Smith Commission submissions

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Today I decided to share letter I submitted to the Smith commission.

I would encouraged you to do the same.

Even if the commission fails to deliver Significant new power proposals the number of public submission is a barometer of public engagement. A high submission number is of significant value. A low submission number sends a message of resignation to the establishment block.

Here is a link for online submissions

38 Degrees have a good application site where you can compile a letter from suggested text.

Indy Quines letter Template looks great to.

Email: haveyoursay@smith-commission.scot

If you would like to use my letter as a template for your submission please do.

LETTER TO THE SMITH COMMISSION

Lord Smith of Kelvin
The Smith Commission
7th Floor One Atria
144 Morrison Street
EDINBURGH
EH3 8EX

Dear Lord Smith

I am writing to ensure my voice is represented in your commission’s deliberations as to what further powers should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Opening Statement

The recent referendum was won by a campaign platform that promised the people of Scotland this: ‘ People want to see change. A No will deliver faster, safer and better change than separation’.

This ‘Vow’ by the Westminster party leaders to deliver ‘extensive new powers’ for Scotland has yet to be given clarity as the same leaders have, as yet, failed to agree what these powers are. The Westminster Scotland Command Paper (13/10/2014) is a testimony to how far from that agreement they are.

It is my understanding your commission is tasked with detailing what powers the Scottish people want, be they devolved powers to the Scottish Parliament or Constitutional and Federal proposals. Your remit is to arrive by the 30th November 2014 at a set of ‘Heads of agreement ‘ that ‘command cross-party support’.

Speaking on behalf of the cross-party No campaign, Gordon Brown said in the days leading up to the referendum that within two years there would be “as close to a federal state” as is possible in the UK, and that we would have “a modern form of Scottish Home Rule”.

It is these statements that won the referendum. And it is on this basis your Commission has a mandate to produce a report representative of these aims.

Guidelines

What are the principles underpinning your proposals?

My principles are founded on a critical evaluation of our current situation regarding Equality, Social Justice, and Environmental Sustainability. I am concerned as to how we may be able to create a future with a high-carrying capacity, a more equitable and relatively high quality of life in the next few hundred years. A few quotes to frame this position.

We’re out of non-radical solutions” – Naomi Klein on tackling climate change.

Limits to Growth “The difference between a sustainable society and a present-day economic recession is like the difference between stopping and automobile purposefully with the brakes versus stopping it by crashing into a brick wall. When the present economy overshoots, it turns around too quickly and unexpectedly for people and enterprises to retrain, relocate, and readjust. A deliberate transition to sustainability would take place slowly enough, and with enough forewarning, to that people and businesses could find their places in the new economy.” Donella H. Meadows, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update

What is your assessment of the current situation?

Our society has been disenfranchised from effective engagement with social change. It has been hoodwinked by the neo-liberal free market agenda. The amoral global capital flow is, time and again, given precedence over our humanity. The human and ecological cost of this wilful ignorance and conceit is to condemn our civilisation to a future of further inequality in Scotland with the lowest carrying capacity and the lowest quality of life.
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What would be the potential advantages to Scotland and the UK as a whole (and/or its constituent nations) of devolving the power in question to the Scottish Parliament?

With the significant economic and political reforms suggested below, Scotland would have the opportunity to haul the UK into a new era of political and economic participation.
We could have the possibility to start prioritising People and Place beyond our current, pathologically blinkered, adherence to neo-liberal mantras that deify our current GDP metric and the pursuit of unhindered capital flow.

What would be the potential disadvantages to Scotland and the UK as a whole (and/or its constituent nations) of devolving the power in question to the Scottish Parliament?

There would be a period of restructuring in the UK. The Establishment structures unto which we have abdicated our responsibility, will need to be repopulated and restructured to address the new social priorities.

To what extent do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages (or vice versa)?

We would have a Scotland with a higher carrying capacity (more Human and Animal life able to live sustainably), at a higher relative standard of living, as compared to a Scotland with a lower carrying capacity, and a lower standard of living.

What are the interdependencies between your proposal and other key issues?

