The SNP’s clever but nasty politics

Earlier this month the government put in place some relatively minor reforms to the benefits system. These limited the cash benefits in the form of tax credits that parents can claim. You can now only claim for two children.

This is not an unreasonable policy. A one-parent family with two children in which the parent works 16 hours a week at the minimum wage can currently claim cash benefits of just under £19,000 a year (look it all up here). Add salary and you have a tax free income of around £25,000. That’s equivalent to an earned income of £32,000 (you don’t pay tax on benefits, you do pay tax on earned income). That seems to me to be a perfectly acceptable number at which to limit annual taxpayer-funded benefit payouts.

There are also all sorts of exemptions: if you have had multiple births, if you adopt, or if your pregnancy is “non consensual” you should still be able to claim for more than one child. That all seems to me to be a good thing. It’s a much-needed policy, but it makes an effort not to be an unkind one. That, however, is not how Nicola Sturgeon sees it.

Yesterday she led a protest in Edinburgh against what she is calling the “rape clause”. This is clever politics, of course. She isn’t arguing about the rights and the wrongs of tax credit payments or confronting the discussion about just what level cash benefits should be capped at (there has surely – even for Sturgeon – to be some limit?).

Instead, she’s making it nasty. Would she prefer the policy without an exemption for those who have been raped? Surely not. In which case, if she is going to argue against the policy, she needs to stop going on about rape (and trying somehow to make the word stick to Ruth Davidson) and explain why she thinks tax credit payouts should not be capped at two children (it is a tough case to make given the sums involved – see above).

Then if she and her party really disagree with the policy, she can reverse it in Scotland (her spokesman is currently “refusing to say whether the Scottish government would repeal the policy” says the Times). Anything else is about as unpleasantly cycnical as politics can get. Which is saying something these days.

  • craig miller

    Look some English people don’t really understand Scottish history culture or politics , they feel proprietorial as if we rented our country from them as individuals like have 50 odd million landlords kyboshing the buyout ….You feel you have a say , you feel snubbed ….Try reading our history like you imagine we might read it

    • Mike

      Yes. That’s easier than addressing the central point of the article.

      Whataboutery at its best.

      • Andrew Crow

        I’m not quite sure how I’m still here at the end of all this bickering.
        The level of discussion reminds me of the Brexit ‘debate’. At the end of the discussion the listener is none the wiser about any of the issues that might be at stake.
        It must be possible to have answers to some of the basic factual questions – for example is the net drift of money from north to south or vice versa? Who really benefits from oil revenues? What gets lost and what are the advantages of independence.
        We’ll see a lot of the arguments rehearsed in the Brexit process because the trend for national determination is coming from the same place.
        I think people want their government to be not too far away and feel that they are being governed by people who understand what their version of ‘real life’ is like.
        For a lot of people in Britain Brussels and Strasbourg feels too far away. Some people feel the same way about Westminster.
        I’m not sure what I think, but I do wish politicians would concentrate on making things work properly – like the economy for instance rather than telling me when and how loudly I’m allowed to sneeze..
        It would be nice to have some proper liberal politicians, but they tend all to be bossy-boot control freaks when pressed. It’s much easier to tell people how to behave than to sort out the nuts and bolts of an economy apparently.

        Politics is too much like religion for my liking.

    • Joe

      Too many Scottish people don’t understand our history, culture or politics. Throughout history and even today, Scotland is doing well as part of the UK.
      We would do extremely badly if the likes of the socialist SNP get their way. They don’t have a clue about running things and simply like to spend spend spend what is not available. The SNP is trying to divide the UK for its own agenda despite the fact that it will be detrimental to both Scotland and the rest of the UK. The UK government is trying to balance the books, which is reasonable – it should be expected that any government should try and keep within its means where possible. The SNP has a lot to learn.

