‘The more things change the more they stay the same’

by Colin Fox, SSP national co-spokesperson

Lord Smith’s recommendations announced today amount to very little. Despite the widespread appetite for change acknowledged by both sides following Septembers historic and far reaching independence referendum The Smith Commission has emerged from the darkness offering very little to satisfy that hunger.

It’s fair to say the Independence movement expected very little from the Smith Commission, but the Scottish Socialist Party, as the only party officially involved in the Referendum not invited to join the deliberations, was certainly expecting more than this.

Lord Smith proposals - "hardly likely to satisfy the desire for change now sweeping through Scotland"
Lord Smith proposals – “hardly likely to satisfy the desire for change now sweeping through Scotland”

Lord Smith’s principal recommendation is to devolve Income tax revenues to Holyrood. So the Scottish Parliament is now to be given the power to set the rate of Income tax payable and receive all such revenues raised here. However before anyone gets carried away with Lord Smith’s radicalism it is important to stress this does not in fact mean a single extra penny accrues to Scotland. The revenues received are to be deducted from the existing Westminster Block Grant handed to Holyrood annually under the Barnett Formula. Extra powers over VAT rates and Air Passenger Duty revenues are to be similarly ‘adjusted’.

Holyrood has had the power to vary income tax rates in Scotland by 3p in the £ – up or down – since its inception and never used them.

Whilst the powers to determine welfare policy and to extend the electoral franchise to 16 and 17 year olds are welcome they are hardly likely to satisfy the desire for change now sweeping through Scotland.

It is also necessary to point out that Lord Smith’s recommendations must be agreed by Westminster, a timely reminder of Enoch Powell’s warning that ‘power devolved is power retained’. Mind you given the ecstatic response from Prime Minister David Cameron to Smith’s recommendations you can bet these proposals will be rushed through the House of Commons [and Lords] with much speed and no little relief by the UK political establishment.

The Scottish people on the other hand toiling as they are with the enormous burden of poverty pay, zero hour contracts, indebtedness and fuel poverty are offered no such relief either at Westminster or Holyrood.

But anyone in London or Scotland for that matter who thinks the independence movement will be appeased by these proposals or that the ‘Yes’ mood will subside as a consequence is seriously mistaken. Lord Smith’s proposals fall a long way short of the ‘Devo Max’ or the famous ‘Vow’ promised in the last days of the Referendum by Gordon Brown. They merely whet the appetite of our movement ahead of the Westminster General Election in 6 months time.

File Format Doc-507x507You may read the Scottish Socialist Party’s submission to the Smith Commission here.

5 thoughts on “‘The more things change the more they stay the same’

  1. And the fallacy about being “Better Together” continues…

    Embarrassment. What exactly was the use of having the Smith Commission if this was the result of their discussions, and this their recommendations……..

    What happened to standing up to Westminster and demanding what we deserve…what “the Vow” promised…!

  2. Non of this nonsense from this LORD is relevant or worth the time or paper. At best it is lip-service at worst it is a cynical exercise in political theatre designed to pander to the establishment parties. You have to wonder why David “Ca-moron” came out today smiling and hardly able to contain his excitement at the out come. Giving Scotland some more Tax powers without the full raft of powers needed to run our economy is a TRAP. I am still waiting for ONE politician from ANY party or any of the INDY groups to start the campaign to open independent community owned savings banks and a public owned Business Bank to stop the power of the corrupt big banks in Scotland. without new independent banks for Scotland we stand no chance of having a Scottish economy that works for it people. We must have this as a foundation to build on. Without solid foundations we are wasting our time trying to building our peoples Scotland. If they hold the purse strings we are building on sand.

  3. I didn’t expect much from it, but I also think there has to be more distinction between the SSP and SNP here. Air Passenger Duty being devolved isn’t a good thing – it’s just going to allow the SNP to slash it to try and win support from airlines and big business. The SNP’s policy on that issue is even worse than the Tories’ policy and they need to be called out on that.

  4. I suppose this will satisfy the no voters who are being led to believe that the “vow” has been honoured. If you examine these extra powers you will see that the Calman report has already gone down the same path,but we are still waiting for these to be implemented.
    I suppose if they had offered extra haggis and shortbread to the better together mob,they would still claim that the vow has been upheld.
    HOW SAD ……….anyway let’s get to work and expose this for the sham that it is.

  5. Corporation tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax all reserved. The national minimum wage reserved. Employment law reserved. These proposals are designed to curb the appetite for radical political and economic upheaval in Scotland.

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