Futurama

Futurama_title_screenSome details are beginning to emerge of Gordon Brown’s actual policy content from his secret meeting in Tollcross yesterday.
There’s to be no control of income tax rates as the interim report suggested, but allow the Scottish Government to control about 40% of its income. Holyrood should also be allowed to control attendance allowances for the ill and elderly, and, in Gordon’s slightly bizarre pick-and-mix version of constitutional settlement, ‘greater powers over the railways’ should be considered.

Of course major social security systems such as National Insurance and pensions, foreign affairs, security, defence and broadcasting would all be retained. And, naturally, all our own resources are denied us.

In a further oddity, Brown’s guddle wants the Crown Estate to be devolved to local councils, itself a wary option for bypassing any sense of national control by a Scottish Government, of whatever party.

Joining in the chorus of nonsense kicked off by Bernard Ponsonby yesterday (“One thing, in all the crossfire, is certain – the status quo is not an option. The only question now: more powers or full independence.”), Severin Carrell writes: “Labour and the Liberal Democrats are edging towards a post-referendum pact on further powers for Scotland, which could see a deal to agree much greater devolution of tax and welfare powers from Westminster.”

Of course it could, but the author fails to map out the chicane course required for that to become reality:

1. The Labour Party would need to agree these terms and quell the growing rebellion amongst their MPs and the ongoing internal war that besets them.
2. Scotland would have to vote No in September
3. The Liberals would have to be considered a viable credible legitimate political party untainted by their role in the coalition
4. Labour would have to win the General Election in 2015 with extra powers for Scotland as part of its manifesto, and with a Lib-Lab pact agreed. This after the most destructive and negative campaign still fresh in the publics mind.
5. Any extension of Holyrood powers would have to be agreed by the Westminster Govt.
6. Finally, Labour would need to win Holyrood in 2016 with Johann Lamont as leader

Each individual points seems unlikely. Taken together they seem highly improbable if not fantastic.

Outflanking Brown’s silly-season vaudeville act, Sir Menzies Campbell has ‘urged all three pro-UK parties to hold a summit within 30 days of this September’s independence referendum to agree a broad programme on devolution.’

A broad programme. We’re to be convinced that Yesterday’s Men will morph into the Tomorrow People. Once full of dire foreboding they will transform into enlightened policy innovators. The Great Clunking Fist would become the nimble localist digit. The Liberals will get the thumbs up. The reality is this farrago will get two fingers despite lavish media exposure.

As George Kerevan writes in the Scotsman:

In evaluating any new proposals from Mr Brown or Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat elder statesman, we should remember that the main Westminster parties clubbed together to keep a second question on devo-max from appearing on the 18 September referendum ballot form. They were more interested in isolating the SNP than in meeting the popular demand for more powers for Holyrood. Also remember that for 13 years Gordon Brown ran Britain, admittedly with some help from the man next door. He could easily have delivered the sort of devo-max he now proposes – but didn’t.

The gap between the forensic details expected of the Yes campaign on a timeline slipping into infinity and the vague dross dished up here is extraordinary. On one side we have a detailed 650 page White Paper, on the other side, we have vague contradictory offers of some powers cobbled together a month after we deny ourselves sovereignty in a backroom of a hotel, presumably by Willie Rennie and Labour stalwarts with Menzies dishing out the Bourbon biscuits and Gordon’s men briefing the Courier.

This is a fantasy land Futurama.

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  1. Why would any MP of any party listen to Gordon Brown? Surely to make anything happen as a backbench MP at Westminster you actually have to be there doing loads of spadework and building (or re-building in Gordon’s case) networks of allies.

    Gordon Brown has just over 13% attendance, based on votes, at Westminster since 2010.

    Maybe more importantly, why would any member of the English public listen to anything Gordon Brown has to say on any topic? He was effectively cheered out of office. He has no affectionate place in the public’s heart.

    If Scotland’s people are unable to return a ‘Yes’ vote on their country running its own affairs, why should anyone else consider granting it additional powers?

    On every level, the more powers promise is as empty as Menzies Campbell’s rhetoric.

  2. Dan Huil says:

    “To start producing anything other than heads of agreement in advance of September 18 seems to me to be likely to cause confusion and muddy the waters.” Ming Campbell.

    In other words, unionists will not give details or guarantees for future devolution before the referendum. He seems to suggest the electorate in Scotland are too stupid to consider such details before the referendum, yet at the same time he hopes they will be stupid enough to accept such vague promises for after the referendum.
    Either way, it’s insulting.
    I believe more and more people in Scotland are seeing unionist politicians for what they are: untrustworthy.

  3. More powers vote YES no powers (possibly lose powers) vote no get NOthing.

  4. scot2go2 says:

    excellent use of words… “”” Yesterday’s men morphing into Tomorrows People “””” exceptional phrase… really like it…
    I was also interested in the “”” secret meeting in Tollcross “””” as gordie seems to like this kind of arrangement… it reminded me of another secret meeting on a plane coming back from Israel… with the CEO of Lloyds bank…. where it was apparent sometime later that a number of branch’s of HBOS were now part of Lloyds….. needless to say that gordies wife …who represented as part of the P.R. company she worked for… Lloyds… would be completely divorced from any inside knowledge and the subsequent flack that ended with the CEO of Lloyds losing his position… as the shareholders were not happy…. with the take over….

    1. fehvepehs says:

      tsk!! tsk!! old chap. I mean what is one trying to convey? Surely not that one at Westminster would be so base as to be lining their grubby pockets through the abuse of privileged information….Well I never!!

      1. scot2go2 says:

        Och no… I do not think anything underhand went on… I mean gordie is hardly a blair…. and I am sure that like the fragrant mary archer… and her fiction writing hubby… they had more important things to discuss over their cornflakes… but it is interesting gordies preference for the secret stuff… as all those undercover polis must have had some direction… someone political must have been involved somewhere…. as if the polis had taken this on themselves… then those left wing comments about the Uk being a police state may start to sound not so daft…

  5. Alex Buchan says:

    Yes, but what the comments are missing is the fact that, if political commentators like Ponsonby and Carell aren’t prepared to ask difficult questions or even be interested enough to want to analysis what’s really going on, why do we assume the woman or man in the street leading busy lives wont be affected by this mood music. It’s obvious that this has nothing to do with Scotland’s governance and everything to do with presenting a carrot to the electorate to take their minds off all the negative campaigning. It’s classic political manoeuvring. They reckon the negative campaign will do its work to scare the voters and their proposals are meant to mesh with the negative campaign, not contradict it. The combined effect they will keep pushing is that leaving is too risky, and Scots can get more control anyway. The other notable feature is the freezing out of the Tories. Labour and the Lib Dems are positioning themselves in Scotland so that any fall out of the referendum will fall on Cameron and Osborne not them. This is all to do with their political fortunes as parties in Scotland. They know the Crown Estates will never be handed over to local government control but they want to be seen to be responding without acceding in any way to the SNP. This whole exercise is a totally political move and a totally cynical one. Ming Campbell’s suggestion of a meeting within 30 days is pure rhetorical posturing. He knows damn well it will never happen. Once Westminster gets control back after a no vote there will a concerted effort to lower expectations not raise them.

  6. jdman says:

    “Outflanking Brown’s silly-season vaudeville act”

    What? do you mean this?

  7. Chris says:

    The unionist parties are still playing catch up with regard to dealing with the sovereignty of the people of Scotland. In a post No Vote Scotland- looking less likely by the month-any devolution settlement must take account of the full spectrum of views relating in the government of Scotland not just those of the unionist parties. If they fail to be inclusive they will sow the seeds of the end of the Union they so wish to preserve.

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