How should Labour respond to the Rifkind plan?
Reproduced above is part of the coverage that the Daily Mail is giving this morning to the plans that are emerging over what the Tories will do about Scottish devolution and the so called “West Lothian Question”.
Clearly the growing disparity between public services north and south of the border, which is being skilfully exploited by Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, is not going to go away. Free prescriptions, free home care for elderly and the absence of university tuition fees add up to an agenda that looks potentially problematical for Brown.
Labour’s current strategy of accusing the Tories “playing fast and loose” with the constitution, the words used by Cabinet Minister, Ruth Kelly yesterday, doesn’t quite resonate.
The problem for Brown is that if steps were taken to adjust the Barnett formula under which more public money is spent per head in Scotland than England there would be the danger of Labour seat losses to the SNP.
The normal Brown strategy for dealing with Tory plans that appear popular is to close them down like with the IHT proposals earlier in the month. There’s much less scope for that with Scotland.
So this is one that is going to run and run and there will be more Daily Mail headlines.