All aspects of a society have interdependencies. I favour the Global Systems Science approach to addressing these issues:

1. Better understanding of global systems and global issues using holistic examples:
• (International) Financial system: systemic risk, real economy, inequality.
• Urban development: smart cities, sustainability.
• Infrastructures: multi-level interdependencies among services.
• Global health: individual vs. population, pandemics vs. mobility.
• Earth climate: human-driven climate changes.
• Energy resources: limits to growth, rights to use, pollution.
• Interdependencies: e.g. among financial, climate, energy, and city systems

2. Develop evidence, concepts and doubts.

3. Develop a general approach/theory across domains.
• E.g. Common-good games on networks, with social influence and the consequential presence of positive feedback, addressing , in turn, instabilities, tragedy of commons etc.

4. Bridge science with policy makers and civic society.
• To help reach and deal with the consequences of their actions
• To handle conflicting data/evidence.

Are there any practical and legal barriers, or other difficulties to implementing the proposal?
How might these be overcome?

Legal disputes regarding the sovereign will of the people should be respondent to the New Participatory Scottish Constitution as suggested below.

What would be the financial advantages or costs involved in implementing the proposal, and who would bear or benefit from these?

Contributing to the creation of a world with a higher carrying capacity, with the aim of a sustainable economic outcome that offers the best living standards possible within a long-term, viable framework, equates to a realistic aspiration for equality, as opposed to what we have at present which disregards questions of equality and, instead, serves a very small proportion of population.

Recommendations

Below are powers I believe your Commission should advocate in your final report:

Removal of Trident from Scotland.
All licenses for natural resource extraction in Scotland, both inland and offshore, to be devolved to Scotland.
Oil, gas, and other energy revenue devolved to Scotland.
Full income tax control to be devolved to Scotland.
Full VAT control to be devolved to Scotland.
Making the Scottish Parliament permanent through a Scottish Constitution. (By using a public process similar to that used recently in Iceland).
Employment legislation to be devolved to Scotland.
Legislation on broadcasting to be devolved to Scotland
The incorporation of a Scottish Broadcasting Service to replace the BBC. With a charter defined by the people of Scotland through a ‘crowd sourced’ procedure.
Data Protection legislation to be devolved to Scotland.
Energy legislation to be devolved to Scotland.
Trade and industry legislation to be devolved to Scotland.
Benefits and social security legislation to be devolved to Scotland.
Consumer rights legislation to be devolved to Scotland.

Yours sincerely,
Gavin Taylor

Here is a link to my letter.

Smith Commission Submission Letter

Below is some info on matters  devolved & reserved. This was taken from
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/25488.aspx

Devolved matters

Devolved matters include:

agriculture, forestry and fisheries
education and training
environment
health and social services
housing
law and order (including the licensing of air weapons)
local government
sport and the arts
tourism and economic development
many aspects of transport

Reserved matters

Reserved matters include:

benefits and social security
immigration
defence
foreign policy
employment
broadcasting
trade and industry
nuclear energy, oil, coal, gas and electricity
consumer rights
data protection
the Constitution

Regards,

11 thoughts on “Smith Commission submissions

  1. I’d make a point of insisting standard international maritime boundaries be reinstated, thus ensuring Scotland receives all the revenues generated by and within her waters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would like to see all powers given to Scotland on, social security benefits, oil, gas, defence, all tax, the referendum was won on the pledges of the Better Together campaign, I would like to see these implemented,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still want Independence and am willing to wait and prepare for the right moment but until then devomax must be given with all the above demands I will use your letter as a template and send it to them

    Like

  4. Devo Max ?……….We are kidding ourselves if we think this is forthcoming.
    More likely a very much diluted version, with a proviso that Independence
    be of the table for a generation……..l don’t think so !……This is not for me,
    the right to live in a Free Scotland,and not rely on handouts from Westminster,
    has been a lifelong dream,and accepting anything short of that, would betray
    all that I have stood for.

    Like

  5. Thanks Gavin,

    Wish I had read this yesterday – I would have added some details to my own letter.

    Can I paste mine here? It may be useful to compare.

    Dear Lord Smith

    I am writing to communicate my views about the additional responsibilities that Westminster needs to deliver to the Scottish Parliament in order to fulfill the vows of ‘extensive new powers’ for Scotland.

    New Powers for Scotland
    I wish to formally associate myself with, and lend my full support to, the proposal representing the SNP which was sent by the Scottish Government and appears on the Smith Commission website http://www.smith-commission.scot/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Scottish-National-Party-submission.pdf.

    The proposal outlines the requirements of a ‘DevoMax’ solution, which is reflective of the maximalist language used in the ‘Vow’. If any of the three parties involved, Liberal Democrats, Conservatives or Labour, were to deliver anything short of this I would consider that to be reneging on their promise to the people of Scotland. In fact, I would go further, and would interpret their words and actions as having the intent of deliberately misleading the electorate.

