23 March 2008

A response to Change is What We Do: A Cross-Border, Cross-Party Partnership

In discussing the Scottish Constitutional Commission, Alexander says:

Only the SNP voted against, a clear recognition by them that the proposal contained within it is a threat to Nationalist goals.

This is misleading. She neglects to mention the National Conversation, the consultation initiated by the Scottish Government on precisely the question of Scotland's constitution. If anything, it is more wide-ranging than the Commission as it considers independence in addition to other options. The Commission is like the Model T Ford: it can come in any shade you want as long as it's Unionist.

The Scottish Constitutional Commission will be expert-led and independent. Its task will be to review devolution in Scotland ten years on, and to develop a more balanced Home Rule package.

No one has informed Gordon Brown or the Scotland Office of this: the UK politicians whose involvement Alexander has trumpeted seem to think of it as a working group reporting to them.

One aspect of a far-reaching approach such as this is that it is not possible to predict the outcomes with certainty. But the process can be open, consensual, and thorough.

We can predict that the Commission will not support independence, as independence supporters have been frozen out of it - the Parliamentary motion passed states that it "would continue to secure the position of Scotland within the United Kingdom". On that basis, Alexander's assertion that "the Commission’s work will command respect from all those interested in Scotland’s future" seems hollow at best.

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