by Jennifer Dempsie If like me, as a frustrated independence supporter, have been trying to get your head round what Home Rule for Scotland could actually look like, then help might just be at hand…
Reading all this stuff about “Home Rule” prompts the same question in my mind as other talk of “more powers”. Why? What is the purpose? And I cannot help but conclude that the purpose of all this flailing around trying to discover that elusive magic devolution formula has precious little to do with concern for democracy and good governance and a great deal to do with desperate efforts to preserve the structures of power and privilege which define the British state.
Jennifer Dempsie gets all excited about the prospect of a presumption in favour of devolution. But if such a presumption is good in principle then why stop there? A presumption in favour of devolution is merely a timid, watered-down version of the truly fundamental principle that ALL powers pertaining to the government of Scotland should lie with the Scottish Parliament and that only the people of Scotland have the legitimate authority to limit or transfer those powers.
It is time to acknowledge that devolution is dead. The reason that the Smith Commission and all the rest are having so much difficulty formulating a viable devolution settlement is that there is no viable devolution settlement. There is no form of devolution which does not immediately beg the question, why this and not more? Why these powers and not those?
More importantly, there is no devolution settlement which does not leave unresolved the issue of who decides which powers are devolved and which are reserved. It will never be satisfactory for such decisions to be in the hands of British politicians in Westminster because this runs counter to the principle of popular sovereignty. And the only way such decisions can be fully and irrevocably vested in the people of Scotland – subject only to the terms of a written constitution – is with full independence.
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