Newsnet Main Articles

By Andrew Barr
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said UK Government ministers have been “very receptive” to his demands for a devo-max settlement for London.
The outspoken Tory figure said that London should no longer be a “cash cow” for other regions of the UK and argued that the city’s taxes should be kept and spent locally.

Whilst there is now vocal Conservative support for devo-max in London, the party remains largely opposed to the same rights being granted to Scotland.

Last year, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson insisted upon a “line in the sand” for devolution in Scotland.  However, these new Conservative proposals for devo-max in London would grant the city with powers that far exceed the current Scottish settlement.

The proposals for granting more self-determination to a single city than to a nation such as Scotland raise many difficult questions about the nature of the British establishment.

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said: “Boris Johnson has set the cat amongst the pigeons with his plans for devo-max for London.  The Tories now need to explain why they are saying ‘yes’ to powers for London and ‘no’ to powers for Scotland.

“Mayor Johnson’s manifesto for London adds to the increasingly confused position of the Tories in Scotland.  It’s no wonder the Tories could not even agree on a submission to their own government’s consultation on the referendum – leaving them the only party not to make a submission.

“Boris Johnson’s arguments for London are even stronger for Scotland – with the latest Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland figures (GERS) showing that, last year alone, Scotland was in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole to the tune of nearly £2.7 billion – or £510 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.”

Mayor Johnson’s support for keeping London’s finances in the city also seems to contradict Unionist policy for the UK Treasury to directly receive every penny generated from Scotland’s vast natural resources.

Mr Johnson said: “London is the powerhouse of the UK economy and it is time to look at formally recognising that and make sure hard-pressed and hard-working Londoners get the benefit of their contribution.”

There is a possibility that a devo-max settlement for London would increase support for devolution in other parts of England.  This would go some way to defend left-leaning regions such as the North from right-wing central government policy.

In February, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told a Liverpool audience how England’s regions could benefit from Scotland regaining its independence.  He said independence would lead to a “rethinking of the structures of the rest of the UK” and end to London-centric British politics.

The First Minister added: “It would be for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to decide how this came about, but the end result would surely reflect the needs of the English regions better than the current arrangements.”


2012-04-04 23:07

When Boris is involved thinking doesn’t come into it.
2012-04-04 23:24

April fool!
Hing em high
2012-04-04 23:26

Boris is in cloudcuckooland  . Have to love his rants though!

London the ultimate subsidy junky!
2012-04-04 23:38

This must be one of the most ridiculous notions I have ever came across. London is the powerhouse of the UK economy because by its very nature, it is a huge city with a very high population density. The amount of wealth that has been spent by successive UK governments has ensured this along with the extreme centralisation of businesses and regeneration projects.

For any economic model of any nation the wealthy should subsidise the poor in order to create equality. Areas with low density will never be as productive and will always need a greater amount of expenditure to offer the same quality of public services in comparison to areas of high density. This is why the extremely low density of Scotland needs much more expenditure per capita than England (6x people per km2)to offer the same quality of public services.

Scotland doesn’t want devo max just because it would make us wealthy but because we are a nation that seeks financially responsibility. These are the powers that any nation seeks. Edinburgh is the wealthiest city on these islands on a per capita basis. Should Edinburgh seek devo max as part of an independent Scotland. Of course not. The wealth should be spread out on a needs basis and edinburgh should be happy that it can help the citizens of Scotland.

I’m actually quite in favour of federalism models but not for capital cities and not for an independent Scotland where the population is small enough for a single government to work efficiently and for all the people within her borders.

This is just a cynical ploy to make London richer and the rest of us poorer.
Marga B
2012-04-04 23:52

London is apparently no. 3 of 6 tax havens within Europe’s boundaries. Surely they have access to more than enough cash, though judging from the enormous so-called “Olympic” expenditure you’d never think so.
2012-04-05 00:34

I suspect that Boris doesn’t really understand the “devo-max” concept.

Under “devo max” the operations of companies would be taxed for the “region” in which that activity took place, not (as with current UK data) credited to where the HQ happens to be. Also the tax take from UK Government employees based in London is not “London’s money”. That revenue would need to be redistributed to the various “UK regions”.

Additionally, London would require to fund all its own infrastructure, and the huge costs incurred by concentrating so many people into such a small area. For example, they would have to fund the entire costs of Crossrail, their sewerage scheme etc themselves.

If oil is thought to be too volatile a revenue source to fund Scotland under devo max or independence, then Boris really needs to think about the sustainability of London’s dependence on the financial sector.

Most of the activities that brought Northern rock, HBOS and RBS to their knees took place in London. Could London have borne the cost, or would it have been bankrupted?
2012-04-05 07:50

“would require to fund all its own infrastructure”. Nah, UK government would just classify it, as they do now, as a UK wide investment. Same as for National institutions, galleries, etc.
G. P. Walrus
2012-04-05 08:06

It would be possible for London HQs to levy “management charges” on branches thus reducing their profits to almost zero and moving profit to a London, leaving everyone else with zilch. Without sovereign control of tax we would be powerless to stop this. Such legislation and action would of course be a declaration of total economic war by London on the rest of the UK.

2012-04-05 01:17

Just think how much money we could charge them for water and agree.
Saltire Groppenslosh
2012-04-05 01:34

Go for it Boris! Forget Devo Max – full independence is the way.

