Who Knew Westminsters Panic Over Scotland Would Show On A Balance Sheet

Question:
On the 4th of July  MP Deidre Brock asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr. Mundell (AKA Fluffy), what “the cost was of his Department’s communications team in each year since 2007; and what the projected costs are for 2016”.

The written answer from Mundell was unexpected.



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Answer:
David Mundell:

The communications team in the Scotland Office has been resourced during this period to enable effective engagement and communication with the public on the constitutional arrangements for Scotland. This includes the Scotland Act 2012, the UK Government’s position on the Scottish independence referendum and the Scotland Act 2016.

The cost of the communications team at the Scotland Office since 2007 are shown below.

Financial Year Total salary bill
2007-08 £113,236
2008-09 £115,356
2009-10 £144,084
2010-11 £108,439
2011-12 £169,373
2012-13 £180,954
2013-14 £241,636
2014-15 £348,895
2015-16 £426,223

The answer was submitted on 11 Jul 2016 at 13:22.

 

Let’s break it down shall we! We’ve made this little table to describe how you can actually plot the political climate in-line with their budget for the Scotland office.

Year Expenditure Plus / Minus (£) Plus / Minus (%)
2007/08 £113,236
2008/09 £115,356 £2,120 1.87%
2009/10 £144,084 £28,728 24.90%
2010/11 £108,439 -£35,645 -24.74%
2011/12 £169,373 £60,934 56.19%
2012/13 £180,954 £11,581 6.84%
2013/14 £241,636 £60,682 33.53%
2014/15 £348,895 £107,259 44.39%
2015/16 £426,223 £77,328 22.16%
2016/17 £686,116.00 £259,893 60.98%

We can tell that from 2007 to 2010 the Scotland Office is not too concerned with issues on the home front, there is an increase in the budget of 1.87% followed by a jump of 24.90 % but that jump is temporary as the Tories take office in coalition with the LibDems and subsequently reduced it again by 24.74%. This is in-line with previous election years where there is a notable spike, presumably as a result of costs associated with the promotion of elections etc. However, things start to get a little more skewed as you go on.

Along comes the 2011 Scottish Elections where the SNP took a majority in the Scottish Parliament. This clearly got Westminster in a tizzy because the budget increased 56.19%. Along comes 2012/13 with no drop in the budget but a 6.84% increase in the interim. 2013/14 comes along. In 2013, we all know that negotiations for the referendum were over and the bill had reached royal assent for the franchise. Suddenly the Scotland Office jumps into high gear with a whopping 33.53% increase to their budget. Then comes a 44.39% increase the following year. This can be assumed to include the latter half f 2014 (the referendum) and the subsequent run up to the 2015 General Election. Westminster clearly at panic stations as they realised the SNP were heading for big gains. Westminster, actively using the department as a tool against the Scottish Government in the run up to the election.Then when that came to pass, the clear constitutional mess that Westminster has on its hands from that point on and the realisation that their policies are both damaging Scotland and will probably put the UK into meltdown, we see another jump in funding by an additional 22.16%, this of course covering Brexit etc and desperately trying to ward off the Scottish Government.

Then when that came to pass, the clear constitutional mess that Westminster has on its hands from that point on and the realisation that their policies are both damaging Scotland and will probably put the UK into meltdown, we see another jump in funding by an additional 22.16%.

Then the big one comes. Brexit and the fact that the Tories have realised that they may have just single handily destroyed the UK, we see a whopping 60.98% increase on the Scotland Offices budget. What we are seeing is a department which only really brought in extra resources for elections now being used to combat the negative press of the conservative government here in Scotland. All-in-all since 2007, the UK Government has increased the budget for the Scotland Office by £575,880. That’s almost a 6 fold increase.

Most people would say “but it’s the Scotland Office! It works for Scotland! Right?” Wrong! The Scotland Office is supposed to be responsible for “the representation of Scotland and Scottish affairs in HM Government” in reality it is representation for the HM Government in Scotland. Those are two completely different things.

The Scotland Office doesn’t represent Scotland at Westminster, it tries to portray Westminster as better for Scotland and it is doing that role at an ever increasing cost which can only be defined as a department specifically acting to sell a story to the Scottish people which is simple propaganda. But Fluffy’s response to the question is telling in its own light. You can tell the response was crafted very carefully and says “resourced during this period to enable effective engagement and communication with the public on the constitutional arrangements for Scotland”.

He actually doesn’t specify what that actually means but most people would take it to mean that they are trying to work for Scotland and explain constitutional matters, except perhaps those of us that know better that it is being used to try and portray constitutional matters as “no big deal” or “better together” or “UKOK” or whatever they are pushing it as this month.. The Scotland Office has consistently tried to say that the 17 promises made by Better Together have been delivered when in fact most Scots know that every single one of them has not been delivered. Whether that be shipbuilding, full fiscal automy, EVEL etc and to top it all off, the Scotland Office is now trying to use itself to claim credit for items in Scotland which are a sole consequence of devolved strategies.

We can only, therefore base our interpretation of fluffies statement on what has occurred over the last 5 years rather than what Westminster say is likely to occur in the future and that leads us back to the inescapable conclusion that the Scotland Office is being used as a means to try and paint over the fact that the Scotland Office is being used to try and make Tory policy more palatable for the Scottish electorate. It will be interesting to see how high their budget for next year will be when the realisation that the promises made by the Leave Campaign to our industries in Scotland start to show the consistency of Wet Pasta.

Of course, this is all coming to light now that people from all over Scotland, including many politicians, are hitting out at the Scotland Office after a briefing note, first revealed in the National, was sent by the SNP to the BBC after the corporation used a Scotland Office graphic on Reporting Scotland to make Scotland look worse than it was, while simultaneously trying to take credit for Scotlands devolved successes.

The better-than-expected figures showed that Scotland was on pace to outgrow the rest of the UK, despite the UK goverment trying to draft up concerns that the country could be heading for a recession.

SNP figures said that the graph, which apparently showed a growth measure for GDP out of context, is in stark contrast to a social media campaigning in which the Scotland Office, headed up by David Mundell, tried to ‘claim credit’ for the economic results. Last week’s figures showed that the Scottish economy had grown by 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year, four times better than the UK figures. The SNP stated that the figures were a positive outcome of their investment and infrastructure strategies. Former First Minister Alex Salmond, who once called the Scotland Office “The anti-Scotland Office” said that unionist parties were guilty of acting like ‘merchants of doom’ over the prospects for the country’s growth. Kirsty Blackman,

Kirsty Blackman, SNP economy spokeswoman, told the National: “The fact is that it has been a good week for Scotland’s economy. Scotland’s diverse and resilient economy will not be undermined by such duplicitous moves.” A spokesman for the Scotland Office said: “We welcomed the figures. The idea we sought to undermine them is nonsensical.”



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