There’s a great deal of controversy and bitterness over whether the parasitical Scots steal money from the hard-working English to spend on whisky and deep-fried Mars bars, or whether in fact the evil colonial masters are stealing the Scots’ money to fritter away on Pimms and linen suits.
The problem is, despite the statistical data on where tax revenues are generated and where they end up, there’s no answer to the question of who’s right.
If you believe North Sea oil belongs to the Scots [*], then it’s clear that the Scots are subsidising the English, as annual North Sea oil tax revenues of £9bn for 2006/07 are way in excess of the Barnett payments of £7.5bn. If you believe North Sea oil is a shared resource between all citizens of the UK,
then it’s equally clear the English are subsidising the Scots.
Since the answer to that question is dependent on one’s beliefs about political philosophy, equity and the nature of nation states, and also on unresolved questions about the UK’s constitutional status, it’s hardly bloody surprising that the controversy exists…
[*] i.e. if you believe that oil reserves should be allocated between England and Scotland based on the Law of the Sea, which under most estimates would give the vast majority of oil to Scotland.