      • craig miller

        Divide the UK ?…Yup …You see, you think it’s a good thing …But millions of Scots see it as a bad thing …As for SNP running things badly …They keep winning elections …I really don’t care for the health of england that’s for the english , for me i only have one country ..It’s called Scotland as for its history …I know it fine as i do england’s since before they left the Elbe …You english and your britjock acolytes have a lot to learn

        • Mike McCann

          Just a shade patronising, Craig Millar. Only your version of history is correct; moreover, you appear to have forgotten that more people than your millions voted to stay in the UK. As for the SNP, well the reasons they keep winning elections are multi-fold: there has been no credible opposition. The SNP promise much. As can be seen in the article, they are the masters of obfuscation and lies. Finally, in Wee Nippy, you have a strong leader.

          • craig miller

            Nippy ? I assume you mean the very popular with the voters FM ..Millions of the elderly who were threatened with the loss of their pensions ….A lot of them have dropped off the register and the dirty tricks and secret police actions are recognised for the cheating it was …We look forward with relish to Indyref 2 as voted for by our democratically elected parliament

            • Mike McCann

              Erm less than a million pensioners in Scotland. Secret police actions? Do tell. Sounds like paranoia. Indyref2 is unlikely in the next few years, by which time the opposition will have grown stronger as will existing majority against Independence. In the meantime, why don’t you show me some facts, rather than wild-ass exaggerations!

              • craig miller

                Ok the facts i will show you are these …GET MORE VOTES .WE ARE THE MAJORITY AT HOLYROOD ..As for paranoia …The british secret police are a filthy bunch of facilitators , if you want to know if they steal elections …COWDENBEATH …You hate Scotland you love britain we always got that …Nothing new there except that now you are outvoted

                • Mike McCann

                  Still don’t see any facts. Just ranting in capital letters. You are wasting my time. I was open to logic and persuasion. What do I get? Nothing but unprovable nonsense!

                  • craig miller

                    You were what ?…The facts are you don’t have enough power to change the canteen menu , we have voted for a referendum, the english Tories are trying to subvert our democracy , it’s the NASTY PARTY …So the people in Scotland won’t vote for them in any great numbers …Electoral facts will speak for themselves

                    • Gunner_Bill

                      We voted for as referendum? Your minority govt. Supported by the “yellow” Greens?

                      Pathetic politics, your party should try and actually run the country although it’s obviously easier to blame the English for everything wrong in Scotland.

                    • Joe

                      I can’t wait until the May elections when the Conservatives take votes off the useless SNP. After that, you won’t be able to use the argument that the majority of the Scottish parliament is pro-neverendum.

        • Gunner_Bill

          You fluffed it with that post.
          Reasonable first post.
          Raving cybernat-bonkers-jocknat second post.

        • Joe

          I am Scottish and people like you embarrass me. In 2014, the majority of Scots voted to remain in a union with the rest of the UK. Is that beyond your understanding because it doesn’t fit in with your idiotic nationalism?

          • Craig Donald

            Idiotic Nationalism?? That’ll be the Tories

          • D.Williams

            If you are Scottish,as you profess to be,then will you please explain why you have a predominately Jewish surname of Levi. Just asking.

          • D.Williams

            A reply hasn’t been forthcoming from you Joe Levi so i will take it upon myself to once again ask you the same question.
            ”If you are Scottish,as you profess to be,then will you please explain
            why you have a predominately Jewish surname of Levi”. Just asking.

    • Little Black Censored

      To whom is your comment addressed, the author of the article?

  • Dev

    Yes right Merryn. Nicola is ‘nasty’ whereas fascists the likes of Le Pen, Farage, Trump, Theresa May are all good. They’re all acceptable as long as they pander to the ‘market’ (low taxes for 200 billion earning corporates and high taxes for those earning thousands, stripping the NHS). Such a great scholar you are.

    • Jack Burrell

      Nicola Sturgeon is a far more Nasty Fascist than any of those that you mention. More Nasty and More Fascist.

    • Gunner_Bill

      How are Le Pen, Farage and Trump & May fascists?

      • Dev

        They’re not. Just like Hitler wasn’t and more recently, like Nick Griffin wasn’t a fascist.

    • Little Black Censored

      “…fascists the likes of Le Pen, etc.. are all good.”
      She never said that, as you well know. (If you don’t know, take trouble to read the article.)

