Monday 28 April 2008

Calman - what's the point?

I've been wondering what the Calman Commission really hopes to achieve. It's a bit limiting to start off with such a limited position, and not even take the tiniest, slightest, attempt at a consideration that independence might be best for Scotland. When they talk of the future of devolution, I have to think: how long a future does devolution in Scotland actually have?

It's also curious that Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories, despite having varying positions (even within their own parties) on devolution and independence have come together in this way.
When the Prime Minister says the review is not a "one-way street", can other parties have confidence in the direction of the Commission? Will they be able to come to an agreement? What kind of outcome will satisfy all of them? Surely it's just a total waste of time if it doesn't actually propose much in the way of change?

Pete Wishart addressed both of these points well in a recent debate in Westminster:

The Liberal party must make it abundantly clear to Labour Members that it is not prepared to go through with the process unless it gets a cast-iron commitment and guarantee that there will be no taking away of powers from the Scottish Parliament to Westminster. We all look forward to hearing that from the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr. Reid), who will be speaking for the Liberal party. No one believes that there is any requirement for a return of powers to Westminster: it exists only in the fevered imagination.

The biggest problem with the commission—there are many—is what I would call the democratic deficit. The only thing that it will not consider is independence. If it is to consider Scotland’s constitutional options, it is absurd and inconceivable that independence should be left out of a review of further powers for the Scottish Parliament. What are Labour Members afraid of?

What indeed. Perhaps losing their lovely Westminster privileges...


The Commission, is made up of the following carefully selected individuals (I would go into details, but I see that Jeff and Calum have beaten me to it):

Sir Kenneth Calman, Chancellor of the University of Glasgow (Chair)
Colin Boyd, former Lord Advocate, member of the House of Lords (Labour)
Rani Dhir, Director Drumchapel Housing Co-operative
James Douglas Hamilton, former Scottish Office Minister, member of the House of Lords (Conservative)
Professor Sir David Edward, retired Judge of the European Court
Lord Elder, member of the House of Lords (Labour)
Audrey Findlay, former Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, now Convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Jamie Lindsay, former Scottish Office Minister, member of the House of Lords (Conservative), Chairman SAC (Scottish Agricultural College)
John Loughton, President of the Scottish Youth Parliament (serving in a personal capacity-that would be because the SYP doesn't allow for party politics...)
Murdoch MacLennan, Chief Executive, Telegraph Media Group
Shonaig Macpherson, Chair of the National Trust for Scotland and of the SCDI (Scottish Council Development and Industry)
Iain McMillan, Director, CBI Scotland
Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Glasgow
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary , UNISON
Jim Wallace, former Deputy First Minister and former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

At least we have the good manners to invite some of their lot over to play...


Jeff said...

Yes, I'm finding myself asking that very question also.

I don't really see what the end game is here. Are the general public going to be that convinced by 15 randoms (and they do look fairly random) telling them how their country should be constructed?

Also, the body itself is constrained by its numbers. It can't say anything too radical given the lack of a mandate. But if what it says is too bland then it'll be seen as a colossal waste of time.

Most remarkable of all, I honestly don't find myself too interested in what the findings will be and I usually (somewhat sadly) get a big kick out of such things.

BellgroveBelle said...

Totally! It's a distraction really. Whatever they come up with has to be a massive compromise.

Anonymous said...

Gordon's just seen the new Scottish poll figures that put the SNP at 45%.