Sunday, 30 September 2012

Lamont's error of commission

Who does Lamont imagine she is fooling with her "devolution commission"? What is the point of it?

If "Scottish" Labour was serious about meaningful additional powers for the Scottish Parliament then they have had ample opportunity in recent years to both formulate a policy and implement the measures. They did neither. Instead, they colluded with their Tory allies in the rigged Calman fiasco. And then did everything they could to elide or dilute such measures as did find their way into the legislation.

The Tory/Labour/LibDem coalition has now accepted that independence is a viable option. Therefore, any commission examining constitutional issues whose terms of reference exclude the independence option is, by definition, rigged. And if it's rigged it's "findings" have no credibility.

But even disregarding this fatal flaw, Lamont's "devolution commission" is utterly pointless anyway. Even if it reports before the referendum it's findings cannot form the basis of an option and additional question on the ballot. So we will be asked to take it on trust that whatever powers have been identified will be delivered if only we vote NO. But if we vote NO then there is absolutely no reason why the UK government would deliver. The Bitter Together mob campaigns on the basis of a NO vote being a vote for the status quo.

And why would a Tory government at Westminster - or, for that matter, a post-2015 Labour government - feel bound by promises made by "Scottish" Labour? Lamont could promise absolutely anything on the back of her wee commission's report, but she would have absolutely no way of delivering.

The commission is being set up for one reason only. It is to allow Lamont and her cronies to TALK about "more powers" during the referendum campaign even though the talk means less than nothing in practical terms. In reality, their commission has nothing whatever to do with the referendum at all. It is a ruse. A con. A device by which they hope to avoid having to admit that what they are offering the people of Scotland is a big fat nothing.

Lamont and her band of buffoons can, of course, be confident of the enthusiastic support of the media in perpetrating their deception. But I seriously doubt if even the combined efforts of all the British state's best liars and propagandists will be able to keep the pretence intact for two whole years.
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  1. Westminster can not offer devo-max or FFA as it is outside their legal competence under the terms of the original Treaty of Union as Devo-max / FFA fundamentally alters the conditions of the treaty which created the UK Parliament at Westminster. (Lord Cooper, 1953, McCormack vs The Lord Advocate)

    All Westminster can say is 'No'- anything else finishes Westminster.

  2. I have the feeling that the Tories have a plot/plan to take back powers and neuter the Scottish Parliament ,and Labour will help them.Then disband it altogether absorb Scotland into a North Britain,and yes I think Scotlandshire is a distinct possibility.

    1. We certainly have to be concerned about the consequences of a NO vote.

    2. If they do have such plans, they are even more stupid than recent events suggest.

    3. I think the term "plans" may be overstating things somewhat. I get no impression that the anti-independence campaign has any coherent strategy. Unless a a series of knee-jerk reactions to events counts as such.

      I may even be flattering Lamont by supposing her wee commission was a purposeful device deliberately contrived to allow "Scottish" Labour to talk about "more powers" during the referendum campaign - however meaningless that talk might be. You get the distinct impression that it's something she just stumbled into.

      I shudder to think what that lot would be like in government.

    4. Nor do I believe they have a plan, beyond getting a no vote, then manage to talk away changes afterwards.

  3. "The commission is being set up for one reason only. It is to allow Lamont and her cronies to TALK about "more powers" during the referendum campaign even though the talk means less than nothing in practical terms."

    Quite right. It's the Jam Tomorrow Commission. As you point out it's not a British Labour Commission it's a Regional Labour in Scotland Commission and the findings won't even have the authority of a commission set up by Miliband or the Labour NEC.

    The Ming the Merciless Lib-Dem Commission is in exactly the same boat being a Scottish regional commission without the stamp of central Lib-Dem authority on it.

    Not of course that it matters who has set up the commissions as both sets of results will be ignored by Westminster when they report.

    1. The comparison with what you refer to somewhat mischievously as the "Ming the Merciless Lib-Dem Commission" is quite apt. Both serve the same puropose. They allow the unionists to talk about how they're talking about "more powers" without actually having to commit to anything or even answer questions on what they might commit to supposing they were willing or able to commit to anything meaningful.

      In writing that last paragraph I find myself reminded of a a phrase I used in relation to Michael Moore. Unfathomable pointlessness.

  4. Perhaps, after years and years of deliberation, there will be a quid pro quo of a sort. Westminster will take over the Scottish NHS and Education and we'll be given the right to legislate on pea-shooters.

    When their leader resiles from normal left wing policies it is not difficult to wonder why. The answer, it seems to me, is that Scottish Labour MPs are hidden away at Westminster, absent the odd head butt, and their Councillors are under-reported. Only at Hollyrood are they exposed to public scrutiny. They don't like that.

    Anyone who thinks that Labour is happy to be in the spotlight has not watched First Ministers Questions.

    The solution? Either do away with it or reduce it's powers to the extent that it becomes about as interesting as a meeting of your Local Council's Highways committee.

    I really do not trust Labour to act in the interests of the people of Scotland. I do, however, trust them to act in their personal best interests.

