The Panic Room

BxFASuzCMAAjyXyBy Mike Small

The spin-room has been replaced by the Panic Room. It’s a safe place where you can lock yourself away if intruders threaten your inner sanctum. The intruders are us, you and me, the inner sanctum is the power base of the politics elite.

In extraordinary measures yesterday the parties reached near full-merger, now making up constitutional policy on the hoof. In a bizarre twist we had Gordon Brown holed up in Midlothian, at a closed doors meeting announcing that the ‘Scots were being offered ‘home rule within UK’ and quoting Keir Hardie, who died in 1915.

It does make you think not just, why didn’t Gordon mention any of this during his glorious term in office, or why didn’t these parties put this on the ballot paper staring in our face, or at any time in the last two years, but why didn’t they do any of this in the past 100 years?

As John S Warren has noted:

“Gordon Brown has given us a timetable for further devolution (8th September, 2014). The big announcement comes down to the publication of a standard parliamentary “Command” paper and the enactment timetable for the legislation. He actually used the word “Command”, as if the word somehow added weight to the rather banal announcement of a simple timetable; in the process descending into an embarrassing mixture of condescension and pomposity. He has announced a timetable only because Labour’s Devolution Commission Proposals “Powers for a purpose – Strengthening Accountability and Empowering People” (March, 2014) did not bother to offer any timetable at all in March, but of course the polls were not then uncomfortably close; Labour did not bother with a timetable in March, presumably because it assumed they would never have to implement the proposals – ever. The Powers, it seems never had much purpose, until the weekend.”

It’s a guddle of Grand High Politics (of which Gordon is so fond of and so bad at) and cheap populist nothingness, as one tweeter put it: ”St Andrews Day and Burns Day’ for ‘not really more powers’ timetable? Could only be more condescending if they all wore ‘See You Jimmy Hats’.

This morning ‘Iive’ on BBC News Johann Lamont, Willie Rennie and Ruth Davidson appeared in front of a glum-looking bunch of supporters. They shuffled about jostling for position and looked like three children lost at the fair.

Towards the end of a jaw-clenchingly awful interview with these three giants of Scottish politics a reporter was asking some difficult questions like ‘how does ANY of this work?’.

A cheer went up ‘spontaneously from the crowd behind – we thought maybe Nigel Farage had arrived early, but no – the trio’s minder had just held up a big sign saying ‘Cheer!’. And with that, the interviews were abruptly ended.

Better Together. Shutting down debate. True to the end.

The F Bomb

One of the most bizarre things about the last 24 hours is Gordon Brown’s recurring get-out clause where he refers to ‘Federalism’. It’s his grand idea for which he has been lauded by the metropolitan media from afar. Yet as I’ve mentioned before (‘The F Word’) it doesn’t make any sense in a group of nations in which one makes up 85% of the population.

Watch him here:

 

The giant boorach Gordon and his entourage have created is dramatic, but entirely empty. It’s worth looking closely at all the things it isn’t.

We Have Our Reservations

The Reserved Matters are presented below in unadorned, unedited form, lifted directly from the Labour document. They are perhaps more revealing than Labour intended: 
General reservations

• The constitution, including the Crown, the union, the UK Parliament, and the continued existence of Scotland’s higher courts 

• Registration and funding of registration and funding

• Foreign affairs and international relations

• Public service (the civil service, other than sheriff clerks, procurators fiscal, and officers of the higher courts). 

• Defence (other than some aspects of civil defence and sea fishing enforcement)

• Treason

Specific reservations 
The specific reservations are set out under 12 main heads, each with a series of sub- heads. In some cases, there are exceptions, illustrations and interpretations. 

ï Financial and economic matters
o Fiscal, economic and monetary policy, except local taxes to fund local authority expenditure (for example council tax and non-domestic rates)
o The currency
Financial services, except bank holidays
o Financial markets
o Money laundering

ï Home
o Misuse of drugs
o Data protection
o Elections (elections to the House of Commons, European Parliament and Scottish Parliament, and the franchise at local government elections)
o Firearms
o Entertainment (essentially videos and films)
o Immigration and nationality
o Scientific procedures on live animals
o National security, interception of communications, official secrets and terrorism
o Betting, gaming and lotteries o Emergency powers
o Extradition
o Lieutenancies
o Public access to information held by most public bodies ï Trade and industry

o Business associations, except “particular public bodies” and charities o Insolvency, except some aspects of winding up and receivership
o Competition, except regulation of aspects of the legal profession
o Intellectual property, except relating to plant varieties
o Import and export control, except food, animals, plants, etc.
o Regulation of sea fishing outside the Scottish zone, except in relation to affairs

o Scottish fishing boats
o Consumer protection, except food safety
o Product standards, safety and liability, except in relation to food, agricultural, pesticide products etc.
o Weights and measures
o Telecommunications and wireless telegraphy, except certain police powers
o Post Office and Postal Services
o Research Councils, including funding of scientific research
o Designation of assisted areas (under the Industrial Development Act 1982)
o Industrial Development Advisory Board
o Protection of trading and economic interests (under emergency powers,etc.)

