Blair backs bribery?

[Tuesday]

Now that he’s going, the Bliar has started telling the truth. I found this interesting:

‘Bribing’ Scots is a price worth paying – Blair

MUCH higher public spending in Scotland than in the North-East is a price worth paying to prevent the break-up of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair said yesterday.

Giving evidence to MPs at Westminster, the outgoing Prime Minister gave his most honest account yet of the real reasons for keeping the infamous Barnett Formula, which provides extra funding for Scotland.

In recent years, ministers have struggled to defend much higher public spending north of the border, when people in the North-East are significantly poorer.

Only last week, the Scottish Parliament – thanks to funding from London – was able to scrap fees paid by Scottish university students, when English students must pay up to £3,000-a-year.

Asked about the Barnett Formula when appearing for the last time before Commons committee chairmen, Mr Blair replied: “It’s part of the balance that we have in our constitution.

“If we want to keep the UK together, the Barnett Formula is a small price to pay for that, even though I understand why it causes concern in parts of England.”

Mr Blair added: “When you look around the world – the amount of secessionist pressures there are and the disputes there are within countries – I think we have found a way through that.”

According to the most recent figures, Scotland receives £8,265 per head from the Treasury, while the North-East gets only £7,689.

Yet income-per-head north of the border stood at 96.2 per cent of the national average in 2004 – while the North East figure was only 79.9 per cent.

Even Lord Barnett, a former Labour Treasury minister, has spoken of his deep embarrassment that the formula bearing his name – introduced for one year only in the late Seventies – still exists.

[…]

The United Kingdom is the only Union that British imperialism is keen on keeping strong. Think of all those Scottish soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. If there was an independent Scotland they would not be in the Middle East at all…

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