Sorting out FFA
15 June 2015
Now that it looks like we're not getting FFA, here's why we should.
I've had a few recent discussions on Twitter on the finance of Full Fiscal Responsibility or Autonomy or whatever.
I'm in favour of FFA for Scotland. As someone who supports independence, I support Scotland standing on its own two feet, and therefore I support this halfway-house. I can't see how I can do anything else.
That's not to say it's without its problems - an FFA agreement won't be simple - there will be lots of traps and pitfalls which might be set by Westminster and which we could fall into, and probably as many unforseen outcomes which would be no-one's fault, but could make things difficult.
If we'd voted for independence, we'd probably have had a friendly but adversarial setup, where the terms of indy were thrashed out by two teams mostly trying to get the best deal they could for their side. Pretty clear cut.
In the case of FFA, that'd be far less clear, with the Scottish Govt trying to fight one side but riding two horses (FFA and future Indy), and most of Westminster including Scottish unionists fighting the other side on three competing agendas: on getting a good deal for Scotland; on creating a fair system for the UK as a whole; and on trying to sabotage the SNP.
But nevertheless, I'm in favour, and the SNP seem to be although they're not exactly shouting it from the rooftops. I think they should be, but there's a problem of course.
The numbers don't seem to add up.
The most recent set of GERS figures don't make great reading - if we'd had had FFA last year (which we didn't), we'd not be in great shape. Forecasts suggest that if we got it this year (which we won't) we wouldn't be doing that well either.
I think the SNP know the solution, but for some reason they're not pushing it yet. Quite simply it's this: "Scotland should have FFA, and as soon as the numbers add up again we should get it."
Unionists would see this as having our cake and eating it. They'll scream "You want to pool and share whilst it suits you, then keep your own surplus in future". And to that I say, yep, that's it!
You see, the thing is, every single argument made to say that Scotland can't afford FFA (or Indy) is an argument against the status quo. If we can't afford FFA, then we've got into that position by being part of the Union. If being in the UK was working for us, then we would be able to afford FFA.
So since it's through being in the UK that the numbers don't add up right now, then I don't see any problem with us waiting until they do, and only then switching to managing things for ourselves. But it makes perfect sense to do the preparatory work now.
Other small countries manage their own affairs perfectly adequately. Until someone on the unionist side explains to me why Scotland and the people living here can't, then no amount of statistics explaining the 'black hole' in our finances will put me off us taking responsibility for ourselves.