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Wings Over Scotland

Why are we waiting?

Posted on February 20, 2012 by

Something’s been puzzling us recently. So far as we can tell, every political party in Scotland now supports the transfer of more powers to the Scottish Parliament. The SNP clearly does, but all of the opposition parties are also now insisting that they want to improve the devolved settlement over and above the limp Scotland Bill currently staggering its way through Westminster.

We know the Lib Dems in both Holyrood and Westminster are in favour of more powers, because no less a figure than the Scottish Secretary told us so:

The alternative is not the status quo, it’s actually about deciding what other powers Scotland should have within the UK.

We had confirmation yesterday that Labour in the UK (along with Scottish Labour) also want more than the status quo, in the words of Alastair Darling:

I don’t think that anybody would argue that the status quo, what we have at the moment, is satisfactory. The settlement reached in 1998 is not what we want at the moment, we need to move on from that.

And of course, for the Tories, the Prime Minister himself has made his position clear (albeit that he had to humiliate the leader of the Scottish Conservatives to do it):

And let me say something else about devolution. This doesn’t have to be the end of the road. When the referendum on independence is over, I am open to looking at how the devolved settlement can be improved. And yes, that means considering what further powers could be devolved.

So that’s all just grand. We have that rarest of political beasts, a true cross-party consensus: everyone (except poor Ruth Davidson, who we suspect is in the process of urgently revising her opinion) agrees that the Scottish Government should have more powers. But what we don’t understand is why these powers are all conditional on a No vote in the independence referendum.

Because for some reason, all three Unionist parties are agreed that Scotland can only have these powers AFTER it votes against independence in 2014. Why? If Scotland should have more powers, Scotland should have more powers. The Scotland Bill is still at a stage where it can be amended before passing into law. Why doesn’t everyone just sit down one afternoon, find out which powers they all agree on, and add them to the Bill now, rather than laboriously repeating the entire legislative process from scratch in three years’ time?

All three opposition parties are demanding the Scottish people trust them, despite every one of them having a track record of broken promises. The Tories have previous for doing this exact thing – promising better Scottish devolution in the event of a No vote, only to go back on their word. Labour, of course, infamously scuppered the first devolution referendum by counting the dead as No votes. And by his own frank and open admission, the very same Scottish Secretary quoted at the top of this piece is a known liar when it comes to political pledges.

What the Unionist camp proposes, in other words, is a bit like a Mexican stand-off in which one side says “Okay, if you put down your gun first, I’ll consider whether or not I’m going to shoot you. Oh, and bear in mind, I have a habit of shooting people when they put their gun down.”

If the Unionist parties are sincere in their desire to give Scotland more powers, let them demonstrate that sincerity by getting on with the business of improving devolution properly now, not at some unspecified point in the future.

There are already half-a-dozen proposals for amendments to the Scotland Bill on the table from the Scottish Governent, none of them enormously dramatic and all of them backed by at least one of the opposition parties. Westminster could easily show good faith by adding some or all of them to the Bill as a starting point, and the coalition could sit down with Labour to discuss what other common ground they might have on the matter, and make a statement about it long before autumn 2014. (As we write this it is, after all, still only early 2012. It can’t take terribly long, surely, to sit round a table and go “Excise duties, yes or no?”)

Such a unified commitment from the three parties would also serve to reassure the Scottish people that greater devolution was safeguarded no matter which of them won the UK General Election in 2015. Yet we’re told, without a reason being given, that such discussions simply can’t take place until after Scotland gives up its only bargaining chip for a generation. That’s not a Mexican standoff, it’s the end of “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid”.

It’s taken 300 years for the Scottish people to win itself that bargaining chip, against relentless opposition, obstruction and trickery from the same people who are now asking us to innocently trust them. We doubt Scots will be so easily fooled this time.

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9 to “Why are we waiting?”

  1. Alex Grant says:

    Excellent, and now they have admitted that staus quo is not acceptable they have to continually challenged on this. If they fail to act the Yes vote will surely increase???

  2. Peter A Bell says:

    …all of the opposition parties are also now insisting that they want to improve the devolved settlement over and above the limp Scotland Bill currently staggering its way through Westminster.

    Not quite all. Remember this from Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson?

    The Scotland Bill currently going through Westminster is the line in the sand. The time for arguing about the powers the people want is over.

  3. Peter A Bell says:

    My apologies! I missed the comments about Ruth Davidson. Blush!

