.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Top economist puts Plaid Cymru in their place

Plaid Cymru's claim that Wales should have another £1.2 billion to achieve parity of funding with Scotland has always been absurd. Yes, we would like the additional money to spend on public services, but we know that we will not get it because the idea is a conceit buried in a fantasy.

The comparison is at least useful in highlighting the inequity of the funding formula used to determine Wales' budget, but it is a cop-out because it avoids the key issue, which is that Scotland is over-funded and should be assessed on the basis of need, as do all the other nations and regions of the UK.

It is a cop-out too in that the claim abandons Plaid Cymru's previous support for the reform of the Barnett formula so as that it reflects need rather than an arbitrary population-based apportionment. Instead we are being asked to get involved in a bidding war with other parts of the UK for a larger slice of the cake. The danger of that of course is that once you abandon any formula, no matter how flawed, then your slice of the cake can fall as well.

In today's Western Mail, top economist Gerry Holtham, who wrote the book (literally) on the unfairness of the Barnett formula is scathing about Plaid Cymru's claims. He makes it clear that it is very possible that his report, which identified a funding gap of around £300 million for Wales, may now have been overtaken by events:

He said: “Since then public expenditure in Wales relative to that in England has risen and it is not at all clear that we are still underfunded or not at least to the same extent.

“Scotland is of course very over-funded relative to English regions so asking for parity with them is no longer asking for fairness it is asking for special treatment – to get more than the English give themselves, even adjusted for need.

“That seems a strange demand from a party that ultimately wants independence.

“A more defensible demand would be to remove the £4 billion over-funding the Scots get, if that were redistributed around the UK on an equitable basis, Wales would get at least £200 million a year more.

“There is no identity of interest between Scotland and Wales. Plaid’s naive hero-worship of the SNP is preventing them standing up for Wales’ interests as they should. Wales can get more, fairly, only if Scotland gets less."

Plaid Cymru say that their claims are gaining traction amongst the voters, and it is true that people want to see fairness in the way that Wales is funded, but Plaid are misleading everybody about the nature of the problem and are avoiding the main issue that if they achieved their goal of independence then Wales would be billions of pounds worse off.

Update: Over at the Syniadau blog a strong nationalist voice makes similar points to me about Plaid Cymru's position on funding Wales.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?