Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Powers For A Purpose?

Did you miss that ground-breaking Labour Devolution Commission report, telling us what new powers they might have in store for Scotland after a “No” vote if Ed Miliband doesn’t screw up the 2015 General Election and they can still be bothered? Never mind, here it is again.

Accounting for Strengthability and Peopling Empowerment

by J Lamont, Leader (for the time being), Scottish Labour

Scottish Labour is a party of both cynicism and opportunism.  For over 100 years, Labour has led the argument for Scottish subservience within the Union, and it is a cause we have advanced out of a deep-seated need to give otherwise unemployable politicians a wee sook on the gravy train.  That is why it was a Labour Government which set up the Scottish Parliament, delivering on what Tony Blair memorably called “shutting up these Scotch wankers for good, with any luck”.

In making the case for devolution, Labour has brought an enhanced set of buzz-words into the debate and caused significant puzzlement among the interviewers of BBC Scotland.  Our desire has always been a simple one: meeting the Scottish people’s legitimate desire for more powers with a smug assurance from Jackie Baillie that everything’s fine and anything they can’t do is all the SNP’s fault.

Scottish Labour needs the United Kingdom.  Look at our leadership, for pity’s sake!  You wouldn’t trust any of us to go to the shops for a pint of milk.  Without e-mails from Ed Miliband’s junior advisers telling us what to do, or our weekly dressing down from Ian Davidson and Jim Murphy, we’d be sunk.  So the questions for us today are what sort of con trick we need to fool the voters into thinking we’re competent, and whether Brian Taylor can keep a straight face while hyping it up on Reporting Scotland.

The Scotland Act 2012 represents a major step in this direction, despite Alex Salmond flippantly telling everybody it’s rubbish, and it was the aim of this commission to go much further.  Unfortunately, our English colleagues told us we weren’t allowed to, so instead we’ve just photocopied the Act, Tipp-Exed out some of the figures and replaced them with slightly higher ones.

It is clear, from reading the Daily Mail online comments and the collected writings of Alan Cochrane, that absolutely no-one in Scotland wants independence.  I fully expect this to be confirmed by the news brought to me in my padded cell on 19 September.  We do not, of course, take this outcome for granted, but Ian Davidson seems pleased with Westminster’s plans for handling the postal vote and I’m no’ goanny risk a doing by arguing with him.

Politics to me has never been about abstract debates; you need empty sound-bites as well.   I came into politics to tear down barriers, not erect borders.  It has always been about how to make people’s lives better.  Something for nothing.  Didnae say that.  Astonished.  We can achieve more working together than we can ever do alone.  As people, we are not fixed in isolation.  We are family.  I’ve got all my sisters with me.  I’m genetically programmed:  British, a Scot, a Hebridean, a Glaswegian, clueless, and proud!

It was never the intention of devolution to devolve power to the Scottish Parliament, only to see it accumulate powers upwards.  I’ve got no idea what that actually means, but let’s have a conversation about it anyway. 

Oh, wait a minute, someone’s just whispered in my ear that it’s about “empowering communities”.  We’re going to give Aberdeen City Council the legal right to plant a custard pie in Alex Salmond’s face every time he shows up within a 40-mile radius.  In fact, we’ll make it mandatory, so they can’t wimp out of it.  That’s what re-invigorating local democracy is all about.

I’d like to thank the Commission for letting me know what’s in the report, and I’m sure it’ll stand me in good stead for the TV interviews later.   Thanks in advance to the Labour Party for your forthcoming endorsement of the report at the Perth Conference.  You are going to approve it, aren’t you?


Scotland to be given additional things to pay for, using pretty well the same amount of money as before.  Or maybe less, if electoral pressures force us to bin the Barnett Formula altogether.  The Scottish Government shouldn’t whinge, though, because we’ll compensate by giving it powers to increase income tax to ruinous levels. 

Other tax receipts, including those from the second great oil boom, to continue to flow to Westminster, where they will be pooled and shared among selected millionaires.

BBC3 to be replaced by a “Let’s Laugh At Scotland” channel, featuring Andrew Neil and a constant flow of uninformed celebrities.  Pointless to be moved to the new channel, and broadcast live from Holyrood.

Scottish Labour to criticise the Scottish Government for all of this at every turn, while continuing to promote candidates so useless they’re in no danger of accidentally getting into office.

That’s your lot.  Satisfied? 

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