ï Energy

o Electricity, except aspects of environmental protection
o Oil and gas, except some aspects of offshore activity and production and movement of gas
o Coal, except environmental protection
o Nuclear energy, except environmental protection and the Radioactive Substances Act 1993
o Energy conservation, except the encouragement of energy efficiency ï Transport

o Road transport, except aspects of road safety
o Rail transport, except aspects of grants for rail services, some strategic functions, the transfer of functions of passenger transport executives, and the promotion and construction of railways wholly within Scotland
o Marine transport, except ports etc., hazards to navigation and financial assistance for bulk freight services to the Highlands and Islands
o Air transport, except some matters to do with airports and aerodromes
o Transport of radioactive material

o Technical specifications for public passenger transport for disabled persons

o Carriage of dangerous goods
o Serving Scotland Better: Scotland and the United Kingdom in the 21st

ï Social
o Social security
security schemes, except aspects of –

Social welfare services
Welfare services for the chronically sick and disabled

Payments towards maintenance of children

Industrial injuries benefit

promotion of the welfare of children in need

advice and assistance for young persons formerly looked after by local authorities

o Child support, except aliment
o Occupational and personal pensions o War pensions

  • Regulation of the professions
  • o Architects

o Specified health professions. The reserved professions are identified by reference to the Acts governing them. Consequently, regulation of new professions, such as pharmacy technicians, is not reserved.

o Auditors

ï Employment

o Employment and industrial relations, except agricultural wages

o Health and safety, including the Health and Safety Executive and the

o Employment Medial Advisory Service, but excluding some aspects of fire safety

o Job search and support, except careers services and aspects of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise

  • Health and medicines
  • o Abortion

o Xenotransplantation
o Embryology, surrogacy and genetics
Medicines, medical supplies and poisons 

Welfare foods

ï Media
o Broadcasting

o Public lending right
Government Indemnity Scheme
o Property accepted in satisfaction of tax and culture

ï Miscellaneous
o Judicial remuneration

o Equal opportunities legislation, except for the encouragement of equal opportunities and the imposition of duties on public office-holders

o Control of weapons of mass destruction

o Ordnance survey

Timescales, time zones, and summer time, except the computation of periods of time, bank holidays, Term Days and Quarter Days

Regulation of activities in outer space



Categories: Commentary

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17 replies

  1. With the prospect looming of losing masses of voting fodder, New Labour has gone into tearjerking mode.
    “Miliband urges UK cities and towns to fly saltire in plea to Scots. Cities and towns across the United Kingdom have been urged to fly the Saltire by Labour leader Ed Miliband in an effort to persuade voters in Scotland to ‘stay with us'”.
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/miliband-urges-uk-cities-and-towns-to-fly-saltire-in-plea-to-scots.1410246753

    Panic? Who, us?

    Anyway, why not fly the Union flag? That’s the “together” emblem, isn’t it?

    “The meteor flag of England
    Shall yet terrific burn;
    Till danger’s troubled night depart,
    And the star of peace return.”

    That was written in 1800 by Thomas Campbell, poet born in High Street, Glasgow. Aye, we knew our place then.

  2. I’ve got my own reservation – I call it a back yard. It’s independent, it’s full of flowers, and produces something new every year to benefit me and cheer me up. It’s rather a long time since that last happened under New Labour or Old Tory. As for the jarring Better Together campaign, whoever came up with the title had a taste in irony; the wheels just keep coming off. They’re in such a stushy now, it looks as though their incompetence is driving yet another UK Government to act illegally by somehow changing the terms of the referendum.

    Then the laugh of the day. Blair McDougall’s 2011 tweet when he stated, after watching a programme about Northern Food, that he fancied a job as a skilled Tripe Dresser. What fantastic foresight he had then. Shame about 2014.

  3. Jam tomorrow ?..#NigelFarage#BorisJohnson#lemoncurds

  4. I don’t have a TV just now so difficult to gauge exactly what Brown is pitching. What I notice is that in the London based media nobody is taking about federalism. It’s always amazed me that no one has bothered to point out just how disingenuous all this talk of federalism is. The UK constitution explicitly rules out federalism, so federalism could only come about if the existing unwritten constitution based on the sovereignty of the crown in parliament were replaced with a new written constitution which would guarantee the constitutional position of all the different powers held by the different levels of government. That would only happen if there was sufficient interest for it in England and there isn’t. Also as Mike says it’s not practical unless England is broken up into a number of regions and that also won’t happen. Brown may be saying lots of things but Ed Balls was also in Scotland yesterday and he gave a very different account. Asked if there would be a joint position on more powers with the other parties he said no. He said Labour had their own proposals and were sticking to them and these would be implemented if people vote for Labour in 2015.

