23 March 2008

A response to Change is What We Do: Scotland's Place in the Union

Having ignored the fact that by her own logic, the Scottish electorate voted for more powers in the last election, Wendy Alexander asserts:

By implication the Commission should also consider any reasoned arguments for the boundary moving in the opposite direction, for example in national security related matters such as counter terrorism and contingency planning.

This is all a question of how you read the motion establishing the Commission, which calls on it to "recommend any changes to the present constitutional arrangements that would enable the Scottish Parliament to better serve the people of Scotland". Now, seriously, how on earth would taking powers away from MSPs allow them to better serve Scotland's people?

In short, this is not an ideology-driven, but an evidence-driven process.

Except that one option, as set out in the motion, has been ruled out altogether. Wendy Alexander views Nationalism as an ideology. I agree with her, but if Nationalism is an ideology, then so must Unionism be an ideology, and Alexander doesn't seem to recognise that. Further, she wrote previously of a cross-party partnership, but already the cracks are starting to show:

It is a pity that the Liberal Democrats seem to have set their face against the principle of looking at movement in both directions. Clearly in a fast changing world it is no more than woolly thinking to assume that within devolved or federal arrangements movement will always only be in one direction. The right approach is to acknowledge that this is first and foremost a review of devolution in light of almost ten years experience and we should not seek to tie the hands of those involved.

So her act of consensus-building is already faltering, and once again she has forgotten that the Commission's hands are already tied: it has to look at Scotland's governance within the context of its continued membership of the United Kingdom. Has Alexander not noticed that, or is she wilfully ignoring it?

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