  4. steven luby says:

    LubyYES to an Independent Scotland
    If Mr.Darling & Co. believe that more devolved powers of the U.K Parliament is required,then why not have the Referendum on that first? Or do they not wish the S.N.P to can continue to prove that the Scottish Parliament can do a better job than any Westminster Parliament could possibly achieve? Perhaps they feel they are simply postponing the inevitable of a Referendum on Independence at a later date,say 2016-2018?? Do they actually believe that the Scottish Electorate are incapable of the following:
    Do you believe that Scotland should be Independent? Yes / No
    Do you believe that Scotland should have more devolved power? Yes / No
    Having said that,if the yes won the first question then the second question would most certainly be higher.
    If the no vote won the first question then the yes would still win the second question!
    The point in all this……?…….just to show the obvious which we all know.
    So why don't the present occupants of Westminster call for a referendum on more devolved powers first?
    The very nature of Westminster is to Govern,it can't help but intefere,it craves attention and responsibility.It firmly believes in what it does and stands for,change is an alien concept,it must by it's very nature control.We see this every day and it echoes through the Scottish Parliament from Labour stumbling over it's 'no' policy manifesto,Conservatives just being conservative,Lib-Dems just happy to be there!
    Westminster have two years to come up with a list of devolved powers,but outside of income tax( which is already in place with a rise or fall of 3p in the pound ) what other tax could be included?
    None,because the other taxes will have a direct hit on the rest of the U.K in being unfair.Scotland would be more aggressive and competitive. Eventually Scotland would want and need to become Independent to continue, once that horse bolts out the stable there is no stopping that beast.
    As the Unionists play word games,scenarios and possibilities with the future of a five million or so nation,they will continue to drag the U.K into debt,conflicts,privatisation on essential services and represent a minority within Europe,Nato and the U.N.
    The media will be tempted to release stories pointing out possible benifits to Independence but will quickly withdraw,just like your first near kiss all those years ago.It's something you want to do but it's easier to just go with the norm even though you just know you will be kicking yourself for a long time to come.
    On one hand I wish the Referendum was sooner,I hate to think of the cost to Scotland over the next two years or so. But people have to understand what has been going on all these years whether it's the reasons behind European influence that brought about Devolution,media manipulation of politics and vice versa,McCrone report and all the joys of other lies,deciept and half truths.
    There's one thing and one thing only,if Scotland turns it's back on itself again,I for one will join the dreamers of better days,of things that could be,as my straight jacket is loosened to allow me to eat my porridge in the morning.
    They had better of added salt or else…………..!

  5. em says:

    This article should be required reading throughout Scotland.

  6. Shodan says:

    What I don't get is why they all are claiming now that they are for change and not for the status quo, yet they all had a fit at the very idea of "devo-max" or whatever being on the ballot.

    Now they are asking us to give up a rare gem of promise and hope for the future in return for…something…maybe…sometime. If you suggested that in any other context you'd be laughed out the building or labelled "barmy". I'm sure they would be quick to pounce on any opposition (such as the SNP) trying it.
    I think this farce once again highlights how all the main Westminster parties are no longer really seperate parties. They are one big backscratching and old school tie club. They should be picking each other's arguments apart and yet even when they are as pathetic as this they close ranks and keep quiet as one united front/party. Take away their rosettes and you'd not be able to tell the difference any more.

    I'm completely fed up with and sick of the Westminster politicians. I can't put up with this for another generation's worth of time. 2014 is my ray of hope. I'm even more sick of everyone else who lets them away with this utter nonsense and blatant deception every time. They should be finding their feet held to the fire every time they try this move. They should be humilitated and constantly reminded of these deceptions and U-turns and not be allowed to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it's all better or worm their way into a Lordship and fantastic pension. It's the only way to get a government that isn't corrupt and incompetent. Thank goodness for the internet. It's about the only place you can see such things any more. Elsewhere it's castrated, ineffectual and fawning in equal measures.
    I ache for a government that serves the people and is accountable to them (and a soverign people at that) instead of ruling them and treating the public like a resource to be exploited for their own gain. A smaller and more local government will go a long way to making this happen, along with the severing of the ties to the corrupt and unbalanced London arrangement right now.

  7. Longshanker says:

    @steven luby
    "On one hand I wish the Referendum was sooner,I hate to think of the cost to Scotland over the next two years or so."
    I think King Alex and the Nats have played a blinder with the timing Steven. Unless there's some kind of divine intervention, things will only get worse due to austerity cuts. Who wouldn't be prepared to take a leap of faith when faced with the scorched earth reality of Toriy policy?

  8. Longshanker says:

    "I ache for a government that serves the people and is accountable to them…"
    Aw! Bless!

  9. morris young says:

    Scotland has a simpole choice .Remain in the UK and get Tory governments imposed upon SCOTLAND which nobody wants ,but gets through voting LABOUR ………………….or………………………….remove Tory government FOR EVER by  declaring  independence .The Union dividend is insolvency. No one in their right mind could ever favour that !
    If Scotland does NOT choose independence she will be  crucified !
    Further powers are a blank cheque only, and  just a recognition that the UK works for the benefit of the SOUTH, especially LONDON , and Scotland is just a source of subisdy, and a seat at the top table for LONDON, 
    WAKEN UP SCOTLAND !  Abandon ship. You are on the TITAN UK.

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