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Raspberry or rhubarb?

Posted on January 21, 2013 by

There was an interesting article in today’s Herald entitled “SNP snub plan for more tax powers at Holyrood”. It centred around the latest report from the Institute of Public Policy Research, advocating a new form of further devolution settlement (dubbed “Devo More”) as a solution to Scotland’s problems rather than for independence.

The article itself was devoid of any analysis of the report’s findings, though in fairness to the Herald it did note that the IPPR “has close ties to Labour”, thereby alerting suspicious readers to potential bias within the document.

As far as many independence supporters are concerned, any offer of further devolution at this point is merely an empty promise of “jam tomorrow”. Had any Westminster party seriously intended to increase the level of devolution to Scotland, runs their argument, then they could have done so during the Calman Commission, the Scotland Act or more recently by including an offer of further devolution on the ballot paper for the 2014 independence referendum. They did none of these things.

We’ve noted previously why it’s not in the interests of the Westminster parties to hand further powers to Holyrood, and how a No vote would remove the threat that motivated such devolution as we have now (there have also been veiled suggestions from the Unionist parties about “reforming” the Scottish Parliament to reduce its power and prevent the same situation happening again in future), and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wasn’t impressed with the offer, saying:

“The only way Scotland can achieve control of our own resources and gain the powers that we need to grow the economy, create jobs, and have a fair welfare state is to vote yes in next year’s referendum.” 

The Herald described Sturgeon’s response as “The SNP has rejected a report calling for Holyrood to be given control over £22 billion a year in taxes – two-thirds of all revenue raised in Scotland”. No campaign chief Alistair Darling immediately retorted by branding the SNP “anti-devolution”, adding:

“Given the opportunity to welcome proposals for further devolution, the Deputy First Minister made it clear that the Nationalists have no interest in anything other than full separation from the United Kingdom.”

Darling went on to note that the SNP refused to join the Constitutional Convention in 1989 and in 2007 opposed the Calman Commission’s recommendations for further devolution (on the grounds they were uncosted and didn’t address the needs of Scotland or provide any real significant change to the status quo), before saying:

“Once again, the Nationalists stand outside the devolution debate. It is increasingly clear that the choice for Scotland is between devolution and an uncertain and risky future outside the United Kingdom. We will continue to argue for the best of both worlds: a strong Scottish Parliament with the security and opportunities of a strong UK.”

The apparent intention was to imply that an alternative route is available within the UK, and that only the refusal to negotiate for further devolution on the part of the SNP is forcing the independence referendum on the Scottish electorate – a tough sell, given that the Unionist parties spent most of 2012 insisting that the SNP were the ones who desperately wanted a second question.

(The “anti-devolution” line is also a rather curious choice, given that the SNP enthusiastically backed the Yes/Yes campaign in 1997 and considering that the Scottish Government’s requests for additional devolved powers since 2011 have without exception been flatly rejected by Westminster. The reader is invited to form an impression – that more powers were on the table and were turned down by the Scottish Government – which is the precise opposite of the reality.)

But if for argument’s sake we assume the report is sincere for a moment, what’s actually in it? The basis of the report is that Scotland would be responsible for collecting 100% of income tax, a proportion of VAT, alcohol duty, tobacco duty and Air Passenger Duty – a figure totalling £22 billion – as part of this further devolution settlement.

The IPPR say that this £22bn amounts to two-thirds of the tax revenues collected in Scotland, meaning that Scotland raises, according to the IPPR, an annual sum of £33bn. But is this figure correct? Table E2 of the 2010-2011 GERS Report suggests that even if you remove all oil and gas revenues (as the report’s proposals would keep control of those at Westminster) we’re still left with a Scottish tax-revenue figure of £45.2bn per annum – £12.2bn more than the IPPR figure.

Control of £22bn would give the Scottish Government power over only 41% of the tax revenues raised in Scotland, leaving the remaining 59% of Scotland’s revenues under the control of Westminster. The article continues:

“The £22bn represents 60% of Scottish revenue. Under the proposed new powers, which would come into force in 2016, some 30% would be handed over to MSPs. The rest of devolved spending would continue to be funded by a grant from the UK Government based on need.”

