Cameron rats on early devolution & is nakedly partisan to secure Tory interest

Leaving PhotosSo much for ‘The Vow’ agreed by all three party leaders just a week ago in the spirit of the union together. It is rapidly unravelling in a welter of uncertainty over what the ‘extensive new powers’ for Scotland will be, the timetable for their delivery, and above all by their being linked to party political gaming in Westminster. The Vow committed them keeping Scotland’s current share of public spending, yet the day after the referendum Hague was already saying that with increased devolution the Barnett formula would be ‘less relevant’ over time.

There isn’t even agreement on the degree of fiscal powers to be devolved. The timetable is also slipping, with a draft bill to be published in January, but almost certainly no second reading debate before the House is prorogued on 30 March for the general election, so that all the detailed negotiation is postponed till a new government is formed. Continue reading

Referendum fallout: what next for politics?

2qt8isgIt’s been a huge week, a profound week for British politics. What does it all mean for the parties and movements jostling for position in the referendum’s aftermath?

As far as Westminster is concerned, a bullet has been dodged. There is a cloying desire for a return to business as usual, and just as many determined to carry on as if it has. Not least among them is our old pal Dan Hodges. With the referendum done he’s turned in one of the worst, most complacent articles I’ve seen.

On the basis of Dave hitting the TV cameras yesterday morning to announce he’s tying further Scottish powers up with English votes on English laws, the election next year is all wrapped up. Slam dunk. Unfortunately for Dan, good speeches don’t win elections. Continue reading

Scotland: Now comes the reckoning

The 55%-45% divide was larger than any of the polls had predicted and may reflect the last-minute fear factor strongly projected by the inglorious and verging-on-hysterical Westminster establishment. But it will come as an immense relief both to Cameron, who would almost certainly have been unceremoniously ejected if the Yes vote had won, and to Ed Miliband who will now hang on to those key 41 Labour Scottish seats, though the noise about the West Lothian Question will grow markedly louder.

For the LibDems it makes little odds since they’re already toast. But the real question is just how the far-reaching commitments made at the desperate end of the campaign will be implemented, how fully and over what timescale. What will be the effects on Scotland and equally importantly on the rest of the country? Continue reading

Devolution or Independence: We must not neglect the North East

1349835587_8369111e95_oIn the early hours of Friday morning we will learn whether Scotland has voted in favour of Independence.

The arguments have been well rehearsed from the uncertainty of Independence, and the stability offered by the Union, to the economic and democratic freedom offered by Independence. As a supporter of the Union, and the Better Together Campaign I hope Scotland will vote to retain the United Kingdom. However, I have no doubt that an Independent Scotland would be a successful and prosperous nation.

The referendum will have a profound impact on the UK, no matter what the result, we know more powers will be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood. Continue reading

A new constitutional settlement for England

8vs0fqWe could well be days away from ending the 307 year old union between Scotland, and England and Wales. This penny has finally dropped with establishment politics. They have looked into the abyss and are terrified that irrelevance could be staring right back at them. Characteristically, their attempt to ward of the spectre has been threat and promise. The former has been the gift of Scottish financial institutions this week, pledging to move headquarters down to London in the event of a Yes vote. Particularly amusing was Deutsche Bank’s David Folkert-Landau warning that Scottish independence would be a decision right up there with those that triggered the Depression. No need to pull your punches, David! On promises we’ve had the peculiar resurrection of Gordon Brown. Our political Lazarus dusted off the backbench cobwebs by manfully seizing Better Together by the throat. He threw down proposals for new Scottish powers that were eagerly seized upon by the Westminster parties, even though all three are signed up to further devolution (not that you’d know it thanks to BT’s negativist campaign). Now is not the time for a novice indeed. Continue reading