A new controversy around a Tory move to undermine devolution by taking some spending powers away from Scotland has shown in stark detail the dangers it poses.
The so-called ‘’levelling up’’ fund is not only an obvious attack on devolution it also reflects Tory policy to target help to the better off at the expense of the poor.
Areas listed among the first places to benefit from the fund includes several represented by Conservative politicians, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
In Scotland these include South Ayrshire, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, all of which have been listed as being in greater need than areas suffering from much higher deprivation levels.
The deprivation levels for the lowest three earning groups in the Borders is ten per cent and in Dumfries and Galloway the deprivation levels are at 19 per cent. The Dumfries and Galloway area is part of Scottish Secretary Alister Jack’s constituency and the Borders seat at Westminster is held by Tory MP John Lamont.
That compares to council areas such as Clackmannanshire, with 40 per cent deprivation levels, and West Lothian with 25 per cent deprivation amongst lower earners, which are classed in “category two” in the Treasury rankings.
Payments through the fund bypass the Scottish parliament and are made directly by Westminster, part of a power grab of responsibilities taken from Holyrood. They take no account of priorities set by the Scottish parliament and allows the funnelling of cash to areas favoured by the Tories with no accountability.
They fund isn’t even new money. It simply replaces some of the money which came from Europe before Brexit.
The reality is we still don’t know how much of the former European money Scotland will get
As part of a propaganda campaign to hoodwink Scots into thinking we’re benefiting from Westminster generosity projects paid for through the fund will be branded with the Union flag.
The reality is we still don’t know how much of the former European money Scotland will get. Fears are growing that there could be a cut to Scottish government cash.
The prioritisation of Tory represented areas as also been a feature of the so-called ‘’levelling up’’ fund in England. Research by the Guardian newspaper has found that that 39 of the 45 places to receive a share of the first £1bn in funding are represented by Tory MPs.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s own constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire and those of other cabinet ministers were put in the top tier to receive money from a new fund.
Mr Sunak has been accused of “pork barrel politics” by Labour and the SNP following the revelations.