Category Archives: Constitutional Reform

Times up for Smith Submissions

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Cherish the knowledge that your voice grows in stature as you find the courage to use it.

So 5pm passed and submission will no longer be received by the Smith commission.

I spent a few hours today in Edinburgh Morison Street talking to people on the street and in shops asking them if they had considered submitting something to the commission. Some did some did not .

Evans Cycles disappointed me as the staff member I spoke didn’t want other staff member to be distracted by Politics. Hmm :

join the dots up Evans Cycles cycling is a political act.

Maybe I’ll go in with a Sustrans letter petitioning for more cycle infrastructure and see if he minds his fellow workers engaging in politics.

However other than that most shop staff all allowed the conversation to run its course.

I collected about 6 letters from shops and met with 2 other friends and headed to 144 Morison Street to hand in our contributions. After a brief photo opportunity we handed over our gathered submissions.

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Lord smith himself walked by looking very serious, he was followed by small entourage. One member of the entourage assumed that we might be up to no good. Once assured we were just playing an active role in the commissions process he went back to his entourage’ing.

I now wait to hear how many public submissions were actually received.

I’m going to make a prediction that it was over 20,000

(Update the commission received 14,000 submissions)

About 150,000 people have responded to the European Commission’s online consultation on the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

To put that in context. That about 0.2% of the EU citizens that submitted their views. If we get over 20,000 that represents about 0.4% of the Scottish population participated in the process. Its hard to qualify how to feel about that number. Maybe we will see a significantly higher number?
I hope so.

Maintaining the public engagement in our country’s future is everyone’s choice. I hope we as a country continue to use our voices with positive and courageous spirit. Our future is our responsibility. Cherish the knowledge that your voice grows in stature as you find the courage to use it. Or neglect that responsibility and condemn our future to the whims of the elite.

Smith commission Human Resourse

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Today I followed up my letter to the Smith commission with some questions about their human resources to read public submissions.

Please email as well if you are inquisitive as to how this process is being conducted.

Here is my enquiry:

Hello

I writing to enquire about the Smith Commission staffing capacity.

With over 11 thousand emails and the additional snail mail letters it will presumably require considerable resources to ensure these submissions are all read and considered by your commission.

How many people are assigned to read submissions from the general public?

Assuming there are people tasked with this job.

Are divisions assigned to distinguish business submissions and general public?

How is  this process being administered to ensure those in the Commission are informed of the public submissions?

Regards

Gavin Taylor

  

Scottish Party Commissions Reports

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Having ascertained what proposal are in main political party submissions(the Command paper, the Scottish Labour, Scottish Lib-dem, Scot Con, SNP and Scot Green) some conclusions are clear.

The command paper represents the Westminster view of the current situation and the possible issues regarding change.

Where It contains proposals these are Westminster vetted extracts from proposals in the Scottish Labour, Scottish Lib-dem, Scot Con commissioned reports.

These commissioned reports are also submitted in full to the Smith commission.

What these commissioned reports all share is they read more like partisan political manifestos than recommendations for the Smith Commission.

Yes they all include proposals relevant to the Smith Commission but they were by no means written for that task.

A glance at the members of the various commission members gives you an idea of the wider influence on the report. Below is a table detailing the professions that populated the party commissions.

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Committee Professions

The Conservative approach has been to offer:
1 actual firm unequivocal statement for devolved Air Passenger Duty to the Scottish parliament.
2 clear proposals for Power to local authorities and councils, or Constitutional Federal agreements on Decentralisation in Scotland and Parliamentary Assemblies.

They offer less firm statements on devolving Housing Benefit Attendance allowance and income tax. These less firm commitments all have significant caveats and exception.

It can be seen that the conservative commission was populated by more Establishment perspectives and less political and local representatives.

It represents a less controversial report for the Westminster Conservative party. Had there been a chance the Scots Conservatives would rock the boat the commission would surely have had at least 1 serving MP or Party Official.

The Scot Con:
Commission on the Future Governance of Scotland (Strathclyde Report)(May 30, 2014)

Members of the Commission
Rt Hon Lord Strathclyde (Chair)
Tom Allison (Chairman of Peel Ports and director of Celtic FC)
Alex Fergusson MSP
Baroness Goldie MSP
Roy Martin QC
Nosheena Mobarik (Former Chair of CBI Scotland)
Independent Advisors:
Prof Adam Tomkins. Uni of Glasgow
Prof John Millar.  Uni of Glasgow
Prof Alan Trench Uni of Edinburgh  

———–

The Scottish Labour commission on the other hand was populated entirely by politicians with a significant presence from the Westminster Labour party.

The Scottish Labour commission offer 6 actual firm unequivocal statement for devolved power to the Scottish Parliament:

Entrenchment of the Scottish parliament, Rail Transport, Equality Regulation, Housing Benefit,  Attendance allowance, Employment Tribunals. 

10 Committed proposals for Power to local authorities and councils, or Constitutional Federal agreements: Decentralisation in Scotland, Parliamentary Assemblies, Land Reform, Betting, Payday Loans, Health & Safety, Consumer advice & Advocacy, Employment & Employability.

They offer the weakest proposal on devolving and income tax and some limited proposals on borrowing.

However overall there submission still in my opinion, contained more actual proposals committing to devolved power to the Scottish parliament & proposals for power to local authorities and councils, or Constitutional Federal agreements than Conservative or Liberal Democrat commissions. 

The Scottish labour party may well only constitute a regional branch of the Westminster Party but it has put more on the table than their unionist counterparts.

