The SNP policy on Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) has come under huge stress this week. Firstly, Ian Murray MP tabled a Scotland Bill amendment asking for an independent study into impact of FFA on public services in Scotland. Following this, the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland have all questioned the SNP’s hesitance on the issue and cited the IFS report which estimated that FFA would result in £10b of cuts.
It is within this context that the SNP have now said, after weeks of indecision, they will put forward a Scotland Bill amendment asking for FFA (report, 11/06/15). Not only have the SNP no independent analysis to show the policy is in Scotland’s interest, key MPs in their ranks have described FFA variously as “economic suicide”, “a silly thing to do” and a “disaster”.
The next steps will be interesting. It may be that “hand in glove” support for the SNP amendment will come from UKIP and right-wing Tory MPs. Indeed, Sir Edward Leigh, the Tory MP for Gainsborough, said this week “There is a good Conservative case to be made for full fiscal autonomy, because it would breed responsibility.”
There is therefore now a real risk that the SNP could deliver this policy which is not in Scotland’s interest. This Pyrrhic victory would come at huge costs to Scotland’s public services. Even by tabling the amendment, the SNP are confirming that their nationalist ideology must come before reducing inequality and protecting public services in Scotland.