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Wings Over Scotland


Once more unto the breach

Posted on April 04, 2014 by

Sorry, folks, but it looks like we’re going to have to do this all over again. In the light of last night’s bizarre revelations about Scottish Labour’s shambolic “Devo Nano” proposals, even the barest semblance of coherence in the party’s plans has disintegrated, with Coatbridge MP Tom Clarke flatly contradicting the form letters sent out by numerous other MPs and MSPs over the last few days.

onenationlabour1

So once more we may have to ask you to drop your elected member another wee line and see if we can’t get this properly cleared up once and for all.

Dear [—],

There seems to be considerable confusion still surrounding the recommendations of Scottish Labour’s Devolution Commission.

Various representatives of the party, including the leader Ms Lamont, former finance spokesman Richard Baker MSP and former government minister Tom Clarke MP, have made what appear to be flatly contradictory statements regarding the plans.

In the light of this uncertainty, I wonder if you could be so kind as to definitively give me the party’s official position on the following matters:

1. Ms Lamont stated on “Newsnight Scotland” on the 18th of March, with regard to the top rate of tax:

The power we’ve got is not to cut below what the UK rate is, so the UK rate is set and then we can’t cut below that.”

However, Mr Baker and many other MPs and MSPs subsequently sent constituents a letter unequivocally stating that:

“The Scottish Parliament could, using the powers of the Scotland Act 2012, and our extension to their scope, choose to lower income tax, below the UK level, across all income tax bands.”

That states unambiguously that the top rate, and other rates, COULD be cut below the UK level, contrary to Ms Lamont’s assertion. However, he was then contradicted by Tom Clarke MP, who in another letter to a constituent wrote:

“Given these plans outline the Labour Party’s thinking on this issue and our commitment to a stronger Scottish Parliament the actual implementation planning would be conducted in more detail at a later date. A likely solution will be that the income tax bands will be individually variable by 15 pence above the UK base rates but not below them.”

Can you please clarify for me whether:

(a) the Devolution Commission recommended that Scotland SHOULD be able to vary Scottish income tax rates below the UK levels;

(b) the Devolution Commission recommended that Scotland SHOULD NOT be able to vary Scottish income tax rates below UK levels;

or

(c) the Devolution Commission made no recommendation with regard to the issue?

If the answer is (c), can you tell me when – even approximately – Labour intends to arrive at such a decision and communicate its position to the Scottish public? Specifically, is this likely to be before or after the independence referendum on the 18th of September?

2. Mr Clarke’s letter also made reference to a limit of 15p on the amount to which Scottish tax rates could be set higher than UK rates. This limit is not mentioned in the Devolution Commission’s report.

So far as I am able to ascertain, the Scotland Act 2012 – which is currently due to come into effect in 2015/16 with regard to taxation – places no such upper limit on the rates which may be set by the Scottish Parliament.

That being the case, can you confirm that:

(a) It is indeed your plan to impose such a limit;

and

(b) That this would represent a substantial decrease in the theoretical possible range of taxation rates available to the Scottish Parliament compared to the powers due to be delivered by the Scotland Act 2012?

If I’m mistaken in my understanding of the Scotland Act 2012, could you direct me to the relevant passage/clause in said document where the limit is specified? Or has Mr Clarke misinterpreted Labour’s policy?

3. Finally, can you tell me whether it is the position of Scottish Labour that, in the specific situation that it were it to be elected as the Scottish Government in 2016 and a Labour government had also been elected to the UK Parliament in Westminster in 2015, it would be the party’s intention to maintain parity between Scotland and the UK with regard to all tax rates?

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

[—]

We’ll get to the bottom of this yet, readers.

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103 to “Once more unto the breach”

  1. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Ye canae make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Ma heid hurts, but at least it is Friday,

    TFIF

  2. bookie from hell says:

    allan Cochrane—daily politics

    YES campaign need to dump salmond to win–lol

  3. Peter Macbeastie says:

    Bookie from Hell… that is probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages. Cochrane really is a balloon, isn’t he?

    The only way getting rid of Eck would be of any benefit is if Nicola stepped straight in, which, in fairness, is exactly what would happen. And she, if anything, is just as capable as Eck at knackering the opposition with a few key phrases.

  4. iheartscotland says:

    Rev, they don’t want us to know, the cat would be out the bag if they did. We’re fkud if we vote NO….

  5. Gaavster says:

    Can somebody invite the bold Simon Pia to try and spin this one?

  6. Papadox says:

    Alan Cochran sounds as if he could be considering a campaign of disobedience or worse if there is a yes vote. Now that is scary, very scary he really has to learn to control himself. Other than that he just thinks the only way yes has a chance is if the dump ECK.

    Half truth, lies, innuendo just the usual load of fiction and imagination. Think he may be supping in the same watering hole as Simon Pia

  7. jockthedug says:

    Our local Ayrshire MP Sandra Osborne is having a discussion in Ayr Town Hall on April 17th. So she hasn’t responded to our emails. and she’s sharing the platform with Iain Murray MP of doors vandalised fame.. So we have our questions and script prepared. Thanks for that. Just a wee bit of mischief.

