Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Powers Committee

I like Alex Neil's idea of establishing a constitutional affairs committee in the Scottish Parliament, which would examine what powers should be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood.

All the parties (regardless of their rhetoric and/or protestations on this matter) understand that devolution is a process that has been set in motion, and that the current powers of the Scottish Parliament are not set in stone.

A constitutional affairs committee, like that suggested by the SNP MSP, would therefore allow the parties to build a consensus on the transfer of powers - based on sound public policy, and not just political, grounds.

But, and it's a big but, it is not an alternative to a democratic referendum on independence. It is only one avenue through which we can build the case for independence, and a limited one. Due to the inevitable composition of the membership of this committee, there will be a self-imposed ceiling on what it can achieve for Scotland. At best, it will deliver more powers for the Scottish Parliament. That's welcome of course, but we need them all!

And the most important arena of all, for building consensus on Scotland's future, is the living rooms of Scotland - not the committee rooms of the Scottish Parliament. When Alex Salmond talks about an SNP government having a 'conversation' about independence, this is what he means. We must use every opportunity - within and outwith our Parliament - to advance the case for Scottish independence.

1 comment:

Willie said...

A possible block to a Constitutional Affairs Committee, for at least discussion of the issues, may come from those folk sitting on the Labour benches in Edinburgh. Many of them appear to be having serious trouble adjusting to post 3/5/07 political life in Scotland.

Magnus Linklater has written a couple of brilliant and entertaining pieces for the London Times on the state of Labour in Holyrood. Everyone appears to have recognised the changed landscape - except Jock McDonald and co.