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Saturday, 20 September 2014

5 Questions & possible Answers you should be interested in as we ponder scotland's #indyref result & where next on devolution of powers

ht wikipedia for the image

1) What devolved powers are or are not devolved to Scotland?

The Scotland Acts of 1998 and 2012 set out the powers devolved or to be devolved.  

Expenditure - Powers devolved represent some 70% of the spending that can be attributed to Scotland.  They covered areas from Agriculture to Transport (in detail - Agriculture, the Arts, Forestry & Fisheries, Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, Housing, Law & Order, Local Government, Social Services, Sport, Tourism, Training, Transport [bits of] ).  

Revenue - Powers devolved represent some 16% of revenues in Scotland.  They included (or will) Council Tax, Income Tax Rates (variable by up to 10% below UK rates and unlimited  % above them), Landfill Tax, Local Business Rates, Oil & Gas, Stamp duty Land Tax. 

2) How do you heal a nation where some 45% of voters didn't want the result that 55% did?

It was always inevitable that whatever the result of the referendum a lot of Scots would wake up to disappointing news.  The character of some of the debate has also left a bad legacy.  A lot of this is still visible via you tube clips of out on the street campaigning OR n the records of social media posts and comments they attracted. In each of these forum various people characterised those they disagreed with in some pretty pejorative language.

As with any reconciliation I suspect approaches like those listed below might help.  Perhaps starting with what is shared is best - so the pride most Scots share in their country, heritage and history and its continuing contribution to the world.

Note on Reconciliation approaches (sourced from here) - agreement  (e.g. on circumstances to blame for original disagreements), apology, forgiveness, joint sorrow & healing, karma (as in the collective is a accumulation of all of our actions), listening (to each others stories), reconstruction together, setting straight (Hawiian ho’o ponopono approach)

3) What further powers did the UK national parties promise or confirm to Scotland by when?

- Extensive New Powers to a permanent Scottish Parliament (summarised from The Vow on the front page of the Daily Record and other sources as indicated)

- Devolved powers in particular in the areas of fiscal responsibility & social security (Joint 3 Party letter before 1st TV debate in August 2014). 

- Full representation for Scotland in the UK Parliament. (Joint 3 Party Letter)

- Ensuring opportunity & security for all by sharing resources equitably across all 4 nations to secure the defence, prosperity and welfare of every citizen (summarised from the Vow but note the language used allows different interpretations on what is meant)

- Continuation of Barnett allocation of resources (summarised from the Vow) 
(Note the Barnett allocation distributes expenditure on devolved areas en bloc in proportion to current population - under it the Scots get 117% of the UK wide average.  Some English regions also get larger shares of UK average expenditure [e.g. 111% Yorkshire & Humberside].  The Barnett approach doesn't take account of amounts raised by taxation nor fiscal needs [e.g. factors like population age or road lengths] )  

- Final say on NHS spending because of Barnett allocation and Scottish revenue raising powers (summarised from the Vow) 

By When? (Source ='s labourlist summary of what Gordon Brown said in his 8/9/14 Loanhead speech)

19/9/14 - Formal initiation of bringing in additional powers to which all parties can contribute

October 2014 - a command paper published by the present government setting out all the proposals for change

November 2014 - Heads of Agreement in the form of a white paper or equivalent.  This would follow a period of discussion and consultation with civic society.

January 2015 - Draft clauses for legislation as the new Scotland Bill.

Note BBC news report that a Downing Street spokesman said of Mr Brown's announcement: "We welcome this Labour initiative and we are content with the proposed timetable"

4) Why did the better together campaign argue we would be better together and what does that tell us about powers not to devolve?

Without going through all the areas and detail the subject matters which Better Together used to argue for a No vote where as follows:

Interest Rates (both for the state and individuals)
Reserves (as in shared UK reserves)
Prices (as in the shops)
Trade with UK
Welfare State

Source = Gordon Brown's 18/9/14 speech

Note the Scotland Acts don't devolve powers in areas from Benefits to Trade & Industry [in a bit more detail the not devolved areas are: Benefits, Broadcasting, the Constitution, Consumer Rights, Data Protection, Defence, Employment, Energy, Foreign Policy, Immigration, Social Security, Trade & Industry]

5) Why was the turnout for the Scottish referendum so high?

There has been much discussion on this subject with explanations ranging from "It was a simple Yes/No question"  through "Younger people could vote" and onto "it was plainly a subject that people cared about"

My own view is that  - although explanations like those above have some weight - the true significant difference was that people voted because they were convinced that their vote would make a real difference to a real outcome.

This is in marked difference to UK General Elections where many people either think there will be little difference whoever gets in .....or know that their vote will make no difference as to who gets in because their area is not a marginal seat.

There is also a useful House of Commons Library Standard Note on Scotland Devolution Proposals which sets out further information on timetable and power promises made.

Hat Tip to the following sources of info

BBC News
Better Together speech by Gordon Brown on 18/9/14
Full Fact Organisation
Labour List organisation 
Our Media Ourselves
The Daily Record front page with the Vow
Wikipedia on the Barnett formulae

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