Scotland: Degrees of Freedom.

Devo Max (or Full Fiscal Autonomy) seems to be getting some traction. There’s been two big name proponents over the last week or so.
Canon Kenyon Wright wrote to the Herald:

My own view is that a straight choice between independence and the status quo effectively disenfranchises a large number of Scots who want neither. Since this is a crucial decision for Scotland’s future governance, that is unacceptable.

And:

Imagine going into the polling booth in such circumstances and being forced to choose between two options, the status quo or outright independence, and not the option of more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Quite simply, that is disenfranchising people

Then we have the indefatigable Henry Mcleish. On STV (on video here).

Asked that as a former First Minister he would have the status and the credibility to lead a campaign for a “devo max” option on the ballot and for Scots to back it, he said: “I am flattered by the suggestion but I am not presumptious enough to suggest I would do that.”
“Modesty forbids, but on the other hand I want to be part of it, I feel passionately that Scotland deserves another option I feel passionate that we could stay within the union, a changed union, but still have far more powers, and if I thought for one minute as I do that Scots wanted that as well then I am quite happy to be associated with Civic Scotland, the STUC and the churches but equally important, my party – Labour – I’d like to see them engage in this.”
Pressed on whether he would accept if asked, he replied: “If I am asked which is, in the trade you would call it a hypothetical question, I would consider.

I think it will get on the ballot paper – which means things could get interesting. (Strangely enough I think Westminster, and the rest of us. have a bigger right to a say in a “Devo Max” settlement than on independence..)

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  • Obelisk

    But does it not mean it’s a win for the Nationalists no matter what happens?

    Scenario 1: Devo-Max isn’t offered, and the Scots opt to maintain the Union. Very shortly Scotland will drop out of Westminster discourse again, because of the devolution settlement. The Nationalists will begin to spin a narrative about how the Unionist parties paid attention to Scotland once the Union was threatened, but now that it is secured the same old neglect is back. They prepare the ground for the next attempt in a generation’s time.

    Scenario 2: Devo-Max IS offered, and wins. The SNP claims a lesser victory, but still a victory. But under Devo-Max, they’ve just taken a gigantic step forwards towards independence because they can now demonstrate that Scotland can function on it’s own two feet, more or less. Full Independence is just another small step away.

    Either scenario regarding the presence of Devo-Max presents opportunities for the Nationalists in the long run, although Scenario 1 would offer a clear defeat for the SNP, it would probably give them a lot of ammunition for the next twenty years.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “they can now demonstrate that Scotland can function on it’s own two feet, more or less”

    but what if… they cant?

    For small countries to balance the books isn’t that easy, and creating cross border differences can have more of an impact than people realise, health and benefit tourists, fuel smuggling, grannying, etc. things we are used to but could cause headaches if replicated on the mainland.

  • “things we are used to but could cause headaches if replicated on the mainland.”

    There’s a little bit of history there too, DR, the Border Reivers.

  • Graham

    But what is there in Devo Max for the UK Government? The English electorate spitting tacks, increased demands from all other parts of the UK and how long until the Jocks are back at the door for the rest anyway? This must be a huge resource-consuming distraction for a relatively new co-alition Government with enough on its plate.

  • DougtheDug

    Dewi:

    I very much doubt if devo-max will get on the ballot paper. The big problem for devo-max is that it is in the gift of Westminster.

    If a group in Scotland think up some definition of what devo-max means in terms of fiscal, legislative and executive powers for the Scottish Parliament and if it goes on the ballot paper and wins then what next?

    The SNP can’t unilaterally put a bill throught the Westminster parliament. Any devo-max solution would have to be acceptable to a majority of MP’s in Westminster because that’s where any devo-max legislation would be enacted and the majority of MP’s in Westminster stand for English constituencies.

    The chances of the definition of devo-max as set out on the ballot paper getting through parliament unchanged would be nil.

    What would probably happen is that the Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem parties would simply ignore the result or kick it into some form of long devolution committe or commission to pretend they were actually listening.

    Putting devo-max on the ballot paper without a guarantee from at least the Labour party, and better all three UK parties, that they would enact that definition of devo-max if it was chosen would simply be lying to the electorate about their choices.

    Not one of the three UK parties want any more powers to go to Scotland. Calman can be considered as the dead-cat-bounce of devolved powers to Scotland

    Scotland is already at devo-max.

    I put an article on Bellacaledonia about this very topic.

    http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2012/01/18/max-headroom/

  • Congal Claen

    Devo Max would mean the SNP could keep charging non Scottish students. Something we also do and I totally disagree with. Independence means they’d have to pay for them like any other EU students. Could be costly!

  • FuturePhysicist

    The UK doesn’t even have full fiscal autonomy, after the French navy, the EU, bailouts and subsidising the US European NATO fleet, huge banking chains and a trading deficit just growing and growing … what’s left for themselves?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Let’s not forget subsidising their remaining “colonies”.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Congal Claen (profile) 21 January 2012 at 6:54 pm
    Devo Max would mean the SNP could keep charging non Scottish students. Something we also do and I totally disagree with. Independence means they’d have to pay for them like any other EU students. Could be costly!
    ——————————————————————————
    In England universities are paid by unfulfilable debt obligations that 40%-50% of graduates will never have to pay a penny towards.

  • ayeYerMa

    “Devo Max” is nothing other than the SNP wishing to bend/break the rules of fairness within the Union for the benefit of Scotland and Scotland alone to scrounge and beggar their neighbours. They cannot be allowed to upset the balance of fairness for all partners in the Union by letting them have “their cake and eat it too”.

    Either in or out and stop the moaning. If in, then you need to play by the rules which ensure stability and fairness in the Union.