21 Sep 2014

Are the Tories really backtracking on Scottish powers?

Downing Street is trying to kill off headlines suggesting it is reneging on the solemn vow to Scottish voters on devolution and putting conditions on the promise of more powers for Scotland if it voted against independence.

It’s pretty toxic stuff and you can imagine the phones will have been ringing from Tories and other pro-unionists in Scotland wondering what No. 10 is up to.

So No. 10 has issued some new language on how it sees things. On Friday morning, David Cameron said measures for England should move at the “same pace” as measures for Scotland. Now the line is that “there’s no reason why they shouldn’t happen in parallel”.

Gary Gibbon reports on the referendum implications for Labour:

The Tories insist they are still committed to the timetable for Scottish reforms outlined in the solemn vow. But that published vow only contains a timetable for getting the bill ready ahead of the general election. It’s not a precise timetable for getting it passed.

Would David Cameron, if he were re-elected, ever contemplate passing the new Scottish powers into law without having got compensatory or balancing measures for England into place? Probably not. His party wouldn’t let him. So what’s changed is the briefing and the aggression with which Team Cameron was trying to put Ed Miliband in a tight political spot, making it look like he favoured the Scots over the English.

Could the two sides agree on English votes for English matters? David Cameron says he still likes the McKay Commission proposals but senior Labour figures say they prefer the handiwork of the former Cabinet minister, Ken Clarke. Mr Clarke’s 2008 Democracy Review came up with the proposal that only English MPs could amend exclusively English matters. All MPs could then vote on the amended bill but could not remove or add additional amendments.

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Hard to see that would be enough to keep some of David Cameron’s Chequers house guests happy tomorrow. He’s invited a gathering he would normally consider a lunch party from hell to show he’s listening to his critics (John Redwood, the Chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, Bernard Jenkin are amongst those on the invitation list).

Ed Miliband’s team insists the real message of the referendum result in Scotland is anger with the economic settlement not the constitutional niceties. If David Cameron wants to campaign on the West Lothian Question while Labour pumps out a message on the NHS and the minimum wage, they’ll be delighted.

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6 reader comments

  1. Barbara says:

    Economics are usually of prime importance. But will the Scots want higher taxes in order to achieve some of their plans?

    Similarly in Northern Ireland, England ,and Wales, with the development of regional devolution.

    Or will there just be a budget with spending amounts for devolved areas so that spending will be a matter of choice for each region depending on needs and developmental projections..

    This has been an emotional process. But surely each region will now be able to achieve their own unique identity within the United Kingdom.

    It could become exciting diversity that is not just multi cultural

  2. John Macdonald says:

    Ed milliband has lost the plot, minimum wage is not the main issue. the adherence to fptp Westminster system is.

    The 45 ( need to change that name) movement will ensure labour suffer a Scottish general election defeat on the par with the tories under thatcher.

    All the parties in Scotland need to separate from their westminister masters. And a new federal uk constitution brought into being like Canada. Otherwise within ten years …. no uk.

    Just doing EV4EL will make every non english voter in uk a second class citizen.

  3. Philip Edwards says:

    Gary,

    That Westminster/Whitehall gang have been lying to and betraying the rest of the country for years. The reactionary south east tories are the worst of the lot…..the Brook Newmarks, John Redwoods, Grant Shapleys, Boris Johnsons, Mathew Hancocks of that disgusting tiny-minded world.

    Why be surprised at the latest version of double-cross?

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so predictably tragic. And it will get worse, much worse. Nothing is more certain.

  4. lesley wylie says:

    Possible referendum voting irregularities aside, when the referendum was first agreed the option for ‘devo max’ was rejected – not what either side wanted perhaps, but probably would prove to be the winner.
    When the polls indicated that the yes campaign was neck and neck with the no’s, the three party leaders dropped everything for a day trip to Scotland to show a united front in their complete disregard for the democratic process, promising a level of devolution it was not in their remit to deliver – evidenced by the immediate negative response from MPs regarding their willingness to comply. Their published pledge indicating immediate action on the promises following a no vote – disregarding their requirement to follow the democratic processes through parliament – was singular in its amorphous vagueness, though presented in a firm ‘trust me’ voice.
    It would now appear that Mr Cameron, following his acrimonious divorce from his temporary bedfellows, is again disregarding democracy as an unnecessary hindrance to his aims. The Scots may have their devolution (undefined) in concurrence with the English. Did I miss something? Was there a vote in England for Devolution? On what basis has he judged the desire of the people of England for devolution?
    He is again riding roughshod over that democratic process that he claims to embrace, for no greater purpose it would appear than to diminish his political rivals ahead of next year’s elections.
    I have never been politically motivated before, often not bothering to vote, but I am so incensed by the apparent belief that the Scots heads zip up the back and their Neanderthal knuckles trail on the ground that I have now joined the SNP and will work as hard as might be required of me to remove the stain on British politics that Mr Cameron and his sycophants have become.

    1. Margaret says:

      Well said Lesley. I am a pensioner, one of those people who are the silent voters who have never before been a member of a political party. I am now a member of the SNP because the machinations of the pro unionists and their complete disregard for the ‘purdah’ rules made me so outraged as they seem to think our heads button up the back. There have also been so many lies, misinformation and outright scaremongering by the No side/government and media
      There has been a huge increase in the Indy party membership (all parties) because people do not believe Westminster will honour their promises. Will they take note, I doubt it. I can only hope that the 2015 elections will be a big wake up call for them all
      The No vote may be a setback for the moment but you do not lie down and take defeat for ever more. You stand up, dust yourself down and start working again for what you believe in

  5. VGSmith says:

    As a 45er these comments have encouraged me – these last few days I have been wondering what online or print news I can follow as none of the standard outlets represent my outlook except the Sunday Herald, and, obviously, that’s only once a week. Thanks for your thoughts!

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