Posted on June 12th, 2023
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
It was nice to hear Humza Yousaf state his determination to see Scotland become a normal, self-governing country within the next five years. I really hope he is able to deliver because some of the recent pronouncements from other SNP politicians on the topic of independence have been worrying to say the least. It seemed to me that they were setting up a scenario where they’ll admit that independence is not an option, but that we might be able to obtain some sort of Devo max which, while not ideal, could be the best option available. Of course, they framed this carefully so as not to give the impression that they have given up on independence, but the fact that they are clearly considering Devo Max is very concerning, and I’d like Humza Yousaf to come out and dispel any such notions as soon as possible because Devo Max should never be an option in a future referendum.
The reason for this should be plain enough. Devo Max has been promised before in the shape of Gordon Brown’s "Nearest thing to federalism" promise in 2014, and we all know how that worked out. Would any Westminster Government actually deliver Devo max? I very much doubt it. They’d say all the right things, then backtrack on promises as soon as they could. Nobody in Scotland should trust any Westminster Government to keep its promises.
And even if, by some miracle, a Labour UK Government did deliver, we must not forget that power devolved is power retained. That has been said so often in recent years that everyone should be sick of hearing it by now, but that does not make it any less true. So, even assuming a Labour UK Government scrapped the Internal Markets Act and granted (because they would be in control, so they would need to graciously permit us to behave like an almost-normal country), then what do you think would happen as soon as the English electorate voted in yet another tory Government? Yes, they’d soon find ways to reclaim all those powers that their Labour predecessors had granted.
But I doubt we’ll ever get that far. Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer is an out and out Unionist. He loves standing in front of as many Butcher’s Aprons as he can, and his politics are so far to the right that only the neo-fascist Tories can outmatch him. Whatever he may say, and no matter how many times Gordon brown produces lengthy documents spelling out proposals for reform of the constitution, there is no way Starmer will contemplate allowing Scotland any more autonomy. He may promise much, but he’ll not keep his promises. Just look at all the things he said he’d do when he was running to be Labour leader. He’s dropped just about every pledge he made. Why would anyone think he’d behave differently towards Scotland?
So, while I’ve supported the SNP for years in their quest for independence, I strongly disagree with any plans to consider Devo Max. They may claim that they need to deal with the realities of politics, but playing the UK political game by the UK’s rules has got us nowhere in the past eight and a bit years. That is not going to change whoever is in power at Westminster.
I know many Yessers are becoming increasingly convinced that the SNP don’t actually want independence. I’m more of the view that they do want it, but they don’t want to face the hassle and risk of taking dramatic action in order to achieve the goal for which most of their supporters elected them. Because it would be risky, and they would face enormous backlash from the media and the hardened Unionists in Scotland. But the SNP’s support is largely due to a desire for our nation to become like every other normal, self-governing country, and if they don’t produce some clear plan soon, they will find that more and more of their support will drift away.
We should know by now that Westminster always operates on a delaying basis. They pontificate and talk, and they make many promises, but they wear down their opponents by placing so many obstacles in their way that people get fed up. That is precisely what they have been doing to Scotland since 2014. This is why some in the SNP are now openly talking about Devo Max as possibly the best we can hope for. I’m sorry, but it’s not nearly good enough. What we need is strong leadership providing a clear plan for how to gain independence. Humza Yousaf has said the right things. Now he needs to turn words into action.