WITH typical shameless hypocrisy, Tory leaders in Scotland have recently condemned mention of Scottish independence during our pandemic times. They have also alleged a lack of transparency both in the provision of Covid response data and in the current Salmond inquiries. Meanwhile, the Tory Gang of Three (Baroness Davidson, Alister Jack and Douglas Ross) have been working under the shadows of the pandemic to undermine the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government.

Tory work is under way for their Edinburgh hub to manage the £1 billion Scottish component of EU structural funds coming back into a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Their election manifesto said these funds would be “delivered by the UK Government across the UK, working in partnership with local authorities and communities” with no mention of the Scottish Parliament or Scottish government. This funding will enable a huge expansion of the City Deal type of financing to demonstrate what Alister Jack has referred to as “the strength of the Union”. It is no mere coincidence that Aberdeen Council’s Tory/Labour coalition is proposing direct funding from the UK Government.

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The UK Government has identified other EU funding to be grabbed back from Scottish Government control including £570 million in farming subsidies and for rural economies and £40m in fishing support. Westminster’s “Internal Market” law will also be used to bypass the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to directly finance housing, schools, NHS hospitals, roads and transport services, broadband, water and energy supplies across Scotland.

The UK Government statements about Rishi Sunak’s Spending Review in November 2020 said that “Scotland will receive a significant boost from more than £100bn of capital investment across the UK in 2021/22.” Subsequently, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said that whilst the Chancellor had funded a £27bn increase in UK capital expenditure, UK Treasury documents showed a cut to the Scottish Government’s capital budget “by 5% in cash terms”.

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Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary, has spoken about the loss of £170m EU farming subsidies without consultation. This month, £375m of pandemic rescue funding – promised by the UK Treasury to the Scottish Government for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses – disappeared.

In recent months there have been UK Government statements about multibillion-pound investments in UK health services and schools. In past times the Scottish Government would have received Barnett consequentials for devolved responsibilities. However, it seems that, in future, Scotland’s unaccountable second government will also be allocated a portion of this money alongside funds drawn from UK top-slicing of Scottish Government budget allocations.

We won’t be witnessing the discussions behind closed Westminster doors among Ross, Jack and Baroness Davidson about the carve-up of consequentials between Scotland’s two governments. We won’t be able to hold to account Scotland’s dark second government about its activities. We won’t get transparency about Downing Street’s “Union Unit” led by former Scottish Tory MP Luke Graham. We will have no means of getting full information from Alister Jack’s Scotland Office in London, despite its communications budget doubling and its PR staff numbers tripling since 2014. But we can confidently predict further Tory demands that Scottish Government attention and information should entirely focus on the virus, and any other issue which might divert attention away from what the UK Government is up to.

What we urgently need is a single Scottish government, transparently providing information about budgets and decision-making and fully accountable to people in an independent Scotland.

Andrew Reid