    1. Your remarks on the status of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament strike a chord. We should never forget that British Labour and their Tory allies never intended that the Scottish Parliament should be a truly effective legislature in its own right. And they certainly did not plan on Scotland having a real government accountable directly to the people of Scotland rather than the British Labour Party hierarchy and Westminster.

      It was no part of their plan that Scotland should have political leaders whose allegiance was to the people of Scotland rather than the British state and who effectively represented those people on the world stage without the mediation of the British political establishment.

      It was never envisaged that a situation would arise where the sovereignty of Scotland's people would be more than a quaint notion to which British politicians in Scotland might occasionally pay lip service without ever truly embracing the principle.

      It was entirely unthinkable that this popular sovereignty might not only be affirmed but implemented in ways that threaten the very existence of the British state from which those British politicians derive their power and privilege.

      It's all come as a bit of a shock to the buggers!

      And who can possibly doubt that they will bend their every effort to putting that genie back in the bottle.

  5. Peter, as a matter of interest, to me at least, can you throw some light on just how the UK union strategists intended that Scotland could never return an SNP victory?

    Just what did Dewar think he was implementing for Holyrood elections that would keep the Union in power for all time?

    How could it reach past it's tipping point and return an SNP landslide? What was his miscalculation?

    I partly ask this to try and explain the lemmingesque behaviour of a Labour party hit full on by a number 42 bus in the shape of Lamont's "affordability and means-test" socialist hari-kari note. It seems nothing was learned from that May result.

  6. It was generally accepted that the mixed member proportional representation (MMS) system for Holyrood elections would prevent there ever being an overall majority for any party. It was also anticipated that "Scottish" Labour would always be the largest single party and therefore able to dominate any coalition. As we know, the 2007 election showed how wrong this was. And it is largely because "Scottish" Labour learned no lessons from their defeat in 2007 that the SNP were able to pull off their stunning victory in 2011.

    The miscalculations were many. In part, there was the complacency borne of Labour's decades of dominance in Scottish politics. But there was also the fact that, as the Scottish Parliament enacted distinctively Scottish legislation, it increasingly became the locus of Scottish politics. The voting patterns of Westminster elections were no longer relevant. This was Scotland's Parliament.

    With hindsight, it is but a short step from there to an increased vote for the SNP as it is identified as Scotland's party. The SNP could benefit from both Labour's past successes and their failures. If they did something popular, they raised the profile of the parliament and popular engagement with it. And the SNP could point to these successes as proof that we were able to do things very well ourselves.

    Where the Labour or Labour/LibDem coalition government failed, the SNP could obviously claim that they would do better. But they could also make a strong case that the parliament should have more powers and that they were the only party who could be trusted to secure those powers.

    Other major factors in the 2011 result were Labour's then informal alliance with the Tories in opposing a referendum and their appalling behaviour in opposition. If you've ever watched First Minister's Questions you'll know that no lessons have been learned on that score either.

    What we see when we examine the trend is the Scottish Parliament becoming increasingly important to Scottish voters. My prediction is that this will now start to be reflected in Westminster election voting patterns. Scottish voters have previously made a clear distinction between the two, voting SNP for Holyrood but reverting to the British parties when it came to UK polls. That won't happen in 2015. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, and even if there was no referendum, we could expect to see UK election voting starting to mirror patterns in Scottish elections.

    None of the British parties, and especially Labour, have taken on board the way in which Scottish politics has changed. Nearly six years on they still haven't come to terms with the 2007 result. What chance they'll ever be honest with themselves about the 2012 result?

    "Scottish" Labour is fighting the wrong battles, using the wrong tactics, against the wrong enemy. That, I think, explains the "lemmingesque behaviour".

    1. Thanks Peter, a very informative reply.

      Begs the question of what these Scottish politcos are going to do after the proverbial hits their fan!

      I try to walk in their shoes, but can't just get over their refusnikism, are they in the real world?

      What's for certain is there will be the full spectrum of political parties after independence, and it will be a pantomime watching how these characters try to slot back in.

    2. If you want a clue as to how they'll "slot back in", look at their behaviour over the referendum. On 5/6 May last year they went with nary a pause nor a blush from being vehemently opposed to any kind of referendum ever under any circumstances to demanding a referendum immediately with the right to dictate terms.

      They can rewrite their own history without even being aware that they've done it.

  7. Lamont's ill thought out assault on universal benefits has, I have no doubt, badly injured the No better together campaign, as it aligns Labour resolutely with the Tories, promising nothing but misery for a Scotland that votes NO.

    Lamont's failure to clarify her position on Trident (the biggest 'freebie' of all!) makes her very vulnerable to fatal attack when it is needed. Her inability to talk on her feet without a script, which she sticks to slavishly, is also a disadvantage.

    Nicola Sturgeon should call her out on her request for an open debate - preferably televised, and chaired by a neutral chairman - Isabel Fraser perhaps. There would be only one winner, and it would not be the lamentable Johann.

    1. You are undoubtedly correct about the outcome. But there will be no such debate. That is the very last thing Lamont wants.