40%, 55%, ‘Tartan Tories’ and EVEL

This is a much delayed post, I started writing before the referendum.

I’ve been going back and reading about 1979.

The 40% rule – 1,230,937 Scots voted yes, but with a 63.72% turnout that wasn’t enough to meet a hurdle placed in the legislation through an amendment.

As only 32.9% of the registered electorate voted had yes, the matter didn’t pass.

The amendment was made by George Cunningham, a Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury.

A Scot, but opposed to devolution.

We know what happened next, the SNP had been cooperating with the Labour and Liberal coalition.

A vote of confidence motion brought down the government.

The new election brought in Thatcher.

So that was the late 1970’s, why is that relevant today?

It’s shaped most of Scotland’s political discourse for decades.

There was no-one as a current Labour MSP or MP that broke ranks and supported yes.

I think I recall a councillor in Inverclyde breaking ranks and that was it.

Fearsome party discipline, a knowledge they’d be deselected?

40 from 59 MP’s. 38 MSP’s.

Fair enough, some were pretty silent, but are they all cast-iron unionists?

Which takes us back to The ‘Tartan Tory’ line.

A mantra of ‘SNP bad’ no matter the subject or situation. Even where it’s opposing a Westminster Tory policy.

The recent rant on the Scotrail franchise being awarded to abellio was a classic example.

Scottish Labour Party
1 October at 02:46 ·
Keith Brown must halt the ScotRail tendering process until after the implementation of more powers for Scotland.
Union’s demand suspension of Scotrail franchising process – rmt
The following statement has been signed by the listed MP’s, MSP’s and Trade Unions in respect of both the Scotrail main franchise and the Caledonian Sleeper Service in light of the new devolution settlement.

The actuality that the franchises had to be let and it is a limited power that the
Scottish Government has over Rail Franchising. It can let the franchises but not suspend it.

Also bear in mind that Labour in government at Westminster under Blair and Brown didn’t return the railways to public ownership either.

You’re supposed to forget that and be appalled that the SNP government did what they had to do after a No vote and after a period where no further clarification of Gordon Brown’s vow was given either.

That’s one example.

To balance this is from the Scotsman

Mr Brown hailed the deal as a “world-leading contract for staff and passengers.”

He said he had no option but to award the franchise, despite Labour and union calls for the process to be halted pending new devolved powers from Westminster, which could include for the contract to be run by the public sector.

The minister said he had sought such powers for the last three years, but since Scotland did not yet have them, to stop the franchise process at the final stage would cause “chaos and uncertainty on the rails”.

Other quotes said there could be a £30 million liability if the contract wasn’t let.

So to make a point, someone publicly elected would call for a decision that’d lose us all £30 million pounds?

Is that a style of politics we need?
No discourse on the merits of the current operator, who to be fair has did well.

No acknowledgement of Westminster holding the power and no mention of what the vow gives. Is it full autonomy? Full power to decide?

We know not.

The Smith commission seems to be a way of mollifying any real change. No one is out there particularly saying, “Hang on we made a ‘Vow’, we should act. ”

Cameron’s English Votes for English Laws or EVEL may be a Tory trap in Labour’s eyes, but how do you get around the ‘West Lothian Question’?

Labour has surely had long enough to think about it.

Was the strategy to just get a No vote?

If so, then there’s no dealing on the fall out.

Was their thinking that ‘The Vow’ wasn’t a factor in the referendum result?

Did they think that there isn’t consequences at Westminster if greater devolution is granted?

There can’t be situations where Scottish MP’s vote on matters that are decided on their own constituencies by MSP’s.

Surely that’s obvious and clear. Fairness is abstaining on these matters like the SNP Westminster group do.

But, is this sort of principle too much for the centralised London run Labour Party to get their heads around?

Is it merely ‘SNP bad’ again?

Is it a fear that their leader and policies won’t carry the target seats they have in England?

Is this as base a proposition as Labour’s electoral prospects over Scotland’s future ?


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