Devo Lax

Since before the Edinburgh Agreement was signed by Alex Salmond and David Cameron, we’ve known that the UK Government refused to allow the people of Scotland a third option on the referendum ballot paper.

To have to pick one of three options, rather than one of two, was apparently deemed too complicated for us to cope with, so the ability for us to democratically choose ‘Devo+’/’Devo Max’ if we so wished, was denied.

We all know why they really refused it of course – the UK Government simply doesn’t want to let us have any more powers at Holyrood than we do at present.

But now we have the mouthwatering prospect of the three unionist parties offering us tempting glimpses of what we might get, if we vote No. Not what we will get, but what we might get.

The Liberal Democrats are massive fans of federalism of course, and set out this case in ‘Federalism – the best future for Scotland’, way back in 2012.

So important is it to them that we can’t even turn on the tv without being bombarded by clips of our Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, and his fellow MPs, talking about it at length.


But let’s face facts: the Lib Dem’s are not going to be the next UK Government, so they could offer us unlimited free jelly and ice cream every day, but it wouldn’t mean a thing.

Even if they form a coalition again, we’ve seen how ineffective they’ve been at having their policies brought to the fore. They won’t be implementing anything.

So then we come to Labour.

Labour haven’t actually told us anything meaningful yet. There’s something coming in the Spring, we’re told. Coming up with the daffodils, presumably.

And that’s fine, of course. I mean why would we ever need answers from the party who continually claim to be having to demand answers from us? It’s not like they’ve known that the referendum was coming since the day the SNP won an overall majority at Holyrood, on 5th May 2011… 1026 days ago

No, this has obviously come as a complete shock to them, and we must allow them to tell us their plans when they feel up to it. If they feel up to it.

And if they don’t? Ach, that’ll be fine too… leave the poor wee lambs alone.

Last, and by absolutely all means least, we come to the Tories. Or should that be Tory?

The Tories,  unsurprisingly, have a Lord on the case: Lord Strathclyde, or to give him his entirely unpretentious but real name, Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith (yes, that really is it).

Galbraith – who was never been elected by the public, and inherited his seat in the House of Lords at the age of 25 – resigned as Leader of the House a year ago, on the grounds that he wanted to return to working in the private sector.

Not enough time for leading the booing, jeering and snoring in the HoL, but plenty time on his hands to map out the powers for a parliament governing a country of over 5 million people.

So the Tories too have yet to tell us what crumbs they would throw at us in the event of a No vote.

Interestingly, Ruth Davidson recently announced that there will be no cross-party consensus on what the unionist parties will offer us.

“I don’t believe that there will be a detailed cross-party agreement before the referendum,” she said. “None of the parties have ever said they would want to do that.”

And the new chairman of the Scottish Tories, Richard Keen, recently told the Telegraph “I don’t think it’s the answer just to say ‘more powers’ – what is the answer to the devolved settlement is to ensure that the powers that Holyrood has are used properly and there is accountability.”.

The unionist parties won’t be agreeing on what they haven’t yet decided. So if we do vote No, we won’t have the foggiest idea what powers Holyrood will be ‘granted’. If any at all.


The unionists took the Devo+/Max option off the ballot paper, eventually realised that the majority of people in Scotland do want change of some form, and are now possibly offering us something… but we don’t know what and we can’t know what until the rest of the UK picks our next UK Government in May 2015.

And this whilst giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’d actually implement any of their promises. The UK Government’s track record on this is hardly worthy of a teacher’s cold coffee stain, never mind a gold star.

Who in their right mind would vote to give that decision – and more importantly, the whole decision-making process – away?

We on the Yes side are often accused of trying to haul Scotland toward an unknown future, as if we have brought Scotland to the top of some undersea cliff, peering down into an abyss. But we have set out our visions for that future, and we continue to debate and discuss the kind of country we want Scotland to be. And we, the people who live in Scotland, will decide and shape that future for ourselves with independence.

We simply cannot do that properly with any amount of devolution – where another government which the people living in Scotland don’t even elect most of the time – has the power to pull the rug out from under us at any time.

That’s not real democracy.