Referendum 2014
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Referendum 2014
The Scottish independence referendum and the debate about Scotland's constitutional future
Curated by Peter A Bell
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New calls for English devolution sparked by independence debate

New calls for English devolution sparked by independence debate | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
THE time for fiscal devolution in England has come, MPs have warned, as they made it clear the debate on independence was having a major influence on the so-called English Question.
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The F Word

The F Word | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

It's constitutional Sesame Street on Bella today. Today's letter is F. In an attempt to give credibility to the Devo Nano proposals that lie about the constitutional house like bits o...

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I Resign

I Resign | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Dear Ms Davidson After a lifetime of commitment as a Conservative, I have today tendered my resignation from the party I love. Through every travail, and there have been many, I have held firm to t...
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Tories 'all over the place' on devolution of APD | Scottish National Party

Tories 'all over the place' on devolution of APD | Scottish National Party | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

The SNP has today called for clarity from the Tories on whether they intend to devolve powers over Air Passenger Duty – after media reports appeared to suggest that Ruth Davidson had been overruled by David Cameron on the issue.

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Brian Monteith: Trust Cameron for more devolution

Brian Monteith: Trust Cameron for more devolution | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
With the Scottish Conservatives set to come out for income tax-setting powers for Holyrood, a seminal moment will have been reached, writes Brian Monteith
Peter A Bell's insight:

Brian Monteith's latest offering* reads less like political analysis from an authoritative commentator offering rational analysis of policy and more like a religious sermon from the priesthood of the British state urging unthinking faith in its ruling elite.

There are the usual lies and distortions without which no British nationalist diatribe is complete. The stuff about the SNP bringing down the Callaghan government is infantile nonsense. As Brian Monteith knows perfectly well, or should, the SNP was prepared to prop up the Labour administration in return for it doing no more than keeping its word on devolution. Callaghan made the choice to reject that offer knowing exactly what this would entail.

Then Monteith rehashes the threadbare old lie about Salmond having said that the Scottish Government possessed unpublished legal advice on Scotland remaining in the EU, along with the equally dishonest claptrap about him going to court to keep that advice secret. This has been debunked so often and so comprehensively that there is surely no need to deal with it again here. Suffice it to say that Brian Monteith damages only his own reputation by repeating such lies.

Not that his reputation is exactly enhanced by his Pavlovian response to the Tories' bid in the game of jam tomorrow trumps being played by the British parties in a pointless sideshow that has absolutely no relevance to the real referendum debate. While the people of Scotland are talking to each other about building a new future for our country, the British parties are talking to themselves about how they might best cling to the past - and, far from incidentally, their own power and privilege.

The actual content of the Strathclyde Commission report is of no consequence. It may well be more "coherent" than the offering from British Labour in Scotland. (It could hardly be more incoherent.) But it suffers from precisely the same fundamental flaw. It was no part of Lord Strathclyde's remit to come up with a set of proposals that address the needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland. His task was to cobble together something which might fend off the threat of the people of Scotland repossessing their sovereignty whilst leaving the dominance of the Westminster elite intact.

In this, his project was no different from the efforts from the Tories' LibDem puppets and British Labour allies. Or the Calman Commission. or the original devolution settlement.

But there is one respect in which the Tories' proposals are different. They have hit on the ploy of making the Scottish Parliament more responsible for raising taxes while having no more power over how the money is spent. Theirs is a plan not to enhance devolution, but to force the Scottish Government into adopting Westminster-style austerity.

If Brian Monteith can't see that this is a recipe for disaster then perhaps he should stick to writing religious tracts.

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Scottish independence: Holyrood ‘needs more power’

Scottish independence: Holyrood ‘needs more power’ | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
LIB Dem peer Lord Steel has said there should be a UK constitutional convention to transfer more powers to Holyrood after a No vote.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Lord Steel is doubtless unaware of the fact, but his latest intervention in the referendum debate actually highlights the fundamental problem with the union. He seems to think it perfectly natural and just that the powers of the Scottish Parliament should be determined by the politicians of the British state rather than the people of Scotland. Or, to be more accurate, he has simply never questioned this state of affairs. And he is both perplexed and offended that increasing numbers of people in Scotland are questioning a constitutional arrangement that he seems to regard as having been ordained by some higher power.

