Saturday, 4 July 2015

Scotland's Money

Friday, 3 July 2015

Indepemce is the Only Answer

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond’s plan for fiscal independence was a key policy during the Scottish referendum campaign (Getty)

Nicola Sturgeon threatens second independence referendum over 'English votes for English laws'

First Minister suggests plans to create two tiers of MPs fit her conditions of 'substantive changes' for second referendum


A second referendum on Scottish independence could be held if the Conservative government’s plans to introduce ‘English votes for English laws’ go ahead, Nicola Sturgeon has suggested.
Earlier this year the SNP leader said her party would only push for a second referendum if there was a “substantive change in circumstances,”pointing to the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union.
Opponents of 'English votes for English laws' claim they would make Scottish MPs - 56 of whom are SNP - second-rate members of the Commons. Opponents of 'English votes for English laws' claim they would make Scottish MPs - 56 of whom are SNP - second-rate members of the Commons.
But yesterday she said the government’s plans to give English and Welsh MPs a new “veto” over laws identified as affecting only their constituents showed “great disrespect” to Scotland and suggested the proposals would increase support for Scottish independence.

Under the proposals, announced yesterday by Leader of the House Chris Grayling, MPs would effectively be divided into two tiers, with Scotland MPs effectively reduced to by-stander status in the early and middle stages of a large majority of legislation passing through the UK parliament.
Read more: English votes plan branded 'racist'
Second Scottish independence referendum should be held if UK quits the EU, says Nicola Sturgeon
SNP legal threat over English vote law
George Osborne promises 'radical devolution' for English cities
Study: Archaic voting system contributing to break-up of UK
Ms Sturgeon described the plans as a “constitutional shambles” and accused David Cameron of displaying a “staggering” degree of “hypocrisy and incoherence”.
Mr Grayling refused to answer Mr Kaufman, the Father of the House, saying his comment about ”racism” was demeaning. (Getty Images) Mr Grayling refused to answer Mr Kaufman, the Father of the House, saying his comment about “racism” was demeaning. (Getty Images)
It was not just SNP politicians who were outraged. Sir Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP and Father of the House, told Mr Grayling the very idea of “English votes for English laws” was inherently “racist”, while Fiona McTaggart, a former Labour minister, said the proposals would act as “a knife in the heart of the union.”
Responding to the proposals, Ms Sturgeon said in a statement:  "The Tories have produced a constitutional shambles - staggering in the extent of its hypocrisy and incoherence.
"Under these plans - which are all about cutting Scottish MPs out of votes which impact on Scotland and our budget - the Tories are proposing an 'English veto' and 'double majority'.
"I have been very clear that, at least in part, the level of support for independence will be determined by what the Tory government at Westminster does, as well as what the SNP Government does. And there is no question that the great disrespect shown to Scotland in these proposals is likely to have more people asking whether Westminster is capable of representing Scotland's interests at all."

Q&A: English votes for English laws

Q. So is that it – the West Lothian riddle, finally solved?
A. Not quite. Grayling has merely restructured Westminster’s political games  rather than deliver a  genuine solution. The Tory MP Martin Vickers asked where Grayling’s “stumbling” was heading towards. The answer is either a federalist UK, or Scotland leaving the UK.  No democratic chamber where there are two classes of members is likely to endure.
Q. Surely the government has thought hard on this?
A. No they haven’t.  After the panic-ridden deployment of the “vow” to keep Scotland in the UK club, it took Downing Street only a couple of hours to wreck any post-referendum unity. William Hague was quickly despatched to sketch out a plan to placate English Tories angry at the concessions Scotland was about to be handed. John Redwood offered a plan strikingly similar to what Grayling told the Commons, suggesting not much more thought has gone into this.
Q. The SNP members in the Commons, all 56 of them – they’ll be furious?
A. Furious at what?  The SNP have a vested interest in seeing the union fail, and Pete Wishart  is entirely correct in forecasting Grayling has helped the nationalists’ cause. Extend the consequences of what this means and it’s hard to see how a Scottish MP can ever again become prime minister, or indeed hold many of the top ministry jobs. Limit the ambition of members of any club, and they’ll take their business elsewhere – in this case out of the union.
Q. Is the change really that big?
A. There will be three new legislative grand committees: one for English MPs, one for English and Welsh MPs, and one for English, Welsh and Northern Ireland MPs. They will dictate what a lot of the full House gets to vote on.
Q. So where are the Scots?
A. Exactly.
Q. The SNP MP Ian Blackford asked why the Conservatives are bothering with all this - why not just create an English Parliament ?
A. Good question. Scotland already resembles a one-party state.  The nationalists have tight control of Holyrood.  Labour, the LibDems and the Tories all have only one MP north of the border. This isn’t an English Parliament, but it’s close.


Monday, 29 June 2015

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Lest We Forget!

