2007 - 2020

The Powers of the Scotland Bill

Scotland-map-web2The big question with the Scotland Bill is this – are ‘powers’ and ‘power’ the same thing? Is power the ability to do something or the ability to change something? If I have the power to press a button but all it does is put on a light saying ‘stop pressing the button’, am I powerful?

And spoiler alert for those who don’t want to plough through paragraph after paragraph on stuff like the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses, ‘powers’ and ‘power’ are not the same things. Much of the media and certainly the anti-independence political parties would like you to gawp at this new array of buttons that the Scotland Bill puts at Scotland’s disposal and will now spend their time demanding to know why the Scottish Government isn’t pressing them all. The Scottish Government has to have the confidence to ignore this background hum – but to do so it must make much bolder use of the real powers it already has.

I want to start by making clear that at Common Weal we are absolutely committed to working on two parallel goals at once. Yes, we are all committed to working in any way we can towards an independent Scotland. But at the same time, we are committed to the social justice cause of arguing for what can be done now. I continue to believe that the next referendum will be in 2021 so that leaves us five years. In the meantime, what is to happen to low-paid workers struggling to make ends meet, those whose benefits have been sanctioned who just aren’t making ends meet at all, small businesses being forced out of business by an economy that is rigged against them, communities which feel powerless to tackle the decline in their social infrastructure?

That was our starting point with the Book of Ideas. We did not set out to prove what couldn’t be done (lengthy though that list is), but rather to find out what could be done, now, with the powers he have or are about to get. So, sceptical as we are about all the motives behind and game-playing around the Scotland Bill, we looked at it seriously to try and figure out what it would let us do that we can’t already.

So let’s start with what we can do with it. The one thing the Scotland Bill does do is give substantial power over income tax. We should not dismiss this. I’ve argued since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament that being able to raise the basic rate of income tax without being able to raise (never mind create) other rates of tax was asking the Parliament to place the burden of any attempt to find new investment in public services disproportionately on those on lower incomes. It was wrong.

But that’s not a complaint I can make any more. Scotland can create new tax bands and these can be powerful. In Scotland we don’t have many of the super-wealthy (they live in London). That’s why, valuable as the symbolism is, raising the 45p tax rate on those earning over £150,000 won’t generate much money. Scotland’s personal income wealth lies in what might be called the ‘upper professions’ and the ‘profitable business sector’, the sort-of £50k to £150k income range. The Scotland Bill, for the first time, allows us to ask that group to make a modest contribution to invest in public services. We’re proposing a tax rise of about two or three pence in the pound on incomes over £50k. It would raise probably around £400m.

I would strongly argue that we should not be sniffy about the income tax powers. They may be designed as a trap, you might not agree with tax rises, but they are real powers and we should take that seriously. The assignment of VAT however is worse than meaningless. I’ve spoken to economists the newspapers would describe as ‘respected’ and ‘mainstream’ who think the proposal is madness. And otherwise that’s pretty well it for tax.

The next area you’re going to be told we have real powers over is welfare. Here I disagree, and pretty strongly. Broadly, Scotland is being given the power to spend but none of the power over policy. For me this is a bit like being put in a corridor with a mad man pulling pins out of grenades and being told you have the ‘power’ to run around after him to catch the grenades and try and put the pins back in. Or perhaps its more like having the ‘power’ to replace all the dishes your children as smashing but not being allowed to tell them to stop it.

It is kind-of power, but it’s power without control. And the consequences are already being felt. We already have a Labour Party (which very clearly doesn’t think it’s getting anywhere near office any time soon) throwing out uncosted policies on restoring cuts in tax credits without even giving the appearance of having thought it through. If you’ve spent all the money you don’t have helping those on tax credits, what about everyone else? Labour seems to me to have almost explicitly said ‘if you’re unemployed, disabled, a carer or on any other form of benefit you’re on your own because we’ve blown all the money we have trying to make the SNP feel uncomfortable’. There is simply not a hope in hell of finding the money to replace all the benefits Osborne is cutting from within the Scottish budget or with what can be raised from income tax rises alone. So someone is going to suffer, and potentially suffer very seriously. It may be clever-clever politics for Labour to pick one of those groups and say ‘we’ll give them the money because it’ll force the SNP to say they’ll do the same’. A sensible, well-rounded policy on the impacts of the UK Government’s war on the poor it most certainly is not.

