“Holyrood has now voted to trigger Section 30, a call for a new independence referendum. I very much hope that this will be the first step on a path that will allow Scotland to retain its membership of the European Union, to respect and protect the rights and freedoms that we value.” The author’s continued journey towards Yes…
But the only cloud gathering on this golden occasion was one of dark doubt, not about the utter commitment of those who spoke, but whether they, or anyone else, had the power or strategy to outdo Canute and halt the inexorable tide bearing the UK out of the EU.
“The Scottish Tories have happened upon a strategy to avoid association with the Conservatives in London. For the moment, keeping the issue of Scottish independence simmering away works for the Tories. But an issue that has been simmering can easily come to the boil. There is a danger, as David Cameron discovered to his personal cost, in stoking the fires to keep an issue simmering.”
“Scots are only slightly more egalitarian than people in England, while support for redistribution has declined across the UK. People will pay for specific services, notably health, but are not keen on redistribution. They want more powers for Scotland but are less keen on different policies or taxes.”
Devolution has failed to reduce Scotland’s stubborn health inequality. Norman Bonney doubts that greater powers are necessarily the answer to Scotland’s problems.
“That would mean far more savage austerity than Scotland has experienced so far under the protection of the Barnett formula. It probably would also mean tax increases, which the First Minister has so far mostly avoided for fear of driving high earners out of Scotland.”
“If we do leave, it is vital that we do so with realistic expectations of what we can achieve and the difficulties we will face. The unqualified use of the term “independence” raises expectations beyond that by ignoring the many practical constraints on the legal freedom of the Scottish people.”
“The referendum created a realignment in Scottish politics allowing the SNP to fulfil its long-standing ambition of replacing Labour. But it may also signal a change in the nature of political activity. That may be put to the test in the next couple of years.” A look forward to the SNP conference – and beyond
“The Scottish Government recently declared itself a “global leading light in the campaign for more open and accessible government”. Going backwards in terms of openness and accessibility in relation to special advisers suggests that there’s still a bit of work to do making good that commitment.”