Category Archives: No campaign

More devolution will never happen

The Scottish Parliament
Originally uploaded by mariancraig

Sometimes you find interesting articles in unexpected places. For instance, The Sun carried a piece yesterday called “Why promise more devolution when it will never happen?

In it, Andrew Nicoll argues that Scotland has only ever got more devolution to fend off the SNP, so after a No vote to independence there’s no chance anybody will give Scotland any more powers:

[I]t seems to me that every step along the way of devolution has been fired and driven by the threat of the SNP and a drift towards independence.

Take that threat away and there really is no reason to concede anything else.

Let’s look at the history books. Harold Wilson talked about devolution but nothing happened. Ted Heath promised it but nothing happened.

Then the SNP won a third of the vote in Scotland and, all of a sudden Jim Callaghan’s Labour government was determined to deliver.

But Mrs Thatcher said we should vote No and she would offer something better. The 1978 referendum failed, the SNP vote collapsed and Mrs Thatcher changed her mind — not a thing she did often.

Then Labour lost three elections on the trot. Scotland kept voting Labour and kept getting a Tory government. One more heave looked less and less attractive. Suddenly devolution was back on the cards.

And, when devolution finally came, nothing much happened until the SNP ended up as the biggest party in 2007.

Then, suddenly, we had the Calman Commission offering new tax powers to Scotland.


Why would the Tories give Scotland more devolution powers after [a No vote]? Is it because we will stop voting for the Tories if they don’t? It’s too late, we’ve already stopped.

Why would the Lib Dems give us more powers? Is it because they said they would, like they did over university tuition fees? Do you think there is a single thing the Lib Dems would not give up if it meant they could find themselves in government again?

Why would Labour give us more powers? Is it because we might stop voting Labour?

Well, who else are you going to vote for? Vote for who you like, but you won’t be voting for independence any more.

There won’t be more devolution because there is no need. Just like there will be no need to keep giving Scotland more cash than the rest of the UK.

I must say I agree with this. If Labour, the Tories and the LibDems are serious about giving Scotland further powers after a No vote, they need to pass a law before the autumn of 2014 that gives Scotland those extra powers starting from 2016 or so. If we vote Yes, the law will just never have any effect, but it’s the only way to guarantee that a No vote won’t become the beginning of the end of Scottish devolution.

What is Better Together?

The No Campaign was launched recently, and as expected they chose the name Better Together. (By the way, do have a look at Wings over Scotland’s fisking of their campaign video!)

The name Better Together is obviously supposed to signal that things are done better together with England (the alternative reading, namely that things are done better with the Tories, is probably not as likely).

However, most of the things Scots like best are already separate: The football team, the NHS (in spite of the name the Scottish NHS and the English NHS are completely separate entities), the schools and universities, and many more.

The BBC and the army are shared, but BBC Scotland of course produces a lot of devolved TV, and I often sense that people’s attachment to the army is limited to the Scottish units, such as the Black Watch.

The shared institutions without a devolved element don’t seem to be much loved. I definitely didn’t see a lot of Better Together-ness in connexion with the Iraq war, nor do people seem to be singing Better Together songs outside Coulport (where the UK’s atomic bombs are stored).

So does anybody in Scotland really believe that things are better when done together with England?