Devo Plus What?
“Our destination is Devo Plus, but many roads lead there” whitters the lovely flash banner on the new Devo Plus website in opaque political gobbledeegook.
The British political classes ability to fudge, haver or bodge real change is legendary. Some hold it up as the supreme art of compromise. It is the ‘non-ideological’ nature of British politics (sic). The efforts of a coterie of Unionist politicians to collaborate on muddying the constitutional waters is a case in point. Their efforts might be worth notice if they had the courage of their convictions and were demanding that Devo Plus be on the ballot. But they’re not.
No mistake though after years of bad campaigning and atrocious leadership elections (pick from Ruth, Johann, Ed or Willie) this is the moment everyone’s been waiting for. Poor old John Park even got abit ahead of himself today gushing about the Dream Team today.
But the NO campaign is riven by confusion, false starts and multiple leadership agendas. First up popped Michael Moore, and it fast becomes clear that his most potent wheeze is to challenge Salmond on the date of the referendum. The date. That’s his most substantive line of argument. Apoplexy follows Rupert’s Sun on Sunday ‘exclusive’ only to be followed up with a general lack of interest.
Next up the Oil’s going to run-out (eek).
But these forays were just amuse bouche for the main course of Devo Max. This is the Real McCoy, the dish that has a long list of scribes and editors salivating. It’s the scenario that many (most?) are banking on. It will be (warning: you need a large shot of Caledonian Antisyzygy to comprehend this) both Salmond’s downfall and yet is his own fiendish creation, according to the commentariat and twitterati that frame and churn this nonsense.
Devo Plus was launched today as an attempt to give a shot of caffeine into the whole debate. We got warm horlicks instead. Jeremy Purvis, for it is that giant of Scottish politics no less, who is in charge of DP, led the charge, hit the airwaves and Unionist press gave over a generous spread of dead wood media to their arguments. Three striking features mark the project out as a flop, despite all the excitement.
1. Rather than campaigning for the idea to be on the ballot, it is – like it’s cousin Devo Shsh to be explored by some unnamed mechanism, AFTER our referendum. Purvis, previously an MSP, subscribes to David Cameron’s jam tomorrow approach. And this from a coalition of MPS who have ceaselessly bleated about ‘clarity’ ‘simplicity’ and ‘transparency’.
2. Purvis and his friends have a problem. No-one knows what they are on about. If you are still struggling with the cryptic conundrum that we started with, try this: “When I vote in the referendum – and I will vote “No” – I want that no vote to be a positive vote for change.” Eh? Try reading that again. This could be by Gollum.
3. There’s no vehicle. We’ve come to expect backtracking and duplicity from Lib Dems, but when you throw in a permanently disorientated Labour Party and a Still-Toxic-Tory the back legs don’t know what the front legs are doing. We have Ruth with her line in the sand. David with his promise of a better tomorrow and now this grouplet.None of the parties will take this on, because they are trapped in a binary choice of their own making.
Can you imagine the fury that would descend on the SNP, Greens or other indy-supporting parties if a number of MPS / MSPs broke ranks and started an entirely new constitutional mission?
The reality is that Devo PLus is only getting coverage because it is the cause célèbre of the chattering classes. At the hub of the proposal is that we need to be a nation that raises its own taxes, manages it’s own affairs, but for some unclear reason, would allow another country to base WMD on its soil and another country’s govt decide when and where we exercise our ‘liberal interventionism’.