The Scot Labour:
Scottish Labour’s Devolution Commission (March 2014)

Members of the Commission:
Sarah Boyack MSP
Jackson Cullinane (Regional Political Officer and Regional Coordinating Officer, Unite and Chair, Scottish Labour ) 
Margaret Curran MP
Victoria Jamieson (Former Chair, Scottish Labour) 
Johann Lamont MSP
Gregg McClymont MP
Duncan McNeil MSP
Anas Sarwar MP
Catherine Stihler MEP
Councillor Willie Young (Aberdeen City)

———–

The Scottish Lib-Dem commission was populated by 2 Politicians, (but notably no MSPs) 2 Westminster party representatives. And a mix of Business, Legal and Education representatives. 

Their commission offer 4 unequivocal statement for devolved power to the Scottish Parliament:                                                 Entrenchment of the Scottish parliament, Inheritance tax, Capital gains tax, and air passenger duty.

7 clear firm proposals for Power to local authorities and councils, or Constitutional Federal agreements: Decentralisation in Scotland, Parliamentary Assemblies, shared responsibilities, land reform, funding indirectly and directly from Westminster, and business rates.

Their income tax proposal was the strongest of the three commissions, but still short of fully devolved income tax. they also offer some devolved power on aggregates levy.

Their report is probably the most federally progressive in terms of framework but did not make any commitments federal or otherwise about proposal for welfare devolution.

Scot Lib-dem:  Home Rule and Community Rule Commission (October 2012)

Members of the Commission:
Sir Menzies Campbell MP (chair)
Councillor Robert Brown South Lanarkshire Council.
John Barnett : City of London, He currently has responsibility for the Scottish business of a leading UK social finance institution. 
Fred Mackintosh is an advocate with a practice in the High Court of Judiciary Appeal Court. 
Audrey Findlay . Member of the Executive Committee.
John Edward is the former head of the European Parliament’s office in Scotland and currently works in Scottish education. 
Hugh Andrew is founder and managing director of Birlinn Ltd, one of Scotland’s largest publishers.
Shabnum Mustapha was a member of the Commission until her appointment as a special adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister in September 2012.

BBC view: Scotland is a subsidised nation

It is now understood in Scotland that we put more in to the Union treasury than we receive back in our block grant.

However over my lifetime it has been maintained in the popular press, media and Westminster that Scotland is subsidised by the UK treasury.

Wilful ignorance and intellectual conceit as always play a significant roll in maintaining such a magnificent deceit on a population.

As Only 1 in 10 MPs can understand how money is made and consequentially how our economy functions, it comes as no surprise that Parliament have little interest in the actual truth of the mater regarding the Scottish fiscal relationship in the Union.

They instead amplify rhetoric regurgitating statistical per capita spending differentials through out the UK as seen by Crispin Blunt the house of commons on 14/10/14.

To date I have seen no legitimate arguments made to counter the proposition that Scotland is in fact a net contributor to the UK treasury.

Yet after the referendum the same old talking points that perpetuate the Subsidy myth are regurgitated in the same manner as before the referendum.

The BBCs economics editor today Robert Preston chooses to frame the economics of the UK union purely in terms of equivalent public spending figures and talks of “how far this would bringing an end to the subsidy of Scotland”

So what is used to maintain this myth.?
Well as I have pointed to so far it is the use of

per capita public spending

If this is all news to you and you believed Scotland is still a net drain on the UK treasury I would suggest you widen your reading materials.
We now live in a Scotland that requires you to educate yourself.

I would start with a presentation by Ivan McKee.

Key points. GERS (2011-12) (billions)

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Scotland is running a deficit. But the UK runs a significantly higher deficit.

Per capita income.
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So we have higher income and higher expenditure.
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So yes we do receive a higher per capita spending
Scotland’s per capita spending is £1,215 higher than the UK.

But

Scotland’s per capita income tax raises £1,687 . so more than the UK average.

So our Scottish per capita contribution / subsidy to UK treasury was for GERS 2011-2012 was this.

Per capita we in Scotland contributed to the Westminster Treasury
£1687

Per Capita we spent
£1212

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Scotland subsidised the UK that year by £472 per capita.

So when it is proposed that Scotland spends more on public services it is true.

But it is never mentioned that we raise more in taxes than we receive for public spending.

Because MPs and the Media focus on predominantly English issues they are served by constantly pointing out that Scotland receives more public spending than England. They do not care at all that we pay nearly £1,700 more tax per capita to the Westminster exchequer than England do.

GDP. GERS 2011-2012
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We create %18 more GDP per person in Scotland that the UK average.

Even without the oil and gas money we would only be 1% short of the UK average.

But it is how our Debt and Deficit compare with our GDP that is used to
Qualify our relative position as an economy.
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Average Debt / GDP ratio for industrialized country’s is -6.5%

So a wee % summary of Scotland’s economic contribution to the UK
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So Scotland has 8.4% of the UK population but generates 9.9% of UK revenue. In return Scotland gets 9.3% of public UK public spending.

If we received back our 9.9% income as 9.9% expenditure that would be an extra 4.4 billion to spend on Scotland.

For the last 30 years this characteristic has been true. Scotland has put more in to the union than it has received.

Professor of Economics, Andrew Hughes Hallett Estimated the since 1980 Scotland has contributed £150 billion more to the UK treasury than it receives back.

Further responses to Robert Preston on Bellacalidonia

And an interview with Prof Andrew Hughes Hallet

westminster Sctoland Comand Paper

Today I decided that the command paper released by the Westminster Government was in need of a strip-down as it was full of useful but interruptive text that bloated the document out so as to make it difficult to quickly ascertain the party proposals therein.

Google doc with a simple table of contents and the party proposals. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KBvqR3S_7n9sNA_gXOO06ZN8Osry0aEz76i5nDdYmEw/edit?usp=sharing

Or download the original
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proposals-for-further-devolution-of-powers-to-scottish-parliament