The Smith Commission, set up by the UK government to hammer out exactly what the ‘more powers’ pledged to Scotland by the No parties in the final week of the referendum can/should entail has enlisted representatives of all parties but also requested that the public have their say.
For my part, as a Yes supporter I’m pretty skeptical about the whole process, especially as the whole issue of devolution has become a party political football for votes in England, the promised timetable has already been broken and a great many influential figures from all parties have broken ranks to say they will not allow more powers for Scotland, most notably the Mayor of London and probable Conservative MP (maybe even leader…) next year, Boris Johnson.
However, wishing to act in good faith I’d ideally push for almost complete devolution, with Scotland 90% autonomous within a Federal UK, retaining most of our tax proceeds as well as control over all internal decisions on energy, education, welfare, health etc. as well as legal assurances that such devolution cannot be centrally revoked or the Scottish parliament dissolved by Westminster.
This would allow the Scottish government to allocate funds as the people of Scotland would prefer, rather than being compelled to make the best of the pocket money Westminster allows us.
While I’m dreaming, I’d like a devolved BBC Scotland, funded by the license fees collected in Scotland (with a % sent to the middle for core programming, like Dr Who, the Natural History department and international news) and committed to filming in Scotland, for Scotland rather than basically being a sub-branch of BBC London with most of our license fees sent south and lacking editorial independence.
However, we are wildly unlikely to gain that level of autonomy, because federalism is still a dirty word in Westminster and the reason the big parties were so keen to keep Scotland is because we’re actually a net contributor to the union and they need the tax proceeds of our oil and tourism to prop up their broken economy.
Nonetheless, we must make our voice heard and I would urge everyone to e-mail into the Smith Commission via this link with your thoughts about the more powers pledge, what would you most like to see devolved, what matters most to you in this broad ranging and potentially transformative conversation?
If I had to choose a handful of requests, first would be increased retention of tax revenues, followed by control over energy and welfare to combat the immediate issues of fracking and poverty, along with the locked in future of the Scottish parliament.
However, I’m not going to tell you what to wish for, so I’ll point you in the direction of the awesome 38degrees who have some good articles on what powers are and are not devolved which you can access here and the Scottish Government have more factual information here.
Make your voice heard, because only by being active can we hope to effect the change which is needed in Britain’s governance.