    Westminster needs to be aware that there has been a raising of consciousness in the Scottish Public. We are now amongst the most informed, engaged and empowered people on the planet. This is not something to be taken lightly as there is renewed ambition for social justice and self determination, which the people of Scotland will take for themselves, if it is not willingly given.

    The proposal sent by the Scottish Government involves reserving a few core areas to Westminster with all other areas decided in Scotland. This proposal reflects the will of the Scottish people as can be seen in multiple opinion polls and commands the support of the vast majority of Scottish residents.

    I would like to underline my support for the following Holyrood powers
    • Control of all taxation raised in Scotland
    • Control of all areas of government policy except for defence and foreign affairs, which is sometimes referred to as ‘Devo Max
    • Control of the welfare and benefits system
    • Control of policy regarding the state pension
    • Control of oil and gas tax revenues generated in Scottish waters
    • Control of broadcasting policy
    • Guaranteed consultation by the UK Government with the Scottish Government when deciding the UK’s stance in European Union negotiations
    • Guaranteed BBC coverage and opportunity to debate, for all parties that represent Scotland in Westminster. In this I would underline that the SNP should get equal coverage to the current two leading UK parties Labour and Conservative. The SNP is now the third largest party in the country and is (at the time of writing) almost double the size of the Liberal Democrats.

    I strongly believe that current attempts to deliver “New Powers for Scotland” as part of a package that includes English Votes for English Laws, is an attempt to delay and dilute powers, which were promised to Scotland in the Vow. This can only be seen as aggressive retribution for the “YES” voting electorate in Scotland. This can and should result in a demand for another Referendum in the shortest timescale possible. This is something that I would personally lobby and campaign for.

    The Smith Commission and Participatory Democracy
    I am very disappointed in the process for public consultation towards the Smith Commission Report. My concerns with the methodology are outlined below.

    1. The Smith report attempts to establish consent between six political parties. This is an ill thought through strategy that is more likely to lead to obstruction than constructive solutions and is therefor unlikely to lead to a proposal that is supported by the Scottish public.

    2. Consulting with all parties on this equal footing is not appropriate given that they are not equally representative of the Scottish Public. Indeed, only the SNP can be considered representative of the public in Scotland.

    3. Until recently there was considerable bias given through leading comments in the guidelines. I have noted that these have been removed recently, however they were visible for long enough to have had a considerable impact on participation.

    4. The guidelines for the Smith Commission, read like exam questions. This is off-putting and inappropriate given that it is directed towards over three million people with varying skills and time available.

    5. An open email is not a suitable method for gathering response from the public. This is pretty basic stuff and I can hardly imagine that I need to tell the government why this is not a suitable method. I can therefore only assume it is a deliberate obstacle to public engagement and participation.

    6. 
The website it badly designed making finding HOW to respond difficult to begin with. The email address was initially buried at the bottom of a page. I have personally had several people contacting me asking for support in finding the contact details required to respond. Although there is now a contact form, this will have had impact and put people off responding to the call. Again I suspect this is a deliberate ploy to obstruct engagement.

    7. Announcements were made and marketed through the Daily Record, which has an audience bias of No Voters. Thus the Smith Commission is weighted towards gathering views from No voters rather than reflecting the views of the Scottish demographic. This was a terrible mistake and one that will not be forgotten.

    It is partly because of the incompetence of the Smith Commission that I feel that Participatory Democracy MUST be clearly identified and enshrined in Scotland’s and indeed the rest of the UK’s new relationship with Westminster.

    It is rare for the public to have an opportunity of a meaningful, direct engagement with the political process. Leaving the fate of society in the hands of politicians has for many decades done little to instill faith in the system and hope for a better future. This is apparent in the political raising of consciousness throughout the UK and embodied by grassroots movements such as the YES Campaign and the Occupy movement. Only direct participation will restore faith in the democratic process.

    I would like to formally support instating Participatory Democracy at the heart of our system of governance, in Holyrood and in Westminster. I feel that this is the only way to renew faith in the political process, in light of the politicisation and engagement of people across the UK and most notably as a result of the Referendum on Scottish Independence.

    Such a democratic model is worthy of a modern state, engaging the conscious Will of The People in the democratic process; mindful that in this empowering age Citizens are likely to make the best decisions in the affairs of the country.

    Like

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