Fool me once, shame on you.
Shame me twice, shame on me.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, came to Scotland in a last ditch attempt to save the Union. On Monday, 15 September 2014, with three days to go until the Referendum, the party leaders published a joint statement, known as “The Vow”, outlaying promises they claim they shall uphold. These promises are empty, meaningless and do not go nearly far enough, as I shall outlay here.
“The Scottish Parliament is permanent…”
Wrong. Westminster retains the right to dissolve the devolved Scottish Parliament, which they could do at the stroke of a pen.
“…and extensive new powers the Parliament will be delivered by the process and by the timetable agreed by our three parties, starting on 19th September.”
Except several Westminster MPs, including Conservative backbenchers, have vowed to campaign to stop any new powers being devolved. “who will speak for England?” asked John Redwood MP, a former Conservative cabinet minister, while Conservative backbencher Christopher Chope MP asked, “When did the government change its mind on devomax and when are MPs going to have a chance to express a view?”
Meanwhile Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and Conservative Party leadership hopeful has vowed to oppose more devolution. “Alex Salmond has been thrashed in these debates, but for no reason we are promising the Scots more tax raising powers. There’s no need…” said Johnson, “What has England ever got out of this devolution process? If you want to have growth in the English cities then you should do what Manchester wants, what Liverpool, Leeds and all of us want – and that’s more tax raising powers.”
So if we get Boris as Tory Leader and the next Prime Minister, far from more devolution, Scotland would be squeezed further to subsidise English cities.
“We agree that the UK exists to ensure opportunity and security for all by sharing our resources equitably across all four nations to secure the defence, prosperity and welfare of every citizen.”
Except that resources are not shared equitably, nowhere near it. With oil and gas and other revenues from Scotland pouring into Westminster, what we receive in return is little more than scraps from the master’s table. For securing defence, read keeping Trident based at Faslane. Every time Scots have been polled on the matter they have categorically stated they do not want Whitehall’s weapons of mass destruction based in Scotland. Securing prosperity and welfare? How? By opening more food banks? In a country as oil-rich as Scotland should be, it is an utter disgrace we have food banks in the first place. That we have people living below the poverty line in the UK at all, the government – and the opposition who would make no difference – should hang their heads in black, burning shame.
On a side matter, when the party leaders say “the four nations” I take it they mean Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. No mention then of Cornwall, which was never formally annexed by nor assimilated into England. This despite the fact that promises of more powers for Scotland has led to raised voices in Cornwall for greater powers, including Mebyon Kernow – The Party of Cornwall – calling for a devolved Cornish Assembly.
“And because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources…”
So in other words, they vow to continue to work out Scotland’s share using a formula which completely ignores oil revenues, and thereby makes it appear that Scotland gets more than it pays into the UK treasury. As far back as 1997, Lord Barnett who devised the formula, said it was out of date and called for it to be scrapped.
“…and the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue…”
Powers Westminster can overrule.
“…we can state categorically that the final say on how much is spent on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.”
This is no change at all. The Scottish Parliament already decides how much is spent on NHS Scotland. But that depends upon the money allocated, which is already falling and is likely to fall further in the future. As the UK government continues with the cutbacks and piecemeal privatisation of the NHS in England, that inevitably has a knock-on effect to the health budget for Scotland. All the party leaders are saying here is “I’ll give you 50p instead of £1.00 – but you can spend it as you like.”
“We believe that the argument that make so powerfully the case for staying together in the UK should underpin our future as a country. We will honour these principles and values not only before the referendum but after.”
Well, so far I haven’t seen any change “before the referendum”, so that’s a lie right off. And yet again, these three talk of the UK as country, rather than an amalgam of countries. As to the rest of it, I fear I believe it all too well. If there is a No vote in the referendum, they will continue to bleed Scotland dry to subsidise the City of London, and for their own self-seeking motives.
“People want to see change. A No vote will deliver faster, safer and better change than separation.”
There’s the inevitble negativity in the “S” word – separation. A term the unionists claimed they would stop using (another broken vow).
The 307 year old Union which made up the United Kingdom is often referred to by unionists as a “marraige” or a “family”. It may well be, but when a partner in a relationship is continually abused and threatens to leave, the abuser will desparately try to keep them, promising them that they can change. Everybody knows of course however that an abuser can never change, and that a break up is the best, the only sensible, and safest, option for the abused partner.
Scotland has had her vows broken too many times. Only Westminster can make the divorce a messy one.
Vote YES for Scottish independence on 18 September 2014.