Britain needs progressive federalism, not Tory plans to “devolve austerity”
Instead of devolving real powers to Scotland to enhance public services and intervene in the economy in the interests of workers and their families, the Tory-LibDem coalition intends to devolve the responsibility for enforcing austerity, say communists.
The draconian fiscal framework set out in today’s legislative proposals will drastically limit the capacity of the Scottish parliament and government to borrow to fund public services or invest in the economy. Raising taxes to spend and invest could still lead to a reduction in Scotland’s annual block grant from London, undermining the effectiveness of some new tax-raising powers.
Most importantly, there is no element of redistribution in today’s proposals that would transfer wealth from the richest section of Britain’s population concentrated in south-east England to Scotland, Wales and the English regions.
At the same time, the block grant’s Barnett Formula is not to be amended to reflect levels of deprivation and need, perpetuating the unfair treatment of Wales and the English regions.
Between them, London’s fiscal straightjacket and EU basic treaties would make it all but impossible for a future Scottish government to take vital industries and services into public ownership.
It is also significant that the financing of political parties has been specifically excluded from Edinburgh’s proposed new powers over the electoral process, enabling Scottish Tories to continue enjoying massive outside subsidies from big business and the City.
While the SNP and Plaid Cymru seek to cut Scotland and Wales off from a united political class struggle to redistribute wealth across Britain, and the Labour leadership has largely opted out so far, the Communist Party will continue to campaign for a Wealth Tax, a financial transaction levy on the City of London, higher corporation tax on big business profits and a major reduction in VAT.
Instead of the SNP policy to devolve and cut corporation tax in a race to the bottom with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Britain’s communists call for a system of ‘progressive federalism’, giving guaranteed financial and law-making powers to Scottish and Welsh parliaments and English regions, redistributing wealth and planning economic development for the benefit of all.