  • craig miller

    The central point of the article only interests me in as much as it confirms my previous comment …You think you understand something , but it’s existentially foreign to you , some millions of people not wanting to be ” british ” not “you” must be explained as their aberration , some dastardly plot , a deliberate snub ….I’m Scots never have for a second since my early teens(60s) felt remotely ” british” ….You believe your own myths propaganda whatever , being SCOTS as a nationality is not an affectation

    • Joe

      I’m also a Scot and have always felt totally British. We are British, get over it! There are too many poorly educated Braveheart types here in Scotland who think that Braveheart Sturgeon will come along and free us, then pay our welfare benefits for hundreds of years – it is interesting that during the Scottish Independence Referendum, the majority of those campaigning for the SNP were on welfare benefits. On the other hand, there are the hardworking Scots who believe in enterprise, success and personal responsibility. Polls indicate that the majority of such people are less likely to support the SNP. Do we want Scotland to be a nation of hardworking and successful people who respect our brothers and sisters in the rest of the UK or do we want to be a nation of welfare-dependent, useless, SNP-supporting fools?

      • craig miller

        I don’t ever have to tell anybody i am a Scot …That’s because i don’t feel any britishness whatsoever …Braveheart Sturgeon ?….If that is the extent of your political maturity i fear you don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand my arguement

        • Joe

          This is your statement “I’m Scots never have for a second since my early teens(60s) felt remotely ” british””. Please will you explain to me that you don’t ever have tell anybody you are a Scot when that is exactly what you did! I certainly do have the intellectual capacity to understand any argument about anything and was merely alluding to the fact that Sturgeon is as reactionary as Braveheart and has about much idea regarding running a country as Braveheart did. It is only those who don’t have the capacity to think things through that vote for the SNP.

      • Rob

        “do we want to be a nation of welfare-dependent, useless, SNP-supporting fools?” If the Scotch go for “independence” then they won’t have this option because the massive English subsidy will disappear. That’s why I’m an enthusiast for Scotch “independence”.

        • Michelle Brown

          Yes the English subsidy will disappear. Please be kind enough to explain what will replace it. And note that saying “all the money we send to Westminster will cover it” is not an acceptable response because that one isn’t true. If rUK money goes we have a massive financial black hole, we would also lose EU subsidies until and if such time as they let us back in, and not one nationalist has yet been able to explain where the money is going to come from. We would have to raise that deficit through crippling taxation and severe public cuts, but that’s ok isn’t it because at last you’ll properly be able to “feel Scottish”. If you ask me, feel is what you most definitely are

          • Rob

            Sorry, thought that it would be obvious from my post that I ‘m English (e.g., use of the term “Scotch” as the plural noun for “the people of Scotland”). I’m an enthusiastic supporter of Scotch “independence” primarily because the loss of the massive English subsidy will quickly educate our Northern neighbours that the continuation of their current high spending ways will require infeasibly huge increases in Scotch taxation. Hence, I expect that a post “independent” Scotchland will rapidly become more (small “c”) conservative than the English and the latter will have the cash previously wasted up North available to reduce taxes in England. What’s not to like? It’s win-win for both nations.

        • Joe

          We are Scottish, not Scotch because that is a very tasty whisky drink that I would highly recommend… especially Highland Park or Royal Lochnagar 🙂

          • Andrew Crow

            I discovered Ledaig. Now that’s …interesting.

    • Jack Burrell

      My ancestry is half Scottish, and we are sad for you that you do not recognise the benefits that you and all Scottish, Welsh and English people enjoy from being British along with the Irish who are all part of the United Kingdom.

      The Scottish Natzi Party, SNP, is sadly dominated by a very Nasty Fascist element. Of course ‘Natzi’ is simply the abreviation for ‘National Socialist’. The SNP is sadly getting both Nationalism and Socialism a very, very bad name.

