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Showing posts with label devo plus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label devo plus. Show all posts

Monday, 3 March 2014

The “More powers after a No vote”con trick – recognise it for what it is …

Questions that every journalist with any regard for political realities and objective reporting should be asking the Holyrood Labour, Tory and LibDem leaders and their Scottish Westminster MP claque, e.g. Jim Murphy, Margaret Curran, Alistair Carmichael, Douglas Alexander and David Mundell when the question of more powers is raised.

In the highly unlikely event of the three Scottish unionist parties ever reaching a core consensus on more powers after a No vote on September 18th -

1) How do they intend to persuade the Prime Minister of an already fragmenting Tory/LibDem Coalition (which may not hold until 2015), the Leader of the Labour Opposition, and whichever politician is currently at the head of UKIP to agree to incorporate their recommendations in their 2015 manifestos to the UK electorate, given that there is highly vocal opposition to more powers for Scotland among senior figures in all of them?

2) How do they intend to persuade them to make a definitive promises to do this to the Scottish electorate during the remaining months of the referendum campaign?

3) How do they think such a commitment would be received by an English electorate already groaning under austerity, assuming their homes are not under water because of a complete failure of their government to manage their flood defences?

4) How do they intend to persuade the MPs, the peers and the institutions who have expressed their adamant opposition to more powers for Scotland to support them?

5) And finally, how do they explain to the large group - at one point a majority – within the Scottish electorate and the institutions comprising Civic Scotland - why they denied them a second question in the referendum that would have recognised their wish for  such powers, if not for the obvious reason that UK and Westminster has no intention whatsoever of granting them?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

What awaits Scotland after a No vote

This was my hasty (I was on my way to hospital ) reply to an article criticising the No campaign - Aren’t we already losing Scotland

I’ve left un-edited (but re-formatted and typo-corrected) In the cold light of today, James Forsyth’s comment weren’t exactly “touting” devo max and more powers – his piece was bit more considered than that – but it gave me the opportunity to say what I wanted. US opinion matters!

Comments [One comment]

  • Peter Curran says:

    December 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    James Forsyth’s comment touts the “jam tomorrow” of more powers to the Scottish Parliament after a No vote, delivered through one of the many variants discussed in the run up to the Edinburgh Agreement on the referendum – devo max, devo plus, devo something or other.

    The realities of the situation are these -

    The only mechanism by which more powers can be delivered, now or after a No vote, is The Scotland Act. It has already delivered a dribble of powers after the Calman Commission. The Scotland Act leaves absolute control with the Westminster Parliament over Scotland’s devolved powers: it created the devolved Parliament, it has the power to vary its powers by adding to them or subtracting them. It has the power to end devolution and dissolve the Parliament by vote in which non-Scottish MPs massively outnumber the 59 Scots.

  • In other words, until and unless it votes for full independence, Scotland is wholly dependent on the grace and favour of the British Parliament for its Parliament and any powers it has.

  • There are powerful voices in the Commons and the unelectd Lords who have always bitterly opposed the creation of a Scottish Parliament, regarding devolution as the thin edge of a wedge that would end the Union. There are a growing number of voices in England, notably the local authorities who bitterly resent what they see as Scotland privileged status in the Barnett Formula

  • There are strong voices, encapsulated by The West Lothian Question – coined by a Scot, Tam Dalyell – that questions the ability of Scots MPs to influence English legislation on purely English matters by their votes in Westminster, while English MPs cannot influence devolved matter in the Scottish Parliament. There are moves to reduce the number of Scottish MPs in Westminster. There is growing resentment in England and Wales about what they see as Scotland’s privileged position under devolution.

  • To grant more powers to Scotland after a No vote, or even promise them before one would be greeted with outrage by the English electorate and the Welsh Labour voters. It would be political suicide in the 2015 UK general election for any party that promised or committed such powers.

  • The Scottish electorate do not trust the UK on promises of more powers after a No vote in a referendum, because they have already reneged on just such a promise in 1979 after a referendum – they have form!

    But the decisive argument for Scots is that, had the UK Parliament and government any intentions to consider or grant more powers, they would not have opposed the second question in the Scottish referendum addressing the wish for devo max within UK revealed in poll after poll.

    Alex Salmond and the SNP government were willing to consider such a question and option, offering a middle road between independence and the status quo. The resolute opposition to the 2nd question – a deal breaker for the Edinburgh Agreement – by David Cameron and all the UK Better Together parties – told the Scottish electorate all they needed to know – that a No vote, far from producing more powers, was almost certain to produce a clawback of powers and a £4 billion reduction in the Barnett Formula.