At Common Weal we tried hard to take a more serious approach, and it was by far the thing that caused the most disagreement and debate in producing the Book of Ideas. We roughly modeled what the £400m we were proposing could be raised by income tax could do on benefit top-ups. You know, £12 for the unemployed, £20 for the disabled and so on. We did this because we fundamentally believe in universality, the philosophy which says people facing poverty should not be means-tested (just to add to their humiliation). But at every turn this approach fell down. For one, as soon as this money is committed, it could never be adjusted. No matter what other dire social consequence Tory rule had on Scotland in the future, we would never be able to redirect that money without the Scottish Parliament taking on the role of ‘cutting benefits’. We have only a fraction of the tax powers Osborne has but we have to absorb 100 per cent of the consequences? The numbers just don’t add up.

But to understand why top-ups are such an unhelpful policy, think about what happens to those who are sanctioned by the Osborne regime and have all their benefits removed (top-up and all). What is to happen to them? All the money would have been spent on top-ups and those sanctioned would be on their own with nothing. That is the inevitable consequence of having the power to pick up the bill but not having the power to change the policy. Benefit top-ups enable you to posture – but it may well come at the price of the ability actually to care for those in most need.

In the end (and against our universalist instincts), we concluded that instead of using top-ups the only option was to create a ‘Scottish Social Security Fund’ that would be flexible enough to really support those in need (be it as a result of cuts in tax credits, Jobseekers Allowance, disability benefits, housing benefits, carers allowance or whatever new terror Osborne decides to inflict) – and be honest enough to admit that it can only mitigate the worst of what is coming.

We actively want to have higher benefits but after months of scratching our heads we can’t work out a way to use the new powers effectively. For me that strikes at the heart of the difference between having ‘powers’ and having ‘power’. Another great example is the changes in regulations over renewables in the Bill – which is almost explicitly the power to make some slight regulatory changes to the development of an industry that Osborne has just killed off through the catastrophic (for Scotland) cut in subsidy support for renewable energy. And as for the rest of the powers, some tidying up, some one-use powers (an aggregate levy here, a transport police transfer there) and some tinkering with legislative process. And that’s about your lot.

(I add one caveat here which is that there may be some creative things which can be done with the new powers over the Crown Estate but we have not yet had time to look at this properly.)

Power is about the ability to affect change. It is not just the ability to ‘do things’. We approached the powers in the Scotland Bill with a genuinely open mind and tried hard to think what we could do with them. Apart from tax, we just couldn’t find anything substantial enough to include.

Government is not about pushing buttons. Government – good government – is about integrated programmes of action. It is about recognising that you live in one of the most unequal countries in the world and that this can only be tackled with industrial democracy policy, macroeconomic policy, monetary policy, employment regulation. It is about realising that we’ve managed the economy in such a way that it has replaced good jobs with bad ones, replaced productive industries with speculative ones. It’s about not being the last person in the room to realise another financial crisis is round the corner and to tackle banking and the national balance of trade. But these are all things that remain well out of Scotland’s reach, powers (and they’re powers with real power) all carefully clutched to Osborne’s chest. It’s not that Scotland can’t do anything about these problems, it’s just that almost everything we can do is already contained within the powers we have. This Bill adds very little.

But then, we’re supposed to be leaving the indyref behind, along with that brief, wonderful moment when Scotland was allowed to think big thoughts and face head-on the big issues facing our economy and our society. The newspapers want you to believe that it’s back to Jack McConnell-era ‘slightly better management of public services’ and with the Scotland Bill unionists seem to believe that we should all be preoccupied debating whether to change the speed limits.

It’s up to the Scottish Government to lift its head up above this morass of mediocrity. The pressure is on to accept that Scotland has become newly powerful. Some in the Scottish Government may be worried that not ‘going with the media crowd’ on this one will look churlish. Don’t be cowed by this. Don’t let Scottish Labour’s half-baked soundbites bounce you into pressing all the new buttons just because they’re there. Step back. Look at all the powers you have (they’re mostly there already). Do something bold and transformational. Push at the limits of the powers you have. The people will quickly realise that this is yet one more false dawn on the road to ‘Home Rule’.

Comments (48)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Alf Baird says:

    Robin, this sounds like a cynical attempt to place the extra tax raising burden arising from UK-austerity/cuts on the shoulders of No voters. Well, they said they had broad shoulders. How about a land/property tax as well?

