On the fast track out of the Union

It’s the budget day tomorrow. George Osborne has been spending the last week like Scrooge, working out new ways in which he can extract a few more pennies out of Bob Cratchet in order to benefit the bank. Already over the past couple of weeks the Tories have cut benefit payments for people with disabilities and slashed tax credits for the lowest paid. Tomorrow it’s expected that there will be yet further cuts to the social security system, reducing what was once a safety net to a few frayed threads. But not to worry, there will also be tax breaks for the rich and funding for three more major transport infrastructure projects.

There are to be improvements to the M62 motorway across northern England, and Scotland’s taxes will have to contribute to two new railway projects even though the new rail tracks will hit the buffers long before it gets within a hundred miles of the border. There will be untold billions on yet another Crossrail for London, and HS3, a High Speed railway line between Manchester and Leeds. There’s a metaphor for Scotland’s place in the UK right there. We’re not on the fast track. We’re not even on the slow track. We’re not on the track at all. We’re just tracked down when the bills come in, so Scotand is helping to pay for a British road to nowhere.

Scotland’s getting new train services, but our railway system is already bursting at the seams. Some lines are going to require major investment and rebuilding if they’re going to be able to cope with increased services. Large scale investment in transport infrastructure in England is regarded as a UK national project and Scotland has to pay towards it without receiving any compensation by way of Barnett consequentials. Large scale investment in Scottish transport infrastructure is paid for by Scotland alone. That’s why it’s taken almost 50 years for the gap in the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh to be upgraded to motorway standard. That’s why it’s taking so long for the A9 to Inverness to be dualled. We’re paying for the new Forth Bridge ourselves.

Scotland’s transport comes out of Scotland’s budget, and when those pretty Unionist graphs show the Government expenditure so graciously bestowed on Scotland by the benificient UK, they also include a portion of the costs for London’s local commuter rail and trains that only reach Birmingham. You want an explanation as to why Scotland supposedly has such a massive deficit worse even than Greece? Greece doesn’t pay for the Istanbul metro.

London’s on its second ruinously expensive Crossrail project involving drilling tunnels under a congested city, but Glasgow’s modest proposal for a Crossrail project involving existing railway lines remains a distant dream and it’s only now that the main line between Glasgow and Edinburgh is being electrified. A high speed railway connecting Scotland with the rest of the UK and via the Channel Tunnel with the European high speed network remains as unlikely as George Osborne announcing in his budget that he’s going to raise taxes on bankers and company directors in order to increase benefits for people with disabilities.

Of course Scotland will benefit from Osborne’s new projects say the Unionists. These are major UK transport infrastructure projects which will benefit the entire UK. Scots travelling across the north of England will find travel time reduced as they zoom down the road amongst the speedier traffic on the M62. Scots travelling between Manchester and Leeds will zoom there in thirty minutes. Scots going across London will zoom across the city on the new north-south Crossrail 2. It’s a bit like saying that Scotland benefits from increased services on the Paris Metro because it makes it easier for Scottish people to get across the French capital when they go there on holiday. C’est ci un bénéfice de la Union.

The only zooming going on here is the attempt by certain Unionists to claim that Scotland benefits from English transport projects that Scotland has to help pay for. Still, we shouldn’t complain too much. This time there’s no new London sewer project which Scotland has to pay for like the last major upgrade to London’s sewer network operated by privatised water companies. The best that can be said is that at least the UK government can claim it’s not literally taking the piss this time, it’s just taking it metaphorically. And that’s about as good as it’s going to get.

The Chancellor is going to have to find a further £4 billion in cuts if he is to achieve his stated aim of balancing the books before the next general election. You can be certain that money won’t be found by increasing taxes on those who are already well off. It’s going to be found by cutting the social security of those who are most in need. Britain is an ugly country that’s getting uglier and crueller. There will be more poverty porn on the telly, inviting the better off to treat the poor and the vulnerable as entertainment. It’s the modern equivalent of the guided tours of the lunatic asylum two hundred years ago, and we’re the ones chained to the wall. We’re under the control of ignoramuses who claim we don’t even have a language, it’s just a made up pretend slang.