    The Scottish electorate know that a No vote, in addition to attracting the astonishment and thinly veiled contempt of the world for a nation that rejected its chance to be independent, would result in either devo zero or devo minus.

    Only independence will deliver to Scotland and the Scottish people the freedom they need to determine their future in this uncertain world and the challenging times ahead.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Alistair Carmichael fumbles and blusters on what happens after a NO vote in 2014

Alexander Morrison "Alistair" Carmichael, the new ‘Scottish’ Secretary opens by criticising the YES Campaign for "lack of detail" and the second half of the interview blustering feebly, unable to give any detail or any consensus among the parties of Better Together on perhaps the biggest question of all for the Scottish electorate - What happens if there is a No vote?

(Real answer: Devo Zero and likely clawback of existing powers under Scotland Act, not to mention utter UK contempt for Scots and Scotland for failing to seize their chance of independence.)

Alistair, his party and his Tory and Labour friends will tell us only AFTER we reject our only opportunity to gain full powers through a YES vote for independence. The three parties that will then engage in a bitter UK election battle in 2015, with the gruesome UKIP snapping at their heels, driving them even further to the right.

In contrast, the SNP's White Paper will set out, next month, highly specific commitments on the structure and shape of a new Scotland, in as much detail as can be achieved before the major negotiation with UK after a YES vote, and the subsequent election for an independent Scottish Parliament in May 2016, where the Scottish electorate for the first time for 306 years will truly elect their own Scottish Government.

Bluster on that, Alistair ...

Monday, 12 August 2013

Monday, 15 July 2013

Would it really have been independence? Should we resign ourselves to less?

"Will it really be independence?" stuff still touted by those hostile to Scotland’s independence, by the fearful and confused – and by quite a few prominent journalists and pundits. (The latter group are either fearful and confused – or they’re being ingenuous…)

Clarity of thought is vital at this point for independence campaigners, so turn it around - anything that leaves ultimate control with Westminster won't be independence. (e.g. federalism or any one of the multiple variants of devolution being touted – devo max, devo plus, full fiscal autonomy.)

While the Scotland Act is in force, Scotland is not independent - everything is in the gift of Westminster, which electorally means England. And it can be modified or withdrawn at any time … The Union remains intact, dominant, with total control over Scotland.

If Scotland decides on its defence policy, its foreign policy - including when to engage in armed conflict - elects its own Parliament and Government and makes it own laws, it's independent. Anything less and it's NOT independent.

The core principle is fully independent within an interdependent world – independence that recognises the reality of interdependence in a rapidly changing and unstable world.

Independence is the freedom to choose, with no limits or constraints on those choices, except ones we freely make and enter into - and can freely unmake and exit from.

Friday, 19 April 2013

A fiscal vacuum exists between Anas Sarwar's ears on rationale for tax powers

Is this intellectual vacuity what Scottish Labour has to offer? A great Brewer wind blew through the space between Anas Sarwar's ears, the echoing space where his economic policy brain is supposed to be, on Scottish devolved tax powers.

The Brewer Rottweiler grip forced him into a repetitive loop of meaningless stock phrases, devoid of anything remotely resembling economic grasp or content. The economics of cash and carry don't translate to a nation, Anas.

Still, he should be grateful that there was no Swinney or Hosie to have him for a late night snack. This man is Deputy Scottish Labour Leader and an MP in the raddled old Mother of Parliaments, Westminster - the one that he and his Tory/LibDem allies want us to remain dependent on.

No, INDEPENDENT and independence are the words Scots will settle for in just over 500 days, Anas.

There is also the little matter that Scottish Labour can produce papers for more powers to Johann’s wee hearts’ content, but they can’t deliver them unless Labour is in Government after 2015, and almost certainly not even if they were after a NO vote. Devo Zilch will be the dominant theme in that horrific eventuality, perhaps even Devo Minus.

POSTSCRIPT - The Johann Lamont Radio Scotland interview

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Unhappy tweeting time – devo-max


 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

The voice of the people of Scotland is heard at the ballot box, and if necessary, on the streets, e.g. the poll tax resistance. Listen to it

 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

Beware of equating some of the institutions of Civic Scotland with the people of Scotland - some are the vehicles for powerful individuals.

Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

Who are the real advocates of devo-max/devo-plus? Powerful corporate and financial interest groups with a heavy stake in perpetuating the UK

 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

With a YES vote majority the UK has no choice but to negotiate the terms of independence. With a devo-max vote, Scotland must go cap in hand

 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

The devo-max argument: if we promise to be nice and not demand our independence, will you be nice and give us a little more power? Please?

Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

Federalism, home rule, devo-max and devo-plus are all euphemisms for continued UK control - the power to grant or remove power from Scots.

 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

The Scotland Act is an instrument of UK power. It conferred devolution: it can take it away gradually or totally. Devo-max is a Trojan horse


 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

Some advocates of independence favour gradualism. Vote for devo-max and gradualism may mean gradual claw-back of powers. Only independence!

 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

The Scotland Act can remove powers as easily as it confers them. Devo-max is a trap - UK holds power over what to grant, what to take away.

Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

Imposition of the Stamp Act by Britain led the American people to fight for independence. Scots are vulnerable to Scotland Act impositions.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The ‘experts’ and the referendum questions

In my recent blog on the Scotsman’s report of Prof. John Curtice’s reported two question referendum Ask the bloody question(s) I analysed the contradictions and weaknesses of his second question - but I was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, feeling that he had been misreported by the Scotsman. He hadn’t, as the clip below shows …

  As far as the rest of the world is concerned, I have been wasting my breath on these matters for some years now – there is a persistent and determined failure to come to terms with this by politicians, by the media and by political commentators. I think it makes their wee heids hurt …

As for the rest of what is laughably called the ‘debate’, the misrepresentations, factoids and downright lies continue unabated from the unionist side and from semi-informed academics who should know better. I want to believe that so-called experts are truly that – expert – and that they tell the truth and do not politicise it, but I am regularly forced by their behaviour into an invidious choice as to which of these attributes is true, because on recent form, they can’t both be true. Either they don’t know what they are talking about or they are being economical with the actualité.

Let me try, almost despairingly, to yet again nail the nonsense to the floor -

THE FACTOIDS – that which everyone knows is true, except it ain’t (Norman Mailer)

Factoid one: The SNP and the Scottish government keep changing their definition of independence, and are unclear as to what it means.

Since their election in 2007 as the Government of Scotland, the SNP and the Scottish Government have been clear about what independence means – and so have the majority of the electorate. It means Scotland running all its own affairs as an independent country, while retaining the Queen as constitutional monarch, being part of a currency union (now preferred as sterling) and being part of the EU, of the UN and of suitable defence partnerships and treaties.

It means intelligent and free cooperation with others in an interdependent world, especially the nations of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, our long-term friends and neighbours, but also with the free Scandinavian countries who are also our good neighbours. It means playing our part in international affairs, including international peace-keeping operations and alliances, based on our free, sovereign judgement as an independent country. It means non-nuclear, Trident-free Scotland.

Factoid two: The SNP and the Scottish Government actively want a second question in the referendum ballot as a fallback position in case they lose the independence referendum.

The SNP and the Scottish Government are totally committed to achieving the full independence of Scotland, will have a referendum to determine the Scottish people’s support for that, and would prefer a single YES/NO question to determine the matter. Only by full independence will Scotland have control of defence and foreign policy and truly be a nation.

But, since being elected as the Government of all the people of Scotland, not just the nationalist supporters of independence, the Scottish Government has recognised that a substantial body of Scottish public opinion and the electorate favour substantially more powers being devolved to Scotland by Westminster, but wants to remain part of the UK.

It is the view of the SNP and of the Scottish Government that it is their duty to ascertain what choices the Scottish people would therefore want to be allowed to make in the biggest political decision of their lifetime, indeed, the biggest for over three centuries. That was the Scottish Government’s position in the 2009 consultation, and it is their position in the 2012 consultation now underway. It is also quite evidently the position of a very substantial and influential body of opinion in Scottish society and beyond Scotland.

Devolution of powers may be defined along a spectrum from zero – the pre-1997 position – to total, the so-called devo max option. Devo max, far from being undefined, is clearly defined by common sense – it means everything except defence and foreign policy.

Anything less than devo max, e.g. devo plus, Calman, Cameron’s vague promises and the various vacuous and nebulous suggestions of other unionist politicians demands definition. Only Reform Scotland has attempted this in devo plus, and the ill-fated and doomed Calman-inspired Scotland Act has defined the other.