  8. Murray McCallum says:

    This is a truly great effort to clarify the consequences of a ‘No’ vote regards Scottish Labour’s Devo Nano proposals, which themselves were subject to years of conversation and expert drafting.

    I am also keen that the elected members concerned are not left dangling in open confusion. That is just not right.

  9. Nick says:

    The way that we are plodding through this part of their Devo Nano Document, You’d swear we were trying to interpret a new Quantum Mechanics theory!

    Am I mistaken or should we be able to do two things much more easily:

    1. Understand their proposal for ourself and be able to read it in plain English.

    In the event that this is not possible then;

    2. Get a single plain English response to our questions, e.g. – the answer to your question 3 can be found on page 22 of our document. You can interpret lines 14 to 18 to mean blah blah blah.

    Stuff like that! not the tosh and twaddle that is being spouted at the moment. It is just not good enough from people expecting to be elected to public office!

  10. iheartscotland says:

    raising taxes versus the loss in the barnett formula. Balance that against trying to compete with an economy that is very different to Scotland’s we’ll lose every time. We’re being set up to fail.
    To labours advantage….

  11. rab_the_doubter says:

    Forwarded to Tom Harris with this additional paragraph:

    In addition, given your colleagues fondness for envoking Keir Hardie in their correspondence could you please remind them, just in case it’s slipped their minds, that Keir Hardie was a staunch advocate of Home Rule for Scotland and in 1914 a year before he died he was involved in preparing a Bill on Home Rule.  Sadly this went no further due to the outbreak of the Great War.

  12. Craig says:

    What a brilliant article from Japan Times titled, “Scotland a nation, not a region”.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/04/04/commentary/scotland-a-nation-not-a-region/#.Uz6gfSxOXIU

  13. colin mccartney says:

    My local Labour knuckle draggers can’t deal with “big words and long sentences”. I think we need an abridged version for the likes of them, if we are hoping for any kind of reply.
    And my MP – Sarwar – seems to have stopped replying to any of my emails.
    Maybe I will go and put a wee sticker on his window.

  14. Ghengis D'Midgies says:

    Duly sent to Rhoda Grant MSP and David Stewart MSP

    You know I’ve just noticed that the cheeky buggers change my subject line from ‘Labour’s devolution obfuscation’ to ‘Scottish Labour Devolution Commission’.

    By the way I didn’t let you know the content of their reply to my previous email as it was identical to Richard Baker’s reply.

  15. Rod Mac says:

    O/T is the Counting House meet tonight?

  16. jake says:

    I’ve just discovered a blank self adhesive sticker on my front door. Are the “don’t knows” out campaigning?

  17. ecruden says:

    Boyack emailed.

  18. Dcanmore says:

    It’s called ‘making it up as you go along’ … the only real policy Labour have got and relates to just about every subject punted to the public up till GE2015.

  19. Mat says:

    Replied to Jayne Baxter. Wonder if she can manage to respond without a cheap dig this time round.

    Let’s hope she responds in a Rockin’ Good Way or I may just have to Cry Just A Little Bit.

  20. Illy says:

    HOLY SHIT! That article from Japan Times is straight to the jugular. No, I need a more viceral metaphor than that, probably involving chainsaws.

    Wow.

    How do we get it to go viral?

  21. yerkitbreeks says:

    Tried again – no response from my two S of Scotland labour MSPs to letters on 27th

  22. bjsalba says:

    What I don’t understand, Rev, is why you think there is a bottom of this to get to! I suspect it is intended to be a bottomless pit of obfuscation to divert the public and WOS. Please don’t spend too much time on it!

  23. misteralz says:

    Breech.

    😉

  24. David MacGille-Mhuire says:

    Which one’s Darling in this pic and where is Cochers of Der Telegraf and Teutonic Knights thunder ing into battle? Maybe he’s pawing the ground somewhere off “camera”?

    I think I can spot Forsythe looking campily tonsured, but damned if I can see see the Chewchoob of Davidson as there is no sign of his trademark chib and broken champagne Buckfast bottle.

    Girondists the lot of them.

    Or and simply and old-fashionedly and partially in this period and its anticipatory thereafter, Kitchener-style cowards posing for sanitised posterity whilst shovelling the plebeians and conquered masses up to the front.

    Not a lot has changed.

    Fuck the lot of them and the battle chargers (and tanks?) they would (re-) ride in on.

  25. Barontorc says:

    This is almost painful to watch as our duly elected Labour MSP/MPs try to become corkscrews to cover-up the barren-ness of what’s no more than bunkum for us silly wee Scots to stay in their Union.

    Each week I watch FMQ in the hope to see real stickable blows landed by AS that just have to grab the headlines and that absolutely can’t be overlooked by the BBC. Something akin to declaring open warfare for whatever good and valid Scottish reason that’s totally unspinnable.

    Isn’t FMQ a two way street, where AS can ask questions and demand answers rather than as it is; questions only to the FM?

    Whoever decides the format of FMQ needs to look at the same opportunity being open for questions to Lamont, Davidson and Rennie, or any others and then ‘hansard-ed’ as a matter of record, or whatever else does for this in Holyrood.