      • craig miller

        Half Scot eh ?…And you don’t live here …And despite your opinion being coloured by your british nationalism …And your assumption of the Irish into the midden of your vile state ….I do live here …and i am telling you that british nationalism is a dead letter here…In Scotland where I live it’s confined to an ever shrinking swamp of Orange bigots

        • Mike McCann

          Wondered how long it would take to get to the religious bigotry. As for the numbers of supporters, you are in a minority- fact – both in the polls and as the result of the last referendum. Suck it up, more Scots than not wish to be British.

          • craig miller

            Pardon me ? Pointing out that the most aggressive defenders of the union YOU support are the worst kind of knuckle draggers , doesn’t make ME any kind of apologist for bigotry, i abhor it …It doesn’t play any part in the YES campaign …The polls are 50/50 at the very start of this campaign …And the parties that support Independence account for 52% of the voters last time …..49% for the 56/59 MPs ….Most Councillors …How very unpopular …The next two combined fall far short

            • Mike McCann

              Your words “ever shrinking swamp of Orange bigots” sounds sectarian to me. What proof do you have of that? Today the polls show SNP at 47% (YouGov). Still a good poll, but less than previously. I don’t doubt that the SNP are the most powerful party, but this is because there are no credible alternatives! Whilst I no longer life in Scotland, I go there every month and I am not blind. Let’s see what happens. I believe that you will be sadly surprised by the drop of in the Scottish votte for the SNP. Scotland doe not wish Independence, it never has and never will. Only blind fanatics like you ignore the economic and emotional facts.

              • craig miller

                Sounds sectarian that i refer to sectarianism amongst YOUR supporters ?…Let’s see what happens

              • Joe

                Personally, I can’t wait to see the decline of undemocratic SNP. It is coming!

                • Andrew Crow

                  Whether or not you like the SNP I don’t think it’s fair to question their democratic credentials. The mix of representation across the parties in Holyrood is a much better reflection of the division of opinion in Scotland (which judging by the exchange of views above is quite profound) than the travesties we’ve seen in Westminster in recent decades. With the benefit of a PR voting system there would be a better representation of Scottish opinions in Westminster too – not to mention a better representation of English Welsh and N.Irish voters.
                  We ‘look forward’ to the prospect of the June election resulting in a Conservative government able to out-vote a Conservative opposition. I can’t see any other parties getting much of a look in. Now that’s what I call undemocratic.

            • Joe

              The SNP had a referendum in 2014 to determine whether or not we wanted to break away from the rest of the UK. 55% of us voted to remain in the union. The SNP didn’t like that, so now they are saying we can vote again and will probably keep on doing so until we vote the way they want. What a bunch of fascists!

            • Joe

              The fact that you are now adding voters of the Green party to voters of the SNP to back up your claim that “52%” of parties support independence whilst completely ignoring actual polls of the people says it all to me. I’m sure it will look very different after the election when the Conservatives take between 8 and 11 seats off the SNP and the Greens are wiped out.

        • Gunner_Bill

          Jesus you are really messed up. I recommend seeing a counsellor or something. It might ease your pain.

        • Jimmy

          Hoi ser, I’m a member of the orange institution but certainly not a bigot.havent the SNP got issues with their vetting process and bigots ?

        • Joe

          Please understand that more than half of us here in Scotland are not stupid enough or narrow-minded enough to support the SNP.

    • Little Black Censored

      Again, who do you mean by “you”? The author? Nasty English readers?

  • Viv

    why should someone who has 2 kids working 16 hours get more money than me when I work full time and pay tax and pay for everything myself. don’t come with anything near the £25 k something really wrong with this benefit system !!! I work and I am worse off !!!

  • craig miller

    I feel your pain …Hope you get a better job ….Grrrrrrrrr other people eh ? …..Getting free stuff grrrrrr

    • Viv

      I earn £25k a year and had kids, get no benefits pay for child care and definitely do not have £25k to live on !!! disgusting no the wonder people don’t want to work !!!

    • Mike McCann

      Patronising again, verging on sarcasm. The lady has a point.

  • Timp

    This sums up SNP for me, poison politics without any substance being propped up by no brainers like the posting bully on this forum.

