Of all the politicians in the UK, Gordon Brown bears more responsibility than any for the ongoing "English backlash," given his repeated refusal to reform the grossly iniquitous Barnett Formula despite a critical Treasury Select Committee report on the issue as long ago as 1999.
In my column, I argue that Labour had a great opportunity to tackle Scotland's disproportionate share of public spending under the formula in 1999/2000 when the party was riding high politically and public expenditure as a whole was rising so sharply that the adjustment could effectively have been concealed.
That opportunity has now been lost. The politics of the situation have changed utterly, with the SNP now very much in the ascendant, while public spending is no longer rising anything like as fast.
"New Labour’s refusal to reform the Barnett Formula when it was in a position to do so is a metaphor for its entire performance in government. It had two majorities of 160 plus. It was faced by an opposition which wasn’t capable of running a whelk stall. It had a chance to do difficult but necessary things for the long-term benefit of the country. And it didn’t do them."
The piece can be read in full on my companion blog HERE.