  26. Edward says:

    Related to the headline and picture – Henry V (memorably played by Sir Lawrence Olivier) A little known fact that Henry V was actually roundly defeated by the Scot’s in France, prior to Agincourt. The Scot’s had amassed a large army of (I think) around 5000 men, including archer’s , who fought alongside Joan d’Arc. The defeat of Henry V by the Scot’s enabled the dauphine Charles to be crowned in Orleans Cathedral by a Scottish bishop.

    Not a lot of people know that, then again we re subjected to English history as apposed to Scottish history

  27. Juteman says:

    He’s behind you!

  28. HandandShrimp says:

    I think the big problem is that Johann doesn’t really understand the proposals and no one in the Labour Party has sat down with all the MPs and MSPs and said “this is what this means”. It is a bit of a dog’s breakfast and some policy wonk somewhere is probably the only person that actually understands it.

    Good old Labour, where there is simplicity let us bring confusion, where there is understanding let us bring misunderstanding and where there is a way let us bring red tape. Not evil as such…just Vogons

  29. cavalier says:

    2nd mail sent to Boyack MSP…still awaiting reply to first of 27th March though…

  30. Alan Mackintosh says:

    Nick, Richard Feynmans quote re Q mechanics is very apt for this

    “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”

    Just transpose labour policy for Q mechanics

  31. CameronB says:

    ecruden
    I hope you asked Sarah Boyack what she thinks of these apples, an academic study accepted in to Harvard University’s History library. The thrust of it’s findings is that the level of economic activity enjoyed by ANY nation is largely dependent on the level of parliamentary activity within that nation.

    Could you ask her WHY she THINKS an independent Scottish parliament would reverse these historical trends?

    http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1298573.files/Parliaments.pdf

  32. Illy says:

    @Edward: Scotland and France have a long, long history together. Some of that is shared endevours against the English.

    Where do you think the fleur-de-lis on the Lion come from?

  33. Tommy Kane says:

    Well at least some of you got a reply, the spanner that I have, DungCan McNeil, never even replied to my request for clarification. I thought I was sure of a clear answer after all he spent two years as part of the committee deciding what the offer would look like form Labour. So should I have another go or accept the fact that he is hiding, favourite trick of his, especially when there is a stramash brewing. Time his trotters were barred from anywhere near the trough.

  34. Holebender says:

    When I first received Dickie Baker’s e-mail I replied, pointing out the difference between his version and Johann Lamont’s and asking which was true. There has been nothing from his office since.

  35. Lobeydosser says:

    @Illy.
    That was a smashing read.The Japan article has a share option for Fb.Twitter etc.

  36. James Whyte says:

    I’ve contacted my local Labour MP, our dear friend Ian Murray. I’ll keep you posted.

  37. Seasick Dave says:

    Here’s another article from the Japan Times for sharing.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/03/22/commentary/scots-have-nothing-to-lose-going-the-indy-route/#.Uz6lrPldVL4

    Apologies if it has already been highlighted.

  38. Edward says:

    @Illy – Thanks, I knew about the connection, though hadn’t realised that about the Lion Rampant.
    I only found out about the defeat of Henry V, when I was researching a friends ancestry (they were descended from a knight errant that took part in the battle that defeated Henry V) from that I found out about the Garde Ecossaise

    There is far more to Scottish history than was and is ever taught and I find it more richer than what emanates from the likes of the BBC

  39. HandandShrimp says:

    Edward

    It was actually after Agincourt which 1415. The Battle at Bauge was in 1421 and was a turning point in the 100 years war. After Agincourt, Henry anticipated unifying the English and French crowns and was crowned King of France. The Dauphin held on in the south by his fingertips and asked the Scottish King for help, which was duly sent.

    A lot of key English military leaders died at Bauge including Henry’s brother. Henry returned with a new army to engage the revitalised Dauphin and his Franco Scottish army but died in 1422 of dysentery and things began to unravel. Over the next few years there were wins and losses for both sides but the victory at Orleans by Joan d’Arc in 1429 pretty much sealed France for the Dauphin, a number of former French allies of Henry changed sides and the Dauphin secured the French crown. About a third of Joan’s army at Orleans were Scots.

  40. Lobeydosser says:

    @Rod Mac.
    Yes its tonight:)

  41. Desimond says:

    @Rod Amc
    Aye, head in, turn left (could also be a tip for Scotland!)

    in respect to questions..why dont we send them to all the Media instead..especially the BBC Sunday Politics Brigade.

    Hey if we are gonna live in the hope a Labour MP actually answers appropriately, then we are as well asking the very people who are meant to ask these very such questions too!

  42. Flower of Scotland says:

    Jayne Baxter, Claire Baker and Richard Simpson e mailed. It took two lots of emails to get one answer, and that was from Jayne Baxter which I sent to Rev. I’m not holding my breath , to get any answers this time! Clair Baker and Richard Simpson didn’t even acknowledge my Two e mails from the last query!

