Devo Plus campaign seeks pro-union party support

Devo Plus campaign leader Jeremy Purvis. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
Devo Plus campaign leader Jeremy Purvis. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
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SCOTLAND’S unionist parties are coming under growing pressure to spell out what extra powers they would back for Holyrood if voters reject independence in 2014.

The leader of the Devo Plus campaign, which wants Holyrood to be handed full tax powers, is to write to the leaders of the anti-independence parties asking them to sign up to a details package of reforms.

The move by Devo Plus leader Jeremy Purvis comes as the cross party campaign prepares to mark the first anniversary of its launch.

Labour has launched a devolution commission to look at what powers it would back, while Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said her party also needs to look at what more powers it could back for Holyrood.

The Lib Dems have backed Home Rule for Scotland that would see the Scottish Parliament handed greater autonomy over taxation and welfare policy while remaining in the UK.

However, Mr Purvis says that the parties need to make it clear how exactly devolution will be improved to defeat the SNP in the referendum.

Mr Purvis, a former Lib Dem MSP, said that the campaign had established Devo Plus as the main alternative to independence rather than the position of Dev Max - the devolution of full economic powers.

He said: “There has been a lot of progress in the past year and there is a lot of support for the Devo Plus position rather than that of Devo Max

“But now that there is this unity we need to move to a situation where we know what form of enhanced devolution the main unionist parties will back.

“It makes sense for them to sign up to the proposals set out by the Devo Plus campaign so that we can work towards getting these reforms delivered after the referendum.”

Mr Purvis said that he would write to the main party leaders about the issue ahead of the spring political conference season in the next few weeks. The Devo Plus campaign leader’s demands were backed by former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish and Tory MSP Murdo Fraser.

Mr McLeish said: “I support Jeremy’s position as for too long now the unionist parties have avoided spelling out what additional powers they favour.

“We cannot continue to hide behind commissions and more urgency is needed otherwise some people could go to the polls confused and may vote for independence.”

Mr Fraser said: “Mr Purvis is quite right to make the case that there needs to be greater clarity as to what exactly is on offer from the pro-UK parties in advance of the referendum vote.

“There are processes under way which involve both Labour and the Conservative parties. I’m sure that more details will emerge in the near future.”