Thursday 16 August 2007


More than a few people (far too many to list, so I'll leave it for the Roundup: they'll do a far better job than I will I'm sure) have already blogged about the launch SNP Government's National Conversation on independence; I've not had time to commit my own thoughts to the internet due to a busy weekend, many many thought-provoking meetings with voluntary organisations in my ward, flat hunting, and the very poor excuse of gazing deeply into the new sparkly engagement ring on my finger...

Anyway, at last I've found a few minutes to spare.

I'm unbelievably excited by the news on the Choosing Scotland's Future White Paper; I was cheering and clapping at Newsnight on Tuesday (nearly burning my ironing in the process). I wasn't, however, cheering only at Alex or Nicola - I was delighted to see the Lib Dems and the Tories enthuse about more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Even Labour, despite Cathy Jamieson's grumpy protestations, have made a monumental shift away from their conviction that every aspect of the Scotland Act ought to be set in stone for eternity.

To give some credit to the Tories, Murdo Fraser and Malcolm Forsyth admitted that, from their ideological perspective, a Parliament should raise the money it spends. To take that concept to it's conclusion, such a Parliament should also be more responsible for that spending, and take on the burden of social security and defence. Then, that Parliament might as well take on the rest of the things Parliaments do, and by that point, whaddya know, you're independent. That's perhaps not what they intend, but that to me is where that will take us (obviously I'd prefer it a bit quicker and more open though, but more on that later).

Cathy Jamieson meanwhile continued her rant that "fiscal autonomy is just independence by another name". I suppose that Labour wouldn't want to undermine their own team in Westminster. After all, to ask for repatriation of financial powers from the Chancellor hardly endorses the job he's doing! It'd be interesting, however, to see whether this position would change if the Tories were running the Treasury...

Lord Steel of the Lib Dems also argued for more powers for the Scottish Parliament, although preferring a more formal federal structure. I'm not convinced by this at all - it seems to me as much as a half-way house as Devolution. In addition, it wouldn't be possible or fair without similar structures in England being put in place, which doesn't seem to have wide support in Westminster by anyone other than the Lib Dems.

Unpicking the Union thread by thread, issue by issue, could be a very time consuming process, and a route I'd rather we didn't take. The idea of a gradual generation-long process leaves me cold and not a little frustrated. We should be bold, but we should always have the people with us. Something more conclusive, preferably via the democratic mandate of the Scottish people in a referendum, would settle the matter.

While done without a referendum, the velvet divorce happened quickly over a period of six months, from the Slovak declaration of independence in July, to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on the 31st of December 1992. That gives me hope that, should our conversation convert the public, we could be independent sooner than they think.

1 comment:

Mark McDonald said...

Engagment did you say?!?

Congratulations :)