Following the conclusion of the consultation exercise now underway - and after the local elections in May - the Scottish Government and the SNP will set out progressively - over the referendum lead-in period until Autumn 2014 - their full prospectus for independence. This will represent their negotiating position with the UK Government after a successful referendum outcome, i.e. a YES vote to independence. In the event of a NO vote to independence, all bets are open.

There is no confusion and absolute clarity on the nationalist side.

There is deep confusion, lack of clarity and a lack of any coordinated approach on the unionist side. This is unhealthy for democracy and for a referendum outcome that will be supported by all the people of Scotland - and the UK - whatever it may be.

For the UK’s sake and for Scotland’s sake, Tories, Labour and LibDems - get your unionist act together and start behaving like mature adults. And try to find some experts who can talk objective sense, and  a statesman or stateswoman to lead your campaign …

Friday, 2 March 2012

Consultation, devo this and devo that …

The factoid has taken root, and is now stated as fact – Alex Salmond wants a second question, and is happy to accept devo-something as second best – a consolation prize if independence fails to win a majority. The Scottish electorate are now safely marginalised - having shown disturbing signs of being a sovereign democratic voice – and the future of Scotland will be determined by Civic Scotland, Reform Scotland, and the outcome of the referendum consultation. In fact, there is no real need for a referendum at all, since a series of unelected bodies, representative of nothing but the agenda of those who lead them, and the outcome of a self-selecting online questionnaire will determine how we are governed.

When we get right down to it, anyone who wants to start up a body that they claim represents Scottish opinion can launch their own consultation on Survey Monkey. All this is very heartening – we can dispense with all the political parties, manifestos, elected officials, etc. and simply claim to speak for the people, whom we can rely on to remain safely silent.

Well, not quite – the forms of democracy must be maintained so as not to frighten the horses, so a referendum will be held, with a ballot paper so confusing that the outcome will be contentious enough to be dismissed, unless of course it gives the right answer, namely – anything but independence.

The world will be safe for WMDs, Trident will stay in the Holy Loch: death in foreign fields, the Labour Party gravy train and the House of Lords will continue, the poor, the vulnerable and the sick will still be the scapegoats for all our ills: the Tory conspiracy against ordinary people can press on relentlessly to destroy the NHS and the welfare state, and the military/industrial complex can expand the killing machine again. The parade of coffins draped in the Union Jack can continue, fat old men in berets, blazers and badges can revel in the death of the young, and the Last Night of the Proms will acquire a new resonance.

The scales have fallen from my eyes – I see it all clearly now, and can spend my declining years reading old copies of Boy’s Own Paper and singing Rule Britannia. Oh, happy Empire day!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Some thoughts on Reform Scotland and its online independence/devo plus poll

My normal preamble: I am a Scottish voter, an SNP member, I hold no role of any kind in the party, and I speak only for myself. I am in favour of Scotland becoming a fully independent country. I am a former Labour supporter, but was never a party member or activist. I was a member of the SDP for a few weeks in 1981. I am anti-nuclear weapons and anti-nuclear power.

I am not a psephologist or statistician either.

The Reform Scotland poll deserves some attention, but in my view, like any online poll, it cannot claim the kind of statistical validity that a poll by a polling organisation such as Ipsos MORI can claim, nor can it be seen as representative sample of the Scottish electorate. Here’s why I say that about a poll, that, if valid in this way, would give me considerable satisfaction.

Online polls by definition are completed by visitors to that online site who chose to respond to the questions, i.e it is self-selecting. It is likely that the majority already read that site regularly, and that a minority came to it by other, e.g. randomly, or by specifically being directed to the poll by other means.

For example, I did not complete the poll, for the simple reason that I did not know that Reform Scotland existed. But had I visited the site and completed the poll, it would almost certainly have been because another SNP supporter directed me to the site. (I speak from experience of other such online polls.)

Doubtless, members of other parties do the same thing, and the intensity of this kind of poll behaviour – completely valid as a PR objective but tending to be destructive of the polling purpose – will increase as the referendum approaches and online polls multiply. What I am saying is that this segment of online voting is in the main representative only of how effectively parties get their vote out, as in an election.

Now that I know about Reform Scotland, what do I now know about Reform Scotland. Here’s what it says about itself, in its invitation to me to sign-up for information – and I have, because I now want to know what this think tank is thinking …

“Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility.”