  2. Kenny says:

    I’ve been thinking…wouldn’t the better idea be to introduce a Land Value Tax first (we could do that tomorrow if we really wanted to) with a fixed proportion going direct to councils and the rest going to Holyrood. If that’s in place already and we’ve got a good fix on what on brings in and got the collection mechanisms working and all that, then when the income tax powers arrive, Scotland could actually CUT income tax slightly at the lower end of the spectrum and balance it out with a slight rise in LVT. LVT is a great tax because it encourages production and penalises speculation, it’s fair, predictable, easy to adminster and almost completely unavoidable (as long as you have a proper register of land ownership.) Lowering income tax slightly in Scotland shouldn’t affect tax credit calculations by HMRC, so the lowest paid would be slightly better off two ways and everyone would be slightly better off generally. Lower income tax would attract jobs to Scotland over England too, thus expanding the tax base and expanding the Scottish Government’s budget. You could maybe do that in combination with a slight increase on the higher bands or even just a gradual lowering of the threshold with the understanding that some of the additional cash would be spent on a Mitigation Fund of the kind Robin describes. Over time, you’d keep increasing the LVT and progressively decreasing income tax. If other tax powers become available, the same model can apply; a cut on corporation tax plus concomitant rise in LVT is a much more efficient and effective tax system which is pro-business AND intrinsically progressive.

    LVT is a great idea anyway to replace the mess of the Council Tax, but if it’s used smartly, it can take the fairly useless powers we have and enable them to be used in much more powerful way.

    1. Wul says:

      Kenny,
      The more I hear about LVT, the more I think it is a very good idea.
      It seems to address the very heart of inequality of opportunity in our society. It also seems to solve a mystery I keep coming back to; “How come our country is so rich in resources and yet it’s people so poor?”

      I do think it would be a hard sell. So many vested interests with so much to loose. The general public are mostly unaware of LVT and the debate around it. I wish this kind of topic was intelligently debated in a rational way on prime-time TV, so that folks could make up their own minds.

  3. Dr Jim says:

    Maybe instead of plunging into the deep end and holding our breath to retrieve something from the bottom that’s useless, and then exhaustingly panting our way back up to the surface again only to find all we retrieved was our own stupidity

    And maybe if we stopped using stupid analogies to state the blooming obvious, the Smith Commission from the start to it’s conclusion was never designed to help Scotland in any way whatsoever

    Westminster does not now nor ever has wanted devolution for Scotland they need our cash and everything that goes with it, England is a country that can’t even feed itself should the need arise
    they will threaten, frighten, even by force of arms will not let Scotland go they can’t afford to allow Scotland to be Independent without using any method they can to keep us

    Even if we secured another referendum and won it do you really think they’d shake hands and exclaim “Well Done” We want Independence but we will not achieve it by playing by Westminster rules, remember they’ve been robbing countries for a very long time and we’re the last and the most embarrassing to lose, how do we think they think they will look to the world they crave respect from when Scotland does a better job of running their country than London can

    Powers? I hope The SNP, my party, reject them out of hand with the mocking disregard they deserve and put it to the country, if there’s one thing Scotland has learned from the referendum
    We don’t like liars, so we tell the people of our country the truth and ask the question “What do you want to do” “Here are the options”

    Leave the lies and the damned deception to the English Parliament, (remember that’s what they’ve told us it is now) and let’s be a little bolder Hmm

    1. Greatbighoo says:

      “Westminster does not now nor ever has wanted devolution for Scotland they need our cash”

      What cash? Scotland is now a net beneficiary of the UK and will be for the foreseeable future. You haven’t got any ‘cash’, except England’s.

      “so we tell the people of our country the truth”

      That Scotland is a net beneficiary of the UK, and if you had your independence tomorrow it would be a disaster for your economy, your public services, and your higher cost to serve country?

      1. Ken McNeil says:

        When will people like you realise that England doesn’t have any money and certainly isn’t giving it to Scotland. Osborne is racking up more debt every day. All he has is a maxed out credit card and a printing press in the back room.

      2. James Dow A voice from the diaspora says:

        A little insight for you. I am part of the Great Scottish Diaspora estimated at approx. 50M first generation and descendants. Scotland’s empire, Scotland need only ask to be deluged by what ever is required to sustain her, for wherever we have settled we have prospered, and never forget our origin or obligation.

      3. Wul says:

        Aye Right!

        The British Establishment, well known for its selfless philanthropic support of poorer countries at its own expense.

        Please wake up.

