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Iain Macwhirter

The Smith reforms have been almost universally derided by academics and economists as incoherent, piecemeal and contradictory. It was born of panic before the referendum: something must be done to halt the Nats in their tracks.

Throw the Scots a few more concessions: a bit more tax here, a bit of welfare there (not too much), crown estate (what is it anyway?), air passenger duty (yah), bedroom tax (um). The idea on welfare, if there was one, was to give Scots enough rope to hang themselves. If they want to start paying more in benefits above UK levels, well let ’em pay for it..

Except that the Treasury, and the DWP, said that this could not be allowed to happen without their agreement. The Barnett Formula doesn’t work that way. There would have to be at least a “no detriment” clause to prevent England paying for higher spending in Scotland.

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