Lord Steel also reiterates one of the finer idiocies of the British nationalist creed. The inane notion that devolution can somehow be an ongoing process. The idea that there can be constant constitutional tinkering and that it doesn't matter if the constitutional settlement of the moment is unsatisfactory because there will be a new one coming along any day.

This is utter folly, of course. It's the product of thinking that is not at all concerned with finding a constitutional settlement that meets the needs and aspirations of Scotland's people but wholly obsessed with preserving the structures of power and privilege which define the British state.

Think about it! If devolution is an  incremental process then it cannot be ongoing. It must eventually reach an end point when all powers have been handed over. In which case, it would seem to be nothing more than a device by which to pointlessly delay the inevitable - independence.

This idea of devolution as an ongoing process can only make some kind of sense if it is assumed that, as part of that process, powers can be taken away from the Scottish Parliament as well as being given to it. But this is hardly less idiotic than imagining devolution can be extended indefinitely. How can a government possibly function not knowing whether it will still have tomorrow the powers under which it legislates today? And what happens to legislation passed under powers that are subsequently removed? The whole thing is just madness.

But this madness is far from the worst of it. Whether devolution is thought of as an incremental process which, magically, has no end or a process of interminable change with powers shifting back and forth, the real issue is the question of who decides.

Who decides where the devolution process ends? Who decides what powers are given to the Scottish parliament? Who decides what powers are withdrawn?

For Lord Steel and his British nationalist ilk there can be only one possible answer to that question. Ultimate power must always rest with the Westminster elite. Anything else is, in the truest sense of the word, unthinkable.

For those who maintain, as I do, that only the people of Scotland have the legitimate authority to determine the powers of their parliament, devolution must be anathema. It can never be a satisfactory situation. It will always be irreconcilable with the cherished principle of popular sovereignty.

Devolution cannot be an incremental process. Nor can it be a process of constant constitutional flux with powers going back and forth between London and Edinburgh. The logical impossibility of the former and the total impracticality of the latter are obvious. So glaringly obvious that it's difficult to believe David Steel can possibly have failed to recognise the fatal flaws in his reasoning. But we must accept that he has failed to think this through. Because the only alternative would be to assume that he is trying to deceive the people of Scotland into imagining that there can be a viable, lasting constitutional settlement short of independence.

Lord Steel: fool or scoundrel? Each of us must make our own judgement on that.

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Lallands Peat Worrier: The Scottish Tories: the new "party of devolution"?

Lallands Peat Worrier: The Scottish Tories: the new "party of devolution"? | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

One of the most grating and familiar lines to emanate from Scottish Labour politicians is that theirs is the "party of devolution".  This proprietorial claim is at odds with both the history of devolution, and the People's Party's own chequered and divided attitude to the idea of home rule. But it's an amateurish politician who lets fairmindedness and truth arrest the telling of a good tale. Ultimately, I suspect it's just another of the opiating but essentially debilitating myths to which the party seems increasingly determined to succumb. Yet on a range of fronts, Labour's idea that la décentralisation, c'est moi is being challenged. 

Peter A Bell's insight:

We most assuredly CANNOT afford to be relaxed about admitting the possibility of further devolution as Lallands Peat Worrier suggests. We can better afford to be relaxed about admitting the possibility that the world is flat and lies at the centre of the universe. Because neither of these latter admissions has the serious implications for our nation that the former undoubtedly entails.

 

It is a great mistake to imagine that the British parties in Scotland are vying to be the "party of devolution". In fact, they are competing only in a game of jam tomorrow promise trumps. British Labour in Scotland having played a singularly bad hand, it will surely be easy for the Tories' talking shop to come up with something that is at least superficially superior.

 

But the fact that the Strathclyde Commission's proposals may at least have the advantage of being coherent does not in any way imply that the proposals themselves will be any more relevant or meaningful.

