8 Sep 2014

Will devolution process turn ‘switherers’?

Labour decided the best interests of the cross-party agreement on fast-tracked devolution would be served if they slipped the announcement out early from the lips of Gordon Brown. He’s regarded as having a special connection with many of the Labour voters in danger of switching to support for independence.


The deal has been cobbled together at great speed in reaction to weekend polling though the bones of it have been floating around in some quarters of the Better Together campaign for some time. The yes campaign has ridiculed both the speed and the content of the initiative.

And when I spoke to wavering voters or “switherers” in Greenock they didn’t seem to be swooning with excitement. But no strategists hope that one by one, as potential no voters focus on the “cliff edge” as they want them to think of it, they will have more and more reason to step back.

As for the content of the deal, there’s definitely a bit of nuance between the official London Labour line – there will be no change to the Labour policy on devolution, simply a hardened commitment across parties to act at speed – and the line you hear from some Labour figures up here in Scotland.

They point out that the agreement is to take part in a “consultation” on tax powers to be devolved etc and, they say, to consult without the possibility of changing your mind is not really to consult.

I bumped into Lib Dem Danny Alexander earlier, who clearly thinks the share price drops for major Scottish companies on the back of the weekend polls could be just as important for voter movement as the devolution deal. He said it was a tremor that should warn Scots of the earthquake they would be in for if they went for independence.

Another poll out tonight at midnight.

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6 reader comments

  1. Alan Gilchrist says:

    Gordon Brown has just said to Cathy N that “We need to think about this.” If that’s the case, why the @&%$ did they not think about their Devo Max offer 5+ years ago, rather than with 9 days to go.

    There is an obvious answer. If you can’t figure out what it is, ask yourself this: Why are we only on the “front page” now????

    We know our history. Alec Douglas Home in 1979. We are not stupid.

    It’s pathetic. It’s nonsense. It’s not going to work.

    Alan.

  2. Wilma Miller says:

    Could someone explain why Alan Cumming is commenting on thr referendum issue. As far as I know he lives in the US.

  3. Steve Willis says:

    My thoughts:

    1. A yes vote undermines the Act of Union.
    2. The referendum should consult with all people materially affected by the outcome i.e. not just the residents of Scotland.
    3. At the very least the residents of England should also have a vote.
    4. Holding a referendum without extending the vote to people living in England may breach Article 14 of the Human Rights Act 1998 i.e. we’re being discriminated against on the grounds of our “other status” as residents of England which is the other geographic area covered by the Act of Union.
    5. A yes vote result may need to be ratified by all members of the electorate resident in the geographic areas covered by the Act of Union (England & Scotland) because all will be affected by it.
    6. Why does Alec Salmond want Independence only to have to surrender it to the European Union?

  4. Malcolm McCandless says:

    Latest poll from TNS-BMRB: YES 41, (50.6%), NO 40 (49.4%).

    That confirms YES have taken the lead.

  5. CWH says:
  6. Mike HArland says:

    As an Englishman in Scotland for over 30 years, I can confirm that you English still “don’t get it”.

    We were told yesterday that the 3 Westminster parties (aka those English who still believe what any of their party leaders tell them) were going to get together and agree a package to offer the “Scots” (aka those people who are ‘resident in Scotland’, hence the PEOPLE of Scotland, NOT the SNP nationalist “English-bashing” faithful as the English would portray it).

    The ‘No’ controllers in Westminster with their unrepresentative parties this morning obviously failed to get any consensus that might equal the ‘Yes’ consensus of all-party and no-party cooperation: instead they got Gordo Brown (the reason that Labour voters deserted in droves at the last election here and voted a majority SNP government into power, despite our parliament having been set up to avoid any party gaining an overall majority as part of our proportional and wholly democratic voting system – that needed a huge defection to achieve such a massive turn of events, so why are the English now surprised that Labour voters are also seeing sense). Salmond will be gone in our next parliament and Labour can come back again if it is not run from HQ in Westminster or shows it can truly reflect local needs as it should do in cooperation with other parties in a true coalition. What has already been scandalous in this Scottish parliament is a Labour/Liberal/Conservative unholy alliance supposedly advocating opposing principles and policies while abandoning the people they thereby represent, just to oppose the SNP who had a majority democratic mandate.

    No, this is all far too late and counterproductive, and just proves how a failed coalition and an out of touch Labour party led by a leftist theoretician who has no idea of true popular aspirations are too arrogant and self-seeking to respond to a real grassroots democratic evolution. Anybody can see that all three parties are only looking to their future existence and viability, not the interests of the people of Scotland

    Just to take two ridiculous points of the Brown speech, how can he realistically tell me that I am cutting off “all links” to England and that an efficient rail service can be run across a non-existent border by one Scottish publicly owned rail company and several other English private ones: will I have to get off at Gretna or Berwick-Upon-Tweed to change trains? Will I need a passport to go see my father in Yorkshire? Maybe I will if Cameron takes me out of Europe at the next referendum, so obviously I am voting Yes to stay in and keep total freedom of movement – at least I can then also see all my cousins in Spain and France as I can now, no matter whether I live in “separate” countries. Are the English going to give up whiskey? – because, after all the ‘no, no, no, no you cannot have any favours” from Westminster, the English are going to have to pay a lot more for it in future. And so on, with all the other nonsensical scare stories they have been selling us. As a professional translator I have translated lots of European legal opinions on Scotland’s EU position and it is only England that is standing in our way: Cameron gave us the constitutional permission to have a democratic vote and he promised to abide by it, so why would he object to our EU membership if it wasn’t out of spite and refusal to negotiate like he has to (and so badly) with Europe already.

    We have a democratic right to vote for our full democratic rights and that is the nub of the question that the ‘powers that be’ do not get: Westminster is a failed democracy and Scotland now has a chance to expand its representative democracy with full democratic powers. It is as simple as that, and that is why the PEOPLE of Scotland, not the “Scots”, not Labour, not the SNP, not the LibCons, not the Orange Order (who will be breaking the law when they march in uniform in their mass march on Edinburgh), not corporate CEOs, not the Unions: no, none of those powers are voting, it is each and every person in Scotland with an equal and representative vote.
    The aftermath of corrupt politicians, media and police is coming home to roost in Scotland and the English just “do not get it”. I was here when the Conservatives “didn’t get it” after Thatcher experimented with her theories on a guinea-pig Scotland and wiped out her party in Scotland because Scots whether rich or poor saw it was unjust.
    The same is happening now.
    Time for the English “to get it” – I certainly have.

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