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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