 

There is still no "more powers" option on the referendum ballot. There is still no rational reason to suppose that the British parties in Scotland can sell their proposals to their bosses in London, far less make any of these proposals binding on a future British Parliament.

 

There is no reason whatever to believe that the victors in a power struggle will conceded to the vanquished the very thing over which they have been fighting.

 

There seems to be a growing fashion for pretending that devolution is not dead, but merely resting. Or pining for the fjords. This is a silly and a dangerous fad. The battle following a No vote will not be about what new powers the Scottish Parliament is granted, it will be over what powers it is to be permitted to retain. Some may be able to fool themselves for a while by talk of nailing the dead parrot of devolution to its perch with the tacks of further constitutional tinkering. But the forces of history will not be so readily denied.

 

There is no devolution settlement that will address the needs and/or satisfy the aspirations of Scotland's people. The British parties have had two tries at cobbling together such a settlement and even they have been forced to acknowledge that they have failed. Why should we believe that the third attempt will be any more successful? Especially when we have not the slightest idea what this attempt will involve.

 

Devolution is dead. It must ultimately fail because it is founded on the denial of the essential fact of Scotland's nationhood and the sacrosanct principle of popular sovereignty. Let us please recognise this now and put an end to the pointless and frustrating process of constitutional tinkering by voting Yes in September. And let us not undermine the chances of a decisive Yes vote by pandering to the false notion that a No vote might hold the possibility of some acceptable, viable alternative.

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Douglas Alexander’s referendum olive branch to SNP

Douglas Alexander’s referendum olive branch to SNP | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
LABOUR is to invite the SNP to work with it to create a new era of devolution, if Scotland votes against independence in the September referendum.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Douglas Alexander proposes a new constitutional convention in the event of a No vote in Scotland's independence referendum.* But will he concede that it cannot be a genuine constitutional convention unless it is prepared to consider all constitutional options, including independence? If this putative talking shop's terms of reference exclude independence then it will inevitably be considered to have been rigged and could not possibly command the respect of Scotland's people.

Only by including the independence option could such a constitutional convention avoid being seen as yet another device to preserve the power of the British state rather than a means of addressing the needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland.

Apart from that, what might this convention discuss? Presumably, it would examine the matter of giving further powers to the Scottish Parliament. Leaving aside the obviously unsatisfactory situation in which a national parliament has to petition another parliament for powers that any parliament should have as a matter of right, there is also the problem of what kind of process this would be.

Bear in mind that the original devolution settlement was supposed to be kill demands for independence "stone" dead. But the Scottish Parliament had hardly begun to function before the clamour for a better settlement started. So we got the rigged Calman Commission, the purpose of which was to cobble together a package that would look enough like meaningful devolution to fool most of the people most of the time.

But the Calman proposals aren't even fully implemented yet and already even the British parties are conceding that they are inadequate.

If the proposed constitutional convention is intended to be part of an incremental process of devolution, where does this end? More importantly, who decides where it ends? Only the people of Scotland have that legitimate authority, not a bunch of British politicians.

If it is not an incremental process with an inevitable end point at 100%, this necessarily implies that powers are to be taken away as well as granted. Again, who decides what powers are to be withdrawn or withheld? By what authority do they make this decision? And how can a parliament function not knowing what powers it will have a year or two hence?

Let's face it! Devolution is dead. It has run its course. What we are seeing now is British nationalists like Alexander desperately clinging to power and frantically trying to postpone the inevitable. Ludicrously, Alexander now wants nationalists like myself to help with this futile effort. I don't bloody think so!