Asides from the figures themselves, there’s another alarming piece of information in that quotation, which we’ve highlighted in bold. The Barnett Formula which currently provides the Scottish block grant is based on a complex equation that essentially allocates Scotland about 10% of the money spent in England in devolved areas in the previous year. It is in effect a flat-percentage “pocket money” paid to Scotland (out of Scotland’s own tax revenues), the calculation of which is solely determined by English spending and takes no account of need.

Essentially, that one unassuming sentence in the IPPR report is a covert hint that the Barnett Formula – unpopular with English MPs of all parties, but Tories in particular – would be scrapped under the new devolution settlement. That’s a situation that could see funding to Scotland slashed over and above the austerity cuts already coming down the line for most of the next decade.

Fans of the BBC television show QI may recall an episode from its sixth series revealing the fraudulent Victorian practice of creating fake “raspberry” jam which was in fact made of much cheaper rhubarb (or even turnips), with tiny wooden “pips” added to create an illusion of authenticity. Even on the highly doubtful assumption that it would ever be available to purchase in the first place, we advise any readers tempted by the IPPR’s new devolutionary confection to examine the ingredients closely.

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45 to “Raspberry or rhubarb?”

  1. cath says:

    It’s breathtaking hypocrisy for Darling to claim the SNP are “anti-devolution”. He was on the anti-devolution side in 1979, and the No campaign flat out refused to consider devo-max on the ballot paper last year, condemning the SNP for even daring to mention it being there. I wouldn’t trust the no campaign for even a micro-second on further devolution claims. Once we vote no, they’ll do whatever they want, and that will be nothing or taking away powers.

  2. Dcanmore says:

    What Nu Labour are trying to do in their limited powerless ways, is convince the Scottish electorate (or a few Herald readers) that there IS a Devolution argument (hint: there isn’t anymore) and a Devolution debate (rejected by Unionists) just to get the Scottish electorate to think that Alex Salmond is shifty, scheming and hiding a better future for us Scots under his bed at Bute House. In reality (somewhere over the rainbow from Nu Labour) this is just another Vote No for Jam Tomorrow exercise and Darling has already said on numerous occasions that any Devo-settlement will have to be put to the will of all the UK, you know, the Nu Labour, UKIP, Tories, BNP, Orange Order, Ulster Loyalists, EDL types that have Scotland’s bestest interests at heart.
    Can you imagine having two bags, one full of cash and the other empty with a wee note saying ‘mebbie next week’. Which one will you grab? Vote YES and get it all, Vote NO and get stuff-all! Vote YES for a progressive upward-looking fair and just country or Vote NO for continued managed decline in a corrupt, unfair State.
    Vote YES in 2014!

  3. Robin Ross says:

    Darling is right to say that the Nationalists stand outside the devolution debate.  That debate was squashed by the refusal to countenance a devo+ question in the referendum. We are now engaged in an independence debate.  Keep up Alistair.

  4. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Can you imagine having two bags, one full of cash (Independence) and the other empty with a wee note saying ‘mebbie next week’ (Devo Jam).

    “Which one will you grab?”

    Theres a poster in there if someones up to a bit of photoshop.

  5. Robert Kerr says:

    If you are going to lose… change the argument.

    Getting interesting !


  6. MajorBloodnok says:

    If the Unionists are going to start offering Devo-More then they will have to be held to account and explain exactly how it will be implemented.

    They’ll also need to explain their outrageous U-turn.

    I think with this rather obvious exercise they’ve just made another rod for their own backs, particularly when the Independence White Paper comes out, and the NOs have to start justifying the lies they’re trying to peddle, just as the YES campaign will have to (the difference being that the YES campaign won’t be justifying lies).

