Stewart Hosie: Change will ensure new powers

Stewart Hosie

Stewart Hosie

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The past week in Westminster was very instructive. First we had a “Command Paper” which outlined the devolution proposals of the three unionist parties, not one of which would devolve more than 30 per cent of Scotland’s revenue base. Or to put that another way not even cover half of the Scottish Parliament’s current funding requirements.

The past week in Westminster was very instructive. First we had a “Command Paper” which outlined the devolution proposals of the three unionist parties, not one of which would devolve more than 30 per cent of Scotland’s revenue base. Or to put that another way not even cover half of the Scottish Parliament’s current funding requirements.

That was followed on Tuesday by a seven-hour debate on devolution which was quickly hijacked and turned into a debate on English votes for English laws. The solitary SNP speaker was given six minutes to make our case.

Scottish Questions on Wednesday was the usual anti-SNP nonsense and then in the first Prime Minister’s Questions since the referendum, David Cameron did not mention Scotland once.

The Saltire that flew over Downing Street has been put back in its box as has Scotland in the minds of Westminster politicians.

How different that all was to the hope and enthusiasm of 18 September when tens of thousands of Yes activists were knocking on the doors of more than a million independence supporters and the 45 per cent vote Yes achieved was delivered in spite of the entire might of the UK establishment being deployed for a No vote.

But the result was clear and no-one can deny that. Nor, however, can anyone deny the incredible enthusiasm and energy which the Yes campaign brought to Scotland.

I am certain if we are to ensure new powers are delivered then the wider independence movement must be maintained.

The next opportunity we have to campaign together is the 2015 general election. But let me be clear – I do not believe that the election should be a re-run of the referendum.

Rather it is Scotland’s chance to hold Westminster to account – to hold their “feet to the fire” – ensuring that they keep their promise to deliver devo-max – and that means devolving everything apart from defence and foreign affairs. It was that promise which encouraged large numbers of Scots to vote No in the referendum.

The SNP must now reach out not just to those who voted Yes, but those people who voted No expecting substantial new powers for Scotland. The best way to get those powers – to make sure Westminster delivers – will be to return the largest ever number of independence-supporting MPs to Westminster.

The SNP will be the engine of this campaign and – with more than 80,000 members – a turbo-charged one. But we must find ways of working beyond party interests to maximise the participation of those who campaigned for independence and by offering the electorate an opportunity to again vote for change at next year’s general election.

Of course, any broad campaign will require approval from not just the SNP but many of the other parties and organisations involved in Yes, but it is important that we begin to seek agreement now.

I believe a key role as SNP depute leader should be to maintain the campaigning efforts we have seen over the last two years and reach out to Yes and No voters alike.

• Stewart Hosie is MP for Dundee East

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