The Union is dying. An opinion poll out this week showed that a majority of Scots will vote for independence if the rest of the UK votes to leave the EU. The Union is dying because Scotland’s on the wrong side of the tracks. The Union is dying from a thousand cuts. The Union is dying because it’s being killed by Unionists, Unionists who have piece by piece dismantled all the bricks of the British state and gouged out the mortar that held them together. And then they stand shocked and surprised at the very idea that anyone would want to escape the rubble that they’ve created. What they don’t understand is that the more that they attack the fabric of the welfare state, the more that they privilege London infrastructure above everyone else’s, the easier that they make it for us to leave. Scotland is on the fast track to independence, and it’s down to the Unionists.

This will be the last post from me for two weeks as I am off to the USA to visit with my significant other, who I’ve not seen since December. Sam Miller (Macart) will be taking over the blog in my absence. I’ll be back on March 30. The dug is going to stay with friends in Glenboig, so he’s going on holiday too.

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64 comments on “On the fast track out of the Union

  1. Irma says:

    Have a lovely time with your man, I hope the dug has a grand time in the fleshpots of Glenboig and you’ll both come back all refreshed! We’ll be fine with Macart, fine man that he is, but you’ll be welcomed back with open arms. What on earth would we do without you?

  2. What Irma just said! Have a great time being with Himself, i wish you all the happiness in the world, but – don’t forget to come back to us.

  3. diabloandco says:

    Have a great time but remember to come back.
    Ginger is looking very handsome in his photo.

  4. Weechid says:

    Have a lovely time. Don’t let him keep you there for ever though – we need you. If you ever need a sitter for the dug…..:-)

  5. Bill McLean says:

    Have a great break – and the wee ginger one. When are the living dead going to waken up to the larceny practised on us daily by London? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  6. […] Source: On the fast track out of the Union […]

  7. Mike Annis says:

    What befuddles me is Tory policy. I know, none of us understand it. It makes no sense even to a Tory. You destroy the lower classes so they struggle to survive so vastly reducing expenditure on British shops, British businesses and even British pubs. They are just trying to breathe (oh fek, sorry I mentioned that, they haven’t taxed that yet). So you give extra to the wealthy who buy and live high end meaning the money goes abroad. Destroying the economy of the country they are trying to ruin….er sorry, rule, does not make economic sense. Mind Osborne’s the chancellor and that doesn’t make economic sense either. I get an image of all these little private school tossers, modern day Neros, having a midnight feast in the dorm (number 10 to you and I) cackling over their caviar and toasted peasant, guffawing at being able to run the country as their own private game of Haven’t a Cludo.

  8. James says:

    Won’t these English infrastructure projects just lead to Barnett consequentials being added to the Scottish budget? Just because our Nicola decides to spend that on the NHS rather than Glasgow crossrail isn’t George Osbornes fault. See http://stophs2.org/news/14673-barnett-inconsistency-adds-7-4bn-hs2-bill it is predicted Scotland will get £5.49 bn added to it’s budget whilst HS2 is being built. That’s a lot of road or rail or new bridges!

    • weegingerdug says:

      When a project is deemed by the UK Government to be a UK national project, such as Crossrail 1, HS2 or the London sewer upgrade, there are no Barnett consequentials.

    • Patience is a Virtue says:

      The amount on a day’s drilling for Crossrail is more than the North Sea sector was given in total in support – huge sums of money… more than enough to meet any imagined cost or deficit re. Scottish Independence. … basically .the money is there … it it always has been… although it seems ‘we are told’ no longer will we be bailing out Ireland, Portugal or Greece.

      If the same effort was applied between Glasgow and Carlisle (pooling and sharing) we won’t be using buses for over a month come the next flood (i.e. for the the sake of one bridge) – but the West Coast line was and always will be top of the list.

  9. benmadigan says:

    don’t worry about the shop – it’s in safe hands with macart. best wishes for a great Spring break with Peter. Come back raring to go!!!

  10. Bill Hume. says:

    Have a nice break with Peter and come back refreshed . Give Peter our best wishes from (Sunny) Scotland.

  11. […] On the fast track out of the Union […]

  12. Illy says:

    You know, I know how they could “save the union”…

    But they’ll never do it.

    It involves resetting the social security services to pre-thatcher, and actually delivering on their pre-referendum promises about devolving some real powers (like all of them bar defence and foreign policy)

  13. Tinto Chiel says:

    Gideon Osborne is at the extreme end of the Tory weird spectrum, even allowing for people like Gove, Fox and Fabricant. He’s like a stretched Sheldon Cooper but without the intellect, empathy and social skills. I saw some footage of him just walking down the street recently and he seemed to find it quite a challenge. Now I suspect he may be one of David Icke’s alien invaders.

    Under the Union, Scotland has been consigned to the branch line to nowhere but we have to buy a rip-off ticket for the ride.

    As usual, your stuff inspires but enrages at the same time, Paul. Why can’t the 55% see how they are being cheated and disparaged? They’re like masochists asking for more scourging, and go heavy on the vinegar, won’t you?

    Sheesh! Time for my medication.

    Anyway, bonnes vacances, mon vieux. Hope you don’t bump into Donald Trump.

  14. Freda Satow says:

    Enjoy your break. We’ll miss your ‘spot on’ observations.

  15. Luigi says:

    Have a nice, well-earned break, Paul (and dug). With Macart holding the fort over the coming fortnight, we know that the WGD blog has been left in very capable hands. A different style, but great reading also – look forward to reading Sam’s pieces. 🙂

  16. Amanda McGinley says:

    Have a great time, well miss you 🙂 xx

  17. David Agnew says:

    The yoons should listen to the thunder. The clouds are gathering, nursing its wrath to keep it warm. And all they can do is go through the same old pantomime of SNP bad. They think the GERS report will save them. It can no more save them than Miliband could save himself by holding Scotland’s vote hostage. It can no more help them than it did John Majors Scottish sub branch party back in 97. It can no more help labour than Alistair Darling getting a standing ovation at a tory conference did for their prospects in 2015. The Scottish MSM? Tainted by association with party suffering from political senility. The yoons need to listen to the thunder.

  18. I look forward to the Red Blue and Yellow Tories’ manifestos.
    Tuition fees will be introduced, Domestic Rates will be hiked, prescription charges, bridge and motorway toll levied, and bus passes cancelled.
    I wonder what Newcastle, Sunderland and Carlisle think about all of this?
    Manchester and Leeds are in the ‘North’ of England are they?

    When is Kezia going to round on Ruth and the Tory Party, and have a wee go at Rennie, and the Famous Four?

    Never, I say, because they would be ravaging Scotland as systematically as Ruth’s lot (yes, Ruth is to blame Up Here; not Gideon. Lest we forget.)

    Preserving the Union is all. No matter what Whitehall imposes on Scotland, the Red and Yellow Tories will merely sit on their hands and scream SNP BAD, while their Better Together Blue Tory partners do their dirty work; destroy the notion of Scottish Self Determination at all costs is the goal, no matter what.
    It was estimated that cities like Aberdeen and Dundee would lose hundreds of millions of business when the original HS2 was announced.

    You may recall Danny Alexander releasing the final, absolutely last, including contingencies, estimate of £42 billion at the time when HS2 was announced; idiot

    Now that the plans have been expanded to include Leeds, a tunnel from Manchester to Sheffield (whit?), and upgrades for the A69, the A 66, and the M62, what price inward investment being attracted to Scotland.

    The A1 connects Edinburgh and Newcastle, FFS.

    We must get out of this putrid little ‘Union’, soon.

  19. Dave S says:

    Paul – enjoy your well-earned break.

  20. Westviews says:

    Have a great holiday. You more than deserve a break. Xx

  21. Albawoman says:

    Have a fab holiday. Re George Osborne and Co. No evil lasts forever. Tempus fugit.

  22. lanark says:

    I hope both yourself and the dug enjoy your well deserved break. Remember when you’re in the US that they were the first lot to give this independence malarky a go.
    Could you find out for us if they’re regretting it yet?

    I’m looking forward to macart’s articles as well as your swift return. Scotland needs the dug!

  23. douglas clark says:


    Enjoy your break, and don’t worry, independence will not leave in your absence.