    However, does the NO campaign really think they can just fool the rapidly swelling ranks of ex-NO now-Don’t Knows back into the NO fold?  Will be interesting to see if anyone buys it – remember 1979, say I.

  7. cath says:

    I suspect if they think they are going to lose big, the “no” will start to be defined as some kind of devo-max or fiscal autonomy. The problem for the no side is that there is no way all parties, and particularly those they’ve attracted to follow them, will agree to what this means.
    Many on the no side – politicians, commentators and people on their pages – are desperate to take back powers from Holyrood, and heap blame onto Labour for devolution bringing about the SNP rise to power anyway. Polls frequently showed about a 30/30/30 split – independence, devo-max and the status quo. Most already signed up, dedicated no voters are presumably in the latter camp. So their own side will effectively be disenfranchising them, having already disenfranchised most devo-maxers by not allowing it on the ballot.
    So as well as convincing the wavering ex-devo-maxers they’re serious, they’ll also have to fend off criticism and ire from the status quo voters that are their main constituency. That seems a tall order.

  8. Doug Daniel says:

    Unionists have no intention of giving us Devo Max, as it gives away too much power and would be just an illegal war away from Scots saying “sod this, let’s just go independent.”

    Jeremy Purvis tried to offer Devo Plus, but even that was too much for them since it included handing over a “geographical share” (aye, right) of oil revenues.

    So now we have Devo More, which sounds like it could actually be Devo Less.

    Unionists should take one of the best phrases from I’m Alan Partridge Series 1 Episode 1 and modify it for their mantra:


    Clearly, the tactic is to confuse the voters with so many different flavours of devolution that they can’t be pinned down on any specific set of proposals post-NO. The reality is, people are just going to say “this is just getting ridiculous – let’s just go the whole hog and be done with it.” 

  9. David Lee says:

    The problem is, any new financial settlement short of full independence is always going to leave shortfalls somewhere. It’s not in Westminster’s interest to hand us all of our money back, so there will be endless fudges like this and the Barnett Formula, all of which are designed to do little but mask Scotland’s economic strength.

    As voters, we’ve heard all this before, and we won’t fall for it any more. Full independence is the only option. 

  10. orpheuslyre says:

    Its worth emailing or twittering Alan Trench directly about questions on his report. He seems generally very fair minded. Also, he’s not an uncritical admirer of Labour – I do recall he was once treated rather poorly by Ian Davidson in a meeting of the SAC as Davidson assumed that he was antagonistic to Labour. Of course, that doesn’t need to mean that he’s not Labour-friendly. The “pro-devolution” idiom we’re seeing from Lamont & Darling might be regarded as them coming towards (or pretending to come towards) Alan Trench’s point of view on things, since his blog is committed to thinking devolution through as an autonomous concept in the UK as a whole.

  11. AnneDon says:

    I thought any change to the Devolution settlement involved a referendum for rUK as well? At least, that’s what the unionists told us when they refused to engage in the debate. And they wouldn’t lie, would they?

    Looking more and more like Cameron’s ‘victory’ in keeping Devo-Max off the agenda was rather hollow, isn’t it?

    As anyone paying attention to the facts, and not to their own propaganda at the time, could have told him.   

  12. Andrew Parrott says:

    The starting point for devo-max has I believe subtly shifted in the last few months. No longer can the Unionists get away with saying what additional aspects they might devolve, in the previous “chuck a few more sweeties at the kiddies” way Instead I believe they will have to seek to demonstrate why it is better for Scotland for any powers to be retained at the UK level. And I think, bearing in mind that devolved power is retained power, they must speak in terms of secure autonomy with Westminster giving up the right to legislate in those areas passed to the Scottish Parliament. I don’t think Devo-maxers will settle for anything less now. 

    And of course there is a big credibility gap on delivery. If the Unionists weren’t prepared to offer a devo-max plan for the referendum why should anyone believe they’ll actually offer anything more in a UK General Election and then deliver afterwards.  

