Pro-UK think tank supports myth that London taxes are 'redistributed' to Scotland

A think tank pushing for a campaign to 'revive faith' in Britain to undermine support for Scottish independence has supported the myth that Scotland benefits from 'redistributed' London taxes.

As you might be able to tell, the report by the Council on Geostrategy has a strange take on the tactics it believes are needed to win support from young Scots who increasingly support independence. Telling them that Scotland benefits from Londoners’ taxes is just one dubious strand of its arguments.

Every Westminster government in modern times has diverted billions of pounds of Scottish revenues to the UK

Both Believe in Scotland and Business for Scotland have shown that every Westminster government in modern times has diverted billions of pounds of Scottish revenues to the UK. Far from the UK subsidising Scotland, for years it has been the other way around.

The Council on Geostrategy report says many supporters of Scottish independence equate ‘Britain with empire and empire with evil’. The council would have a difficult time trying to refute that argument, given that both those facts are true.

The think tank’s report says that what it describes as ‘nationalist stereotypes about the British empire and the UK being worn out’ have to be dispelled to win over young Scots with a ‘morally attractive story about the UK’.

The report states: "In short, if the disintegration of the UK is to be prevented, faith in Britain needs to be revived.

"We need to remember what the UK is good for and that whereas German taxpayers are adamantly opposed to fiscal transfers to the Greeks, Londoners hardly bat an eyelid at the redistribution of 'their' taxes to Scotland."

And just to put icing on the cake the report goes on to suggest that independence negotiations "risk that resentment between the English and the Scots would rise to levels not seen since the 18th century".

The report goes on to suggest  ‘confounding’ the ‘nationalist stereotype of post-Brexit, Tory Britain as worn-out, xenophobic, and devoted to impoverishing the poor.' You might think it will be difficult to find the evidence to demolish that particular ‘stereotype’.

So who exactly are the Council on Geostrategy, the think tank behind this report? Its website describes it as ‘dedicated to making the United Kingdom, as well as other free and open nations, more united, stronger and greener ...'

It was launched in February this year by James Rogers and Viktorija Starych-Samuoliene. According to his LinkedIn account James Rogers was until 2017 director of the Global Britain Programme with the Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative think tank.

You might remember that think tank as the publisher of a contested report last month on attempts by Iran to use disinformation to boost Scottish independence.

One of the authors of the report was described in a Daily Telegraph headline as 'the Oxford professor ostracised for defending the Empire’

The report gave no evidence of anything more than a handful of examples of Iran’s attempts. Nevertheless the Times newspaper gave the story front page treatment.

One of the authors of the new Council on Geostrategy report is Professor Nigel Biggar, regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at Christ Church, Oxford, described in a headline in the Daily Telegraph in February 2019 as ‘the Oxford professor ostracised for defending the Empire’.

The Telegraph story detailed the controversy sparked by an article published by Professor Biggar in 2017 asserting that the British Empire had not been all bad.

By Richard Walker