A momentous day in Scotland – but this has nothing to do with the Smith Commission, which, despite the hyperventilating of many tabloid Tories means very little. The momentous bit is the Scottish Government’s Land Reform proposals announced yesterday, which are bad news for 432 people, but good news for 5,254,800 of us.
We expect much foaming at the mouth from the landed elite and their representatives in Westminster over these simple measures which bring us into line with most of the rest of Europe.
Gordon Brown – the chief architect we were led to believe – though he’s nowhere to be seen – promised ‘Home Rule’. But this has 70% of tax and 85% of welfare decisions staying at Westminster. This isn’t Home Rule, it’s not even Devo Max.
The BBC managed a whole 38 minutes of coverage of it, and with only £2.5bn devolved out of £120bn in welfare it’s small beer indeed. As Michelle Rodgers put it: “Vow = broken. Just 20% of welfare setting priority? When you can’t control even the minimum wage how on earth can you address poverty?”
The other aspect that seems forgotten amongst the excitement is that these are recommendations and may not get backed by the Coalition, still intent on shackling this to some bizarre notion of English representation. As Richard Murphy puts it (‘Scotland’s tax solution is the worst possible for everyone’):
“The trouble is Scotland does not have that power to create money. That will, as the whole referendum debate focussed upon, stay with London. So Scotland ends up with revenue collection rights but no control over money: that’s half a power at best. Scotland will remain frustrated that some real reforms will remain beyond it for time to come. If ever we wanted to know that the No vote in September was a very big mistake this is the proof.”
For our full analysis we hand you over to our Economic Editors Chuck D and Flavor Flav: