Nicola Sturgeon’s policy on Full Fiscal Autonomy was always a bit of ideologically driven bravado. It orgininated from imprudent comments Alex Salmond made on the 8th of January, and it looked at the time as if Nicola Sturgeon had no choice but to back him.
Since then, the policy has been questioned as it would mean the end of the of the Barnett formula. This is key as over the past 10 years Scotland has benefitted substantially from Barnett as our deficit has, on average, been higher than the rest of the UK and will continue to worsen as the oil price collapse is fully accounted for.
Nationalist started to get nervous about Full Fiscal Autonomy when Jim Murphy highlighted the IFS study which has shown Scotland would lose £7.6b if Nicola Sturgeon had her way. On Monday we learned that Alex Salmond was getting cold feet and on Wednesday Nicola Sturgeon followed suit.
This run of events raises two questions. Firstly, does Nicola Sturgeon think Scotland is too wee, poor or stupid for full fiscal autonomy? If she does, exactly the same arguments apply to her position on independence.
The second question regards the SNP – who is leading the party? It appears that Alex Salmond has been guilty of making policy up on the hoof and the whole party, including Nicola Sturgeon, follows. I can think of no other political party in my lifetime where a politician who is not the leader has so much power over the party.