    Best wishes,


  24. JGedd says:

    Have a great visit, WGD and WGD. Perhaps you could return with some personal observations of the American political scene, Paul? Only if you are not too preoccupied, that is..

  25. xsticks says:

    You have a magic break Paul, it’s well deserved. You’ve been on fire recently both here and in the National.

    Look forward to Sam keeping the lamp licht in your absence.

  26. Two whole weeks of cold turkey no ‘Wee Ginger Dug’.

    What to do?

    There’s always the children, I suppose.

  27. hettyforindy says:

    All the best, enjoy your holiday, well deserved.
    Thanks for great posts, they get better and better.

    See you in bonny Scotland in a couple if weeks.

    Be good WGD, the four legged one I mean!

  28. Anne says:

    Will miss you Paul, love your posts, but have a brilliant time! It would be great to hear some of your impressions of what’s going on in America just now when you come home. Have a great time!!

  29. Walter Hamilton says:

    Have a good trip, come back refreshed and keep up the good work.

  30. Macart says:

    Enjoy yourself Paul and don’t you worry aboot a thing.

    *Starts scribbling*

  31. mumsyhugs says:

    Don’t forget your toothbrush Paul! Hope your significant other realises the sacrifice we’re making letting you go for a couple of weeks 🙂 Enjoy xx

    And hugs tae the dug in his 5 star holiday accommodation with special luxury doggy treats in the mini bar! 🙂

  32. tarisgal says:

    Happy holidays to you and WGD! Will miss your articles but I’m sure Macart will do a stirling job in your absence! Take care.

  33. MI5 Troll says:

    New Makir on the TV trying to make a mark
    Fuck me! she’s no Cooper Clarke .
    She tries some lines but try as I wish
    I Just didnt get it-it was Colin Nish.

    (good luck on your appointment anyway.)

  34. arthur thomson says:

    Have a great trip Paul. Come back refreshed and rairin to go.

  35. Jan Cowan says:

    It’s a long way to go just for two weeks but on no account stay any longer! Please say “hello” to the USA from me. If it could be done via magic carpet I’d be happy to return now and again but I can no longer sit for hours in a tube. Have a great time and return ready to sweep the last of the unionists out of our parliament.

  36. Steve Asaneilean says:

    I loved your metaphor about bricks and mortar – then see you’re send the wee dug to Glenboig!

  37. Proud Cybernat says:

    And, of course, no one from rUK will benefit when zooming over Scotland’s new Forth Bridge, Border’s Railway, M74 extension etc that we paid for ourselves. Maybe England is just special or something?

  38. Fraser Whyte says:

    Sorry to tell you that:

    a. Scotland does not contribute to the majority of these projects. GERS, if that’s what we’re assuming is classed as “Scottish spend”, assigns railway expenditure on an “In” basis only. This quite clearly does not include Crossrail or railways in northern England.

    The only exception to that is HS2 for which the Scottish Government have assumed 2% of the spending, in line with the economic benefit the SNP think it will bring to Scotland (they use the UK Govt’s report as basis for this and support the extension of HS to Scotland)

    b. These projects do accrue Barnett consequentials in full. You can see this quite clearly on page 64 of the Treasury Statement of Funding here (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/479717/statement_of_funding_2015_print.pdf)

    If you have a problem with Scotland’s railway and infrastructure then you should have a word with those responsible, i.e. the Scottish Government, who receive a proportionate share of this investment and invest through the Infrastructure Investment Plan for devolved matters (http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/Finance/18232/IIP/)

    So, not to piss on your chips or anything, but your entire article is based on two complete inaccuracies. Sorry about that.

    • There’s only so much Scotland’s government can do, rail-wise on our limited budget, but they have made a pretty honest attempt to reverse some of the butchery performed on Scotland’s railway system by both McMillan and Wilson governments in the 1960s when transport policy was dictated from Westminster. Most of the really bad stuff was carried out from 1965-70 on Labour’s watch but no real surprise there…

      • Fraser Whyte says:

        Perhaps you’d support a tax increase to augment our “limited budget” (£1400 per head higher than the rest of the U.K. already)? Because otherwise it isn’t clear to me how you think our budget would be anything but “limited”

  39. Our budget is limited because we do not have full control over it. Isn’t that the entire point?

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