If Scotsman columnist Peter Jones avers that the devo-max favoured by the SNP amounts to “independence by stealth” then his analysis of the devo proposals presently on the table amount to unionism by deceit.
Maybe the British electorate is attuned to meaningless pledges by politicians on campaign platforms, and Peter Jones appears to ignore rather than admit such pledges during the referendum campaign by the No parties, but the pledges were made in order to persuade, and most would agree for no other reason.
In his Scotsman article (Perspective, 14 October), Peter Jones rebukes the SNP for taking the pledges made by Messrs Brown, Clegg and Cameron at their face value, when the frantic final days before the 18 September poll were full of promises, vows, pledges, commitments and all kinds of political endearments.
Perhaps Mr Jones prefers either to forget those few days of heavy rhetoric or dismisses them as mere hot air.
If so, his article on Tuesday is also dismissible as mere hot air.
The referendum result is fast becoming all things to all people, but Peter Jones’s interpretation is surely the most fanciful yet.
The ten days prior to the referendum, when the No campaign promised just about anything as long as it stopped short of full independence, appears to have been wiped from Mr Jones’s memory.
Terms such as “home rule”, “devo-super-max” and “near-federalism” were all thrown around like confetti by Better Together representatives.
But now that such promises have delivered a No vote, Mr Jones thinks they must simply be ignored.
He also argues, bizarrely, that by suggesting that the pro-Union parties deliver what they promised to deliver, the Scottish Government is somehow breaking the spirit of the Edinburgh Agreement.
Thankfully, in the internet age, these speeches and statements can be replayed at the touch of a button. I suggest Mr Jones uses a search engine of his choice to refresh his grasp of (very) recent history.
What was the real meaning of Section 30 of the so-called Edinburgh Agreement on the outcome of the independence referendum?
As Peter Jones suggests, it did specify that both sides would respect the outcome and work constructively to implement whatever was the sovereign will of the Scottish people.
But surely that could never be interpreted as meaning that the losing side should simply forget its raison d’etre, pack up and wander off into the constitutional twilight.
The democratic process trundles on and Lord Smith of Kelvin is charged with the responsibility of reconciling the various parties’ post-referendum aims.
The SNP has outlined its position and no doubt in the course of events it will be asked to outline its Plan B (and where have we heard that before?).
Indeed it is difficult to see how Scotland’s governing party can lose out of all this.
If we fast forward to January 2015 – when legislative proposals for further devolution are scheduled to be published – its chief negotiator, finance secretary John Swinney, and indeed its leader Nicola Sturgeon, will no doubt take the following line: “Lord Smith’s plans fall a long way short of the aspirations of the Scottish people.
“Nevertheless, the SNP will play its role in ensuring they reach the statute book as soon as possible after the general election.
“It will continue to press for these devolved powers to be developed and extended as a move towards independence.”
It would be a reasonable argument. It would not be one that “tramples” over the Edinburgh Agreement, as Peter Jones suggests, but gives people north of the border a wider choice in next May’s Westminster poll.
Peter Jones is right to say the nationalist government ought to have faced “calls to resign”.
Moreover, political morality dictates the SNP government ought to have resigned immediately without being called upon.
A government that ignores the “sovereign will of the people” rejects the rules and principles of democracy. It seems that only four out of 32 local authority areas or 12.5 per cent voted for Yes.
Noticeably, in the First Minister’s own back yard the Yes vote was defeated by a three-to-two majority.
The First Minister ought to resign from his seat as well as from the leadership.
Doing what is morally right is fundamental to politics as what is at stake is democracy.
And this rule or principle applies no matter whether one supported Yes or No or is indifferent. Arguably, by continuing in power and campaigning for “independence” the nationalist government undermines the morality of democracy.
Old Chapel Walk