I will not allow Scotland to be shortchanged

The latest “offer” from the Tory Treasury is not a new or a serious one.

They claim to be offering around £4.5billion extra funding to Scotland over the next decade or so .

But it is nothing of the sort – it is simply the difference between their initial proposal of a £7billion cut to Scotland’s budget and their current position of an almost £3billion cut.

It is the equivalent of saying to someone that, in taking £30 from them instead of £100, it amounts to a £70 bonus or subsidy.

Make no mistake, that is the stark reality of what the Treasury proposals would mean – leaving Scotland heavily out of pocket and presenting it as a gift.

That is clearly unacceptable to me, and I am pleased to see that it is also unacceptable to every other party that took part in the Smith Commission except the Tories.

The UK Government’s position has now been rejected on a cross-party basis by Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Select Committee, the majority of Smith Commissioners and by independent experts.

We remain ready and willing to do a deal, but that depends on sticking to the Smith Commission’s “no detriment” principle – and the Prime Minister and his Treasury are now looking increasingly isolated in their interpretation of what no detriment means.

I spoke to David Cameron earlier this week in an attempt to break the deadlock.

And I am prepared to speak to him again in the days ahead, as the clock ticks down on getting a
deal done.

But there will only be any point in doing that if the Prime Minister and his Treasury accept what we – and so many others – are saying about sticking to the no detriment principle.

We want a deal which would allow the Scotland Bill powers on tax and welfare to come to Holyrood – but not a deal at a massive cost to Scotland’s budget.

Originally published in The Daily Record, Friday the 12th February 2016.