  43. James says:

    I too received a response, from Margaret McCulloch MSP, Central Scotland, stating that the Scottish Government would be able to lower income tax across all tax bands. I’ve sent the follow up questions and will hopefully get clarification soon.

    As before, I’ve begun holding my breath in anticipation.

  44. Desimond says:

    @HandandShrimp

    “but died in 1422 of dysentery and things began to unravel”

    …very good!

    🙂

  45. Proud Cybernat says:

    Tom Harris MP emailed.

  46. Edward says:

    Thanks HandandShrimp, much appreciated the correction 🙂

  47. heedtracker says:

    O/Tish from vote No Guardian’s foreign correspondent Severin Carrell!

    “For Scotland, independence is about democracy not nationalism; it’s about righting the wrongs of a country living its life as a region.

    In a manic desperation to safeguard Westminster rule, British nationalists are trying to con people in Scotland into believing black is white: that more austerity, an increase in the retirement age, pensions being privatized, nuclear weapons on the doorstep of Scotland’s largest city, a lower life expectancy, record numbers of food banks, governments it didn’t vote for, are the best thing for Scotland.”

    Kidding. Its that Japan Times article but a week is a long time in teamGB vote no land. Just a week ago the great Severin Carrell told the world the WoS Glasgow tube ads were “an attack” on Scottish journalists, who have all absolutely refused to even skim and scan whatever Lamont and co think they can get away with here.

  48. Desimond says:

    Looking a the picture above, theres a “We’re the Knights who say Nano” gag in there somewhere for sure!

  49. yerkitbreeks says:

    japanese article – it’s on NewsNow

  50. Grant_M says:

    Email sent to Lewis Macdonald. He’s the only one who’s replied to me so far. (Will also email same to Jenny Marra, Richard Baker and Anne Begg once I’ve managed to extract some sort of response from each to the original questions.)

  51. heedtracker says:

    I sent these new questions to my councillor here in Aberdeen Willie Young but he didn’t respond last week so its probably pointless. If Labour in Scotland are awful at Holyrood level, you want to see them in action up here.

    Tried Anne Begg MP too but its unlikely there’ll be anything other than get lost. To be fair, Wullie is the Aberdeen Council finance convener whatever that is, so he must know lots about taxes and money. He just doesn’t like to have any contact with his constituents or allow a Saltire to fly over Aberdeen either.

  52. Catherine says:

    @ Jake
    lol 🙂

  53. Sonja Cameron says:

    Sent to Jayne Baxter, Margaret McCulloch, Richard Simpson, Claire Baker and Anne McGuire.
    Last time I got the ‘form letter’ from JB, MMC and AMG, and nothing from RS and CB.

  54. Duly sent to James Kelly MSP and Tom Greatrex MP. Not holding my breath as I’m still waiting to hear from the first request!

  55. Iain More says:

    Take two aspirin and go to bed. Ma poor heid!

  56. Andrew Morton says:

    Still haven’t received a reply to my original email to my local Labour MP in Musselburgh whose name I have already forgotten (forgivable as she appears to be memorable only for doing nothing).

    The fascinating thing about Devo Nano (or Deceivo Max as I prefer to call it) is that it’s totally incapable of explanation on the doorstep.

    “So Mr. United With Labour campaigner can you just explain your post No vote tax proposals to me?”

    “Er, it’s complicated …”

  57. heedtracker says:

    Is there any legal obligation on MP’s or councillors to reply to this? If there is any, how to use it?

  58. Alan Mackintosh says:

    Yes, Jake @ 1.20

    🙂

  59. Vronsky says:

    @jake

    I’ve just discovered a blank self adhesive sticker on my front door. Are the “don’t knows” out campaigning?

    Choked on coffee. Brilliant!

  60. David says:

    Dear Labour Party in Scotland, you may find this useful:

    http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/

    Best regards,

    A Friend

  61. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Breech.”

    Nope:

    http://tinyurl.com/breechbreach

  62. Elizabeth says:

    I’m reading on twitter that Margo MacDonald has passed away. How sad

  63. tartanfever says:

    O/T

    There is a petition going on ‘change.org’ to try and axe the Red Road flats demolition as part of the opening ceremony if anyone wants to add their name.

    They need around another 800 signatures or so.

    You can do so here:

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/glasgow-city-council-and-the-scottish-government-stop-plan-to-demolish-red-road-flats-as-part-of-commonwealth-games-opening-ceremony-the-homes-and-communities-of-families-should-be-demolished-with-dignity

  64. Inbhir Anainn says:

    As requested by the Rev. Stu emailed Elaine Murray MSP (Lab).

  65. bald eagle says:

    O/T breaking news

    guys margo mcdonald has just died

  66. cirsium says:

    Craig – thanks for posting the link to the Japan Times article. What a refreshing read.

  67. Clootie says:

    I remember when journalists once asked these questions.

    The wonder why the circulation falls. The BBC has lost our trust.
    Only Labour could produce such trash and receive no scrutiny regarding it’s meaning.

    I’m one of the lucky few with an SNP MP and MSP so I’ll leave the journalistic work to those less fortunate.

    An amazing comparison when you look at the grilling Alex and Nicola received over the white paper ( in which they answered every question fully) and the total body swerve on Labours Devo-Crap by the media.

