And it’s a joke.
Yes, I knew ‘The Vow’ was a meaningless tactic designed to swing over enough undecided voters to voting No in September’s referendum on Scottish Independence, but I suppose even in my middle age that I’m still naive enough to think that the people of Scotland (or more exactly, those havering over voting Yes but decided to vote No based upon last minute ‘promises’ of ‘near federalism’) fell for Gordon Brown’s lies.
Wings Over Scotland does an excellent dissection of the Smith recommendations so I won’t do that, but look at that front page of the Daily Record that made what should have been a straight yes or no question into a yes, no, or no with added Devo Max/’near federalism’.
Scotland can’t set the minimum wage. It can’t benefit directly from oil or gas revenue. It can’t abolish the bedroom tax. In fact what few serious powers Smith recommends devolved to Scotland won’t see much difference, or indeed, sets up any Scottish government to be at best, one which is firefighting against any Westminster policy.It doesn’t create any new powers to help Scotland with it’s own problems or indeed, the problems it’s struggled with for decades now thanks to Westminster’s hopelessness.As Nicola Sturgeon has said today, this is far from the ‘powerhouse parliament’ Brown, Cameron, Milliband and Clegg promised in the last days of the referendum campaign.
Cameron tying English votes for English laws(EVEL) to any reform (not how there’s no great fuss being made of non-Scottish MP’s deciding what happens to Scotland) is also going to ensure these thin recommendations get hacked down (I’d expect the tax recommendations to be toned down, or indeed, cut totally) and Scotland hopes that whatever government sits in power after May 2015 grants whatever recommendations are left from Smith. Of course this has shown that there is a democratic problem with how the UK works but this patchwork of throwing out devolution in spurts isn’t helping anyone in the UK.
I’ve said before the only solution would have been federalism but that could only have worked 20 years ago and frankly, it was only in Scotland and Wales where there movements trying to spread democracy outside of the Westminster bubble. Now the people of England have realised they’re being had and they want some power too rather than devolve it to Westminster to be abused. I know the Tory plan is to give the big cities in England ‘more powers’ but it again is a bodge job as it creates centres while rural areas will be ignored, and probably, drained of those who can leave which will cause them to rot.
It’s a mess. Yet Scotland, the SNP and especially Scots are taking the brunt of this. It’s not the fault of the people of Scotland that the British establishment were shocked by the fact that when the referendum campaign started, it looked over before anything kicked off. The No campaign was 30% points ahead. It seemed a futile task yet over two years that was whittled down to a few percentage points and in one poll, the Yes vote took the lead. Rumour is private polling made it clear independence was coming to Scotland on the 18th September so hence this hasty load of shite that’s made a mess of everything. I don’t feel any more contempt than usual for Cameron or Clagg. They’re just Tories doing what Tories do. The contempt for Brown, Alistair Darling and Ed Milliband is searing hot, They seem to have blocked any serious reform not because it’s something they think would harm Scotland, but because it hurts them politically. Labour’s selfishly put themselves ahead of people on benefits, or struggling with the bedroom tax, or the disabled and so on. It’s all about gaining and retaining power and no lie is too tall for Labour to push upon a people fed up with their shite.
Though one thing is true. This does make independence for Scotland likely sooner rather than later. Gordon Brown stands down as an MP in May (he did ‘promise’ he’d see this legislation through Westminster personally) mainly because he’s probably aware he’s risking losing his seat. Alistair Darling is also going in May for probably the same reasons and dozens of Scottish Labour MP’s are now probably in sheer terror of losing their jobs (and their cushy expenses) in what won’t be the landslide many SNP supporters say it will be, but it looks like it could well rewrite the shape of Scottish politics forever.
Ultimately though the feeling for me is one of immense loss as this is just rubbing in the consequences of the No vote in an open wound. This won’t help with poverty, job creation or making Scotland a better place, not to mention an example that neoliberal/neoconservative policies have failed. What happens now is frankly anyone’s guess but today really was a kick in the bollocks.
But hey, Scotland might get the power to change its own road signs!