Lets hear it for Boris.
2012-04-05 07:52

Why not? If the UK government no longer gets income from the banks they no longer have an incentive to pander to the bankers. Finally there could be some decent legislation limiting their activities to the realm of the useful. Remember, London, unlike Scotland, is subject to English law. London also already gets far greater expenditure per head than any other region, including Northern Ireland. Provided that companies HQed in London spread their taxes in proportion to their activities in the rest of the UK, I don’t see the problem 😉
Robert Louis
2012-04-05 09:43

Bullingdon boy Boris shouldn’t seek devo max, he should seek full independence, so Scots taxpayers no longer subsidise the Wembley stadium or crossrail or the Thames flood barrier or the Heathrow rail link, or the redevelopment of St.Pancras, or indeed the London Olympics.

Yes, I’m with Boris on this one, fiscal autonomy for London, and independence for Scotland. Nice!
J Wil
2012-04-05 10:41

Don’t forget the passport controls to get in and out of the place. Or better still, just show your bank balance. Scotland should demand a refund for the cost of the M25.

J Wil
2012-04-05 10:37

The ‘cash cow’ he talks about is Scotland and the other parts of Britian which are compelled to throw money at London because it is the capital. London is a dead weight around the neck of the rest of the UK. A black hole which has the effect of pulling everything towards and distorting everything around it.

Newsnight’s discussion with the mayoral contenders last night was abysmal. Not sure how anyone watching it could have made head or tail of the rabble.
2012-04-05 11:17

Go for it Boris – Get on yir ain can and pay for the lot – but don’t forget you pay for 100% ownership of all the buildings, roads, stadia and infrastructure that we Scots have been forced to pour into your empire.

Oh and by the way – the economy is a really, really good bedrock to base all of your future on – I don’t think!
2012-04-05 12:09

This is really stupid.

I mean, what next? Devo-max for villages? What about people, I want devomax for me, all the tax I raise I want spent on me.

This is a new problem being created for devomax, (which I don’t want anyway.) All these new levels and institutions at/on which it could be deployed.

I think Boris is being his usual mischevious scamp self.
2012-04-05 12:24

London Olympics – check this out:…/…
2012-04-05 12:47

That is actually quite scary and just shows the differences in aspiration between Westminster and I’d say not just Scotland but the rest of the UK as a whole.

I’m reading a book at the moment by Jon Ronson called The Psychopath Test, in it he describes the Robert Hare Psychopathy test and how its used to identify psychopaths in society.

I know Psychopathy is a psychiatric human thing but google it and apply the measures to Westminster, its very interesting indeed and even if an institution can’t really be psychopathic, if the end result is the same then you have to ask: why not?

(Here’s a quick overview:

Factor 1: Personality “Aggressive narcissism”

Glibness/superficial charm
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Pathological lying
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
Callousness; lack of empathy
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Factor 2: Case history “Socially deviant lifestyle”.

Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral control
Lack of realistic long-term goals
Irresponsibilit  y
Juvenile delinquency
Early behavior problems
Revocation of conditional release

Traits not correlated with either factor

Promiscuous sexual behavior
Many short-term marital relationships
Criminal versatility
Acquired behavioural sociopathy/sociological conditioning (Item 21: a newly identified trait i.e. a person relying on sociological strategies and tricks to deceive)

Apply the attributes above (where possible) to Westminster as a collective group of people, what you’re supposed to do is this: Put a value against each trait – 0 = no match at all. 1 = some of the time and 2 = All of the time. If the score is over 30, you have a pyschopath.)
Dundonian West
2012-04-05 13:54

I cannot,with hand on heart think of any MP who would tick any of the boxes,e.g.
“Of course I don’t want to be Prime Minister”.

2012-04-05 12:51

A truly shocking article in more ways than one.

Is this a Britain we would want to be part of? Not me!
Marga B
2012-04-05 15:32

X-Sticks – I’m afraid it seems it’s already there. The Cons (and let’s not forget the innocent little LibDems) seem to have realised all New Labour’s dreams in record time.

The only way out is independence, let’s hope other people especially opponents of independence read this article too and take fright.

2012-04-05 13:52

This is worth a read… and a forehead slap……/…
2012-04-05 14:20

I’ve always thought of London as a City state anyway, with the rest of the UK its colonies.The natives in these colonies must all hear the word from this proud state in minute detail from State broadcasting whilst the natives in the provincial colonies work grindingly hard on poor wages to contribute to the wealth of their ‘Mother State’.

Let London try to live on its own taxes and watch the quality of life deteriorate. No more subsidised London weighting. No big infrastructure projects, causing London construction companies to fall idle with resultant large unemployment. No teachers, nurses, nurseries, doctors, cleansing department workers, without paying them BIG money. Highly paid civil service jobs will be moved to the colonies, so that disposable income from them is spent locally, so boosting that area’s economy. Then there would be the huge reduction in the number of MPs and Lords all spending their money down in that City State. No more money pouring in to feed the multiplier. No more permanent boom.

There would be a continuous hosepipe ban, unless Londoners paid the full price for water taken from other parts of the country.
2012-04-05 19:32

[quote name=”Nautilus”]I’ve always thought of London as a City state anyway, with the rest of the UK its colonies.

So no change then from Imperial Rome and its occupation. I believe that Latin is still taught at Eton. Sadly they had their own equivelent red,yellow and blue Tories in what is now Scotland, the Votadini in the Lothians and amazingly enough an individual who might well have been Ard Righ, or Heid Bummer or what ever title he took in the language spoken, who rushed south to bend to Claudius (I’m sure that the right dishonourable Sinclair fantasises that the current peasants who inhabit the Islands as unkowlegdeable as their ancestors). Shame the world has moved on! And yet nothing at all has changed!!!

2012-04-05 16:43

How can any sane person actually vote for this Bullingdon Buffoon?
2012-04-05 16:57

I know. Heaven help us all.

2012-04-05 17:52

Well done Boris, stand up and make more and more demands for The Great City of London. We understand you need more of Scotland’s wealth to keep the trough topped up.

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.