        1. old battle says:

          “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” From the Gideon bible Mark ch 4 & now the sacred policy of the Tory Party

      4. Dr Jim says:

        England has no economy other than London finance and look where that got us and it will happen again Mark Carney is already warning of that very thing, and who will pay for England’s mismanagement again, us,

        Manufacturing in England is completely and totally dependent on the EU and others, England does not even grow enough food to feed itself Osborne and his Unionist allies the Labour party are interested in the survival of London not England
        The policies adopted by these parties is about cleansing the poor and the ethnic out of London, hence the “Bedroom Tax” and the deep desire to keep out immigrants, (Unless they are Millionaire Non Doms) There are now more Billionaires in London than there are in any entire country in the world, think about that

        Scotland will be Independent and my fervent hope is sooner rather than later, for 32 of the last 34 years we have subsidised the rest of the UK heavily and every penny that has been stolen from our country has been spent on making the rich richer, vanity projects , more unelected officials Lords and Barons than in any other country in the world, all removing our taxes for themselves , costing us Billions, more of them now than the Peoples Republic of China, who have just BTW squashed Britains steel, now if Russia had done the same thing we’d have been shouting “Act of War” now wouldn’t we, but strangely enough it’s all a bit quiet because Gideon and his friends have done a deal for bigger and better and more expensive nuclear stuff we don’t need, don’t want and is old fashioned and will be out of date by the time it’s built

        I could point out that the Chinese are here in Scotland learning how to farm as we’re about the best in the world at it, I could point out that the gaming industry in Scotland is One of the biggest and most innovative in the world with some Scottish companies turning over some 3 Billion dollars in 3 days recently, I could point out, but I think you might be getting the point by now and all I’ll say is, Basket case? Really? Stop listening and start looking at who exactly is the basket case

        Perhaps instead of listening to Unionist rhetoric and spewing it forth as fact, a little research would benefit you greatly in what I have no doubt is your quest for truth and knowledge
        This is not as Unionists seem to think, hatred of the English because that’s just stupid talk invented by the very people who get rich off your back by conning you into believing such tripe

        The ruling elite try to keep us all in the dark about what they are (there aren’t any favourites) they despise us all equally
        But maybe you’ll only believe that when Rupert Murdochs Media empire tells you differently

        1. Mr T says:

          You’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

          “There are now more Billionaires in London than there are in any entire country in the world”. Completely untrue. The UK (in total, not London) has 53. Germany, Russia, USA, India, China & Brazil all have more. Forbes Magazine.

          “some Scottish (computer gaming) companies turning over some 3 Billion dollars in 3 days”. I work for one of the top 10 software companies in the world and we turn over $2bn a year. Rockstar North (Grand Theft Auto) turn over around $50m a year.

          1. Dr Jim says:

            BBC facts, not mine, your beloved channel, not mine, read on

  4. Fiona says:

    Please could you advise me where we stand regarding another referendum after WM not backing the SNP’s amendment. If not a referendum, how could Scotland become independent? I’ve heard talk of UDI, but I’m still confused.

    1. Mr T says:

      UDI is a complete non-starter. Scotland would be walking away from the ability to collect tax and deliver benefits, to name just two functions that are currently delivered by computer systems located in the rUK. All the tax office staff in Cumbernauld & East Kilbride won’t do you any good at all when their screens are blank.

      1. Fiona says:

        So what’s the way forward?

        1. Mr T says:

          I suspect that the ‘what’s the way forward’ question is troubling some minds in the SNP right now.

          They’re the opposition in Westminster and the government in Holyrood, and they are facing (IMHO justified) criticism that they are doing too much opposing and not enough governing. They’ve got a huge new membership base wanting (I’m guessing here) Indyref2 sooner rather than later, but roughly 50% of the population not supporting independence. And all this in an environment where they have to simultaneously make people believe that Scotland is a wealthy country being asset stripped by Westminster – but also that we cannot be truly successful until we are freed from the strippers.

          As a floating (and Indyref No) voter what would make me sit up and take notice is for the SNP to accept that the powers that they have are a compromise, as all governance models are, and to use them to Scotland’s benefit. To fail to engage will make the ‘Can’t Do Government’ tag start to stick.

        2. Anton says:

          The way forward is to convince the people of Scotland that independence is worth having. And that has to be done by argument and by evidence.

      2. Dr Jim says:

        Will that be the no detriment clause or the punishment clause

  5. Wul says:

    “…after months of scratching our heads we can’t work out a way to use the new powers effectively.”

    No sh*t. That’ll teach us uppity Jocks.

  6. Greatbighoo says:

    “I continue to believe that the next referendum will be in 2021 so that leaves us five years.”

    You believe(d) that at independent Scotland could / should use threats against EU members to gain automatic entry into the EU, so no-one with an ounce of sense cares what you believe, Socialist.

    “We’re proposing a tax rise of about two or three pence in the pound on incomes over £50k.”

    Weasel words. When it comes to it, taxes are not proposed, they are taken whether the person paying them wants to or not – i.e. by force. Just the two or three pence in the pound on incomes over £50k?

    So, for example, you’d be taxing most fully qualified Doctors, some of the most hard working people out there, the brightest and the best, people who’ve made huge sacrifices through their whole lives to achieve their skills and use them to look after people?