  68. Andrew Brown says:

    Emailed to my MP (Thomas Docherty) and MSP (Cara Hilton), plus all 6 European Parliamentary candidates. I don’t hold out much hope for a reply as I have the feeling that Labour prefer sit on high issuing edicts rather than deal directly with the sma’ folk.

  69. john king says:

    Margo MacDonald has died

  70. bunter says:

    Terrible news about Margo MacDonald. I knew she had been in hospital, but expected to see her return to the fray. So sad.

  71. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    @ HandandShrimp and Edward.

    They hold a commemorative week-end every year with a parade, pipe bands’n stuff.

    Be Scottish with a kilt and the drink is free. So are the women; all in the way of romantic historic re-enactment mind.

    By the way, when Scotland became Protestant the Garde Ecossaise became suspect and were replace by Garde Suisse, to be passed onto the Pope later.

    There is an apocryphal story that Harry MacElhone, who founded Harry’s Bar in Paris was in danger of being deported because he wasn’t French. He challenged the attempt by saying that he, and all Scots, had the right to French nationality was way of a Royal Proclamation of the French King, Charles V.

    He was never deported and his family own the bar to this day. It was another of Hemmingway’s haunts.

  72. X_Sticks says:

    Very saddened to hear of the death of Margo MacDonald. One of Scotland’s great lights has gone out.

    What an inspirational woman she was.

    RIP

  73. john king says:

    My heart is broken.

  74. Edward says:

    Saddened at the news of the passing of Margo Macdonald, a sad loss to the country and parliament

  75. call me dave says:

    That’s a very sad blow. Condolences to all her family and friends, Scotland will not forget her.

  76. Jeannie says:

    So sad to hear of the passing of Margo MacDonald. A lady that truly loved Scotland and its people. Thanks for everything you did for us.

  77. Doonfooter says:

    Ian Murray is scheduled to attend the public meeting organised by Sandra Osborne in Ayr Town Hall on Thursday 17th April from 7.30pm. The meeting has the sub-title “The Pound in Your Pocket” and is being organised under the United With Labour banner.

    They are asking people to pre-register either by e-mailing unitedwithlabour [at] outlook [dot] com or tel:07725895627.

    Already registered so maybe Mr Murray will enlighten us with an explanation on the Devo Nano proposals! I’ll report back!

  78. Doonfooter says:

    Sorry should add that those contact details were published in this weeks edition of the Ayrshire Post! Don’t want people to think I’m wildly circulating Mr Osbournes phone number!

  79. MajorBloodnok says:

    The BBC’s very own Douglas “We’re aw doomed!” Fraser needs to have a go at answering these questions. He’d be the man to do it, surely.

  80. Ericmac says:

    OT As mentioned already to Stu… British Establishment getting everywhere…. including frightening Mums-to-be on Mumsnet (using a paid / sponsored advertisement)

    http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/sponsored_discussions/2036742-Discuss-your-views-of-the-Scottish-Referendum-with-the-UK-government

    No doubt some Government department checking Internet Traffic and placing ads accordingly.

    It’s scary stuff especially their document https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/297521/FInal_money_and_economy_pack.pdf

    I don’t remember if its been debunked on here already??

  81. Helena Brown says:

    Sorry having not had answers to the first lot I am leaving it to the other half. He has done the work if he gets a reply he can get the credit. It may be better if there are not two enquiries from the one house as this may be putting them off.

  82. StevieMcB says:

    An amazing woman
    We’ll do it for you Margo. RIP

  83. alexicon says:

    Craig – thanks for posting the link to the Japan Times article. What a refreshing read.

    I had already posted it on the mork calling mindy thread @12:26.

    Thanks for the recognition folks!

  84. CameronB says:

    O/T My browser is showing this page is served from the USA and now the Czech Republic, not from the UK?????

  85. alexicon says:

    RIP Margo. A true patriot to Scotland.
    You’ll be sorely missed.

  86. misteralz says:

    Apologies, Rev. I had been under the misapprehension that it was a quote regarding rifles, where breech would of course be correct, and I have always bristled when I’ve seen it written ‘breach’. I can stop that bristling now. 😀

  87. Jim Mitchell says:

    At last I got my reply from Gordon Banks MP:

    Dear Mr Mitchell,

    Thank you for your interest in Labour’s proposals to further extend and enhance devolution for Scotland within the United Kingdom.

    The Labour Party is the Party of devolution. Our founder, Keir Hardie, promoted Home Rule in the early 1900s, we participated in the Constitutional Convention in the 1980s and in 1999 we delivered a Scottish Parliament. In 2012, we extended these powers further when we supported the Scotland Act. And in 2016, as a result of these changes, the biggest transfer of fiscal powers since the Act of Union will take place.

    In spring 2012, Johann Lamont established a Devolution Commission to examine what could be done to strengthen devolution further. Following two years of deliberations and a yearlong public consultation, we published our proposals on 18th March. The final report of the Commission was endorsed unanimously by Scottish Labour Party Conference on 21st March.

