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Wings Over Scotland

Matters of life and death 53

Posted on December 02, 2014 by

Of all the powers that Labour were reportedly responsible for keeping reserved to Westminster, abortion law is perhaps the most revealing about Labour’s true attitude towards Scotland and devolution during the Smith Commission’s deliberations.

It’s one of a handful of issues, including embryology, xenotransplantation (that’s transplanting a cell or organ from one species to another) and surrogacy, which would otherwise fall to the Cabinet Secretary for Health had Labour not specifically reserved them when creating the Scottish Parliament in 1997.


(In fact, it was Tony Blair who personally insisted that abortion law remain reserved to Westminster. Donald Dewar was apparently in favour of devolving it, but we all know who wins in a battle between Scottish Labour and London Labour.)

If the Smith Commission was nothing else, it was an opportunity for unionists – Labour in particular – to prove their commitment to devolution by relinquishing their hold on powers previously considered too important to fall within the Scottish Parliament’s remit. Unsurprisingly, they declined it.

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The lesser of evils 115

Posted on November 18, 2014 by

Ever since Nicola Sturgeon announced on Saturday that the SNP would never put the Tories in government, various mainstream political pundits have shown an alarming level of inability to grasp the concept of someone who cannot possibly become Prime Minister declaring their preference out of those who can.


Perhaps we’re being a bit unkind, as this isn’t a regular feature of British politics – usually we only hear the leaders of the two main parties telling us why they’re the best for the job, with the Liberal Democrat candidate comically trying to pretend that they stand a chance of being Prime Minister – but it does highlight the extraordinarily parochial nature of political debate in the UK media.

Because anyone who cares to cast a glance across the continent will see that such scenarios are not just common, but often an integral part of politics across Europe.

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