    What happened to the Nordic Model, where everyone pays more through direct and indirect taxes? It will never happen in Scotland, because Scottish people are not prepared to make the sacrifices and are too lazy to do the heavy lifting.

    Why don’t you pay those taxes yourself? Of course not, because you are safe in the knowledge that you will never pay them – someone else must and will pay them for you.

    No, it’s the usual ‘tax the rich’ nonsense from another indolent Socialist. A model that no modern state has successfully employed to raise the quality of life of its citizens.

    “an industry that Osborne has just killed off through the catastrophic (for Scotland) cut in subsidy support for renewable energy”.

    Salmond and the Separatists hurled abuse at your nearest neighbour and most important market (England), and this is the result. The SNP and the people who voted for them have brought this on themselves. Why should England continue to subsidise this for you in the face of such abuse?

    You abused England, so you lose the money. Things could have carried on to the point that renewables were economic and it was possible and appropriate to put the infrastructure in place to bring it to market. We could have been a team.

    Now you can beat it, and come back when you’ve got something to sell.

    “The pressure is on to accept that Scotland has become newly powerful. ”

    On and on with this garbage. It’s not all about you, and you are really not that important.

    But you carry on with the Socialism, a drab, grey and discredited system that no modern successful state employs, because the 20th century shows us it consistently failed to provide the quality of life and standard of living provided by state regulated capitalism.

    You and that other clown, Kane.

    1. Kenny Smith says:

      This is a question I have asked many times but still have not had a proper answer so I’ll ask your good self. Why if Scotland is such a drain why did the unionists fight so hard and dirty to get us to remain in this stinking union? You follow the main unionist line of the beggar nation, that’s why I turned from no to yes. I could not hear my country and my people being run down and disrespected any longer. I don’t hate English people but I have a serious gripe with Westminster’s vision of union. I’m no anti capitalist, I want business to succeed and for people to have good paid employment. I take particular offense to your lazy comment, Scotland has long been an innovator in Engineering and science, punching well above our weight on many different plains of excellence. Thatcher put proud working men and women on the dole. The socialism you speak of is in the past but there has to be things that are kept in public hands for public benefit, everything the Tories will sell off and force society back 200 years that is not a society I wish to be part of. You go on about the SNP,s abuse of England, you really are having a laugh. The McCrone report and moving of sea boundaries tells us exactly the mindset of Westminster. I wanted another referendum but not now reject this piece of shit bill and push for UDI. That is coming from someone who was not anti British and wanted a proper federal UK but the actions of the Tories red or blue will do more harm than the SNP. Again even if FFA is so bad then surely its in Osbourne’s interest to see us fail why not grant it if a certainty, they have no real advantage to loose. The difference is some are happy to be beggars, that is exactly what Indy supporters are not and the thing is even with a fair, good willed compromise its went too far. The Union is on life support. I don’t even care if it takes us 15,20 or more years to find our feet because the time to leave is now

    2. rabthecab says:

      Typical Unionist rubbish; pile on the insults & invective with not a single word to prove that anything you say approaches even a semblance of reality.

      I will repeat the same question that’s just been asked: if Scotland is such an economic basket-case & a drag on the UK economy, why the desperation to keep her in the Union?

    3. J Galt says:

      I too look around and see a degraded people that really do need a rocket up their arse, but the difference is that I want Independence to perhaps be that rocket – all you seem to want is for this population of beggars (as you would put it) to continue to be maintained by the ever indulgent English State.

      And as rabthecab says you don’t answer the question – if we’re so utterly valueless why are they fighting tooth and nail to bloody well keep us? Is it because they just like to have some pet beggars?

  7. Muscleguy says:

    I think ScotGov should decline to accept/endorse the bill. Send it back to Westminster with the firm message that it is a pig in a poke and until it offers us something serious and useful then no thanks.

    I’m not sure the SNP has the balls to do it, but I’m willing to be proved wrong. Swinney has made noises in that direction and he’s the guy who has to deal with the trap.

    Send it back: not needed at this address Nicola. Only 9% of Scots think the Vow has been delivered so you will be on firm ground in rejecting it on that basis. I might even consider voting for your party in May (unlikely at the moment, not radical enough). So, here is one/two votes that you might get if you make the proper decision.

    1. Common Sense says:

      While their at it, why don’t they call another referendum? Since the “vow” obviously hasn’t been delivered, surely they have every right to reject the Smith Commission, and say the whole thing is a con and call for independence now through a new referendum… Oh wait a minute that is right, because they would lose.