    And beware perhaps of the Lib Dems offer in particular. My reading of it is that in return for frankly a few baubles by comparison the UK would move beyond the Treaty of Union with Scotland giving up any rights that it confers on Scotland. We would be just a region of the UK and not a nation with its own legal identity.    

  13. naebd says:

    I hate to be a paranoid cybernat, but what can we say for sure about any DevoMore plans?

    We know:
    Westminster hates Holyrood.
    Unionist parties and in particular Labour loathe the SNP.

    So it’s surely safe to say that any DevoMore plans will be carefully formulated to:

    “Rein in” Holyrood.
    “Kill Nationalism Stone Dead 2.0”

    If these plans had been proposed without the sword of Damocles of an independence referendum hanging over the folk that are coming out with them, I would be less suspicious. As it stands, these are simply a response to the referendum and are in no way desired by the proposers or their political sponsors.

    Wake up sheeple, etc. 

  14. Oldnat says:

    Scottish Sun Editor made an interesting suggestion. If the No side really want more devolution to Scotland, then they can legislate for that now, but delay implementation until after the referendum.

  15. mato21 says:


    George Square revamp cancelled To have a cheaper facelift instead 

  16. Tinyzeitgeist says:

    OT, But a good article here from John Harris at the Guardian:

    If we vote no in 2014 expect much more of this, including I suspect the end of the Barnet Formula to force privatisation on Scotland’s public services. Indeed, all talk of further devolution by the unionists is in my view simply downright lies, Does anybody really expect them to strengthen our Parliament, when it reflects our wish to do things differently from westminster? I don’t think so. Indeed those who might be tempted to vote no should ask themselves who they would then vote for in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016? A no vote is effectively a vote for Lamont, Davidson and Rennie and their neoliberal politics.   

  17. Luigi says:

    How can the SG be “anti-devolution” and “desperate for a second question” at the same time? Either one claim is wrong, or they are both wrong, but they cannot both be correct. I am getting quite dizzy watching all this spin and spin and spin. Talk about rats in a trap.

  18. Peter says:

    Darling is an outright liar.   The SNP were involved at the start of the Constitutional Convention.  It was labour and their union stooges refusing to allow Independence to even be discussed that led to the SNP leaving.  

    Labour liars always have been and always will be. 

    I also remember labour walking out of a cross-party pro-devolution meeting but I’m sure cockney Al can’t remember that one.

  19. Barontorc says:

    It is absolutely farcical for the unionist camp to even talk about anything devo since they  deliberately excluded it as an option in the referendum and we’re just wasting breath and pc power even talking about it again.

    It all looks like screaming panic setting-in, with the absurd theatrics of the disgraceful Labour MPs over Section 30 at Westminster, the truly pitiful Scottish Affairs bunch led by dimwit Neanderthal Davidson, Darling’s performances on any related subject and the ‘huge’ NO support almost visible at their drumming-in meetings. Now they’ve even scunnered their msm ‘friends’ so much that there are more and more writings appearing to tell the actual truth of matters and those are seriously not so friendly any more to the No-ists.  In other words – their balloon’s well burst.

    What’s needed from YES and the White Paper due to be released by the Scottish Gov. is plain and clear answers to the many open-ended questions that will arise with a YES result. I have no doubt that this will be done – my concern will be that it is not strong enough to prevent these ‘chancers’ worming away with more attritional rubbish. They are quite capable of slash and burn tactics, some of it already apparent in absurdly ruinous PFI contracts.

    Scotland really cannot even contemplate anything but the fullest rejection of the NO argument and the firmest backing for YES.

  20. DougtheDug says:

    I haven’t read the IPPR report as it’s not public yet but I assume in the same way as every other devolution proposal it won’t cross the red line of resource allocation. Whether that resource is oil, gas or control of fishing. Anything in fact which would give Scotland an “unfair” advantage over the rest of the UK. I suspect that it will be the usual proposal to let Scotland play in the walled garden of personal and business taxes.
    The red line in devolution is that every regional government solution must not give a region more access to UK resources than any other region of the UK.
    Calman and Ming Cambell’s reports both used a top up grant with their tax schemes to ensure that Scotland’s finances were linked absolutely to the public spending in England and the rest of the UK. No route to extra money is allowed unless it’s by increasing the tax burden on Scots.
    Unless I’m wrong the IPPR report probably can be summed up in the one sentence that describes all devolution in Scotland.
    With devolution we get nukes and no oil but with independence we get oil but no nukes.