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Just the brass tacks

Just the brass tacks | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
We appreciate some of you have been struggling to keep up with our investigations into Labour's devolution proposals. So we've boiled it right down.
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Mork calling Orson, come in Orson

Mork calling Orson, come in Orson | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Our email inbox this week has been packed with people sending in their Labour MP's or MSP's responses to our questions about the party's proposals for the devolution of taxation (aka "Devo Nano") i...
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New tax-raising powers for Holyrood on the horizon

New tax-raising powers for Holyrood on the horizon | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
THE UK government has ­potentially opened the door for radical new tax powers for the Scottish Parliament which could lead to MSPs being able to vary income tax bands at different rates.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Are we supposed to be impressed by this latest bit of legislative fiddling designed to give the appearance of meaningful reform? However much tinkering the UK Government does, devolution is still about power for Westminster not power for the Scottish Parliament.

Why should we settle for less than we might have? Why should we resign ourselves to have a little bit of control over certain aspects of taxation when we could have control of it all?

Above all, why should we continue to allow British politicians to decide what powers our parliament should have? Only the people of Scotland have the legitimate authority to determine the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

And what next? The original devolution settlement was portrayed as the best that Scotland could wish for. It wasn't long, however, before the British parties, under pressure from the SNP and Scotland's voters, admitted that it wasn't good enough. So we got Calman - another exercise whose overriding priority was, not finding the best arrangement for Scotland, but the arrangement which best suited the ruling elites of the British state.

The Calman "reforms" were supposed to make the devolution settlement ideal. Those reforms haven't even come into force and the British parties have already acknowledged that they are not satisfactory. Now they want to put a few more patches on the devolution settlement in the hope that doing so will fend off a Yes vote.

I can guarantee that whatever the British parties cobble together by way of a "more powers" offer (a) those additional powers will not be delivered as advertised; and (b) even if they were delivered, they would not be enough.

Why continue with this ludicrous process of independence by a thousand increments? Why not end it now? The referendum isn't a choice between independence and some other option that is workable in the long term. It is a choice between independence now and independence in a few year's time. Let's do it now while there is still a chance that we can end the political union amicably and negotiate a new, lasting relationship between our two nations. A relationship founded on parity of status and mutual respect.

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The Devo Nano Policy Explosion

The Devo Nano Policy Explosion | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
We've had a second response from a Labour elected representative to a reader, regarding our six simple factual questions about the party's "Devo Nano" proposals for the Scottish Parliament. This on...
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A Big Mistake? / The Wright Way

The No campaign have to live with a big mistake, which will cost them dear – and may cost the people of Scotland even dearer

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More help for Scottish journalists

More help for Scottish journalists | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
This morning's papers report that Labour, the Tories and a small fringe party whose name has slipped our minds for a moment will this week release a statement about their shared commitment to furth...
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Quoted for Tories

This is Lord (Ian) Lang of Monkton (Conservative) speaking in the House Of Lords on the 6th of September 2011, during the second Lords reading of the Scotland Bill (later to become the Scotland Act...
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Scottish independence: Cameron backs giving Holyrood income tax power

Scottish independence: Cameron backs giving Holyrood income tax power | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Prime minister says proposals published by Scottish Tory leader would offer voters 'real powers with real consequences'
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U-turn as Tory leader unveils devo-max plan

U-turn as Tory leader unveils devo-max plan | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
RUTH Davidson will today open a new chapter for the Scottish Conservatives by backing more tax powers for Holyrood as senior sources make clear the days of the Tories seeking to put the brakes on devolution are over.
Peter A Bell's insight:

It is just plain dishonest to portray the British parties' jam tomorrow promises as representing anything remotely resembling devo-max*

There's a simple test. do these proposals provide for the Scottish parliament having full control of welfare in Scotland? If they do not, then it is not devo-max and anybody who says otherwise is a liar or a fool.

Let us be perfectly clear about this. There is no devo-max proposal on the table. There is no proposal for "more powers" of any kind on the table. the whole thing is a ruse designed to deceive the people of Scotland into forfeiting their sovereignty to the ruling elites of the British state.

The British parties had an opportunity to put their alternative to independence to the people of Scotland. They were offered the chance to have their devolution proposals included as an option on the referendum ballot. They flatly rejected that offer. They stated explicitly that they wanted the referendum to be a straight choice between independence and the status quo. They chose to be the champions of no change.

Now they want to rewrite history. They are vying for the title of the "party of devolution" as if they had not previously disavowed that very role.