    2. vagabondo says:

      I agree that as it stands (there’s still a bit to go before Royal Assent, and Enactment) the Scotland Bill deserves to be sent back for Westminster to think again. However the rejection notice will require some skilled wordsmithing to ensure that is clear,concise and eloquent. It must be unambiguous,and incapable of reinterpretation by legal charlatans, yet have a turn of phrase that will catch the public’s attention and understanding.

  8. arthur thomson says:

    In principle I am with you Robin. In particular, I am glad that you have come out with a pragmatic point of view that doesn’t put unrealistic expectations on the Scottish government. I am confident that the SG will come out with some innovative ideas of their own.

    With regard to the comments from Kenny, I don’t have the knowledge to take a view on the advantages of LVT but he presents them in a positive and constructive way. I would be interested in the Common Weal perspective on Kenny’s view.

    With regard to the comments from Dr Jim, I absolutely respect these but I am not convinced that we should make such a move at this point in time. A great deal has been achieved since the first SNP Government at Holyrood. I believe the referendum brought up the heads of many Scots who, prior to that, had been afraid to ever contemplate a different future. I believe that confidence has risen considerably, that this was reflected in the GE votes and further reinforced by watching the Labour party evaporate as a result. I believe the independence movement now has a majority in Scotland and I feel no anxiety whatsoever that we might lose that majority. The devolution fiasco is a severe test for the Scottish Government but I have every confidence that they will pass that test. In doing so they will prove themselves to be an infinitely better alternative to the predatory regime at Westminster, will further gain the confidence of and instill confidence in the Scottish people and move us inexorably towards independence.

    I hope this post by Robin and Kenny’s comments are just the beginning of a screed of determined, positive and constructive responses to the despicable events at Westminster last night.

    But if the SNP was to decide to follow the path proposed by Dr Jim they would have my 100 percent support.

    1. Kenny says:

      Thanks very much! 🙂

    2. Dr Jim says:

      Many thanks

  9. Craig P says:

    I thought that under the new income tax proposals, all bands were locked, do raising one band would cause the rest to raise? This would.male it impossible to raise high end tax Without everyone paying fot it.

  10. Duncan says:

    Do you not think that if we ever get to the point where Scotland compensates people for losing out in the tax credits fiasco, that HMRC or some other state organ will claw that money straight back to London? I think they will, there is nothing to stop them. if they are capable of withdrawing benefits from teminally ill people and judge them fit for work then they are capable of anything.

    As to comments above reagrding abuse of England by Alex Salmond and the SNP. If you are going to make juvenile statements at least have the bottle to show us that abuse.

    Plenty of abuse flows towards Scotland from the HOC the Lords and the Media, the evidence is there I can if you wish link to it. Scottish Questions in the HOC is nothing but one massive sneerathone. The deliberate conversations being held as these questions are delivered is just racist bigotry. As is the baying and guffawing.

  11. Alan Findlay says:

    We are fast reaching the point where we will not be able to provide for our population within the market economy. Whisky, store cattle, seed tatties ,sea food and Dundee games are more or less our staples in which we seem to enjoy a current advantage.

    We are certainly not capable of employing meaningful numbers of our population much longer (The chair you are sitting on, and the carpet it is sitting on, is most likely made in China). Even the financial system is heading headlong for disaster( Check out the Keiser Report) [Guardian Report 7/11/15 – 30% of current jobs will be lost by 2040]

    Our only rational option is to provide directly for our people, who need shelter, food, clothing medical provision, fresh air and water. – simple – we have lots of resources and intelligent people – lets get started.

    1. Kenny says:

      You make some very valid points. We have the answers to those issues though: permaculture. We can grow more, better food, restore our landscapes, improve our environments and build healthier, happier communities with better, more stable work and the ability for EVERYONE to make the best of themselves. We just need the commitment of enough of the right people to start the ball rolling.

  12. Charles says:

    Am I missing something here? the Scottish Government can not cherry pick the Scotland Bill, it either accepts it when it is put to the Holyrood chamber, or it rejects it.
    In all good faith, the bill is toxic, and the SNP simply cannot allow it to see the light of day in our Parliament.
    The SNP would not want to go down in history as the party that buckled under unionist media pressure, and allowed a financial wrecking ball loose on the country.

  13. Robin Stevenson says:

    By rejecting the latest Scotland bill, our Scottish Government will send out the message loud and clear, that not only does the Smith not live up to all it was supposed to be, but that the Scottish Government have been shown to be strong and forward thinking enough to have taken a firm stance and chosen not to accept this poisoned chalice to the detriment of its people.

  14. Dan Huil says:

    As it stands the Bill should be rejected by the SG. Westminster has treated us like sh-t for decades; it’s time we stood up and told Westminster where to go.

