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Letters / Well short of Devo Max

The Smith Commission proposals (Smith: islands to gin control of seabed; SN 27/11/14) are well short of Devo Max, which is what the Vow during the referendum campaign suggested.

I suppose it was never going to go far enough for Yes voters but it is clear that Westminster is still in charge. What is on offer to the Scottish Parliament?

Income tax to be raised, kept and spent in Scotland is the headline offer but income tax raises less than a quarter of Scotland’s current contribution to the Treasury. The broad base of taxes, over 70 per cent, are still held in Westminster; National Insurance, VAT, Corporation Tax to name a few.

The devil will be in the detail when the Barnett formula is adjusted to allow for the income tax change, in austerity Britain there is serious potential for argument that Westminster is making too big an adjustment.

Partial transfer of some issues in the welfare system is also a can of worms. How is all this going to work together?

Why was the Smith Commission set up? The answer is that the Smith Commission was set up because of blind panic on the part of the Unionist parties in response to one opinion poll that showed Yes in the lead.

One quarter of voters already had their postal votes, when suddenly, Cameron, Milliband and Clegg made a Vow which was sold to voters as Devo Max being on offer.

A close read of the wording of the Vow should have given us clues, as it is meaningless waffle.

Devo Max never was on offer, but through this cynical unionist ploy at least some voters were conned into voting No.

Ultimately, what happens with the Smith Commission proposals largely depends on the outcome of a general election in May, which no one can predict.

The new intake of MPs has to vote to pass the Smith Commission proposals into law, and if they do not, what then?

Brian Nugent
Chair
Yes Shetland

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