"Pro-Union coalition rocked by the Tories"
...hollers yesterday’s Times:
Cross-party plans to give Holyrood sweeping new tax-raising powers suffered a big setback yesterday after David Cameron refused to commit to a timetable for change.That last part’s the key, i.e. would publish a White Paper on the subject, contents and, timescale to be arranged and...and that’s all. Cue the obligatory yellow-bellied hysteria:
The Conservative leader backed the principle of more financial accountability for MSPs, but indicated that a Tory government would not regard it as a legislative priority and would reject the White Paper published by the Westminster Government.
In doing so, Mr Cameron opened himself to the charge that he has fractured the coalition of pro-Union parties in Scotland — Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems — which had backed greater powersin an attempt to outflank the SNP’s core policy of independence.
Mr Cameron pledged that a Tory government would publish a White Paper, but would not say when or whether it would go as far as yesterday’s government White Paper.
His stance triggered fears among pro-Calman Tories that the party risks prolonging the anti-Scottish perception that has dogged it since the 1990s, leaving it with one MP from Scotland and in third place at Holyrood. "This shows that, deep down, we still don’t like devolution and we’ll be punished for that," a senior activist said
Ah, those ubiquitous "senior activists", always round in times of crisis (real or manufactured,) with their ears close to the ground- here’s Cameron, in the very same paper, proving conclusively that he and the Conservatives "still don’t like devolution":
Ten years on, and there is no doubt that devolution has been a successWhilst I might disagree with the sentiment that doesn’t look like an anti-devolution attitude to me.
So, as per usual, best to read what the man actually said:
"The Labour Government has finally set out how it intends to take forward the recommendations of the Calman commission. So now the debate about the future of devolution can move on to the next stage.Anything to argue with there?
Ten years on, and there is no doubt that devolution has been a success. But as the Calman commission has recognised, improvements do need to be made so that devolution can work better in the future. And so if the Conservative Party wins the next British general election, we will bring forward our plans for dealing with these issues in our own White Paper and legislation."
Working together constructively with Salmond...
"For me, the key to that White Paper and to a successful devolution settlement is the idea of mutual respect. When I met Sir Kenneth Calman he and I agreed that the most important thing for the future is that our Parliaments and our governments work together constructively. Indeed, if we form the next government, we would go even further than the recommendations in Sir Kenneth’s report."
Backing Calman on his suggestions for non-financial powers:
"So we back the Calman recommendations on non-financial powers. This will include speed limits, control over airguns and MSPs taking responsibility for administering the Holyrood elections, so that the mess which Labour MPs made of the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections does not happen again."But not necessarily (and that’s the key word) financial powers:
"But one thing which clearly has not been working properly is the balance of financial powers. If Mr Salmond wants to fund his populist policies, he needs to be clear about how he would pay for them. He cannot be allowed to keep blaming Britain whenever he runs out of cash.I happen to disagree, but that’s not really the point here. Cameron and his team have obviously put some thought into this rather than relying on the much more comfortable option. With regards the "senior activist"’s objection, is this extra thought because he (DC) wishes to damage or limit the electoral recovery of the Scottish Conservatives and, by implication, the Union? I really doubt it. An ultimately successful strategy does not always follow the "obvious" short-term path and a bit more trust in the leadership and self-confidence on the part of the "senior activist"s(?) wouldn’t go amiss.
Giving the Scottish Parliament greater powers over raising and spending taxes and over borrowing would help to provide that accountability. The recommendations in the Calman report should be the starting point for changes in this area, and we would set out full details of what needs to happen in our own White Paper in government."