  15. C Rober says:

    With the legal powers available within Hollyrood the SNP could easilly enact civil disobedience , i cite one example alone , the tv licence.

    Make it illegal to pursue debt for non payment of it and for access to property without a warrant , once the word is out then no more tv tax for being Scottish. Would the BBCS then decide it wants autonomy , you bloody bet. They did it with polltax debts.

    While the airwaves themselves remains Westminster controlled , and the head of BBCS selected without democratic procedure also in/by Wesminster , then all that is left is the “protected” Scottish legal system…… and any attack on that would be akin to declaring the Act of Union itself null and void.

    The same can be said for the “vow” , in that Westminster cherry picked and watered down the recommendations , so its back to the drawing board , where Hollyrood too cherry picks , and with only one elected Slab MP in Scotland and one Tory then surely the SNP would be the ones calling the shots ?

    But as I have said for a while now the SNP are happy to play along and add another string to their bow of blame someone else hairs , increasing the number of SNP politicians , whom if they do their job will end up unemployed…. does no one see the fault there?

    An Indy win equals a lot of SNP MP’s on the dole , no pension , no tax perks , no 2nd home flipping and so on , gamekeeper turned poacher?

    They would have to return to being teachers , lawyers and accountants , once more unable to fill their pockets from dodgy land and property deals , or I suspect just jump ship back to the HMS Closet Tory and move to England to keep a career in politics.

    1. Dan Huil says:

      I agree with your idea about the unionist TV licence. In the next two or three years the Scottish government must govern Scotland as if Scotland was already independent. If that means breaking the law according to Westminster, so be it.

      1. C Rober says:

        But it wont be breaking the law according to Westmonster.

        Scotland has it legal system protected since 1706 , and supposedly continued since by Westminster , but non payment of the licence fee is still a crime on the books , one set by Westminster – which has no power over Scottish Courts…..allegedly , legal pun intended.

        Therefore it could/should be argued is not actually illegal to not pay it in Scotland without assent from Hollyrood itself – whom set Scottish law. How big a coup would it be to redress this for the SNP? All it takes is putting the law on the books , then judges cannot act on its non payment at all , no crime no fine.

        The unelected charitable public funded body that is the BBC want to keep non payment a crime , despite growing calls from Westminster MP’s to decriminalize its non payment…..but not a peep from the SNP at either Westminster or Hollyrood , I wonder why?

        But as we know first hand the SNP wont use its law making powers proactively and prefer instead to appear to be martyrs. It is purely a means to keeping their lawyer friends in employment and the electorate embittered , it just keeps them all in jobs at the personal expense of the electorate.

        I.E lets say a single Scottish non payer of the licence fee is tried in an English/Scottish court for a “crime” set by Westminster , but geographically committed in Scotland , and after the deeming of the licence fee illegal at Hollyrood as unjust enrichment or indeed an illegal tax.

        To put it bluntly , this one act is for Westminster to repeal the protection of Scottish laws and courts , and is to repeal the contract of Union itself.

        IF the BBC in Scotland has protection from Scots law , is liable to Scots law , then its sole income , that of the Licence fee is too subject to Scots law , not UK law.

        Another legal argument is that without an ability to “lock” out those channels that require a licence fee , and remain watching the likes of ITV and so on , then there is no choice in not legally avoiding said licence , thus is not a licence per se , therefor a tax. Thus it can be argued that if you cannot avoid breaking the law you cannot be charged thus convicted , as seen with the judgement on whether to charge the bin lorry guy.

        If as it stands the Licence fee is thus an illegal tax on being Scottish , if all but a population percentage , circa 9 percent is not returned to BBCS. As long as it doesn’t , and hasnt been since its inception , then its legally an unfair tax on being Scottish – and one that the politicians of the SNP are happy to turn a blind eye to , why?

        There is also some interesting reading , Hollyrood has already proven it has powers over the Tv licence non payment in Scottish courts , so they cannot say they dont , which Westminster is VERY happy with.

        so the legal precedent is set , but alas it was set by Hollyrood to reduce court time/costs itself , not redress the legality and keeps the money flowing south. See http://schooloflaw.academicblogs.co.uk/2015/05/12/tv-licenses-and-decriminalisation-has-anyone-noticed-what-happens-in-scotland/

        Heres another valuable related point , the radio waves themselves , which is not a devolved power , has Scotland received its share of the sell off of the UK radio spectrum , circa 9 percent , no! Something else that Hollyrood hasnt asked for from Westminster.Its Money in the bank.