  21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Scottish Sun Editor made an interesting suggestion. If the No side really want more devolution to Scotland, then they can legislate for that now, but delay implementation until after the referendum.”

    Link? If it’s Andrew Nicoll he’s written some good stuff before.

  22. Morag says:

    I’m wondering if the penny has actually dropped yet?  There must be scores of blog posts and comments going back more than a year, explaining that no, Salmond really really didn’t want a second question.  That is was all a ploy to get the unionists to be the ones who excluded it from the ballot.

    People were not reticent.  People explained.  They explained repeatedly, patiently and openly.  And they were jeered at.

    What do we do now?  Unveil a big placard reading “you’ve been had!”?

  23. Doug Daniel says:

    Stu – I think Andrew Nicholl said it on the Sunday Politics show yesterday.

  24. cath says:

    “There must be scores of blog posts and comments going back more than a year, explaining that no, Salmond really really didn’t want a second question.”

    Well yes. But those don’t count a damn. I mean, the No camp might try and point to them in their continuing “Salond is evil and didn’t really want devolution campaign”. But the fact is, they and their compliant media spent 6 months of last year, and acres of newsprint, telling us Salmond was terrified of a referendum, desperate for devo-max and practically begging for it to be on there. They then vilified him for that, and anyone else arguing for it. The evidence is all there in all that print and broadcast media.

    Biased the media may well be, but they have also been very useful idiots for the Yes campaign.     

  25. muttley79 says:

    @Rev Stu

    Yes, Doug Daniel is right, Nicholl did say it on the Sunday Politics Scotland show.  He was on with Severin Carroll and Alex Massie.  Nicholl sounded very dismissive of the more powers line from the No parties.  He talked about 1979, pig in a poke etc.  I think the Sun might well support independence. 

    On the more powers thing, we have had Devo-Max, Devo-Plus, FFA and now Devo-More.  It is getting farcial now.  How many Devo-Whatever’s is there going to be? 

    Somebody mentioned Darling saying that the SNP were ‘anti-devolution.’  He has got some front.  The SNP campaigned for devolution in 1979 and 1997.  This despite it not being their policy.  What does he want? 

  26. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Yes, Doug Daniel is right, Nicholl did say it on the Sunday Politics Scotland show. He was on with Severin Carroll and Alex Massie.”

    Ah, I forgot I missed the last 15 minutes to watch Ripper Street. Cheers.

  27. Jeannie says:

    Is there anybody out there who can explain to me how exactly it is that my family and I will benefit from having all of our oil and gas revenues sent directly to London instead of being kept in Scotland for our own use? In what way is this better for me?

  28. Paul Docherty says:

    On a positive note, surely this is acknowledgement that the current devolved position does not go far enough and isn’t appropriate to Scotland’s needs. Something needs to be done.

    All agreed there then.

    So what are the options again?
    Yes, or No.

  29. DougtheDug says:

    Some handy Westminster definitions before reading the IPPR report.
    Controlled Taxes: The part of your block grant we let you collect directly.
    Assigned Taxes: The part of your block grant we will run through HMRC before giving to you.
    Top Up Grant: The bit of the block grant left after subtracting the controlled taxes and assigned taxes portions from the total block grant.  We give you this part directly. 

