It is no surprise to those who are well informed that immediately after the Scottish Independence Referendum was won by the NO campaign on promises of more power to decide issues in Scotland by Scotland, that the British government has already begun to renege on those promises.
The debate over Scotland’s future fizzled amid a bitter war of words Sunday, with the Scottish leader claiming his countrymen were “tricked” into rejecting independence in a referendum and Britain’s three main political parties bickering over how to take political reform forward.
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s outgoing independence leader, accused politicians in London of reneging on their promises to hand more power to Scots in a rare cross-party pact that he said played a crucial role in swinging the votes in favor of union in Thursday’s vote.
His comments came after Prime Minister David Cameron stressed that plans to empower Scots should be linked to constitutional reform in England – a stance that fractured the fragile political consensus and drew attacks from across the spectrum.
Just days earlier, Cameron and his political rivals had joined together in a vow to quickly pass laws to transfer key decision-making powers from London to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. All three party leaders signed off on the pledge, which promised Scots new powers to decide on their tax, budget and welfare policies.
Since then, Cameron said those changes must be made “in tandem” with reform in the House of Commons to bar Scottish lawmakers from having a say on bills that only apply to England and Wales – a longstanding grievance that has come to the fore amid the debate.
He also said it won’t be fair to devolve powers to Scotland without considering similar changes in the rest of the kingdom – England, Wales and Northern Ireland. None of these conditions existed BEFORE the vote.
This is not the first time Cameron has reneged on promises. Remember the EU Treaty? “Millions of people in the rest of the U.K. have been listening to these debates, watching this campaign and rightly asking: `What will change for us? Why can’t we have the same powers and the same rights as those in Scotland?'” Cameron wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Critics say that throwing all those questions into one basket dilutes the three leaders’ joint pledge, and will inevitably delay the timetable of the promised return of powers to Scotland. “It’s the people who voted No because they believed these commitments from the Westminster leadership – these are the people who are feeling most angry, most hurt, most disappointed in Scotland today,” Salmond told the BBC. The politician has said he will step down as Scotland’s first minister in November, after the failure of his pro-independence campaign.
All three British parties insisted they would fulfill their vow, though they clearly differed on the English reform question.
Nick Clegg, Cameron’s deputy and leader of the coalition’s junior party, the Liberal Democrats, said the promise to Scots “cannot be made contingent on other constitutional reforms.” The opposition Labour Party’s leader Ed Miliband similarly said that there could be “no ifs, no buts” about delivering new powers to Scotland.
Vernon Bogdanor, a leading constitutional expert who used to teach Cameron at Oxford University, joined others in questioning the prime minister’s ability to deliver reform on time. Cameron had set a rapid timetable, calling for legislation to be published by January and passed before he calls elections.
“Constitutional changes should not be made in a rush or for party advantage,” said Bogdanor, now at King’s College London. “To try and get this through by January or February is absurd.” “He (Cameron) is normally laid back, thoughtful and consensual. He made the concessions without consulting Parliament, and, it appears, without consulting the Cabinet. This appears rushed and panicky,” he added.
Once again, it appears that the original pledges were disingenuous at best, and really just a political ploy to stem the tide of Scottish desire for self-determination after 300 years of British Rule. The vote which came down around 53-47% NO was closer than the numbers would suggest. A close analysis revealed that the majority of NO voters were 55 years old or older, while the majority of YES voters were in the 16 to 35 year old group. The threats of loss of pension and medical benefits were definitely one of the factors in the way the vote turned out. Secondly, since the election, various polls have demonstrated that a lot of older Scots bought the fact that Scotland’s oil revenues would not sustain the country long.
The facts, however, would suggest those points may not be valid. In fact, as we stated in comments from the previous articles would suggest that the Firths in Scotland are far richer in oil and gas than the “official” government estimates and could sustain Scotland well into the 22nd century. In addition, Scotland, as an independent Scotland would be the world’s 14th largest economy, larger than the remaining UK.
In addition, it seems that given the continuing demise of the US Dollar as the petro-dollar, Scotland would have been in a prime position to trade oil and gas for gold and other currencies stronger and more stable than the dollar or GBP. Further it seems that the continuing drain of GBP due to a balance of trade has been borne on the Scot’s oil and for the UK loss of that revenue would be disastrous for the UK’s economy if that export income were to be returned to Scotland. UK outflow was more than double the combined outflow from Germany and Australia and only Japan is currently seeing a faster rate of capital outflow from the country. This year UK has experienced a net 127 billion pound outflow ($206bn), while in 2013 a net 39 billion pounds ($63bn) flowed into the nation’s economy.
Although Salmond will step down as First Minister in November as he promised if he lost the referendum, we wouldn’t be surprised if a second go at an independence referendum is on the horizon for Scotland next year. How does the old saying go that the illustrious President Bush screwed up so bad? “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”.