Monday 3 September 2007

The Raj

One of Europe's countries is becoming increasingly divided. The north and the south are at loggerheads. The Monarch is concerned that the country may split. The most populous bit of the country favours markets and is recognised as one of the most prosperous parts of Europe. The other bit is dominated by socialists and has a higher percentage of public-sector workers. But here's the shocking thing. The socialist part, despite having fewer people, politically dominates the capitalist majority.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm writing about Belgium! Welcome to the Walloon Raj:

It is made up of 60% Dutch-speaking, free-market oriented Flemings in the north and 40% French-speaking, predominantly Socialist Walloons in the south. The Flemish economic output per person is 124 percent of the EU average, and there is growing resentment that Flemish taxes are being used to subsidize the poorer French-speaking south, where economic output is 90 percent of the EU average.
Back to local matters for the time being. (I'll have more to say about Belgium later.)

I've said before that Scotland's economic situation isn't nearly as bad as is assumed by many in the English blogosphere. The former Tory MSP, Brian Monteith, has drawn our attention to this fascinating bit of information from the National Statistics:

% of UK voters paying income tax: 64.6%

% of Scottish voters paying income tax: 65.34%

By the way, the percentage of Scots workers in the public sector is 23.5% (2005-06). But what about the perception? I've lost count of the number of folk down south who seem to think that no one works up here. The fact that the figures show that Scotland isn't a British version of Wallonia (economically) may not matter. When the Brown bubble bursts and TSHTF or it's even TEOTWAWKI, we may find ourselves ejected from the Union whether we want it or not. Just as Niall Ferguson suggested.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Steve Thursby
The question about Scottish or English independence should be about whether we want a shared or separate destiny, not will we be slightly better or worse off financely.

7 September 2007, 16:30:28 GMT+01:00
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Richard Thomson
I'm sure we could debate the extent of the subsidies and the direction in which they flow till doomsday. However, leaving that aside, the public spending at above 50% of GDP figure is only valid for the economic activity taking place in the statistical area called 'Scotland', which means excluding entirely the 'extra regio' North Sea revenues from the calculations.  
There's a debate to be had about the role of the state and how effective current spending is, but when the North Sea is factored in, the Scottish public sector sits at c. 41% - below the equivalent UK level of 44%.

7 September 2007, 15:48:58 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
53% (and it may well be) isn't good. But the UK as a whole isn't too much different, I'm sure. The equivalent to the 23.5% is 20.4% for the whole country. 
Without the subsidies we'd be in the brown stuff but not if we cut back state spending - which should be done anyway.

7 September 2007, 08:38:18 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
"the percentage of Scots workers in the public sector is 23.5%" 
True, I'm sure. 
But isn't it also true that 53% of the Scottish economy is public sector? How can that be good? 
And surely the % of the population paying tax is not the point; what is the point is how much they pay. How many of those 65% of Scottish voters are actually on minimum wage? (Who imho should not be paying any tax at all, but that's a different debate). 
Things ain't that great, I'm afraid, and it's probably true that without the Barnet subsidies we'd be in the deep brown stuff.

6 September 2007, 10:38:20 GMT+01:00