    Our starting principle is that we believe in a society in which resources are pooled and shared across the whole country, and in which those with the broadest shoulders and greatest resources contribute most to the support of those in need.

    Our report is wide-ranging and includes a number of recommendations, including:

    Further devolution of income tax, discussed in more detail below.
    Devolution of housing benefit and attendance allowance, to align more closely the provision of benefits in an area closely related to devolved services.
    Devolution of the work programme to Scottish local authorities to better meet the needs of local labour markets.

    The report of the commission is extensive and also includes proposals to increase the powers available to our island communities, to improve local democratic accountability and to establish better enforcement mechanisms for health and safety in Scotland, including the establishment of a Scottish Health and Safety executive.

    On income tax, we believe that the changes made by the Scotland Act 2012 are significant, but there is scope to go further.

    Labour would therefore give the Scottish Parliament the power to raise around £2 billion more in revenues beyond the recent Scotland Act.
    We will do this by widening the variation in income tax in the Scotland Act by half from 10p up to 15p.
    This will mean that three-quarters of basic rate income tax in Scotland will be under the control of the Scottish Parliament.
    The Scottish Parliament could, using the powers of the Scotland Act 2012, and our extension to their scope, choose to lower income tax, below the UK level, across all income tax bands.
    Equally, it would be possible to use the same power to increase tax, above the UK level, across all bands.
    Alternatively, if the Scottish Parliament wished to exercise greater flexibility between bands, Labour’s proposals mean that it would be empowered to do so by applying Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax to increase either the higher or additional rates of tax.

    Labour’s proposals for further tax powers are designed to enhance fiscal accountability and flexibility at a Scottish level, while preventing destructive income tax competition between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Labour’s policy is that fair taxation for the highest earners would be achieved by setting the additional rate at 50p.

    Thank you for your interest in the final report of our devolution commission. If you require any more detail on our income tax policy, this can be found on page 148 – 151 of the report. If you wish to read the full report, it can be found on the Scottish Labour website at http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/campaigns/entry/devolution-commission

  88. alexicon says:

    @ericmac. Surely some of the mums on here could register to inform the mothers of the benefits of Independence and the down side of dependence.

  89. call me dave says:

    @Jim Mitchell
    Well that’s a straight forward reply, he seems quite clear about it. No mention about Barnett going though.

    On a sad day for Scotland I’ll inject a lighter moment here. Apologies in advance.

    Headline Herald

    Vatican: chief sex crimes prosecutor will probe Keith O’Brien

  90. Andy smith says:

    So sad to hear about Margo McDonald, her regular column in the Edinburgh evening news was my only reason for buying the paper.And to come about when the Scottish electorate are only weeks away from delivering her dream. god bless, margo,Scotland will never forget you.

  91. msean says:

    Who paid for that mumsnet pdf info pack,bt?

  92. Betty Boop says:

    Well, I didn’t get as much as an acknowledgement to my letter querying Labour’s tax proposals from any of the five politicians (I am a constituent to all of them)until this evening. Received an email at 16:44, Friday 4th April 2014 from Graeme Pearson MSP.

    Letters sent on 27th March to him plus Brian Donohoe MP,
    Claudia Beamish MSP,David Martin MEP and Christine Stihler MEP. No replies so far from them.

    Graeme Pearson MSP seems to agree with Richard Baker on taxing across all bands and being able to set taxes lower than the UK. So, who was I listening to in the Gordon Brewer interviewer. That couldn’t have been the Leader of Labour in Scotland, surely?

    Mr Pearson replied: (just in case you can be bothered and need to add him to the list)

    “Good afternoon

    Thank you for your interest in Labour’s proposals to further extend and enhance devolution for Scotland within the United Kingdom.

    The Labour Party is the Party of devolution. Our founder, Keir Hardie, promoted Home Rule in the early 1900s, we participated in the Constitutional Convention in the 1980s and in 1999 we delivered a Scottish Parliament. In 2012, we extended these powers further when we supported the Scotland Act. And in 2016, as a result of these changes, the biggest transfer of fiscal powers since the Act of Union will take place.

    In spring 2012, Johann Lamont established a Devolution Commission to examine what could be done to strengthen devolution further. Following two years of deliberations and a yearlong public consultation, we published our proposals on 18th March. The final report of the Commission was endorsed unanimously by Scottish Labour Party Conference on 21st March.

    Our starting principle is that we believe in a society in which resources are pooled and shared across the whole country, and in which those with the broadest shoulders and greatest resources contribute most to the support of those in need.

    Our report is wide-ranging and includes a number of recommendations, including:

    * Further devolution of income tax, discussed in more detail below.
    * Devolution of housing benefit and attendance allowance, to align more closely the provision of benefits in an area closely related to devolved services.
    * Devolution of the work programme to Scottish local authorities to better meet the needs of local labour markets.

    The report of the commission is extensive and also includes proposals to increase the powers available to our island communities, to improve local democratic accountability and to establish better enforcement mechanisms for health and safety in Scotland, including the establishment of a Scottish Health and Safety executive.

    On income tax, we believe that the changes made by the Scotland Act 2012 are significant, but there is scope to go further.

