Friday, 28 November 2014

Oh dear Lord

The Smith Commission, headed by Lord Robert Smith of Kelvin, has reported.

The Good Bits

  1. Lord Smith got five political parties (Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and the SNP) to agree to one document. That's an achievement.
  2. The consensus includes an agreement to extend voting to 16 and 17 year olds - young people would* have more of a say in our future
  3. The Commission agreed that "nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose." I'm choosing, and I'm choosing now. Yes please.
  4. He added his own view: for example that there should be more local devolution - to local authorities 
  5. Scotland would* get a voice on EU business. Bonjour, Monsieur Juncker.
  6. The Crown Estate would* pass to the Scottish Parliament - we get Balmoral! Anyone want to squat it?
  7. Scotland would* get powers over fuel poverty
  8. Payday loan sharks, sorry, shops, would* be controlled at Holyrood
  9. We would* get some "formal consultative roles" - for example with telecoms, renewable energy and the coastguard. I have the impression that this "consultative role" was a negotiation back-stop in the places where Conservative, Labour or LibDems would not hand over actual power. 
  10. The two governments would "explore" (sounds very, very tentative) the possibility (even more tentative) of a "temporary right" (tentative in the extreme) to remain in Scotland for anyone identified as a victim of human trafficking.
  11. We get control over food labelling to include "Made in Scotland". 
  12. Oh yes, and we would* get powers over traffic signs. Great. Thanks.

The Not Good Bits

The Commission received 18,381 submissions from the public including, as we say in Catalan, un servidor. When they published their interim report on these submissions they told us that just 259 (er, 1.88%) were submissions "requesting no further powers be devolved." So when the report says:

...what they apparently mean is that the public view would "...NOT influence the thinking of the political parties..."
The Scottish Parliament would* have no powers over the regulation of political parties or donations to those parties. Barmy, in the extreme. 
We would* get no powers over pensions, and limited powers over benefits. Child Benefit and Maternity Allowance are both "reserved" - i.e. Westminster keeps their sticky hands on them. 
Westminster - that bastion of gender equality - retains control over equalities!
The political and environmental hot potato of fracking comes to Scotland, but the real money - the licenses for offshore oil and gas - don't. Thanks a bunch, guys.
On income tax we get to control the rate...but not the personal allowance, or tax relief or even "the definition of income." So, change the definition and change the reliefs, and the b*&&ers can carry on evading tax like before
We don't get control over National Insurance, Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains tax, Corporation tax and "oil and gas receipts will remain reserved." ROBBERY!!
We get to control Air Passenger Duty...but if we cut it, we have to pay the difference to Westminster. The Ryanair policy.  
Same goes for fines and penalties. We get to keep them, but we pay the amount back to Westminster. Bl@@dy pointless.

Teacher's Comments

Not really "extensive new powers", is it, Bob? Definitely not the "home rule" that Gordon Brown promised. 
You didn't actually listen, Bob, did you? When 18,381 people sweated nights to write you their six pages of opinion, and when 98% of those people said they wanted more powers, you, and the Commission, simply ignored them.
We get to fiddle at the fringes of income tax, but we can't control allowances, nor even define what "income" is.
We don't get rid of Trident, nor anywhere near it.
And we have once again been robbed. Like the English colony that we are, our oil and gas, that huge opportunity to tackle the poverty of Scotland, has been taken from us. Robbery, pure daylight robbery. This part gives me, as an auntie used to say, the dry boak.

So thanks for trying, and well done with the getting-them-all-to-agree bit. But it's not enough. Not enough, by miles.

*IF the UK Government agrees to implement all this lovely stuff, bearing in mind the forthcoming general election, the views of UKIP and their mates in the Tory party...

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