If, God forgive, it’s a no vote in September; the pressure will really be on the unionist parties, but in particular the Labour Party, to deliver positive change in Scotland, change that makes people’s lives in Scotland better. So far what we have seen is a promise of more minor devolution if we vote no, but you can be rest assured that any changes will not be changes for the better if they take any real power away from Westminster. As has been noted many times ‘power devolved is power retained ‘.
We are being told that we will have additional powers over taxation in which the Scotland Act (2012) will also hand powers over for air guns, drink-driving and speeding limits, while bringing in the so-called additional rate of income tax and borrowing powers worth £5bn.
It will also devolve stamp duty, land tax and landfill tax, and give the Scottish Parliament a role in appointments in broadcasting and the Crown Estate.
In addition, there will be new procedures for Scottish criminal cases that go to the UK Supreme Court. None of these so-called powers do anything to enhance either the Scottish Parliament or our day-to-day lives, and that is where the pressure is on. The additional powers coming our way in 2017 or thereabouts, long enough for them to be removed in the event of a no vote, only add additional costs to the Scottish Government and Scottish people while ensuring that ‘power devolved is power retained’ is so very true.
The pressure in the event of a no vote though will be on the Labour Party in Scotland. I just don’t think that they really understand that, they haven’t really thought through their partnership, or should I say subservient role in campaigning on behalf of the Tories in Scotland. Labour, I believe, think that if it’s a no vote in September then the issue goes away forever, that the wee useless powers that only add to our administrative costs will be enough to bury nationalism and the democratic drive for change at the ground level. They believe that things go back to normal, Labour regain Holyrood, get to tweak systems, more likely making them worse and all of us worse off given their record to date, but that the natural order of their right to rule over Scots is returned and the madness since 2007 comes to an end.
They are wrong.
If Scots vote to remain a part of the United Kingdom they are going to expect real change, change that improves their lives on a daily basis. There will be an expectation on the Labour Party to end the unfairness of the changes to benefits which punish the poorest and most vulnerable, and to end the power of big business and the banks over our country and our daily lives. People will expect more meaningful decision-making to be made in Scotland that they can see the tangible results of in their communities, for their families, and in the country as a whole. There lies the problem for the Labour Party in Scotland; they can’t deliver any of it unless a) they are in power in Westminster which is looking more unlikely by the day and b) they can convince their colleagues within Labour nationally to back the proposals, again unlikely and why would they.
I believe the General Election next year is looking more and more likely to result in a coalition of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats again. Austerity will continue to bite, it will actually be worse than it has been so far and Scotland will not be able to continue to fight against this, we will suffer cuts and they will hurt every single person outside the top 20%. Scotland I suspect will return a large majority of Labour MPs to Westminster and that is where the Labour Party in Scotland start to suffer big time in Scotland.
The failure to deliver real change will fall on Labour in Scotland, they will suffer at the Holyrood elections in 2016 and they will suffer in local elections, maybe even in Glasgow. The result they wish for might just be the worse result they ever face because when positive change does not happen there will be demands for another referendum, Westminster will resist and we will have to really fight for it, but there will be another referendum and it will result in YES vote.
I really believe that Scotland is on a path to independence that cannot be stopped anymore, it is not about if but when now for me, it’s just about the timing. The Labour Party, and to a lesser degree the Liberal Democrats, in Scotland, in signing up to the right-wing policies of the Tory right have signed, I believe, their own death certificates as parties in Scotland. Whatever you think of the SNP Government, or Alex Salmond, they have been the best Government we have had since the Scottish Parliament returned.
If I were a member of the Labour Party in Scotland I would be fearing a no vote, a no vote puts Lamont, Miliband, Curran and Murphy under the spotlight. They will be expected to deliver, they will be found out by the last remaining deniers in Scotland for what they really are, they are cowards and they are vacuous. The change that Scotland requires cannot and will not be delivered by a no vote, but real change might just come in the longer term when the failure of Labour in Scotland is laid to bare and no matter what the media do to hide their failure, and their shame, no one in Scotland will be able to deny the fact that we are and will never be better together, we can only be better apart.