    * Labour would therefore give the Scottish Parliament the power to raise around £2 billion more in revenues beyond the recent Scotland Act.
    * We will do this by widening the variation in income tax in the Scotland Act by half from 10p up to 15p.
    * This will mean that three-quarters of basic rate income tax in Scotland will be under the control of the Scottish Parliament.
    * The Scottish Parliament could, using the powers of the Scotland Act 2012, and our extension to their scope, choose to lower income tax, below the UK level, across all income tax bands.
    * Equally, it would be possible to use the same power to increase tax, above the UK level, across all bands.
    * Alternatively, if the Scottish Parliament wished to exercise greater flexibility between bands, Labour’s proposals mean that it would be empowered to do so by applying Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax to increase either the higher or additional rates of tax.

    Labour’s proposals for further tax powers are designed to enhance fiscal accountability and flexibility at a Scottish level, while preventing destructive income tax competition between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    Labour’s policy is that fair taxation for the highest earners would be achieved by setting the additional rate at 50p.

    Thank you for your interest in the final report of our devolution commission. If you require any more detail on our income tax policy, this can be found on page 148 – 151 of the report. If you wish to read the full report, it can be found on the Scottish Labour website at http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/campaigns/entry/devolution-commission

  93. Peter Mirtitsch says:

    I sent my original email to Katy Clark on 27th March…then a reminder a few days later…and another reminder today, just in case she was too busy. In case she is too busy or has any other bother, I offered to meet at her constituency office too. (That’s how I roll..:D)

  94. Garry Henderson says:

    I have replied, including the text above, to Jenny Marra, Richard Baker and Lewis MacDonald, looking forward to the reply…

  95. Grouse Beater says:

    Politicians arrive at incoherence when the policy they articulate is based on a concealed negative.

    In this case the negative – more powers are dangerous – is uppermost in their mind. They do all they can to block truth, at all costs, and resort to waffle.

    Forced to hold two opposing beliefs simultaneous leaves the inarticulate, shallow politician, such as Lamont, struggling, trying to give the impression of optimism and progress while selling nothing more than candy floss.

  96. Donzo says:

    The Scotland Act means that from 2016 10% of all tax rates go straight to Holyrood. So that means 10/20ths of the 20% band and 10/40ths of the higher rate and, indeed 10/45ths of the super tax rate (my words). That is in law. Vote yes or no…this one is already in place. This 10% rate is called scottish rate income tax. Srit can be increased or decreased. But if it is increased to 15% then the top rate is back at 50% (yippee in socialist homes for all the few dozen scots who pay it) but the basic rate is then 25% .
    What the devolution committee for labour seems to propose (read the published commission report by the way and note all of the contributors are I some way on the public payroll and none appear to be tax specialists) is that we get an Extra tax “progressive tax” – this means we can cut srit so basic rate taxpayers pay less and add more tax to the richer people because that’s fair (apparently 45% isn’t state theft of private assets plus 2% ni etc).
    Your letter above reflects the fact that johann lamont doesn’t seem able to articulate tax policies.

    The snp have worked out that come September they need to show they are more socialist (“fair”) than labour hence the labour mad response to have devolution with a one way promise for higher taxes on the rich.

    Manna for heaven for the yes camp as the labour stance destroys the chances of a unified response to say to voters “the other parties agree a no vote means this”.

    Massive own goal from labour. Pushes any centre /right voters straight to a yes vote because that at least means we get our financial collapse out of the way and rebuild a great nation debt free with a new currency free of Westminster and Brussels?…

    I am guessing that I am about to be called a fanny again by some of you- but the analysis of the existing Scotland Act and the labour proposals may help understand.

    Total gift to the yes vote.

  97. Donzo says:

    Ps as the progressive tax is a new tax and would not be linked to Westminster it means scots can only pay the same or higher tax than England if In the 40% or 45% bands.

    Basically we are tied to the uk system but the existing new scotland act allows us to play with 10% of each band uniformly.

    So we can have
    Uk 20% scotland 22%
    With 40/42 and 45/47
    The srit is a tax and that rate can change.

    This labour proposal says…
    Make the 10% play 15% – more of the budget in holyrood
    Power for an Extra tax on top – for the rich in scotland if any are left!
    Barnett formula changed…yes the consultation says that!

  98. Donzo says:

    Ps my first comment says all taxes – I do mean income tax.
    The payroll software guys will love this devolution thing.
    It is as if they are making it so awkward the independence is a no brainier.

  99. Craig says:

    Very sad that Margo McDonald has not lived to see an independent Scotland.

  100. Craig says:

    I think the new attacks on ‘cybernats’ are due to the W o S attempts to expose Labour’s ‘Devo Nano’ nonsense on a massive scale.

  101. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Grouse Beater

    Exactly. When it boils down to it all the taxation proposals being suggested by Labour represent the taxes already being collected being collected in a different,expensive and more complicated way.

    The only change contained in these concoctions that would make any difference is unusable as it would be disadvantageous to Scotland and to any party that used them.

    The whole exercise is founded on the basis that the Scots voter is daft. Those Scots voters that are daft-we have our share of them – are the only continuing target audience of the Better Together campaign.

