9 Sep 2014

Will ‘almost federal’ offer to Scots change votes?

The announcement of a speeded-up timetable for more devolution was meant to be a two-stage unveiling with the Scottish party leaders leading the field and Westminster leaders following the next day. Gordon Brown leapt in front and announced the whole proposal last night.

Tomorrow, the plan is that the prime minister, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg turn up to back the whole initiative.

Gordon Brown last night said what was on offer was close to a “federal” solution. A very different constitutional settlement could be taking shape in front of us.

In the event of a “no” vote the Westminster parties could find they lose a bit of control of the agenda, their fixed party positions on devolution yield to pressure and advance closer to devo max. Their positions could open up unimagined or long-resisted changes to other parts of UK governance.


You find quite a few late-surge yes supporters saying they wish that devo max had been on the ballot paper. They say they’ve been forced to opt for independence because of the binary offer of, as they see it, change or no change. The last minute change of tactic by the no camp is an attempt to redefine that choice in voters’ minds.

They’ve definitely left it too late for quite a lot of non-SNP yes voters I’ve met, who’ve surprised themselves becoming at ease with the concept of independence. They speak of being ready for bumpiness it might involve.

But the no camp is hoping this offer will give “switherers” permission to vote no and not feel so bad about their actions.

The pro-union Scottish parties’ leaders will this morning try to puncture one of Alex Salmond’s most effective campaign weapons, the claim that the NHS will be cut back and chunks of it privatised¬† under pressure from Westminster.

Scotland, they’ll claim, would under the proposals Gordon¬† Brown rushed out last night be able to protect the NHS from any such pressures.

The latest poll still puts the two camps neck and neck.

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5 reader comments

  1. StuartM says:

    So Scotland is being offered massive new powers without any public debate, anything being presented to or debated in Westminster. Instead a couple of public school boys are having secret meetings to cobble together something that has no democratic mandate from anybody. Is this really how the UK is governed ?

    As as somebody living south of the border with no vote, when this all started I felt that Scotland must stay part of the Union. But as time has progressed I now think Scotland would be better off independent and were I Scottish (living in Scotland) I’d be voting for independence. When you see how our Westminster London-centric politicians behave … can we have independence in Yorkshire as well please?

    1. Drew Campbell says:

      Absolutely right. How can Cameron, Clegg and Miliband (and BROWN?!?!) say they are guaranteeing ‘Home Rule’ – a fundamental shift in the democratic structure of the UK (or so they would have us believe. The media should be all over them on this – it’s back of a fag packet stuff, with no consultation, no debate and certainly no mandate.

      If Scotland votes No, does anyone really believe English MPs will quietly file through the lobbies for this tripe? They’ll all be playing to their own constituencies and refusing to accept such a “settlement” – and quite right too.

  2. Brian says:

    The problem apart from anybody being able to guarantee the implementation of these powers is that they fall far short of being honestly described as “devomax” as described thoroughly here by blogger “Peat Worrier” http://lallandspeatworrier.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/devo-max-devo-wont.html

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    This is the ‘Devo-Max’ alternative to separation that Cameron foolishly rejected, isn’t it? Salmond had asked for a three-way question which Cameron rejected.

    There was always a strong preference for ‘more devolved powers’ for Scotland over a separation.

    But this late offer has come too late for many Scottish electors. The postal votes are all in.

    Cameron and his Tory pals have, as ever, completely lost the plot.

  4. Radio Jammor says:

    With Labour joining forces with the Government to oppose Independence, and with all the scare-mongering going on in the media, and with the TV debates showing-up the No campaign for the giant bluff wagon that it is, Scots are now seeing their Scottish Government as being far more honest and open. The Tories have a ridiculously out-of-touch view of Britain and have always treated Scots as second class citizens (if that), and cannot conceive that Scotland might have the temerity to be its own country and cannot countenance the loss of the largest piece of ’empire’ left to England.

    Labour has aligned itself with the No campaign because it will be a massive blow to its electoral chances if the Scottish votes at Westminster are lost.

    Therefore they all have things to lose and with the “No” campaign having been shown as full of bluff and bluster what ever any of these parties promise is not going to be trusted except by the most gullible and short-term thinking people.

    Deep down, most Scots want their country back, even if the Union has been good for some, and it wasn’t the hostile takeover that could have occurred. So now that the No Campaign has gone from scare-mongering to wooing voters, there will be plenty of Scots who go, “Hang on a minute…if ‘you’ need us that badly, ‘we’ must be better off than we thought…”

    Rather than sway the voters to the “No” campaign, this may actually back-fire and further galvanise support for Independence, as Scots come to realise after generations of being put-down and considered a poor wee partner to England in The Union, that it is actually big enough and good enough to go it alone.

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