The case of the missing powers

It’s been two weeks since Scotland rejected independence by 45% to 55%. Many people who voted no did so because in the final weeks leading up to the referendum Miliband, Cameron and Clegg came charging up to Scotland in a panic to promise us more powers. We then had Gordon Brown enter the media fray again to tell us the same thing. It seemed clear that if Scotland voted no there would be new powers for the Scottish parliament. For Yes campaigners there was the question of why you would whatever extra powers Westminster decided to give us when you could have all the powers. Clearly though the Scottish public didn’t buy this argument. They believed that these extra powers would come despite being told that you should never trust a Tory.

Once the no vote had been secured and David Cameron had spoken to the Queen, who had apparently puured with delight, it was down to business. Scotland was quickly forgotton and the issue of English votes for English laws came to the fore. Cameron believed that more devolution for Scotland should be done in tandem with the rest of the UK which threw Gordon Brown’s timetable out of the window immediately. This timetable was also put into doubt by the fact that the Conservatives and Labour keep fighting about what should be done. A problem that will also definitely come up is that of  Tory backbencers not voting for any new powers. Some have already said they will do this and more will probably follow and if it doesn’t get past the house of commons it won’t happen.

The one thing that has happened is that David Cameron has set up the Smith Comission into more devolution for Scotland. This will have the backing of all parties including the pro independence Greens and SNP. Nicola Sturgeon, who will almost certainly be First Minister in November, has said that she will be a willing partner in this. Lord Smith is due to publish his findings on 30th November and whether all or any of his proposals will be implimented we don’t know. Scotland again finds itself in a position of wait and see which after having so much power during the referendum campaign is disheartening to say the least. For now we are back to signing petitions. There is one for devolving more powers which has been signed by nearly 100,000 people. Gordon Brown has told people to sign it which shows just how little power he has and that he was in no position to promise us these powers in the first place. The very fact that the promise of more powers is so vague should have set alarm bells ringing that it would take a lot longer than the people of Scotland want and that it may never actually happen.

It’s all too easy for Westminster to dismiss the proposals of a comission or to make it take so long that it no longer seems relevent. It’s also too easy for politicians to vote against it. The positive thing is that the Scottish electorate are now more energised and engaged than ever. Scottish people clearly want more powers and many no voters now feel like they have been sold a lie. The negitive thing is that it’s not as up to us as we would like. It’s up to MPs from all across Britain who must now back it and deliver on the promise that their leaders made.

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