what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hanging Together???

Two things you wouldn’t pick up from media coverage of the Scottish referendum are that –
·         60% of UK public spending in Scotland is handled by the Scottish Government – devolved since 1999
·         A significantly additional amount is slated to be given to the Scottish Government – under powers granted in a Bill approved in 2012 which will, however, only be implemented if Scotland votes “No” in the referendum.

I had cleared today to look more deeply (as an ex-pat Scot) at the issues involved in the historical vote which will ‘take place in September. It must be one of the world’s most transparent and sustained dialogues – it’s been going on for 2 years since 2014 was first announced as the date. Slovakians were offered nothing similar 22 years ago and the recent Crimean vote was simply a farce.  

A new blog (for me) Notes from North Britain gave me a useful quotation -
The choice before us in September is not “independence versus the status quo”; “change versus no change”. A No vote is guaranteed to mean that devolution will change and develop. How do I know this? I know it because it’s already been legislated for, in the Scotland Act 2012. This Act, described at the time of its enactment by the then Secretary of State for Scotland as the largest transfer of fiscal powers within the United Kingdom in its history, will bring to Holyrood a substantial degree of fiscal devolution. These new powers — as long as Scotland votes No to independence — will come fully into force in 2015 and 2016. Now, this is not “jam tomorrow”, as Nationalists sometimes claim: it has already been legislated for. So the choice we face on 18 September is one between bringing devolution to an end (for there will be no devolution if Scotland becomes independent) and developing devolution further.
And I was then led to what are clearly 2 key texts – the first a statement from the Chairman of the Yes Campaign which bears the rather Boon and Mills’ title - We Belong Together. The second is a more academic approach which also sports a rather curious title “Hanging Together” . You will find the voluminous official Scottish Government White Paper arguing the case for independence in a previous blogpost.

My attention span, however, for such analyses is not what it once was - and I was quickly sidetracked by a visit to the second-hand Elephant English bookshop a few minutes away. In particular by a couple of books from the 1990s and 2000s about the Naples Bay area; and by Paul Theroux’s Ghost Train to the Eastern Star (2008) which has him revisit a heroic 5,000 km train journey he undertook in the 1970s......

So the various papers which the British Government have been publishing in the last year to help inform Scottish voters about the issues involved will have to wait until I return from my diversions. Those impatient to get on with things could have a look at this.

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