THE Conservative government of Boris Johnson is mostly notable for its incompetence, its cruelty, its corruption and its chaos. However, there is one respect in which it is a model of efficiency, and that's when it comes to new ways in which it is shafting Scotland. 

Of course Johnson and his smirking minions are shafting everyone in the UK, the difference is that in Scotland, not only do they not have even the fig-leaf of a democratic mandate provided by the desperately unfair first-past-the-post electoral system used for Westminster elections, but they are additionally trashing the promises and commitments that they themselves made to the people of this country in an effort to keep Scotland a part of the UK.

The latest example is yet another instance of Scotland being screwed over by Brexit. During the EU referendum campaign in 2016, the Vote Leave campaign headed by the gurning face of Michael Gove distributed a leaflet in Scotland which asserted: "Scotland sends more than £1.5 billion a year to Brussels." It went on: "That's £30 million every single week – enough to hire nearly 1400 new nurses, or build a state-of-the-art secondary school every week of the year ... If we Vote Leave, we can spend our money on our priorities. We can invest in the NHS, build new schools and fix local roads."

We have yet to see this supposed £1.5 billion bonanza promised to us by Michael Gove, which comes as no real surprise. When Michael Gove makes you a promise when he is seeking your vote, you are as likely to see it being fulfilled as when you get an email from a Nigerian prince promising you a share in a multi-million-pound inheritance. The difference is that the Nigerian prince's promises most often go directly into your spam folder, Michael Gove's get plastered all over the BBC and the rest of the media as though they were actually serious prospects in the real world.

Instead we see Ireland being awarded almost €1bn from the EU as compensation for the economic impact of Brexit, whereas Scotland has lost out on the structural funding which the EU once paid directly to Holyrood. Holyrood received £780 million in structural funding from the EU between 2014 and 2020. This was money which the Scottish Parliament controlled and decided where to spend. However, only £172 million of the UK Government's "Levelling Up" funds have as yet been allocated to Scotland. 

Whereas the funding from the EU was paid directly to the Scottish Parliament, the lesser amount of “Levelling Up" funding received by Scotland is controlled and allocated by the Conservatives at Westminster, who pay it directly to local authorities, bypassing Holyrood entirely. The Conservatives have a track record of using this funding to spend in areas where they seek to boost their vote share. 

In effect, Scotland is being triply shafted. The Conservatives are ensuring that Scotland receives less in funding than it did before, they are using that funding to undermine the devolution settlement, and in addition, are employing it as a party-political campaigning tool to bolster their own electoral support. Which just goes to show that the Johnson regime can be efficient when it puts its mind to it. It's just Scotland, the devolution settlement and democratic accountability which lose out, which as far as the Tories are concerned is scoring a hat-trick.

This piece is an extract from today's REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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