    • craig miller

      In what way am i a bully …? …You are english you think you own us …Poison politics ? It might seem that way to you …It’s liberation politics to us …If my telling it like it is ..Is construed by you as bullying it may be that you feel threatened by what you don’t understand

      • Timp

        You are right and wrong, right to recognise yourself in my post. Totally wrong in your assumption that I am English.

        You have a huge chip on your shoulder about your beloved Scotland and seem to think you are the only person who is capable of having a grasp on the history of your country.

        Your ‘telling like it is’, is not threatening in the slightest as that would mean I would place some validity in your point of view.

        Craig Miller a Nationalist, more like a monist.

        • craig miller

          You talk about Scotland as an ill informed foreigner would …I naturally assumed …….

          • Gunner_Bill

            ROFL, you are a parody Nat.

            Roflmao! Well done , you almost had us there!

      • Little Black Censored

        “You English”? Gosh, the world really is out to get you.

  • craig miller

    Firstly you must feel intellectually superior and then patronising the slow of thought becomes a breeze …You don’t have the capacity to understand Scottish nationalism you think it’s about how YOU feel about what you feel is a region of YOUR country , itS all about how you FEEL …I say you don’t have the right to interfere in the democratic process of MY country , i further say that i don’t really care how hurt your feelings are around that

    • Mike McCann

      Such strong nationalistic sentiments are what helped create many a fascist state. Scotland is the country of my birth and I am proud to be a Scot, albeit as part of the United Kingdom. As for how you feel, it is sad that your entire raison d’être is based on feelings and not logic. As for democratic process, Scotland has a devolved assembly. It is not a parliament. It is responsable for certain aspects of governance, in similar vain to County Councils. The SNP, as part of that assembly, doesn’t even have a majority. Equally, your desire for independence is not felt by the majority of Scots.

      • craig miller

        Yeah of course ….Any body who wishes for the normal status enjoyed by all the other nations in the world is a …NAZI….You don’t understand what the PARLIAMENT means to the general population , again and again when asked, they identify it as the chief political locus of the nation ….I hear lots and lots of losers saying how unfair how unrepresentative the continuingly popular government of Scotland is ….But find a bookie that will even take a bet on the SNP being by far the largest party in both forthcoming elections …..Extremely short odds

        • Mike McCann

          Without a doubt, the SNP will be the largest party, but that’s not the same as having a majority of the Scots on your side. It’s a bit like the Scottish government changing their words, saying that a referendum is the wish of the Scottish parliament, because they know that it is not the wish of the majority of the Scottish people.

        • Michael Scholes

          Craig I’ve followed this debate and you come across a bit one-eyed with no thought that there is anyone else with feelings. Take the English who you slag off as interfering. This , the same people that aren’t allowed to be called English, have no National Anthem, no devolved Parliament or rights , less money per Capita than Scotland and not only that have Scottish MPs voting on issues solely to do with England to block them. You were given your referendum in political terms / timeline just about last month but the SNP just use continual lies to push for further goes at it .

    • Joe

      I understand Scottish nationalism. It is basically a system led by poorly educated, predominantly unemployed and unemployable people where they think that they will free Scotland from England and lead us to a new brilliant future of welfare for everybody.

  • Neil Roden

    Now this is a very cynical article from a well known Scotland in Union supporter.
    Nicola Sturgeon did not lead the demonstration as you state but supported one led by the Scottish Rape Crisis Centre as did all the political party leaders except yes the Conservatives.
    Secondly under the welfare powers devolved to Scotland the Scottish Government does not have the powers to repeal this. Very poor journalism or did you just lift it from a Conservative press release maybe ?
    Thirdly the whole concept is just plain awful as your contortions to try and justify it show. Most people just think it’s wrong from ordinary people , politicians , churches etc
    Finally you do know that in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is the only party leader with a positive approval rating and the SNP are at 49% in the latest poll… but don’t let facts get in your way

    • Neil Paterson

      It isn’t clear to me what contortions you are referring to here? I thought the article was extremely clear and logical.

    • Mike McCann

      49% ah yes, that’s an improvement, this week. As for the article. What is factually incorrect?

