Devo Max and Devo More

There are two myths going around about what happens following a No vote in the Scottish referendum.

First, it’s said that plans for ‘more devolution’ are unclear. They are not. The three pro-UK parties have different schemes for them, it’s true, but there is a substantial degree of common ground between them. All involve devolution of most or all of personal income tax to the Scottish Parliament. Labour and Conservatives both support forms of welfare devolution, which – among other things – would have enabled Scotland to opt out of the Housing Benefit change that led to the ‘bedroom tax’. The differences do need to be resolved, but there is also a clear route for that, endorsed by the UK Prime Minister in his Aberdeen speech as well as other party leaders: an early process of cross-party negotiations, leading to a white paper by November 2014, publication of draft legislation in early 2015, followed by incorporation into manifestoes for the May 2015 general election, which will give the mandate for delivery of them.  That level of political commitment is not easily ducked – and ironically it is perhaps the Conservatives who have the greatest short-term political interest in securing their delivery.

It’s also untrue that these are last-minute proposals All these schemes have drawn on the work I have done with IPPR, and particularly Guy Lodge, through the Devo More project since late 2012. They reflect many months of work and careful analysis of the implications of further devolution, not just for Scotland but for other parts of the UK as well – they haven’t been suddenly ‘pulled out of a hat’.

Details of the key publications from Devo More can be found here, here and here (and there are posts about the financing paper here, the welfare one here and how the programme fits various political traditions here).

Second, it’s suggested that these proposals amount to ‘Devo max’. They don’t. This is usually a rather lazy shorthand from journalists or politicians who haven’t understood what is actually on the table. The extra-devolution schemes, or scheme, will substantially enhance the autonomy of a devolved Scotland within the UK. But the Scottish Parliament is already responsible for about 70 per cent of all public spending in Scotland. The Devo More proposals will take Scotland as close to home rule as is possible in a single state.  They will deliver what Scots had clearly shown they’ve wanted for a decade or more – greater self-government in the Union – in a way that works with the interests of people in other parts of the UK, rather than against them.

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5 Comments

Filed under Devolution finance, Publications and projects, Referendums, Scotland, Scottish independence, Westminster

5 responses to “Devo Max and Devo More

  1. David

    Devolution of income tax, in part, or the whole, isn’t going to prevent Westminster forcing Scottish governments to follow drastic cuts in health & education which will result from Barnett consequentials.

    What these proposals would do is force the Scots to increase tax to defend services, making the party which does so extremely unpopular. It’s a strategy to disempower the SNP. The Scottish electorate will be extremely foolish to fall for such a trick. If voters do, it will be because they fail to understand the relationship between Holyrood & Westminster. Devolution means real power is retained at Westminster.

    Describing the proposals as ‘home rule’ when the Scottish Parliament will be responsible for raising only 40% of its revenue is naïve, if not downright dishonest.

    These ‘devo more’ proposals are the worst of all worlds for Scotland (& Wales). In any case they need the approval of hostile MPs & peers at Westminster, whose anti-Scottish rhetoric in recent months has been appalling. I can’t see them ever being enacted.

    The Scots were fooled into voting No in 1979 , they would be stupid to be fooled twice.

    My reading of events in Scotland on social media suggests to me that Scots aren’t going to fall for a pig in a poke, proposed by a former Chancellor & PM who presided over the worst financial crash in living memory & whose personality leaves a lot to be desired in terms of trust.

    I very much hope that they have the good sense to give a resounding YES to independence & the tremendous opportunity to build a fairer and more democratic society.

  2. Thomas William Dunlop

    The problem is that promises are exactly what they are – promises.

    They (issuers) cannot be bound to them , in the way a tick in a box on a ballot paper can. That is why DEVO-MAX/MORE was omitted from the referendum and replaced with DEVO-MAYBE (3 flavours).

    I can see problems in implimenting DEVO_MAYBE.

    1) A NO vote maybe taken as an excuse to discard them entirely.

    2) The rest of the electorate of the UK and their representitives in parliament may beg to differ and block changes.

    Either way I can see us back having another referendum in 5 to 10 years, if some form of DEVO-MAYBE/ MORE fails to appear

  3. Muscleguy

    Calling the proposals* ‘Devo Max’ is not lazy it is a deliberate falsehood to try and mislead voters. In case you hadn’t noticed (you must be the only one) the MSM have been in full propaganda mode wrt Scotland and it has ramped up in the last couple of weeks. The BBC as always are union cheerleader central. They know that after a Yes many of them are at very least going to have to apply for jobs in the SBS, they are not automatic such is the anger on the Yes side.

    As for the idea that ‘most’ of income tax is going to be devolved if we vote no, since when is 10-15p ‘most’ of it?

    I also refer you to Mr Hague’s point at PMQ’s while the 3 Stooges were up here last week (it is not government policy) and the noises from prominent backbenchers that they will not pass such legislation. Then there are their lordships who openly mused about how they might ‘frustrate’ an independent Scotland and string things out so long we give up even after a Yes vote. Getting Devo Nano (the correct term) through that lot is very far from guaranteed.

    And Finally, you of all people should know how many of the Calman recommendations were not accepted, let alone the SNP governments’ request list. So if any of these disparate proposals get through, in workable form or not (Labour’s) they are likely to be watered down and changed beyond recognition. Truly Jam Tomorrow.

  4. DougtheDug

    “Labour and Conservatives both support forms of welfare devolution, which – among other things – would have enabled Scotland to opt out of the Housing Benefit change that led to the ‘bedroom tax’.”

    Which would be very nice but in Northern Ireland there is currently a huge financial row as NI has not implemented many of the changes to the British welfare system as welfare is devolved to NI.

    Under the “Parity Principle” NI only gets its Social Security system funded in parity with the system in the rest of the UK. In other words Westminster assumes NI has implemented the bedroom tax and makes cuts in its social security grant accordingly.

    Under this system Northern Ireland has had to propose cuts in other public services just to keep funding its Social Security system.

    Have you not looked at the mess that the devolution of power without funding has caused in Northern Ireland when they tried to diverge from the UK norm?

  5. Pingback: SNP, sorry: the referendum result takes Devo Max off the table | DEVOLUTION MATTERS

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