Indeed it does, but I am interested in some of the examples Tony gives:
And even more interested in his explanation of why Scotland enjoys those benefits:
Tuition fees were abolished in Scotland.
Free personal care was introduced for the elderly...
Now they are intoducing (sic.) free eye tests and have a plan to introduce free dental checks next year.
Yes I know the answer about devolved power and the Lib Dems being part of the administration and the sort of policies we have been pushing but I guess I just wish we could get some common sense into English politics and start delivering some improvements in the quality of life for people down south.I wonder how much any of these benefits has to do with devolution, common sense or even Lib Dem influence. I suspect they owe more to the fact that the British government treats Scottish voters far more generously than it treats English voters.
A report in The Scotsman last December revealed the extent of the generosity:
So that is why Scotland enjoys all those benefits. It is not down to devolution, common sense or the Lib Dems. It is down to hard cash.
In its annual survey of the Scottish economy, the Executive said the government spent £45.3 billion in 2003-4, putting Scotland in a rare club of countries where state spending is more than half of the entire economy.
But only £34 billion was generated in tax. This leaves an £11.3 billion gap, which has to be filled by tax collected in England, as Wales and Northern Ireland are also heavily subsidised.
Labour brought in devolution because it feared the rise of the SNP, not because of any romantic attachment to Scottish nationalism. (Socialists are instinctively on the sides of the big battalions and small nations are generally in the way of history.)
The tactic seems to have worked, but we should not forget that the Scottish assembly was designed as a way of maintaining the Union. And Scotland relies heavily upon the Union for its prosperity, as the figures from The Scotsman remind us. It is a tribute to generations of Scottish politicians that their country has enjoyed such generous treatment for so long, but you have to ask whether this settlement will be sustainable for much longer.
What all this means is that there is no simple way of transferring the Scottish experience to the English regions. The money would not be there to fund Scottish levels of spending. Local control is a good idea for all sorts of reasons, but it cannot produce new funds out of thin air.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have done wonderfully well. They have become part of the Executive at Holyrood, yet they are also the major beneficiaries of dissatisfaction at Labour's record there. I wonder if they entirely know how they have done it themselves.
If there something to worry about in all this, it is that the Scottish experience has encouraged the Liberal Democrats to see themselves as the party of public services. We are the party that offers more services than Labour - even if we are rather vague about how they are to be paid for.
At the same time, we have gone rather quiet about our support for liberty. You might expect that a government with Liberal Democrat participation at Holyrood would be cooler about the more Nannyish elements of the New Labour project that the Westminster government it. Yet, if anything, Holyrood is keener on them.