The Numbers Game
Ever since Boo Radley came out from the shadows there’s been a steady stream of ‘more powers’ rhetoric. Well, maybe not a stream. Cameron fluffed his lines confusing ‘can’ with ‘will’ in an unfortunate slip-up in Edinburgh. Lord Strathclyde didn’t even show up to give us a glimpse of the Tories exciting ideas for the devolution, though Baron Lang of Monkton was a bit more forthright saying that the whole thing should be hush hush till later. Mum’s the word. That sort of thing.
Yesterday saw Johann Lamont Scottish suggest that it may use new devolved powers to tax the country’s highest earners, though we should wait to see that has been cross-checked with high command. We may have another Wendy Alexander moment as the Scottish parties need for some leverage will likely stretch the patience of the ‘extreme centre’ and Miliband’s Blue Labour.
Sir Menzies’ report, Campbell II (‘the second report of the home rule and community rule commission‘) was also announced, though with less fanfare than Gordon Brown’s. In fact, it was largely ignored, perhaps because it’s complete cobblers. It starts by declaring that the time was ripe to ‘revisit the constitutional debate in Scotland’.
Really? Talk about being ahead of the curve. The Liberals reasons for his shrewd observation?
‘The movement to share power in the constituent parts of the United Kingdom has gathered pace’ (?) and ‘The arguments of the Yes campaign have at last been revealed’.
Yes. At last. They’ve been kept top secret up until last week when somebody sneaked a memo to Nick Clegg CC’ing in wee Willie Rennie: ‘There’s going to be a referendum, date to be confirmed, we think it might be autumn this year, tell Menzies’. Read it here in all it’s glory.
Each of the Unionists reports play a sort of numbers game with our democracy, calculating bizarre quantities of per centages of power and accountability our parliament should be allowed whilst creating arcane arguments to justify the limitations of powers.
Meanwhile, in the real world, a far clearer numbers game emerges. Larry Elliott outlines how just five families own more that the poorest twelve and a half million people. This is an economic reality created under New Labour and sustained under the Liberal Tory Coalition. This is the real meaning of Yes, the real need for real powers and the real need for true change this September.
In their report ‘A Tale of Two Britains’, Oxfam said the poorest 20% in the UK had wealth totalling £28.1bn – an average of £2,230 each. The latest rich list from Forbes magazine showed that the five top UK entries – the family of the Duke of Westminster, David and Simon Reuben, the Hinduja brothers, the Cadogan family, and Sports Direct retail boss Mike Ashley – between them had property, savings and other assets worth £28.2bn.
Ben Phillips, from Oxfam said:
“Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, while millions of families are struggling to make ends meet.
It’s deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline.”
The parties share more than botched constitutional responses cobbled together in committee, they share a commitment to the economic practices of austerity that have created this social crisis.