  30. Angus McLellan says:

    “Control”, eh? That word that the devo-boosters keep using, I don’t think it means what they think it means.
    When I think about control, I think of Joe Strummer and the guys belting out Complete Control. Either you’re in control or, like the Clash found out, you’re not. The Scottish govt isn’t really in control of income tax today, and it won’t be with the Scotland Act’s Calman minus changes. Not complete control, because Westminster will still set an awful lot of the parameters and Scotland now and then will set just one, the “Scottish rate”.
    I haven’t read Alan Trench & Guy Lodge’s proposals – I believe they’re supposed to be released this Friday – but I don’t need to read them to know that the devil’s always in the detail.  Trench & Lodge seem to say “control of income tax”. Does that mean complete control? Not just tax rates but allowances, not just payroll income but savings too? They say “assigned share of VAT revenues”. Well, that’s not any sort of control. It’s just a pocket money mechanism in disguise. If Westminster changes the rules for VAT, or the rates, Scotland’s income changes. No appeals, no exceptions.
    So even before we look at the Barnett issues, or the fact that more fiscal devolution means that Westminster’s lunatic foreign and defence policies loom ever larger, things do not look good. And the more devo is fiddled with to make it more like Independence for Slow Learners, so as to keep the Kenny Farquharsons of the world happy, the more Scotland would look like a small independent country with great power delusions. After all, how many other small European countries have a nuclear deterrent? Devo-something means Scotland gets one. Like someone said on the Guardian’s CiF, that’s a very millstone-like safety net.

  31. BM says:

    More tax-raising powers are continually dangled in front of the Scottish Parliament, but the trouble is, it doesn’t mean diddly-squat.  It doesn’t matter whether the collection tin is placed at Westminster or Holyrood, it’s going to be filled with the same amount, and we won’t be able to do any more with it.  Tax-collecting isn’t a power.  Being able to legislate on welfare/social security is a power.  Being able to legislate on transport, defence, and energy are powers.  Moving oversight over the block grant pales in comparison.

  32. muttley79 says:

    @Angus McLellan

    I think that we are on the road to independence.  We have been since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.  I believe that we have two choices, 1) we take the fast road, vote Yes next October, or 2) We take the very slow road, where we collect powers bit by bit, until we reach the goal.  If we take the second option this will be the most painful one for everybody, particularly die-hard unionists because it prolongs their pain.

    The reason I say we are on the road to independence is basically because political institutions always want more power (Paxman thinks this is why Scotland will be independent).  They do this until they have reached the limits of the powers available to them.  In our case this is independence.  In Scottish terms the status quo has been broken in 1997, and with the more limited powers after 2007.  If unionists don’t promise more powers they will be beaten.  If there is a No vote and they don’t honour their pledges they will go the way of the Tories after 1979.  Devolution is fatally flawed because it lets us spend a block grant, but does not allow us to raise our own taxes.  Also. we do not control our own natural resources.  This is simply an unsustainable position.  People like Henry McLeish has said this.         

  33. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “More tax-raising powers are continually dangled in front of the Scottish Parliament, but the trouble is, it doesn’t mean diddly-squat. It doesn’t matter whether the collection tin is placed at Westminster or Holyrood, it’s going to be filled with the same amount, and we won’t be able to do any more with it.”

    Yeah, that’s the odd thing about the “Devo More” plan. I can see where all the extra responsibilities arise, but not where there’s any extra POWER. What could we DO under the proposal that we can’t do now? Very little, so far as I can see.

  34. DougtheDug says:


    I can see where all the extra responsibilities arise, but not where there’s any extra POWER

    Any devolution proposal is going to hit that red line of resource allocation. Scotland cannot and will not be given any opportunities to control resouces or tax powers which will allow Scotland to become wealthier than any other part of the UK.

    It’s because any devolution bill has to go through Westminster and its the moral duty of the English based MP’s to ensure that Scotland (or any other part of the UK) does not have an an unfair advantage in comparison with the economy of their own constituents. It might even be their legal duty to ensure that their constituents don’t lose out in terms of resource share across the UK.
    That’s the red line, brick wall, immovable object or whatever you want to call it that all these wonderful devolution schemes dance around. To become law they have to get the approval of English based MP’s who are the majority in Westminster and the MP’s are not going to do it if Scotland gets any advantage over the remainder of the UK which includes their own constituents.

