Wednesday, 24 December 2008


Because after reading this post on Calum Cashley's blog and this post on the Tartan Army Message Board I decided to read the report for myself.

And my thoughts? Well I thought there were a lot more issues within the report that needed airing. Why? Because for something that is meant to be an "independent" report, and one the taxpayer pays for, I believe it should be factually correct and impeccably upfront and honest in its intentions.

I don't believe it is as the two posts I have referred to above show. It is historically inaccurate and its remit "to secure the position of Scotland within the United Kingdom" never spells out clearly what it means by that "union". In short the Parliamentary union of 1707 which placed the sovereign power over lives at Westminster and still does to this day despite devolution. A "union" that is far cry from the concept that is often perceived of a partnership of four equal nations; a concept which I, as an SNP voter, feel not only comfortable with but supportive. A union of unity.

However that is not the "union" the Calman Commission is "securing". It is the one that totally centralises ultimate power in the hands of 650 individuals at Westminster only 59 of which are there to represent Scotland's interests - and even then they are subject to party prejudice. Rather than a union of unity it is a "union" for competing partisan power brokers. As Winston Churchill said of the UK in 1909:

Look at our neighbour and friendly rival Germany. I see that great State organised for peace and organised for war to a degree to which we cannot pretend. We are not organised as a nation, so far as I can see, for anything except party politics
It is that political partisanship which creates a fog around the concept of the centralised "union" of Westminster sovereignty. A fog which misleads about the Calman Commission and hence why we have, I suspect, the likes of Kenny Farquharson getting the impression that it is about the devolution of more responsibilities to make life better in Scotland when it is actually about protecting that "union" which dare not speak its name.

A "union" to which Calman Commission has co-opted other unions and institutions on to as if they are integral to that "union" of Westminster sovereignty. The fact is they are either not or their existence is not threatened by the "union" of Westminster sovereignty no longer continuing.

However saying all that should not be read as the members of the Calman Commission are somehow complicit in a deceit. I don't believe they are. Sir Kenneth Calman is simply acting under the remit he has been given and I believe many of the members are actually supporters of a union of unity rather than a "union" for partisan power brokers.

In short it would be good if they (and the parties that set it up) were questioned on what union they believe in.

One that keeps all sovereign power at Westminster - like Labour and the Tories - where devolution can be ultimately overruled or even abolished by Westminster?

One - like the Liberal Democrats - where sovereignty is shared on a federal basis between Westminster and Scotland but where Westminster superior?

Or one - like the SNP's - where sovereignty lies in Scotland but that institutions and responsibilities can be shared with other nations in the British Isles on the basis of mutual agreement?

Then there is the fundamental question that appears to be amiss from the Commission's remit? Are their deliberations about what is best for Scotland or best for the "union"?

Saying both are indivisible won't wash as no man (or woman) can ride two horses at the same time. But more on that later.

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