Calman

calmanThe Calman Report was either the biggest thing to happen to Scotland in thirty years or a complete non-event, depending on who you read and what you want to put across. Certainly the streets were hardly awash with ‘Calman Fever’. I wasn’t stopped once on the street by people screaming “My god have you read the Calman Report!”

There’s good reason for this. This is political rights sprinkled on a democracy like sweeties. No one elected Sir Kenneth Calman. He is a be-knighted steward of the British Establishment and his remit is clear from the Unionist parties: come up with something to stop the trajectory towards independence. Anything will do. Handgun control is anything.

That his remit should ‘consider all the options ‘ accept the one the view that is represented by the currently democratically elected Scottish Govt, who polled upwards of 40% at the latest election in some constituencies, is just bizarre, even by the terms of British historical chicanery.

It leads to the most honest analysis of the Calman Report being a commentator on the Scotman website who wrote: “With Calman you can ban handguns. With independence we could ban Trident.” This is the reality of the poxy paternalistic counter-intuitive nonsense dolled out by Calman to prop up the failed British State.

As the Herald wrote:

Sir Kenneth’s commission produced its final report yesterday and concluded that, while it should not be Scotland’s oil, it should be Scotland’s stamp duty, landfill tax, air passenger duty, marine nature conservation, drink-driving and airgun laws, housing and council tax benefits, speed limits, power to borrow for capital programmes and responsibility to manage its own elections”.

Logic has deserted him.

Hamish Macdonnell, Scottish political editor of The Scotsman could hardly contain his excitement:

“The 1998 plans for a Scottish Parliament were ground-breaking but they had been worked through by the Scottish Constitutional Convention for years. Nothing was really surprising. But yesterday Sir Kenneth Calman produced something which has the capacity to change Scotland to a far greater degree than the creation of the parliament itself. Will the Calman report take Scotland a set closer to independence? Undoubtedly, yet this is the perplexing part about it. Time and time again Calman insisted his report would strengthen the Union and cement Scotland’s place within it. However it is difficult, if not impossible to see how that will be the case.”

Macdonnells over-excitement is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of politics and the route to self-determination. For him the goal of ‘nats’ is seperation. For republicans, socialists and libertarians the goal is intergration with the progressive community of nations across the globe and beyond the shackles of the British State. “Power devolved is power retained” said Enoch Powell and this remains the raison d’etre of Calman and his Unionist backers. He thinks change happens when a cabal of politicians hand down ‘new powers’ to the Scottish Parliament, ones that also clearly take with the same hand that gives. This is smoke and mirrors. Its the same smoke and mirrors that talks of openess at Westminster then scapegoats the Speaker, publishes MPs expenses with all the key information blacked out and announces a comforting inquiry into Iraq (in secret). The British State is innoculated against change and the more it desperately defends the indefensible it exposes its own ridiculous contradictions and hypocrisy’s.

And then there’s the oil. He forgot the oil.



Categories: Calman Report

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7 replies

  1. An elegant post that says all that needs to be said.

    Hat tip.

  2. Got your ticket?

    All Tomorrows Parties Film Premier
    The Picture House, Edinburgh
    24/06/2009
    8pm
    £18.50 + booking fee

  3. I’m not actually sure why even the unionists are punting the Calman report as something radical and new unless it’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. No-one’s got the heart to tell Calman that his report is naked.

    As far as the new funding goes it works like this:

    Scotland gets the same money as before, no more and no less. Exactly the same Barnett funding level.

    All they’ve changed is the method by which the Scottish Parliament collects the money. What Calman proposes is a new method.
    (Reduced Block Grant) + (Assigned Portion of Scottish Tax Revenues) = (Current Scottish Barnett Funding)
    The estimated assigned taxes for any year will always be made up to the Barnett funding level with a block grant for that year. (The worked examples start on page 113 of the report.)

    The Scottish Parliament can raise the tax rate to rake in some extra cash or it can cut the tax rate to put some money in the pockets of the Scottish public without changing the block grant element which is based on Scotland taxing at the same rate as the UK.

    The interesting point is this: A strong Scottish economy with more jobs and higher salaries and therefore a higher tax take will ensure that the block grant is cut at the next funding review. A weak economy with a low tax take will have its block grant increased at the next funding review. It actually favours Scottish governments who do nothing. Whatever they do with the Scottish Economy the Scottish Funding will be reduced or raised to the Barnett Formula level at the next review and the Barnett Formula Level is set by the economy and government expenditure in England.

