From the warm embrace of passionate citizen activism, Scotland’s future passed to the cold hands of hardened political hacks in closeted rooms. It is a physical impossibility that all 14,000 submissions from the public received by mid-October were even read, led alone properly considered. I am willing to bet most were not even opened.
No, this was the very worst kind of deal-making by callous political operatives, where party interests came first, second and last. I do not give a fig for the result. Income tax devolution is of minimal use if other major taxes are set from London and most income still comes from a Westminster “grant”. Revenue from oil and whisky will still be treated in government accounts as “UK” rather than arising in Scotland. It is far short of the quasi Federal powers which No voters were promised and the Lib Dems pretend to believe in.
Actually, I do not give a fig for the Smith Commission. I want to live in a country where the Westminster establishment does not send our children to fight and die in illegal wars, and which does not harbour weapons of mass destruction. I want a country where governance is decided by citizens and not cooked up the way of this sordid, sordid deal.
That is not to say we should not take advantage of any minor opportunities for increasing social fairness in Scotland that may accrue. But given the continued Westminster stranglehold on overall funding levels, they will be minor indeed.
Nor will I disdain the amusement afforded by the total intellectual mess into which the Labour Party has landed itself. If non-Scottish MPs in Westminster cannot vote on Scottish levels of income tax, it would be absolutely wrong for Scottish MPs to vote on English, Welsh or Northern Irish levels of income tax. That is unanswerable, yet the Labour Party cannot bring itself to acknowledge it. This should be fun.
For those wanting a detailed analysis, we have the excellent Stuart Campbell.