Ian Murray is the sole Labour Party MP left in Scotland. Labour’s disastrous result in the 2015 parliamentary election cost the other 39 Labour MPs their jobs in Scotland. But to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, Murray is not going gently into that good night.
While the SNP, the big election winner in Scotland, is now lobbying hard for Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA), the other leading British parties are pushing back.
The UK government has been referring to impartial experts from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), which has warned that Scotland would be £7.6 billion deeper into the red than at present under the SNP’s proposed FFA. This annual deficit would reportedly rise to £9.7 billion by 2020.
Scotland’s deficit would therefore be much larger as a proportion of its GDP than the UK’s, according to the IFS. The result would possibly require big spending cuts and/or increases in taxes and borrowing.
Murray, the Edinburgh South MP, has stirred up controversy in Scotland by backing the government’s proposal to create an Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR would then analyze the resulting financial condition of Scotland if it had to fund its spending without access to tax revenue from the rest of the UK.
Earlier this week, the SNP’s Stewart Hosie, MP for Dundee East, used Twitter to attack Murray’s position. Hosie accused Murray of “talking Scotland down” and referred to his actions as “pathetic.”
|Stewart Hosie (@StewartHosieSNP)|
|6/29/15, 5:00 PM Ranting performance from @IanMurrayMP talking Scotland down at every turn. Pathetic really.|
In turn, Murray fired back the next day. He stressed the potential £10 billion in additional annual budget deficits that Scotland may end up taking on with FFA.
|Ian Murray (@IanMurrayMP)|
|6/30/15, 4:36 AM If u think exposing Scots 2 £10bn of xtra deficit is talking Scotland down then IFS, OBR, STUC & ur Gov a/cs r guilty2 twitter.com/stewarthosiesn…|
The SNP’s proposed FFA was mocked at the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). Conservative Party leader David Cameron referred to the FFA plan as a “Full Fiscal Shambles.” Meanwhile SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, insisted that Scotland could “shoulder” the burden of the plan.
The debate continues. Stay tuned. And keep your eye on that Twitter feed.
Statement of interests: Paul McCarthy is an American “geek” with a keen interest in British and Scottish politics, business, and current events.