It says it’s independent, non-party. Well, think tanks always say that – as Mandy Rice Davies would say, well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

Since think tanks are composed of people, it is always a good idea to look at who they say they are. With some think tanks, this would be the least reliable indicator, but I think we may be reasonably certain that Reform Scotland is comprised of exactly the people they list, and only the people they list, and that no shadowy individuals or groups are standing behind the curtain as in, say, some think tanks on global warming, i.e. the ones that think that mankind - especially that part of mankind who have become obscenely rich from despoiling the planet - has nothing whatsoever to do with global warming.

Reform Scotland receives its funding “from individuals, charitable trusts or companies which share its aims.” Since it seems to be a well-structured, transparent organisation, with a proper separation of powers (an Advisory Board and a separate Board of Management in the form of Trustees) it is doubtless possible for any member of the public to view the funding sources. Its people in many cases occupy significant positions in Scottish public life, and have not only their own reputations to protect but that of the other organisations to which they belong.

It has, in its own words, a vision, which like many such vision statements is essentially meaningless, since it would be endorsed by anyone anywhere across the globe as applied to their own country, and certainly by anyone in Scotland.

Had it said its vision was for a free, dynamic and independent Scotland, it would of course have differentiated itself radically, but would then have become an independence think tank, if not a political party (there already is one with that vision!) and would have started with an a priori assumption about the means of achieving its vision. If it excludes such a possibility, it would not be a think tank worth the name, but it hasn’t, as far as we can determine, although it favours devo plus.


The Advisory Board decides on policy and strategic objectives – the Trustees, the Management Board are responsible for day-to-day operations. Both boards have the same Chairman, not a good thing for an organisation in my view, and he is Ben Thomson, chairman of the Noble Group. The Noble Group describes itself as follows -

“Noble is an independent UK investment bank that provides a unique range of professional services to fast growth small/mid cap companies and investment vehicles. Founded in 1980, the company has over 120 employees based in Edinburgh and London.”

Ben Thomson, a former Scottish international athlete, is deeply involved in Scotland, and is very significant figure in finance and the arts in Scotland. The other twelve board members include Wendy Alexander, Jim Mather, Derek Brownlee and Jeremy Purvis, which is a fair political spread. The composition of the Advisory Board seems to me to about about as widely based as it reasonably could be, and embraces a great deal of academic and financial expertise, and Martin Sime, chief executive of SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations)  is an important inclusion.

All things considered, I would call this a reputable think tank, one that I as a voter will treat very seriously, and had I still been in business and responsible to a company, would have advised them to treat it seriously as well. I am glad that such a think tank exists, and wish it well.

This no doubt will come as a great relief to the two exalted Boards of Reform Scotland, who have been waiting in trepidation since their inception for one old Scottish voter to discover that they existed and offer his imprimatur.

You can relax, guys and gals – you’re OK for the moment …


The poll, if it means anything at all, is encouraging for supporters of independence. Clearly, the SNP liked it and welcomed its outcome. (For the benefit of another respected nat blogger, may I reiterate that when I say the SNP, I mean the official spokespersons of the party, not the broad mass of the membership. I speak for neither, only for me.)

The full results are here Reform Scotland poll – pdf

Reform Scotland says this about its poll – “

We do not claim that this poll is totally scientific as  it was self selecting.”

I am cautious, for all the reasons given above, but if it is accepted as a reasonably representative sample of Scottish public opinion, the following figures interest me more than the headline results -

1.  If  there was a Scottish independence referendum tomorrow where you could only vote either yes or no to independence, how  would you  vote?

28% of respondents who most identified with Labour as a political party said YES to that, as did 25% of LibDems and, 9.2% of Tories – three parties opposed to independence - but only 54.5% of Greens, a party committed in Scotland to Scotland’s independence said YES.

65.2% of those identifying with Other as a party said YES. (Unsurprisingly, 97.5% of SNP supporters said YES.) Out of 809 people answering the question, 535 said YES and 425 of them were SNP identifiers, which means that 110 people who don’t identify with the SNP - i.e. 20.6% – would say YES to independence if a poll were called tomorrow.

Does this mean anything? I don’t know. The party affiliations and the no affiliation numbers don’t equate to the real voting patterns in May 2011, other than roughly in the SNP dominance – 53.9% of the 809 respondents identified with the SNP – and those who identified with no party represented 12.9%.

If Reform Scotland has the money, and really wants to keep its finger on the pulse of Scottish opinion, they should commission a real poll from Ipsos MORI at regular intervals until the referendum.

That would really make me sit up and take notice …