Monday, October 06, 2014

Against 'devo-max'

This is just a brief note.  I'm told I voted No because I was promised something called 'devo-max'.  I've already said I find this objectionable.  I would have voted No without the unseemly rush of the leaders of the main UK parties to promise 'more powers' because I am not the least bit interested in giving a party as intolerant of disagreement as the SNP one ounce more power over my life.  But now we're all being told the 'Westminster parties' must deliver on this thing that no-one can quite agree on.

What does 'devo-max' actually mean?  The maximum devolution possible whilst preserving the integrity of the UK, one assumes.  If it means 'fiscal autonomy' in the sense that the Scottish Government is responsible for all revenue raised in Scotland and is part of the UK only in the sense that we would pay a subscription to a common foreign and immigration policy, it is an absolutely dreadful idea and one can only assume the Nationalists are advocating it for the reason Willie Rennie says: they are Nationalists and their prime objective is the destruction of the UK.  No-one should be surprised if they see 'devo-max' as a means to this end.

'Devo-max' just isn't feasible.  I know no-one can name me a state on the face of the planet that functions in the way described above because there isn't one.  Even if it was feasible, it isn't desirable for all the same reasons a currency union wasn't desirable.  For the sharing of a currency to work, you need automatic stabilisers in the form of cross-border fiscal transfers.  Salmond's back of the fag packet plans for an independent Scotland's monetary policy to be run from London ruled these out; 'devo-max' just recreates the same problem.

Better to have as an option UK welfare providing a floor - and if Scots want to pay more tax to top this up, let the Holyrood parties put this to the electorate.  Even better still, why don't we have some proper local government in these Islands?  My colleagues in 'Teachers for Yes' rather grudgingly admitted that Westminster have absolutely no control over Scottish education whatsoever but nevertheless favoured a Yes vote because the UK 'controlled the purse-strings'.  Fact of the matter is, Holyrood controls the purse-strings via the council tax freeze with the connivance of Cosla.  Why don't we have some local autonomy instead?  Here's how it would work: in local government elections, the various parties could put forward differnt proposals for the level of taxation and service provision and the one that the electorate like the best would win.  It's called democracy and not one of the major parties in Scotland - either Nationalist nor Unionist - think this is a good idea.  Sad, but there it is.

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