Those listening to Ruth Davidson’s speech on further devolution (available here) will note that (along with Adam Tomkins) I shall be advising the Scottish Conservatives’ working group reviewing devolution, chaired by Lord Strathclyde. The other members of the group include Annabel Goldie MSP and Alex Fergusson MSP. As the unionist parties all seek to establish how they think devolution should work if there is a vote against independence in 2014, the Conservatives’ initiative in setting up this commission is to be welcomed and I’m pleased to help it as best I can. The establishment of the working group, and Davidson’s speech, show clearly that the Conservatives have embraced the logic of delivering a constitutional settlement that provides greater self-government within the Union, and accords with the clear preferences of the Scottish people.
There’s coverage of Davidson’s speech from BBC News here, Holyrood magazine here, the Guardian here, the Telegraph here, the Scotsman here, the Herald here, and a thoughtful analysis by Alex Massie in a Spectator blog here.
I have accepted the party’s invitation on a non-party basis, and remain politically impartial. I’ve already given evidence to the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Commission on Home Rule and Community Rule and Labour’s Devolution Commission. I will continue work with IPPR on the ‘Devo More’ project, and to help any other parties or bodies that want devolution advice so long as that doesn’t create impossible time pressures or conflicts of interest.
8 responses to “The Scottish Conservatives’ working group on devolution”
I’m sure they people of Scotland shall await, with keen anticipation, the flavour of jam to be served by Thomas Galloway Dunlop duRoy de Blicquy Galbraith and his jolly band of irrelevants.
I echo Frank Spinner’s sarcasm regarding Ruth Davidson’s announcement. One wonders how relevant to the ordinary people of Scotland the recommendations of a ‘working group’ headed by the likes of Thomas Galbraith, the 2nd Baron Strathclyde, reputedly a multi-millionaire, hereditary member of the House of Lords, educated in England and France, will be. Moreover, Ms Davidson has a habit of drawing lines in the sand, which she conveniently forgets about thereafter. Shifting sands, here today, somewhere else tomorrow.
The Tories, under Thatcher, broke their promise of stronger devolution for Scotland post 1979 if the party got into power, and the history of the party both in and out of government since that time does not inspire confidence that they are any more likely to keep future promises, whether in a manifesto or not.
Jam tomorrow, indeed!
Aren’t the grandees of the party implacably opposed to devolution at any level and would like to see power over everything returned to Westminster?
Aren’t the rest of the Tories always drawing lines in the sand… but to parody Autumn leaves…la mer efface sur le sable les lignes des Tories désespérés!
Don’t the Tories have a habit of lying about devolution?
Even if Ruth really means this and you guys come up with something, Cameron, or whoever followings him, Boris maybe, or Tessy will have to approve it.
Gordon spent quite a long time asking the woman about that, and got no where.
It’s not my job to defend the Conservatives (or any other party), just to advise them. While I don’t know what the outcome of this working group, or the independence debate more generally, will be, I do know that nothing changes unless you start the process of changing it. To dismiss the outcome of a process before it’s even properly started suggests a desire to see it fail.
Good for you. One of the tedious aspects of Scottish politics is the way in which commentators lazily assume that what the Conservatives do is ipso facto wrong, because they are posh or English or both. Now recent Tory showing in Scotland has indeed been poor, partly because they have got out of line with Scottish opinion on the constitutional question; here, apparently they appear to be changing their (previously irrational) position. You are quite right to engage with that process.
But is this just a sop to the Scottish electorate? There is little or no evidence of a Damascene conversion here. I watched Ruth Davidson’s interview with Gordon Brewer. When questioned on what would become of the group’s proposals, the best she could come up with was that there would be inclusion (of something) in the (Scottish Conservative?) manifesto.
As to whether or not the Tory leadership in London was signed up to the initiative or to what extent, if at all, it seemed to me that equivocation was writ large in Ms Davidson’s evasive and reticent answers to Brewer’s probing. After all, the power to devolve resides entirely at Westminster. Her evasiveness bodes ill for the outcome.
I think we in Wales and Scotland have every right to view Tory initiatives and pronouncements on devolution with extreme cynicism.
In my opinion the Scots should rightly beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
All the devolution schemes proposed so far are exactly the same in principle and operation as the original Scotland Act 1998. That includes the Calman inspired Scotland Act 2012, the Lib-Dems report “Federalism: the best future for Scotland”, the Devo-More report and the Devo-Plus report.
Add together the mix of controlled taxes, assigned taxes and block grant in any of them and it turns out that Scotland will be funded to the Barnett formula level just the same as the original devolution act.
If Scotland wishes to raise money above and beyond that level the only way to do it is to increase personal taxation, just the same as the original devolution act. This is because Scotland has already reached the limits of permissible devolution from the Westminster Parliament.
I will be very interested to find out if the Conservatives’ effort will be any different.
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