We only have to look at the stuff the British parties have come up with see why they did not want the people of Scotland giving their verdict. While there is every indication that the voters would have chosen devo-max had this been offered, there is no way they would vote for something that falls so very far short of devo-max and is, in fact, an ill-concealed plan to cripple the Scottish Parliament and force Westminster's neo-liberal orthodoxy and austerity fetishism on the people of Scotland.

Unless, of course, the British media collude in the deception by calling the proposals devo-max when they know this to be false.

I will allow that i may have been wrong about one thing. I previously maintained that it was unlikely that the Tories and their British Labour allies would reach any consensus on the fake "more powers" proposals they would use to lure the gullible into throwing away the power they will hold in their hands on 18 September. It now seems that the two main British parties are collaborating more closely than I thought possible as they fight to preserve their grip on the power and privilege that the British state affords them.

Labour and Tories standing shoulder to shoulder in defence of their shared interests, and to hell with the interests of the people of Scotland.

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The Common Sense Test

The Common Sense Test | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
This morning's papers are already full of reports about the contents of the Strathclyde Commission report, the Conservative counterpart to Labour's shambolic "Devo Nano" proposals. Embarrassingly f...
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One Hundred Years of Home Rule: Devolution, Independence and the Union

One Hundred Years of Home Rule: Devolution, Independence and the Union | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
100 years ago today, in a striking symmetry with current debates over Scottish independence, the Irish Home Rule Act was passed.
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Yet another warning from history

Yet another warning from history | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
The Scotsman, 24 March 2007: "Brown: I will save the union Gordon Brown last night revealed he was placing himself at the heart of Labour's Holyrood election campaign, declaring it was his 'duty' t...
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Plans for Scottish Parliament will be included in Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem general election manifestos

Plans for Scottish Parliament will be included in Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem general election manifestos | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Consideration of further powers for Holyrood in the event of a No vote in the referendum will not be displaced as a priority because of the general election, the unionist parties have insisted.
Peter A Bell's insight:

We've heard it all before. The British parties try to fend off the threat from Scotland's growing independence movement by promising more constitutional tinkering. ut we already know that this will be unsatisfactory and inadequate. How do we know> Because it always has been unsatisfactory and inadequate - from the setting up of the Scottish Office to the Calman Commission. Every attempt to buy off Scotland has been followed, sooner or later, by an admission that it wasn't enough.

These admissions have come with increasing rapidity. The Calman tinkering isn't even fully implemented and the |British parties are already acknowledging that they are unsatisfactory and inadequate. They are desperately scrabbling around trying to convince that, if we just give them just one more chance, this time they'll get it right.

They won't!

They can't! Because their criteria are all wrong. Their idea of what constitutes a "solution" has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the needs and aspirations of Scotland's people. For the British parties, what is "right" is what serves their interests. Whatever preserves the structures of power and privilege which define the British state.

Devolution is a dead-end. There can be no satisfactory solution short of independence.

It is regrettable that many of those intending to vote No in the referendum, should they not realise the truth in time, will do so on the basis of an entirely false prospectus. They will not be long in realising that they have been deceived. This is a recipe for widespread anger and resentment. But unionists don't care. To the committed British nationalist there is no price that isn't worth paying to keep the ruling elites in power.

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Once more unto the breach

Once more unto the breach | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
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 bar...
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Peter A Bell: Now's the day...

Peter A Bell: Now's the day... | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

A story in The Scotsman (New tax-raising powers for Holyrood on the horizon) suggests that Scotland might be in line for more tax powers. Sort of. Maybe. Are we supposed to be impressed by this latest bit of legislative fiddling designed to give the appearance of meaningful reform? However much tinkering the UK Government does, devolution is still about power for Westminster not power for the Scottish Parliament.

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Through the fog of war

Through the fog of war | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it
Some readers didn't fully grasp the meaning of our post yesterday evening which shed light on the full tangled horror of Scottish Labour's proposals for "extended" devolution if Scotland votes No t...
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