Scotland spends more than it earns and has done so for 19 of the past 20 years. On average, Scotland’s deficit has been bigger than the rest of the UK for at least 10 years. These are incontrovertible facts that can’t be found in any SNP manifesto.
This fiscal position is why Labour argued against the SNP policy of Full Fiscal Autonomy. It also explains why the SNP is now so cool on the policy. By distancing themselves from Full Fiscal Autonomy the SNP are confirming that independence would have had a brutal impact on public services in Scotland. They are signalling that they accept that it is in Scotland’s benefit to pool and share resources with the rest of the UK.
Indeed, Full Fiscal Autonomy is increasingly looking like a policy designed to placate hard-core nationalists who believe that more powers must be attained any cost to health, education and welfare in Scotland.
Whether this is correct or not, Full Fiscal Autonomy did dominate the SNP election campaign. As such, the SNP have a duty to seek to deliver it via the Scotland Bill and win support from the Tory benches. The Tories may jump at the chance of cutting the deficit by £10b and, if so, the SNP will have won a pyrrhic victory for their hard-core supporters.