Saturday, 11 October 2014

Smith Commission Submissions (Part 1)

All the major Scottish parties submitted their proposals to the Smith Commission by the deadline of Friday 10th October.  They are all available for viewing on the Smith Commission website.

I have made a start on reading the documents.  There's only so much political documentation I can read at a sitting, so today I have read the proposals from the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Green Party (I'm going by the party names on the website - there's another discussion to be had about whether there is, in fact, a Scottish Conservative party.  Maybe another post.)

The Scottish Conservative party's proposals are based on those of the Strathclyde Commission and are striking in that the only two areas they appear to consider are money and influence.  There are extensive discussions on taxes and National Insurance, mainly justifying why the UK should retain overall control of the money while tinkering at the edges of allowing the Scottish Government to make policy decisions.  One of the most amusing parts is where they declare that National Insurance should be retained at the UK level because it would be too difficult for companies to have to deal with two different agencies in collecting this tax.  That's the multi-nationals that operate in numerous countries telt then - obviously having to deal with one more country's tax authorities would just be the final straw.

There are also extensive discussions on how the Scottish parliament should be run, including plans to ensure that all committees have an Opposition MSP as chairman, and how senior Civil Servants based in Scotland should be forced to serve part of the career in one or more UK Departments of State.  Presumably so they can drink the Unionist kool-aid?  Who knows.  They are also very keen on devolving powers away from the Scottish Parliament to local authorities and individuals (I'm assuming they mean elected mayors and police commissioners by this).

The most amusing part comes on page 11, where, after doing so well, they put the boot into Alex Salmond and the SNP specifically.  It kind of gives the game away, that their proposals are really to try and hamstring the SNP, their bitterest enemies it would appear.

Striking by their absence is any mention of energy policy, transport, media, equality and human rights, land reform and immigration.  All these and more can be found in the submission of the Scottish Green party.   Their proposals are wide-ranging and would see far more extensive powers granted to the Scottish Parliament, including the ability to have a voice in international affairs on behalf of Scotland where appropriate.  They also make mention of TTIP, something conspicious by its absence from the Conservative party's proposals - clearly an oversight and I'm sure something they will be happy to share their views on if asked.

I am impressed by the Green's paper, and would be happy to see more of them in the Scottish Parliament.  Certainly the picture they paint is a very appealing one.

That's all for today.  Tomorrow I will read the proposals from Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

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