Wednesday, 30 May 2012

So, What the Hell is Wrong with Devolution.

Ever since the SNP won a majority in the Scottish parliament in May 2011, there has been a great deal of discussion in the media about the possible alternatives to independence which might be offered as part of the referendum in 2014. I have tried to categorise the main variants below, in order to examine some of the major issues they share.

I have attempted to use the now standard "Devo" nomenclature, even though this reads like a soft drink menu. I have also given a brief description of each option. These are deliberately short, so I am sure many will take exception to my definitions.

Independence (Devo Ultra)

As currently proposed, this involves Scotland becoming a sovereign nation with all taxes and duties being levied by Edinburgh. Scotland would retain the pound, as well as partial ownership of the Bank of England, and the Queen would be the Head of State. Scotland would receive the full benefit of its natural resources, including oil and gas revenues. There would almost certainly be some cooperation with the rUK, for example on currency and defence matters, but sovereignty would rest with Scotland.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Let our Independent Nation be an Example to All

Allow me to share with you a simple tale of how the Law of Unintended Consequences can sometimes act with almost karmic irony. I offer this story, not simply for amusement, though I dearly hope it does amuse, but with a more serious purpose in mind, as those who persevere to the end will discover.

My story involves an officer of the Western isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), who will remain unnamed in order to spare his blushes, who worked for many years in the department of Education.

For decades, fourth year students of the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway have been given a talk intended to help provide them with a set of life skills to aid them when they leave school. As part of this activity, each pupil is supplied a copy of the “Young Scot” information handbook, a magazine which contains a great deal of useful advice on topics such as how to apply for a passport, pay your bills, register to vote etc.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Scottish Independence: The Dark Side

The local authority elections are finally over and the SNP has emerged as the clear winner, at least from an arithmetic point of view. Assuming the ConDems manage to hold onto power at Westminster, only the European elections of May 2014 stand between us and the independence referendum and those are likely to be little more than an opinion poll for the referendum itself.

We hear from the leadership of the SNP that the launch of the “Yes” campaign is only days away, and we can expect a “No” campaign to begin soon, if somewhat tentatively, as the pro-dependence parties begin their communal dance, circling one another as they reach towards some form of coalescence. It would seem that the phoney war is about to end, allowing the debate to pass from the procedural to the political.