Well it didn’t take long, did it?
Boris Johnson, the new London Mayor, famous for his political blunders, has stumbled into another one. He has just claimed that Londoners are “forking out for things in Scotland”.
It was said that during the London Mayoral campaign that the Conservative Party shielded Boris from the journalists and the public. Most of all they were protecting Boris from himself.
When Boris Johnston won the election, First Minister Alex Salmond wrote to him saying “If there are things that we can co-operate on, let’s co-operate.” One of these areas of co-operation would have been the planning of sporting events: London is hosting the Olympic Games in 2012, Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Boris Johnston’s views on Scotland have been well known before this outburst.
At the time of Alex Salmond’s letter to Mr. Johnston, the First Minister refused to be drawn in a war of words with the new Mayor. Instead he merely pointed out that originally the previous Mayor of London had also held similar inaccurate views on Scottish expenditure, before being shown of the true figures. “If Ken Livingstone can see the light in these matters, even Boris Johnson will come to realise the same thing.”
Before realising the truth, Ken Livingstone was quoted: “We need Crossrail to keep London’s economy ticking over so that we can continue to pay for the Scottish to live the lifestyle to which they are accustomed”.
On today’s outburst, it seems that it’s taking Boris Johnston just a wee while longer to get his head around the figures.
The SNP Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, no doubt felt exasperated by Mr. Johnston’s latest gaffe. “When Boris Johnson gets up in the morning, he should thank his lucky stars that Scottish oil revenues are keeping the London Treasury afloat. And at bedtime, he should express his gratitude to the rest of the country for the Lottery good causes money being diverted to fund the London Olympics.
“Now that Boris is elected, it’s time for him to get real. Public spending per head is higher in London than in Scotland. Even his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, eventually realised the error of his ways and accepted that Scotland subsidises the UK exchequer. Educating Boris in financial reality might prove more difficult.”
What is clear however with both these London Mayors is an initial misunderstanding of how much monies Scotland’s economy provides the Treasury.
These “Scotland is overly subsided” views are not only held by the two Mayors but by a section of the English public too.
Its not the case in Scotland where even the unionist politicans admit that an Independent Scotland is financially viable and well capable of looking after themselves.
So the question is, why does that view persist in England? It does the idea of the Union no good in England if Scotland is thought of as a subsidy junkie. In a recent poll 59% of English wanted Scotland to be independent.
I think the problem may come from the Westminster Government’s lack of direction.
If Gordon Brown claimed Scotland was a subsidy junkie, it would inflame English independence or at the very least the demand for an English Parliament, neither of which things he desires.
If Gordon Brown claimed Scotland more than paid its share, it gives backing to Scottish independence and loses Labour’s grip on Scotland, neither of which things he desires.
Hence able to say neither, he just wraps himself in a Union flag, and continually talks about Britishness. Hence the recent flawed proposal for a British Day.
North and south of the border no-one buys it. I mean, his favourite moment in sport was the England 2-0 football victory over Scotland in 1996? The anglification of the Prime Minister has been so rapid and zeal-like, the manner would impress David Koresh.
Thats why Boris is on firmer ground with “You’ve got Scottish MPs, the Prime Minister and Chancellor, who are treating the country in an inequitable way”.
Its certainly inequitable to Scotland anyway.