guarantee the security of Scotland when a Russian aircraft carrier with support fleet showed up in the Moray Firth in December, 2011 - It took 3 days for an RN destroyer to arrive from Portsmouth.

Had it been a belligerent force, Scotland could have been overrun in the time it took the MOD to respond. Stronger together?
 
 
# voice of Reason 2013-12-19 23:43
This post really annoys me, it is factually incorrect and makes a laughing stock of this website. The aircraft carrier had been shadowed for many days before it stopped 30 miles offshore in international waters. If this is what you want Newsnet to become a 'better together' type spin machine, so be it. It will appeal to the converted, but not to the undecideds. A position that is starting to become a common theme. No donation from me until you start thinking about who you are appealing to!
 
 
# xyz 2013-12-20 18:59
Shadowed by fishing vessels you mean?

"the Russians were there without any UK escort. At that stage, the Ministry of Defence was relying on Scottish fishing vessels"
northneuk.com/.../...
 
 
# bringiton 2013-12-20 19:21
The MOD could have asked the Norwegians or Danes to send a vessel (they are NATO allies after all) and are a fraction of the distance to Scotland compared to the South of England.
But,I suppose the British establishment has to maintain it's image and asking a small country like Norway for assistance would have given the right wing English politicians and press a field day.
 
 
# hiorta 2013-12-19 11:29
"Funny - The Times has a headline this morning saying Barnett is safe if Scots vote No." -admiral

They would say that…etc.

Westminster will no longer have the Scottish 'header tank' to top up any cash discrepancies losing 'wriggle room'. Barnett is gone, either way.
 
 
# Angry_Weegie 2013-12-19 18:44
The Scottish Government has calculated that scrapping the system, which sees Scotland receive a budget based on English public spending, would mean a £4bn cut to the Scottish block grant.

Was the £4bn figure not from the Holtham Commission, set up by Rhodri Morgan, the (Labour) Welsh First Minister. I don't think the Scottish Government produced the figure, though it's been quoted a few times.
 
 
# hetty 2013-12-19 21:36
"Something has to be done before the justifiable resentment felt by many people about the unfair subsidy English taxpayers are expected to contribute towards superior services north of the border, manifests itself in an anti-Scots backlash" said Gordon Henderson in 2012.

I suspect that this misleading comment and dangerous kind of threat is still at the core of the mentality being fed to the people of England. Why on earth do they want to keep us I wonder, might it be that they know that the westminster treasury are bleeding Scotland dry?
 
 
# bringiton 2013-12-19 23:53
The attitutude of the ruling classes in England towards their plebs is historic and hasn't changed in many hundreds of years.
Unfortunatley for them,they think they can treat us Scots in a similar way.
Wrong!
 
 
# jdman 2013-12-20 10:44
"The aircraft carrier had been shadowed for many days before it stopped 30 miles offshore in international waters."

Shadowed by what voice of reason? a Nairn fishing boat? because it sure as hell wasn't a Nimrod, Dave decided we didn't need such fripperies as reconnaissance planes, I wonder why? maybe he thinks we don't have any enemies, not one warship in Scottish waters not one, but he still wants to spend billions replacing Trident, what the hell for? we don't have any enemies remember, so he must want it to keep his seat at the big boys table, so we can chuck our weight around, Buenos Aires know those subs can flatten Argentina without even turning a screw out of Faslane but cant unless Washington give Cameron the firing codes, but an attack on our northern flank ? well that's another thing, by the time an attacker makes it to the Scottish border dave'll have his tanks ready to contain them, kinda like the plan to sacrifice Scotland to the nazis in 1942
 

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