Hot news this evening is that the “Better Together” campaign has harnessed commitment of the 3 main legacy parties to more devolution of powers to Scotland, in a last ditch defence against the threat of defeat by the “Yes” Camp based on the YouGov opinion poll at the weekend. I won’t repeat the news from the Mainstream Media, but here’s the BBC News report on it. Having a Scottish Labour MP as the front-man for it, however, even if it is Gordon Brown, is a stroke of either luck or genius.
A summary of the “offer” is that there would be a white paper by the time of St Andrew’s Day on 30 November, and draft legislation by 25 January, Burns’ Night. Implementation would follow the General Election, on the assumption that one of, or a pair of, Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats would be in power. The powers to be devolved would centre on tax and benefits, but things like defence and pensions would remain under Westminster control.
One trusts that UKIP members can see the flaw of this plan… There WILL be UKIP MPs in the 2015 Parliament, there is no doubt on that now. How many, we don’t know, but with what is going on nationally, and specifically what is happening in particular places like Clacton and Rotherham, the runes now look a lot healthier for UKIP. A large number of Tory MPs even think that UKIP will be part of a government, and should be taken under the Conservative wing – yet another pact proposal – which Nigel has promptly dismissed.
There is therefore a distinct possibility that UKIP could be part of a government, after 8 May 2015, to implement this legislation…
Er, hang on a minute. UKIP hasn’t been consulted on this plan. UKIP isn’t part of the “all-party” agreement.
So, what is our reaction to this? It will be interesting to see what the party says on the matter.
However, I would say one thing. The offer is to “give” a lot of powers to Scotland, but isn’t there something that Scotland should give to England and Wales in return? The long-standing sore of the devolution so far is the “West Lothian question” – the way that Scottish MPs can vote on English and Welsh matters where the Scots Parliament is able to make it’s own decision.
This offer makes the imbalance even worse, and makes resolution of the “West Lothian Question” even more pressing. Let’s put them on the spot over this.