      • craig miller

        I don’t really care…The article as i said is written by someone without understanding …It is as if a deaf person was describing the Pathetique …How could she know ?….When GERS has been discredited so comprehensively by twenty leading academics just this month …..I would believe a single thing a british unionist will tell me about Scottish finances ?

        • Mike McCann

          Even though GERS was produced by the Scottish governments iwn economists?

          • craig miller

            Using figures that suggest Scotch Whisky shipped from English ports become an english assigned export

            • Mike McCann

              That is just not true.

        • Joe

          I wouldn’t believe a single thing the loony SNP would tell me about Scottish finances. Haven’t you noticed that they don’t have a credible economic policy? In case economics is beyond you, I would just like to point out that dependence on oil and welfare benefits is not a good economic policy.

          • Andrew Crow

            Given the parlous state of national debts on both sides of the UK border, The Channel and the Atlantic I think it is justifiable to wonder if there is a credible economic policy to hold up as an exemplar. Economics seems to defeat even economists. Roll on artificial intelligence. Maybe the boffins can design a mechanical/electronic brain that is capable of crunching enough data to produce some sensible policies.

    • Andrew Crow

      Interesting bit of bracketing – ‘ordinary people, politicians, churches etc.’. That’s three groupings of people who hardly ever seem to agree on anything – within their own groups that is.
      I’m inclined to think abortion should be the default option in cases of pregnancy as a result of non-consensual sex. It’s not something I’ve thought deeply about and I wonder just how contentious a view it is. I find it surprising that a woman who has suffered the indignity and abuse of rape would choose to bear a resultant child if she had the option. But then I’m not a woman.

  • craig miller

    Fraid that as a national here i thought it more important to tune in to the National Stadium for the Semis , than to blether with expats and foreigners about the REALITY of the political scene here ….It’s a GET MORE VOTES situation …The SNP do the next TWO challengers combined don’t ….You calling people nasty and Nazis and bullyrook is just losers making impotent noises at winners

    • Mike McCann

      I guess your not a Rangers fan, then?

    • Little Black Censored

      “Fraid that as a national here…”
      “Fraid that as the national here…”
      There, sorted that out for you.

  • John Ingram

    Craig Miller where do you get the millions of Scots from ? Over 2 million made the choice to remain in the UK ,as usual the SNP grievance machine in full flow ,as for the clause someone else rightly pointed out the SNP have the power to change things if they so wished ,they have refused the welfare and benefits powers offered to the Assembly as well when they could have initiated the type of welfare system they prefer .

    • craig miller

      The Assembly ? I know not such a thing

  • craig miller

    WINNING …Much preferable to LOSING

    • Mike McCann

      Latest poll, today, shows SNP down to 44%!

  • Gunner_Bill

    Craig Miller got the short straw, being ordered to patrol MoneyWeek by Cybernat HQ.

    It’s the SNP equivalent of being posted to Thule AFB.

  • mombers

    What problem is trying to be solved by the two child policy? We have a birth rate well below replacement and a recent vote against relying on immigration to keep the pension system funded in the long run. And what problems is this going to cause? Children growing up in poverty do not generally end up being very productive at best and at worst need to be incarcerated. The cap is per household, not per pair of parents, so yet another perverse incentive to split up families. And the idea that raising three kids is not hard work is pretty patronising. And of course there is no similar discipline for old people – sit on your bum your whole life and there are no questions asked if you want pension tax credit.

  • M Somerset-webb

    There has been some discussion about whether the Scottish government can change the 2 child limit on tax credits or not. It can. As the Times points out today the Scottish parliament has prepared a report on the matter that suggests the method and the cost – a total of £175m by 20/21. Real money.

  • Craig Donald

    Nasty Politics.? That’ll be the Tories. Get back to your Metrobubble

  • Craig Donald

    Not just the SNP find the rape clause indefensible. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/jk-rowling-praises-kezia-dugdales-speech-against-tory-rape-clause_uk_59005ca7e4b0af6d7189ae83.
    But post away your Tory supporting bile.