        Should anyone like to do a freedom of information request on the numbers to confirm what went into Westminster coffers from the spectrum sell off feel free.

        I reckon its about 40 billion since 1990 , 2g 3g 4g and soon 5g , so lets say 3.5 billion owed to Hollyrood , plus interest.

        More than enough to start up a socialised NFP telecom/tv structure in Scotland , and in the process remove the radio spectrum for TV altogether through using IPTV and FTTH.

        SNP , I call you out , put our money where your mouth is!

  16. kat hamilton says:

    agree with dan. time for the kid gloves to come off. the scotland bill should be totally rejected. nicola needs airtime via broadcasts, billboarding, leaflets, activists etc explaining why its a non starter and not in scotias interest to accept its terms. nicola has the popularity, the sg has steady approval ratings, the unionist vote in freefall, whats not to like…a bully needs a firm hand, time to apply it…

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “the sg has steady approval ratings, the unionist vote in freefall”

      Yet real control (i.e. public budget spending, assets, policy implementation, top level recruitment etc) still remains within ‘institutional Scotland’, which is heavily unionist and Tory. The Scottish Government has gone easy on this group thus far, with its rather weak reforms (e.g. quangos, land, universities, ‘businesses’ masquerading as charities etc.). However, given current and rising support for the SNP, there is nothing now to stop the governing party from being far more robust and targeted in its reforms within ‘unionist’ Scotland.

  17. Catherine short says:

    Just throwing this into the pot, yes this is a poisoned chalice but surely if we can organise our own currency as in Bitcoin we should be organising our tax and spending laws and procedures concurrently so that we already have a working alternative in place by the time of the next referendum.

  18. Gralloched says:

    Very perceptive. We could see this coming. This reptilian stitch-up was predicted. I recall klein’s ” the shock doctrine ” and her account of s/Africa’s ANC being so entranced with assuming the levers of “governance” that they ignored what was happening in ” the other room “, where the levers of the money were being arranged.
    Cue a resource rich nation still forced into squalor while the ” money” carries on as before.
    Well worth a read. ” the shock doctrine ” explains much !
    You’ve probably all read it already. Just saying.

  19. Onwards says:

    When the only significant tool is raising income tax, we know the bill is flawed.

    Yes, we might raise an extra £400m the first year, but over time our economy will suffer as investment flows to the rest of Britain.

    Consider a US company looking to invest in Scotland or Newcastle. Higher taxes for the owners or directors may well sway the decision, as well as the prospects of attracting skilled employees. They may have to pay higher wages here to compensate for higher personal taxes.

    Consider a graduate at Dundee looking to start a games company. He could stay in Scotland and build a company here, or return to Manchester or wherever and pay less tax.
    Many new businesses are tech / internet based, where location may not be so important.

    There will be a loyalty to Scotland in many cases, but often there will not be. All the marginal cases where we lose business will build up over time.
    The result is a gradual relative decline, with revenues going south of the border.

    The problem is that we do not have a specific public mandate for the powers that most people expected. The Tories wanted to avoid a question on Devo-Max in the referendum, and this made sense as we needed a decision on that one issue.

    Now we need a clear mandate as to what the people of Scotland expect, and to me, that is what the SNP should be campaigning on next year. (without giving up the longer term aim of independence)

    Sure we can use the limited powers we have, but they are only a short term fix. We need substantially more economic powers to grow the economy in the first place.

    1. C Rober says:

      While I am not in any way a sheep for the SNP they did ask for protection and creation of lower taxes in Dundee to at least save one software maker , which was rejected by Westminster , yet not long after the Tories starting talking about the same Business rates and tax incentives the SNP asked for in other areas …. ie England.

      Dundee with such history in Gaming software as Grand theft Auto , with sales in the billions dollars wise , and of course lemmings…. ironically what 55 percent of Scotland was last year.

  20. fermerfaefife says:

    They should reject the Scotland bill as the useless fiscal trap it is and stand on sp16 elections on a devomax renegotiation ticket. If cameron doesn’t come up with the federalism devomax powers promised at indy ref with a very beefed up scotland bill within say a year (which they wont ) then that’s the trigger for indyref2. The people of Scotland then know it’s take the current useless powers or independence choice. A very binary choice. I hope the snp are smart enough to set their own trap using mundells smug declarations and the wm attitude against them and let THE PEOPLE decide if the vow is delivered and wether we think powers go far enough. It is crunch time and we would win.

    1. Fiona says:

      Agree wholeheartedly. Taking these miserly offerings won’t benefit us to any great extent. What would be far stronger is making the electorate aware of this. The fact that SNP would be taking a firm stance sends a powerful message to both voters and WM.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.