Spectre of 1979 returns to haunt No campaign

In a key week in the referendum debate, the Westminster Government’s actions have demonstrated that the only way for Scotland to achieve the powers needed to build a strong economy and fair society is with a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum.

Ruth Davidson’s U-turn by endorsing the possibility of enhanced powers for the Scottish Parliament – washing away the ‘line in the sand’ that she drew during her election as leader – was greeted with scepticism from her own party.

But almost immediately, the warm words from the Tories were totally undermined by their actions. The Westminster Government’s announcement that they would not even discuss the devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland until after the Scottish independence referendum was met with astonishment by politicians in the province.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson told the Herald: “What, effectively, you are saying to the people of Scotland is that if you want more fiscal autonomy than you have at the present time, the only way to have it is through independence” (Herald 27 March 2013).

Meanwhile, a cross-party report from Westminster’s Constitutional Reform Committee published on Friday recommended that a UK-wide referendum may be required to ratify further powers of the Scottish Parliament – meaning that Scotland’s future would not be in Scotland’s hands.

And a YouGov poll last week found that a majority of Scots believe that the Scottish Government should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland - including North Sea tax revenues - and would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland.

Commenting, SNP MSP and Referendum Bill Committee Convener Bruce Crawford, said:

“The independence debate has moved on significantly this week. With a poll showing that a clear majority of people want all the decisions on tax and spending, and welfare and pensions to be made here in Scotland, it has become abundantly clear that the only way to achieve this in Scotland is with a Yes vote. A No vote is a vote for nothing - and puts a Westminster veto on the process.

“The anti-independence politicians in the No campaign are attempting to repeat the con of 1979, when Scots were promised ‘better form of devolution’ in return for voting No – which turned out to be 18 years of Tory Government that the people of Scotland didn’t vote for.

“One thing that has become clear this week is that a Yes vote is the only way to deliver the powers that Scotland needs to build a strong economy and fair society - and the only way to put the people of Scotland in charge of Scotland's future."

Yougov/SNP (Fieldwork: 20th-22nd March 2013)
Sample size: 1105 Scottish adults

Which government do you think should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland, including tax revenues from oil and gas?

The UK government: 35
The Scottish government: 52
Don't know: 13

Which government do you think would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland?
The UK government: 34
The Scottish government: 53
Don't know: 13