Without much apparent consultation with colleagues in his own party, let alone across all three unionist ones, Gordon Brown announced a timetable of UK parliamentary measures to address the inadequacies of the present devolution settlement to Scotland. According to papers today, as the first step of that, the following motion is to be laid before the UK Parliament next week:
“That this House welcomes the result of the Scottish independence referendum and the decision of the people of Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom; recognises that people across Scotland voted for a Union based on the pooling and sharing of resources and for the continuation of devolution inside the United Kingdom; notes the statement by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition regarding the guarantee of and timetable for further devolution to Scotland; calls on the Government to lay before Parliament a Command Paper including the proposals of all three UK political parties by 30th October and to consult widely with the Scottish people, civic Scotland and the Scottish Parliament on these proposals; further calls on the Government to publish heads of agreement by the end of November and draft clauses for the new Scotland Bill by the end of January 2015.”
Given that a clear option to achieve just that was excluded from the referendum question on David Cameron’s insistence, the undignified scramble of the last week and the above motion taken at face value could be seen to have reversed that stance. As a result, Scotland may still gain something substantial for the 45% of its people who voted YES, even if it is not the sovereignty they hoped for.
Not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade and dampen such prospects, the whole thing seems cobbled together in a panic. There is evidence of UKIP-paranoid Tory backwoodsmen gathering pitchforks and torches against any more ‘concessions’ to Scotland and—of pivotal importance—any agreement has to survive ritual abuse of party machines girding their loins for a General Election now less than 8 months away.
The cynical negativity and nastiness that typified senior politicians speaking out against independence may have simply been a campaign tactic and they do indeed wish Scotland well and bury their collective hatchets to permit her to prosper by their alternate method.
But, as gran said: “Ah hae ma doots”