  35. muttley79 says:

    @Rev Stu

    They are only doing it to make it look like they are responding to voters.  In other words, the appearance is more important than the substance.  However, the problem for unionists is that power is only going one way, and it will keep accumulating.  The SNP will always be there to push for independence if the referendum fails.  Voters have skillfully used the SNP to win autonomy for Scotland for decades.  The 1979 referendum is in Scottish voters’ collective psyche.  The Tories know what happens if you deliberately piss off the electorate here with lies about more powers.  Of course if there is a Yes vote we don’t have to worry about the above.

  36. Sunshine on Crieff says:

    I have wondered why the No campaign have put so much energy into campaigning over the past twelve months, given that the date for the referendum was always going to be autumn 2014. Of course they wanted to take advantage of all the flag-waving of last year, but the danger was always going to be that their arguments would be exposed well before the campaign proper. Why spend all that effort in building a poll lead of up to 20 points (if the pollsters are to be believed) 20 to 21 months before the actual vote? Why run the risk of ‘peaking’ too early?

    Could it be that the unionists hope that such a poll gap will so dispirit the SNP and the Yes campaign that they will be open to some sort of extension to devolution? Devolution More (and the others) are not official proposals, but I suspect feelers will be put out at some time in the near future.

    Personally, I think the time for extended devolution has come and gone (although I agree that the coalition should be pressured into putting something concrete up to be implemented in the event of a No vote). If they want to preserve a ‘united kingdom’ then it has to include practical implementation, in Scotland, of the Scottish constitutional principle that sovereignty lies with the people of Scotland. We need to possess the right to make decisions, raise revenue from, and have full access to, our own resources, spend according to our own values and priorities, and develop our own society as we see fit. And contribute to a voluntary union by negotiation and agreement.

    A form of secure autonomy, where powers and responsibility are owned, rather than one of the devo schemes, where they are given (and could be taken away). 

  37. Cath says:

    Secure autonomy is one possible scenario. But the problem is, even if both the Scottish and UK governments negotiated that now – and they may well be doing so now, or have to at some point – by what process would it be brought about?

    I can’t see secure autonomy, in the full sense you and I would mean it, being delivered by Westminster, for all the reasons above. It would require agreement of English MPs and possibly the English/rUK electorate. So really, it would require a Yes vote, then an independent, sovereign Scottish government negotiating it, along with negotiating the ending of the treaties of Union.

    However there are two problems with this. One, that would represent a loss for the unionists, and a win for Salmond, with the No camp effectively having to concede and switch to supporting the Yes side to bring it about. It would really, in that case, be independence lite. And two, why would Scotland necessarily want that after a Yes vote anyway? The UK government could negotiate secure autonomy or independence-lite with the current SNP government, get a Yes vote, then find the SNP overthrown for a far more radical government that tears up any such agreement.

    I really can’t see the No side being able to offer to deliver anything much at all. The question is whether they’ll be truthful about this or lie their pants off about it and try to muddy the water.

  38. Cath says:

    I suspect they will really, really come to regret not putting a second option on the ballot paper. But then I suspect Salmond knew that  🙂

  39. douglas clark says:

    Just curious if anyone else here has a subscription to the Herald? The comments BTL appear to me to be about 9:1 that this is spin. Yet another failure by the Yes campaign!

  40. Angus McLellan says:

    @Douglas Clark: Looks something like that. Very unfavourable anyway.
    But never fear, Scotland on Sunday will surely run with this because Kenny Farquharson is just thrilled to bits. And there’s more. This is (or rather, this will be when it’s released) only part one of a continuing series. At least three parts are planned. Let joy be unconfined!

  41. Keef says:

    After all is said and done about ‘Devo-max, devo-plus, devo-more, or for the folks from the 80’s- “we are Devo”. Which party from the no campaign is promising to implement these latest ‘revelations’?

    At present none. As it is only a recommendation from a think tank.

