Murdo Fraser has entered the debate on Scotland’s referendum: http://www.scotsman.com/news/leaders-federalism-offers-answers-and-questions-1-3457063. I am unsurprised by the knee-jerk reaction from many supporters of Scottish independence. Not so fast, say I.
Will Scots think with their hearts or their heads on 18th of September? Predictably, the tedious spokespersons of Better Together say it is all about appealing to emotion on the part of the YES Campaign. For some of us, it no doubt is. For those who have fought for independence for decades. That is not my attitude. Not at all. I suggest that the leaders of the YES Campaign think strategically, assuming they want to win. And what Murdo Fraser has done plays right into our hands, assuming we play our cards right.
As I explained in the most popular article I’ve ever posted on this blog (https://derekthomas2010.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/michael-forsyth-lets-the-cat-out-of-the-bag-tory-devolution-promises-are-lies/), Michael Forsyth, in an interview with the Daily Politics Jo Coburn, exposed the lack of seriousness of Better Together’s alleged support for massively increased devolution powers if only Scots vote against independence.
Michael Forsyth knows that the leader of the Tories at Holyrood, Ruth Davidson (alongside her hapless sidekicks, Johann Lamont and Wee Willie Rennie), is only promising more devolution because at least two thirds of Scots resent ‘devomax’ being removed from the referendum ballot paper. In other words, most Scots want more or less total sovereignty residing at Holyrood other than the two narrow issues of defense and foreign affairs.
The status quo is unsustainable as far as voters are concerned. That is why the most fervent advocates of devomax have found ourselves joining the campaign for Scottish independence. The only two reasons others remain undecided is the desperate hope a Labour government will offer lots more devolution, and the poisonous drip-feed of Project Fear delivered into our living rooms 24-7 by the BBC.
As everyone is aware, there are a mere two solutions to the West Lothian Question: Scottish independence on the one hand and a Federal Britain on the other. Murdo Fraser has played right into the hands of the YES Campaign for several reasons.
Firstly, we can tease out of him the extent to which his proposals are any solution. I would suggest that they are not. Directly elected Mayors are an affront to democracy. They give power to unaccountable autocrats. What the people need are assemblies, from which an executive can be elected, then dismissed if they betray their mandate.
One-man or one-woman rule is beloved of right-wingers because it is much easier for the rich and powerful to bribe, blackmail, or otherwise intimidate one individual than having to unconstitutionally neuter dozens, or hundreds, of democratically-elected delegates.
We can argue with Murdo Fraser about the details of his Federal Britain proposal. But we should welcome the fact that he at least addresses the existing West Lothian Question, which is a slap in the face to the people of England. This is where it gets interesting.
Murdo Fraser will allow the YES Campaign to expose the shallowness of the existing Better Together proposals. Johann Lamont knows that her Labour colleagues at Westminster, with maybe a handful of dissidents on the back benches, are desperate to bury their heads in the sand over the West Lothian Question. However, her proposals, endorsed by her party, takes an existing problem and raises it to an even higher power.
The proposals of the Tories – and even more so the Liberal Democrats – raise this problem to a still greater power! All these liars rely on the BBC, on Channel Four News, on SKY News et al to do their see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil monkey act. These Better Together propagandists are terrified of the voters examining the ‘logic’ of what is being proposed.
Johann Lamont is not especially stupid – not when measured by the very low standards of the Better Together leadership. Nonetheless, even she can’t be so daft as not to realize that the Tories won’t go into the next election promising to give 100% of income tax-raising powers to MSPs, while allowing Scottish MPs to vote to determine 100% of English income tax. It is just not going to happen. If they proposed such a thing, this would be a godsend for Nigel Farage’s UKIP. And they are worried enough as it is over their ability to take enough votes from them to let Labour become the largest party at Westminster, with a potential majority government. So, what is the solution?
The solution for Ruth Davidson’s party is to convince her to lie unashamedly about devolution promises till the cows come home, or until the 19th of September. On that day, Tories can relax and turn off their bullshit spreading machine. Maybe she will tell Scots she has had a change of heart. And it is just a coincidence that that took place within hours of the referendum ending. Alternatively, she may find it safer to to wait a bit, then leave it to the Tory leadership at Westminster to tell her they have decided to veto her pledges.
And into this lie, today, Murdo Fraser raises his head above the parapet? Super.
Can any proposal of Murdo Fraser win the day? Since his proposal won’t be on the ballot paper, any more than any of the other ones, no. All it is is a fourth proposal that Scots will not be able to vote for. Nevertheless, from the YES Campaign’s point of view, that is not key.
Murdo Fraser’s proposals help supporters of Scottish independence to debate the nature of sovereignty in the real world, as distinct from the pie-in-the-sky bullshit of Better Together. Sovereignty will be shared. And we are all cool with that. Every last one of us is. The questions we all face is how much sovereignty is shared, and who decides.
A YES vote in our referendum will allow the Scottish people to decide this by electing democrats, democratically, to negotiate on our behalf, over things like EU membership, a shared currency with the rest of the United Kingdom, a head of state (definitely elected as far as I’m concerned, certainly merely ceremonial), whether we want to be part of NATO or not – and, no, I most emphatically do not want that.
All Better Together can offer Scotland is at least four separate sets of proposals that no Scot will ever be able to vote for. And then we are told to rely on the first-past-the-post lottery of a United Kingdom general election in the storm of increasingly unpredictable opinion polls throwing up a parliament that no one will have voted for, and no one will like. Most votes will have been wasted votes, due to the safe seat nightmare, with elected MPs free to betray every single manifesto promise they make, including their lies about additional devolution. Better Together know where they can shove it.