Scottish public spending is subsidised by English taxpayers, the director of a London based think-tank has claimed.
Presenting a programme on BBC Radio 4, Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, claimed Scotland could only afford services like free personal care for the elderly because of England.
Responsing to an explanation of Scotland’s system by Dr Philippa Whitford MP, he said: “Of course Scotland has the advantage that its current public spending is partly subsidised by England.”
The remarks were initially broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on July 24th in a programme presented by Johnson. The programme, which discussed social care across the UK, was repeated on July 29th.
Claims that Scotland is subsidised by England has been a central theme of anti-independence argument for decades. It was one of the key planks of the pro-Union Better Together campaign during the 2014 independence referendum.
That it has been repeated by a director of one of the UK’s most respected research bodies calls into question the constitutional neutrality of that body.
It also casts doubt on the political impartiality of Johnson and his suitability as a commentator on Scottish economic issues.
The IFS director was a regular contributor to BBC news and current affairs during the 2014 Indyref. Seven days before the independence referendum, Johnson claimed a Yes vote was a threat to the Scottish NHS. The claim featured across BBC platforms that day and led the news that evening.
Questions are sure to be raised as to why someone with very clear anti-independence views was allowed to broadcast them on a BBC programme he himself was hosting without fear of challenge.
Paul Johnson was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), for services to the social sciences and economics, in the Queen’s birthday honours list last month.
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