I am watching the political animals of the UK circle around proposals for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament with some surprise.
We are told that this is in response to the No majority in the referendum. However, the No relates to the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No.”
We have no evidence to show that any No voter wanted more devolved power for Scotland. In fact, any No voter I know would probably prefer less devolved power for the nationalist government that they oppose.
It may be that some Yes voters also oppose more devolved power, believing it to be a poor substitute for independence, introduced simply to weaken any further moves towards that aim.
It seems there is no mandate for further devolved powers and that all related political manoeuvres should cease until there is a proper mandate, either from a further referendum or from the coming UK general election.
In the latter case, each political party should include devolution proposals in its manifesto to the UK electorate.
While it was right for the Scottish electorate to vote for or against Scottish independence, UK constitutional change, such as transfer of powers from Westminster to Edinburgh, must surely require a UK wide mandate.
This becomes even more important if devolution to a new English parliament is on the agenda, as it should be.
Gordon Brown’s timetable for the Scottish Parliament’s new powers, written on a fag packet just days before the end of a two-and-a-half-year campaign, makes me uneasy.
In the end all three main Westminster party leaders signed up to this head-long rush to implement complex constitutional change and it seems to me a recipe for disaster.
It took a decade of debate and consultation to thrash out the present moderately successful and fairly robust scheme for the operation of the new Scottish Parliament. Does anyone seriously think it possible to present a coherent formula for devolving income, inheritance, capital gains and corporation taxes, welfare and pensions within four months?
In addition, enhanced devolution for Scotland must include enhanced devolution within Scotland and a quantum leap in the autonomy of councils after excessive centralisation.
I like the idea of a federal structure for the UK but simply handing the Scots a hodgepodge of ill-thought-out devolution powers sounds like a rerun of the poll tax “experiment”.
(Dr) John Cameron
London, a city of international importance, should remain the UK’s capital. I suggest that the English choose York as a devolved capital; the city is of historic and ecclesiastical importance and would move power northwards away from England’s wealthy south. This move would demonstrate that Great Britain is not England.
A devolved parliament would allow the English the democratic freedom I enjoy, voting for one party in Scottish elections and another in British elections depending on circumstances and my dominant concerns.
Of course, all of us already have this useful facility in local and European elections.
Isle of Lewis