A few years ago, it wasn't possible to go through a week in the National Assembly for Wales without Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats calling for the end of the Barnett Formula. The mantra was that this formula was being used by the dastardly politicians at Westminster to deprive Wales of shedloads of millions that was rightfully hers. Well, it looks as if these politicians at Westminster might just give them what they've been asking for. Never has the advice 'be careful what you ask for' been more appropriate.
Now the reality is that what members of the National Assembly for Wales think will be nothing to do with any decision at Westminster to review the Barnett Formula, the way that the amount of money going from the Treasury to Cardiff Bay is calculated. The only reason is that the voters and taxpayers of England have had enough of watching all sorts of 'freebies' being handed out by the Scottish Parliament, which are unavailable to them, paid for by money going from the Treasury to Edinburgh. The 'subsidy' which is widely reported to be heading over Hadrian's Wall amounts to about £1,500 per capita more than is being spent on the equivalent services in Wales. The Scottish Parliament was established in 1999, and at last, the English giant is stirring.
I've always warned that there is no guarantee that the Welsh block grant would go up if the Barnett Formula were to be reviewed, so I was always cautious about calling for a review. Well, I'm still cautious, and so is Paul Murphy, the Secretary of State for Wales. The per capita payment coming to the National Assembly is also higher than is spent in England. It was an easy hit to shout that Wales was being robbed when no-one was looking in detail at the reality. I've an idea that all those siren voices in Wales who've been calling for a scrapping of Barnett and a review of funding are now looking nervously over their shoulders.