Friday, 2 March 2012
Square Pegs v Round Holes
The prospect of a referendum on Scottish independence has already claimed an historic victory - without a shot being fired in anger.
Because just about everyone who's anyone - has already agreed that the Scottish Parliament must have more powers.
Which is a remarkable political achievement - it has to be said - in a very short space of time.
No one is trying to defend the status quo any longer - its time has well and truly passed - all that's needed now is the formal burial or cremation.
The debate has moved on to the extent and scope of new powers for the Scottish Parliament - and amongst the anti-independence parties - the big question is:
'What kind of package will be enough to derail the SNP bandwagon - and its push for full independence?'
Earlier this week the Devo Plus campaign rolled out its stall.
Which involves the Scottish Parliament taking over responsibility for collecting all the money it spends - instead of relying on a block grant from Westminster which currently stands at around £33 billion a year - and falling.
Underpinning this arrangement would be the power to collect certain taxes in Scotland - income tax and corporation tax, for example - and an agreed share of the UK's oil-based revenues.
So the $64,000 dollar question is what effect would this have on the current Scottish budget - and what share does it represent of Scotland's national wealth?
The nearer the answer is to 100% - the closer the Scotland is to being independent in the UK in all but name.
Independence is all but name is another way to describe Devo Max - which would involve the Scottish Parliament taking control of all revenue raising activities north of the border.
The Scottish Parliament would then pass on to Westminster - Scotland's share of the cost of UK wide activities such as foreign policy and defence - which would continue to be managed in London by the House of Commons and House of Lords.
The closer Devo Plus is to the present Scottish Parliament budget - the more it looks like a soggy compromise - and one that involves fitting a square peg into a round hole.
The closer Devo Plus is to the Scotland's national wealth or GDP (Gross Domestic Product) - the more it looks like Devo Max and independence in all but name.
But either way the argument has shifted substantially on to the ground cleared by the SNP - with its plan for a referendum on Scottish independence.
Because without that referendum on the horizon - the fact of the matter is that none of this would be happening.