    • If England is too big for a federal union, it’s too big for any union. This is another reason why all the nations in these islands would be better off if we were separate sovereign states, but cooperating closely on matters of mutual interest, and building a stronger social union than is possible within the political union. As for support (or not) within England for a federal system, who knows? The Brits have never asked us for our opinion on any aspect of governance, and they most likely never will, because they fear democracy.

    • Their disorientation is total. Brown talks of federalism and a constitutional convention. By definition, these discussions must cover all parts of the UK, not just Scotland. Meantime the MSM and London party leaders talk exclusively of more powers for Scotland. Does the UK parliament know that Britain’s constitutional status is about to be altered without any reference to it?

      You can’t fool all of the people all of the time!

  5. Let’s boil this all down. NO are offering us the ability to raise taxes to make up for austerity cuts; no powers to fundamentally mobilise our economy; no oil revenues to the Edinburgh Exchequer; no removal of Trident; continuation of immoral and hate generating foreign policies etc etc………well they can just piss off. Devo max is not on the ballot paper….never was……this is simply panic in the realisation that we are on our way.

  6. It is the supreme irony. Tory Chancellor George Osborne, chose Gordon Brown to announce measures which he hopes will convince Scots to vote against independence.
    In 1997 Gordon Brown raided pension schemes, costing savers £100 billion, a sum equal to the entire annual economic output of Ireland, or 50 years of Tesco’s annual profits at £2bn a year.
    Osborne said then: ‘His pension raid was one of his first and worst acts as Chancellor. Pensioners will be paying a heavy price for many, many years to come.’
    What has changed his mind? PANIC!!

  7. Listened to Brown’s Channel Four interview. I think the important issue is not about what he is suggesting, the important point is about whether Westminster can be trusted. There is no point in my view discussing the merits of what Brown is saying, because the central issue is not detail but the fact that the unionist parties will pocket a no vote and do all they can to diffuse the issue as they will then have a free hand to do what they like. We need to really concentrate on the lack of power over the process we will have given if we don’t vote yes.

  8. From a Jack to a Jill

    Jack is feeling quite ill, his background is lost
    It’s now time for Jill to cope with the cost
    Two red crosses on a field of white
    The Saltire’s gone home, restoring what’s right
    A fitting end to a devious pact
    Scotland now cleansed by this final act
    James Dow

  9. The reservations you list are hilarious. The last four:

    o Control of weapons of mass destruction

    o Ordnance survey

    o Timescales, time zones, and summer time, except the computation of periods of time, bank holidays, Term Days and Quarter Days

    o Regulation of activities in outer space

    Well, I hope and pray that when we enter negotiations for our independence that we do no conflate ‘control of weapons of mass destruction’ with ‘ordinance survey’, unless the latter is about determining where the ordinance is for weapons of mass destruction. Oops, different word.

    Quarter days has been a burning issue all my life, I have never, really, known what they are! On re-reading we may now have control of these quarter days that I never knew about. My brain is about to explode!

    Regulation of activities in outer space is probably a serious issue, but the idea that Westminster, that couldn’t launch an orbital vehicle if you paid them, are a major player is risible. We can’t even launch planes off the new aircraft carriers they have.

  10. My honest thought on what Brown has said, is For Fu**s sake just vote YES.
    I took part in a yougov poll and managed to copy down part of it,there is the part that is what do you think will be the result of the referendum,very interesting as its for the whole of the UK:
    From yougov all of the UK;The Scottish Parliament should be given more devolved powers, such as greater powers over taxation and welfare35%
    The Scottish Parliament should keep its current devolved powers29%
    The powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament should be reduced, with more powers brought back to the Westminster Parliament18%
    Don’t know18%
    All GB adults, 05/09/2014 what do you think will be the result of the Scottish referendum.
    Very likely6% for independence
    Fairly likely25%
    Fairly unlikely42%for independence
    Very unlikely5%
    Don’t know22%

  11. A sad husk of a man, the consequences of his part in the carnage of the illegal Iraq War must haunt him at night if he has any decency at all. He learned his morality from his father the Rev’ Broon, as he continually reminded us.

  12. If you want to see just how contemptuous Ball’s was.

  13. As the Channel4 interviewer highlighted: Labour’s poultry offer of income tax powers is a watered down version of the Lib-Dems & even the Tory’s. What a disgrace they are. The Tory’s are quite content to draw the line at keeping control of our oil-gas reserves with this offer of more powers ( which ultimately is what all this hullabaloo is about for Westminster)- but Labour need more than that, they cannot be content with control of the largest reserves of fossil fuels in the EU; they also need a more direct control of the populous by limiting the devolution of power, even compared to the Metropolitan Tory toffs. This for me sums up the moral squalor of New Labour perfectly.

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