SNP warns Scotland could still vote for independence

Party’s Westminster leader says new referendum is on the cards if David Cameron fails to deliver promises on greater devolution

Angus Robertson
 Angus Robertson says Scots feel Westminster is ignoring their wishes. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

The leader of the Scottish National party at Westminster has suggested that the people of Scotland could vote to leave the UK in a second independence referendum within five years if David Cameron fails to deliver on promises for greater devolution and imposes more austerity north of the border.
In an interview with the Observer, Angus Robertson, who leads 56 SNP MPs in the House of Commons – in what is now the third largest party – said many politicians at Westminster had clearly failed to grasp the scale of the political change in Scotland. The Tory government, he claimed, was attempting to backtrack on promises, made before and after last year’s independence referendum, to devolve more powers to Scotland while preparing an austerity budget that would also further inflame resentment. Some in the UK parliament, he said, seemed to be living in the vain hope that the SNP, and the pressure for independence, were temporary phenomena which would just “go away” – something he insisted would not happen.
The clearest sign of Westminster’s failure to comprehend the SNP and the wishes of Scots, he said, was the content of the Scotland bill on devolving powers which, as currently drafted, failed to implement many of the recommendations of the Smith commission that Cameron had pledged to introduce in full. Signs of backtracking by the government were feeding resentment among the Scottish people, who felt increasingly that Westminster was ignoring their wishes and failing to take on board the lessons from the SNP landslide north of the border.
Asked whether he believed there could be a second referendum and a Yes vote before the end of Cameron’s second term, Robertson refused to rule out the possibility. “I think that largely lies with David Cameron. He has to make a decision as to how he is going to approach governing Scotland with only one MP, having made a cast-iron promise and an undertaking to deliver on more powers for the Scottish parliament and the voters.”
He added: “Do I believe that in the future there will be further moves towards Scottish self-government? Yes, I do. Do I believe that there will in time be a growing desire in Scotland for independence? Yes, I do. Do I believe that in time there will be a referendum when the public wants it on independence and that there will be a Yes result? Yes, I do.”
Robertson insists his MPs are working constructively in parliament, but maintains the other parties are finding it impossible to accept the new force in their midst. “Westminster is having to come to terms with a very changed position in the chamber, where the Liberal Democrats are hard to see or hear because there are so few of them and this massive cohort of SNP are shocking the system by turning up to debates and taking part and having views that parts of the political class at Westminster have never heard.
“Images are regularly tweeted in Scotland of the small number of Tories on one side [of the House of Commons]and a similarly small number of Labour MPs – and scores of SNP MPs filling up the benches of the third party. Our party has arrived here with a job to do and, boy, are they going to do it.”
The SNP task was clear. “We were elected on a very well understood platform, standing up for Scottish interests to deliver the new powers that were promised to voters who voted both Yes and No in the referendum last year. We were elected on a strong mandate to oppose austerity, to resist the renewal of Trident, to represent our constituents. Unlike other parties, we have an extremely tangible north star.”
The SNP says it fully respects the narrow No vote last year, and that it is up to the Scottish people to decide if and when they want another independence referendum, an option party leader Nicola Sturgeon has refused to fully close off. There has been speculation that plans for one could be included in some form in the SNP manifesto for the Holyrood elections next year.
In the meantime the party is portraying the government and Westminster parties as serial betrayers. Robertson say that a cross-party report by the Scottish parliament, as well as analysis by the House of Commons Library, supports its view that the Scotland bill falls short of the recommendations made by the Smith commission, a claim the government strongly rejects.
Cameron says the bill does implement the commission’s recommendations and argues that the SNP is now backing off from its previous demands for full fiscal autonomy because it has realised it would be a bad deal for Scotland.
On devolution, Robertson added: “A promise was made and already we can see with the government’s legislation in the Scotland bill that has been presented does not match the Smith commission that was agreed and does not match the commitment made by the PM that he would look seriously on the proposals from the Scottish government on further devolution, which is what the people of Scotland voted on at the general election.”
The SNP says the bill fails to guarantee greater powers over welfare payments, and goes nowhere near delivering on Cameron’s pledge for a redistribution of power that would be as “close to federalism as possible”.
Ahead of next month’s budget, he said Scots would not take kindly to a package that imposed further cuts on them, in the form of £12bn of welfare reductions. Plans for a proposed multibillion pound renovation of parliament – which the SNP believes will rekindle memories of the fiasco of a Scottish parliament building completed three years late and at 10 times the original budget – were also unacceptable.
“Of course one needs to make sure a public building can function for its purpose, but spending £5bn, £8bn, £12bn on a renovation project I think is going to find very little favour with people who are about to be told their income is about to be cut very severely. There is hardly a bigger example of wrong priorities.
“The more that the UK parties, having been humiliated in the general election, do not respect the voters who voted for the SNP in the general election – but not for independence – there will be a growing view in Scotland that political institutions are not in a position to understand or care enough to realise that change needs to happen.”