Caution: full fiscal powers ahead

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Ian Johnstone, in his reply to my letter and that of David 
Hollingdale, asks valid questions about the “rush north” by Westminster party leaders prior to the referendum, and the promise of further devolution (Letters, 26 November).

It seemed to me that it was all a bit of a panic move, occasioned by what turned out to have probably been a rogue opinion poll giving Yes a lead.

What, though, did the panic imply about their motivation?

I think it was because they realised that not only would Scotland be worse off with independence but that the UK as a whole would be diminished with the break- up of a long-standing political and economic union, losing the contribution which Scotland made to that.

The Labour Party, in particular, also probably feared the loss of Scottish Labour MPs.

What then about the promise of more devolution and the probable recommendations of the Smith Commission?

My first reaction after the referendum was that the next best move would be substantial additional powers to Scotland as I thought that this would bring the best of both worlds, as promised.

On further consideration I would be more cautious. If indeed, as I believe, an independent Scottish Budget would be difficult to balance, then the same problems would be evident if there was anything like full devolution of fiscal powers.

Substantial further devolution could be a two-edged sword; on the one hand, there would be the benefits of increased powers which might be managed better in the interests of Scotland by the Scottish Government, but on the other hand, if revenues were insufficient to deliver the kinds of services we might all want for Scotland, then the UK Government could just stand back and leave Scotland with the problem.

Henry Kinloch

Campbell Park Crescent

Edinburgh

Stuart MacLennan, assistant professor of the China-EU Law School at Trinity College, Dublin (Letters, 26 November) is quite correct in stating that there should be a vote on the Smith Commission findings that are offered to the Scottish people.

Although there have been commentators who have claimed (in The Scotsman) that “devo max” was removed from the ballot paper, it was never there as an option in the first place and has never been defined.

The presumption seems to be that we all wanted a massive increase in powers for Holyrood and that there was a large number of voters persuaded to vote No as a result of the so-called vow.

There appears to be little objective evidence for either of these contentions. I have met many voters who wished to keep the status quo.

Once Smith has reported we should have a democratic say in the adoption of further powers. This would ensure that a majority approved of what is on offer and would hold the feet of the Scottish Government to the fire in accepting the result of the referendum as Nicola Sturgeon promised to do when she co-signed the Edinburgh agreement. Another vote will be costly but surely a true democracy can do no other.

Dr Roger I 
Cartwright

Turretbank Place

Crieff

Professor Stuart MacLennan reckons around 5 per cent of those voting in the referendum were moved to vote No by the “vow”.

If he is right and that group had voted Yes, the voting would have been No: 50.3 per cent, Yes: 49.7 per cent.

He is also correct when he says we will never really know, but it makes one think and certainly undermines the arguments of those expressing the opinion that the vow had little effect.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street

Edinburgh