    This is steadily undermining the Btter Together campaign as well informed or interested folk don’t like to be taken for idiots

  102. david says:

    Reply from my MP for Edinburgh East

    Dear David
    Thank you for writing to me with regards to the Labour Party’s Devolution Commission.

    The Labour Party is the Party of devolution. Our founder, Keir Hardie, promoted Home Rule in the early 1900s, we participated in the Constitutional Convention in the 1980s and in 1999 we delivered a Scottish Parliament. In 2012, we extended these powers further when we supported the Scotland Act. And in 2016, as a result of these changes, the biggest transfer of fiscal powers since the Act of Union will take place.

    In spring 2012, Johann Lamont established a Devolution Commission to examine what could be done to strengthen devolution further. Following two years of deliberations and a yearlong public consultation, we published our proposals on 18th March. The final report of the Commission was endorsed unanimously by Scottish Labour Party Conference on 21st March.

    Our starting principle is that we believe in a society in which resources are pooled and shared across the whole country, and in which those with the broadest shoulders and greatest resources contribute most to the support of those in need.

    Our report is wide-ranging and includes a number of recommendations, including:

    Further devolution of income tax, discussed in more detail below.

    Devolution of housing benefit and attendance allowance, to align more closely the provision of benefits in an area closely related to devolved services.
    Devolution of the work programme to Scottish local authorities to better meet the needs of local labour markets.

    The report of the commission is extensive and also includes proposals to increase the powers available to our island communities, to improve local democratic accountability and to establish better enforcement mechanisms for health and safety in Scotland, including the establishment of a Scottish Health and Safety executive.

    On income tax, we believe that the changes made by the Scotland Act 2012 are significant, but there is scope to go further.

    Labour would therefore give the Scottish Parliament the power to raise around £2 billion more in revenues beyond the recent Scotland Act.

    We will do this by widening the variation in income tax in the Scotland Act by half from 10p up to 15p.

    This will mean that three-quarters of basic rate income tax in Scotland will be under the control of the Scottish Parliament.

    The Scottish Parliament could, using the powers of the Scotland Act 2012, and our extension to their scope, choose to lower income tax, below the UK level, across all income tax bands.

    Equally, it would be possible to use the same power to increase tax, above the UK level, across all bands.

    Alternatively, if the Scottish Parliament wished to exercise greater flexibility between bands, Labour’s proposals mean that it would be empowered to do so by applying Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax to increase either the higher or additional rates of tax.

    Labour’s proposals for further tax powers are designed to enhance fiscal accountability and flexibility at a Scottish level, while preventing destructive income tax competition between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    Labour’s policy is that fair taxation for the highest earners would be achieved by setting the additional rate at 50p.
    Thank you for your interest in the final report of our devolution commission. If you require any more detail on our income tax policy, this can be found on page 148 – 151 of the report. If you wish to read the full report, it can be found on the Scottish Labour website

  103. Ghengis D'Midgies says:

    Reply received:

    Sirs,

    As your request for further information regarding Scottish Labour’s Devolution Tax indicates identical concerns, we are coping you all into the same reply.

    The Scottish Labour Party issued a briefing paper to its MSPs and others and I copy a section of this for your information which, I hope, will answer your questions.

    Income tax Q&A

    Will we be able to increase the income tax rates in Scotland?

    Yes – there are two ways this can be done: (i) income tax can be raised across all bands (basic rate, higher rate and additional rate) as is the case under Calman; (ii) income tax rates can be raised in higher or additional rates – for example, it would be possible for the Scottish Parliament to reverse the cut in additional rate from 50p to 45p.

    Will we be able to increase the income tax rates higher than that of the UK rates?

    Yes – see above.

    Will we be able to change the amount we increase income tax differently for basic, higher and the additional rates or do we have to increase them all by the same amount?

    It will be possible to increase higher and additional rate separately. If the SP wishes to increase basic rate, it must also raise higher and additional rates.

    Will we be able to lower income tax rates?

    Yes – but this will have to be done across all bands à la Calman. This means that if the SP wants to decrease any rate below the UK rate it must do so across all bands.

    Will we be able to lower the amount of income tax by different amounts for the basic, higher and additional rates or do we have to lower them by the same amount?

    No – we must decrease by the same percentage across bands.

    Will be able to lower the rates of income tax below that of the UK Government?

    Yes – but this needs to be done across all bands by the same amount.

    What percentage of the basic rate could the Scottish Parliament control?

    75 per cent – this is because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for 15p out of 20p.

    What percentage of higher rate could the Scottish Parliament control?

    37.5 per cent – this is because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for 15p out of 40p.

    What percentage of additional rate could the Scottish Parliament control?

    33.3 per cent – this is because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for 15p out of 45p.

    What powers will the UK Government still retain over income tax?

    The UK Government remains responsible for (i) the structure of income tax – bands and thresholds; (ii) income tax paid on savings and dividends; and (iii) rates out-with the 15p Scottish rate – so, for example, 5p of basic rate.

    Best wishes

    Rhoda Grant David Stewart



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