The main focus of the Smith Commission is to decide which powers should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Yet, in practice, these powers are held by the Scottish Government and devolved to, or shared with, a large number of governmental, non-governmental and quasi-non-governmental bodies. As a result, no one is quite sure who is responsible for decisions made in the name of the Scottish Parliament.
Professor Charlie Jeffery argues that the Conservative Party now occupies the middle ground among party views on more devolution in Scotland.
The United Kingdom has set up federal systems across the world but has been reluctant to embrace the principle itself, whether in relation to its constituent nations or to Europe. In the latter context, indeed, it has remained the ‘f-word’. Now almost everyone is talking about federalism as a new way of approaching the Scottish issue, a third way between devolution and independence, and as a device for fitting the United Kingdom together as a whole. As usual, when so many people agree on an idea, however, they do not agree on its meaning.
Opinion polls have consistently suggested strong support for the Scottish parliament to have powers over social security. Over the next 6 weeks, the Smith commission now has an opportunity to consider, as part of its broader process, whether agreement can be reached over welfare devolution.
Over 1.7m Scots were energised enough about the future of their country to campaign, research and turn out to vote for radical change on the 18th September. And according one of the first post-result polls, 25% of No voters voted that way because they believed that Scotland would receive significant additional devolved powers whilst remaining in the UK. So that’s over 2 million voters wanting policy decisions for Scotland to be taken in Scotland.