It is clear that the Smith Commission negotiations took place in good spirit, which is to the credit of Lord Smith and the participants from across the political spectrum.
In examining the substance of their agreement, however, I fear the proposals represent a compromise that will please virtually no-one.
Clearly, we are not being offered independence, so “the 45 per cent” will remain unfulfilled.
Yet Lord Smith also leaves us a long way short of home rule with, for example, the majority of our taxes still to be spent by Westminster, only limited ability to tinker at the edges of welfare policy, and with labour laws, broadcasting, energy policy and so much more remaining reserved.
This will disappoint those who voted No in the hope of anything approaching devo-max. At the same time, your letters page has, in recent weeks, highlighted that many No voters are aghast at the prospect of any further powers being transferred to Holyrood. They too are likely to find Smith’s recommendations disappointing.
If these proposals are as transformational as some are claiming, should the people of Scotland not be excited by Lord Smith’s recommendations?
Sadly, I know of no-one who is.
It seems a shame that after several years of constitutional discussions we might find ourselves with an outcome that very few people actually want.
It was interesting to see the outcome of the Smith Commission in relation to Scottish Government relations with the European Union, very much echoing my own submission.
However, there is much more that could be done to strengthen Scotland’s position, short of independence.
The Smith recommendations include ensuring that Scottish ministers are fully involved in agreeing the UK position in EU negotiations relating to devolved policy matters.
However, this sadly does not extend to reserved matters which will impact on Scotland. Such consultation, it should be noted, is also not statutory, but merely reinforces the current concordat between the Scottish and UK Governments.
In addition, should the other devolved administrations disagree with the Westminster line there is no means of arbitration to resolve this, unlike the situation in Belgium.
In that country the regions and communities have been given powers, through a co-operation agreement, to represent a common Belgian position at Council of Minister meetings, but should views differ there is a mechanism in place to try and resolve this.
In the Smith recommendations there is an avenue for a devolved administration minister to speak on behalf of the UK at a meeting of the Council of Ministers, according to an agreed UK negotiating line.
However, this, it should be noted, is only where the devolved administration minister holds the predominant policy interest across the UK and where the relevant lead UK Government minister is unable to attend all or part of a meeting. These are rather paltry measures.
Much of the recommendations echo the existing concordat highlighted earlier and there is much that could still be done to ensure that the role of the Scottish Government within the UK and with the EU is suitably strengthened, to the benefit of all parties concerned.
When Scotland is able to set its own income tax rates, I suspect a lot of people who were in favour of more home rule will begin to regret it.
This could be good news for a low-tax party like the Conservatives.
Bo’ness, West Lothian