    I can see Calman neither cementing the Union nor pushing Scotland down the road to independence because when you examine what it does change it changes nothing. The few minor powers that you mention and the chance for a Scottish Government to raise or lower taxes by 10p in the pound rather than the current 3p in the pound levels which they’ve never used in the life of the Parliament.

    Whoopidy-doo. All that money and time and that’s all Calman can come up with.

  4. “This is smoke and mirrors.”

    Because it has no basis or substance it probably wont work. It attempts to confuse control over oil with control over pop guns. I dont think it will work as a swizz.

  5. I agree with everything that’s been said but, although the Calman report was a non-event, it needs to be seen as part of the British establishment’s tried and tested means of neutralising any threat to the system. Given that there still is a real threat in the form of a SNP government that has not flopped and that remains ideologically incapable of being integrated into that system because of the establishment’s overriding concern for maintaining the UK, we can expect Calman to be used to push through changes. Calman gives the political establishment the political cover it feels it needs to intervene in the Scottish constitution to make the adjustments they want, so there is now a very strong chance that the unionist parties will push through changes to the Scotland Act before the next UK election.

    Given this likelihood, I personally feel the SNP were wrong to not attack the Calman report more vigorously. Presumably they feel that the unionists have conceded certain principals that they can use against them later: that devolution is a process not a one off, that a Scottish government can borrow for capital projects etc. They may also be relieved that Calman did not call more powers to go back to Westminster. This seemed likely on the basis of the interim report were planning as it effects nuclear power plants and powers linked to anti-terrorism seemed to be in line to go back. These could still find there way into changes pushed through by Westminster.

    For me the important point is what this say about the Tories, given that they will be back in power next year in Westminster. Reports I’ve read suggest that the new breed of Tory MP is far more hostile to Scotland than the leadership would want to be widely known. Cameron may well be pleased then that changes to the Scotland Act before he takes over will give him political cover to assuage this pressure from his backbenches by bringing in further changes, such as a needs assessment as a prelude to scrapping the Barnett Formula. He could probably do this on the basis of the perception that with Calman the Scottish Parliament has more financial powers, which I know is not the case, but perception is what counts, which is why I’m disappointed that the SNP have not exposed Calman more vigorously.

  6. Good point Alex, I think certainly from recent visits to London the hostility is palbable and fuelled by a parallel press that we don’t often see North of the Border.

    Two questions remain:

    1) Where does the Labour vote go in Scotland? With the collapse of a serious left-alternative and ongoing failure of a green-left option, will people move across the indendence? What scope does the financial collapse leave in giving more room on the left of the independence movement to create a more progressive vision?

    2) What if SNP end up with 25+ MPs, which seems highly likely? Its hardly a mandate to take back powers? What you will have is a polarisation with new Tories and a big new UKIP and BNP far-right in England.

  7. You’ve put your finger on it. I live in Leicester where there is not much evidence of resentment, but London is different. It is this, combined with the attitudes of grass-roots members in local associations across England, that feeds into this anti-Scottish sentiment on the Tory backbenches. Plus, I suppose, having had virtually no MPs representing Scottish seats for so long, they have no critical mass of Scottish MPs to counter such views.

    My own view is that the SNP should mop up most of the disaffected Labour voters, but not because of an explicit more towards independence. The SNP is strengthening its position as the only party that can protect Scotland’s interests. This is why, in my view, the unionist parties feel the need to act in unison now to try to trip the SNP up by using Calman to get them to take more of the flak for the massive cuts that will come soon.

    I don’t think Labour will do as badly in Scotland in the general election as your prediction seems to suggest and I think the Tories will pick up at least 5 seats. There is always a swing back to the two main UK parties in general elections, this only stopped functioning in Scotland because of the Thatcher factor. Paradoxically, if the Tories become seen as slashers of public services, Labour could do better in Scotland than seems likely now. But all such predictions could get knocked on the head if the expenses scandal still has traction in a year’s time. If it does then the the SNP could break through and, in England, UKIP might break through marginally at a GE for the first time, but not the BNP I think. Labour’s position in Scotland may not fully nosedive until after the next general election when all hell will break out when it descends into incriminations and civil war.

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