AN alternative agenda for the debate on Scotland’s future was being launched in Edinburgh today,
The Red Paper Collective, a group of politicians, academics, Labour activists and trade unionists, argue none of the options on offer – independence, the status quo or even devo plus or devo max – are in the interests of ordinary Scots.
They want to shift the debate to focus on how powers can best be used at UK, Scottish or local government level. One of the group’s organisers, Lothians Labour MSP Neil Findlay, said: “So far all the talk has been about the process – whether there will be one or two questions, votes for 16 and 17-year-olds and so on.
“Let’s start thinking of what kind of country we want to create. Then we can say we need certain powers at Westminster, certain powers at Holyrood and maybe other powers at council level.”
He criticised the SNP’s plans for an independent Scotland which would slash corporation tax.
He said: “When Alex Salmond went to California, he went with some tartan, some whisky and the promise of a corporation tax cut. But devolution of corporation tax has real dangers for working people.”
He added that both devo max and devo plus both were both flawed.
“The Barnett formula, redistributing money to areas of need, is something we should be proud of. Devo max would mean all taxes collected in Scotland stayed in Scotland. The ability to put money around the UK for social need would be gone.”
He said the leading advocates of devo plus, the right-wing think tank Reform Scotland, believed in small government, light-touch regulation and privatisation.
Mr Finlay said: “Any argument for constitutional change must say why we want the change. If it’s just to replace a group of right-wing bankers and industrialists in pinstripes in London with a group of right-wing bankers and industrialists in kilts in Edinburgh, what have you achieved for working people? It has to be in the interests of ordinary people.”