    However, if the no campaign is suggesting that all three parties are willing to adopt this as part of their manifesto, then it opens a huge can of worms for them. If any of the parties do not agree with this proposed policy, they must say so now. If one of the parties is not willing to adopt this as party policy, and do not acknowledge this now, they are simply lying to the people of Scotland by remaining within the no camp. If all three are adamant that they support this policy, they need to promise to implement this report in order for it even to be considered? If this is the case it means that Labour, the Tories and the Libs. have crossed the final Rubicon. This signals the first time that they have formed a joint policy and agreed to campaign for its implementation. In my books, this means that Labour is now a fully fledged wing of the Tory party. This single act differentiates – three separate parties campaigning for a ‘no’ vote (which was the raison d’être of forming a loose alliance) and one single entity making policy to scuttle a ‘Yes” vote.

    As it stands, it is nothing but ‘jam tomorrow’ and a few chancers in the no campaign whistling in the dark.

  42. Keith B says:

    One of the more interesting contributions, during the S.30 debate in the Lords, came from Lord Cormack, who said;
    Hansard 16 Jan 2013: Column 738
    “…Big mistakes were made by both major political parties. The biggest mistake made by the Conservative Party was neglecting to recognise the reality of the first devolution vote. It failed because it did not clear a parliamentary hurdle but it indicated aspirations in the Scottish people. During those 18 years, I was one of a group who went to see Mrs Thatcher, as she then was, to beg that something be done: perhaps we should start having the Scottish Grand Committee sitting in Scotland regularly and frequently; or there should be a consultative assembly of Scottish local authorities. Sadly, she did not want to listen. That was a great mistake…”
    While the acknowledgement of past mistakes is welcome, the speech does remind us of the gap between our aspirations and what Westminster is prepared, at any time, to offer.

  43. MajorBloodnok says:

    I think with the NO campaign having done a reverse-ferret, trying to make out that they were always in favour of increased devolution and it was the nasty SNP that thwarted them (eh?) this can only damage even further the NO campaign.

    If there is one thing that recent political history tells us it is that the Scottish electorate don’t like being treated as fools and especially do not like being lied to.  Just look at how the LibDems have crashed and burned since they entered the coalition.

  44. dadsarmy says:

    The key thing about this report is that it is a think-tank report and has exactly the same standing as one by dadsarmy, Rev Stu or sneekyboy. There is no requirement for the Scottish Government to answer it at all, and Nicola Sturgeon, speaking therefore NOT as Deputy First Minister, but as leader of the SNP Independence campaign and a member of the SNP is 100% entitled to reject it – it’s not their policy.

    Even if the Holyrood opposition adopted this report as their official position – it still has no official standing in the Scottish Parliamentary democracy. Let them fight the next election in 2016 with that in their manifesto, there is absolutely no requirement for the Scottish Government to give it one single parliamentary second’s consideration, though in a healthy democracy, and a Holyrood built on concensus, they would if brought up in e.g. FMQ, be advised to debate it – and reject it as not being government policy.

    It therefore has as much relevance to pariliamentary democracy as any think-tank report that advised, for instance, that Tunnock’s teacakes be made available FOC during FMQ.

  45. Alastair Hutchison says:

    Hi All

    Just a couple of wee points. 

    1. I firmly believe the SNP only wanted one question (although they would have accepted two as the result was bound at very least help edge Scotland towards Independence) it was the  MSM along the Labour Party and UK gov that kept telling us the SNP wanted 2 questions….I think they might have even convinced themselves into thinking this was the actual case.

    2.  But the political situation is chaging so quickly I now think the failure of the UK gov not to have a 2nd Devo Plus / Federal options I think will only speeden the end of the Union.  Currently if the vote is lost and Scotland says NO I can’t see there being any major transfer of powers in the coming years and will will be back here in 2020 or 2022 and Scotland will vote YES.  If there had been a 2nd option and it had won I think the Union might have held together for another 20 or 30 years (as long as Cameron doesn’t invade North Africa which seems to be the latest plan).


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