One day after House of Lords Constitution Committee report on The Union and Devolution, Herald indy journalist supplies the evidence for their concerns

Indy supporting Herald journalist, Iain MacWhirter, whose intellectual contortions during the indyref 1 campaign severely undermined his credibility amongst objective readers [one example confronted here: Politically revelatory article in Sunday Herald], has provided immediate evidence in support of the Lords Constitution Committee’s conclusions in their report, The Union and Devolution, published yesterday, 25th May 2016.

In today’s edition of The Herald, 26th May 2016, MacWhirter is writing again on the political impact of the economic analyses of the fiercely independent Institute of Fiscal Studies – this time on the immediate consequences of Britain leaving  the European Union.

Again forced to accept the evidence of the IFS conclusions, MacWhirter glumly reflects on the power of the negative – cleverly associating by implication the IFS with what has come to be called Project Fear – the tactics employed in the anti-indy campaign and now in the anti-Brexit campaign.

Firstly, the IFS has no interest in causing or apportioning fear, blame, praise or acclaim. It is a wholly expert academic establishment devoted only to distillations of fact into performance models that have usefulness in showing the consequences of fiscal actions. mentioning them in the same context of Project Fear is underhandedly subversive of their utter objectivity.

In today’s Herald piece, The IFS is right, but in a way that should make us all pause, MacWhirter – says: ‘The message is that Project Fear works. And the lesson for the Scottish independence movement is this: Referendums may be the accepted method for resolving issues of sovereignty but they also tend to favour the political establishment because it can portray any change as a leap in the dark.

‘If and when another independence referendum is mooted, the Scottish Government will have to be absolutely sure it can win it. I’d even go as far as to say that, ironically, Scotland would have to be effectively independent before a referendum could be won. The Scottish Parliament will have to acquire independence policy by policy, tax by tax, until a referendum on independence becomes largely a recognition of reality.’ [Ed: our emphasis].

The Constitution Committee report said, on the consequences of devolution upon the union itself: ‘In recent years, concerns have been growing about the effect that devolution has had on the stability of the Union as a whole. These concerns were brought into sharp relief by the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, and by the subsequent process leading to the Scotland Act 2016 and its associated fiscal framework.’

It concluded: ‘While the UK constitution has proved flexible and resilient over the centuries, it recently faced a serious existential threat in the form of a referendum on Scottish independence. We regret that Mr Letwin, the responsible Government minister, does not recognise the concerns expressed by this Committee and many others at the pressures being placed on the UK constitution by the manner in which the devolution of powers has taken place, and continues to take place, with little consideration of the status and needs of the Union.

‘There is no evidence of strategic thinking in the past about the development of devolution. There has been no guiding strategy or framework of principles to ensure that devolution develops in a coherent or consistent manner and in ways which do not harm the Union. Instead, successive Governments have responded individually to demands from each nation. Devolution has thus developed in an ad hoc fashion, with different constitutional conversations taking place separately in different parts of the country.’

Iain MacWhirter’s final remark this morning  writes QED to these specific concerns of the Committee: ‘It’s a sobering lesson for the independence radicals, but it confirms tha SNP’s policy of gradualism is probably the only way. Referendums are just too scary for modern electorates [surely, since, electorates are not of one mind, even in Scotland,  MacWhirter must mean that referendums are ‘ too scary for modern dictatorships‘?], whose fear of losing what they have will always trump the hope of what they could gain.’

MacWhirter’s pro-indy perspective here illustrates powerfully the Constitution Committee’s analysis of the consequences of unthought rolling devolution for the union as a whole.

The confusions caused by the journalists’s compromised intelligence are also manifest in this article.

In the quoted paragraphs above of his recent piece, MacWhirter says, accusingly, that ‘political establishments’ are in a position to ‘portray any change as a leap in the dark‘.  Yet in this very same article the journalist himself says: ‘Leaving the EU, like Scottish independence, is essentially an act of faith. Radical change always comes wrapped in uncertainties.’

This statement itself presents separatist movement as, indeed, ‘leaps in the dark’ – and effectively recommends the taking of such leaps.

It is then contradictory and self-interested to blame the ‘political establishment’ for ‘portraying any change as a leap in the dark’, suggesting that this portrayal is a malicious caricature, when it is the factual picture which the journalist himself clearly sees – and advocates.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Surely the history of Britain has usually ‘developed in an ad hoc fashion’ – for many a year – and the way I see it is that what is dangerous just now is the extent to which many people’s minds seem focussed on dissatisfaction with the status quo, rather than on some great ideal that is beckoning them on.
    This is surely behind a lot of nationalist (and pro-Europe) fervour – revulsion at the tradition that evolved in the Central Belt of corrupt politics, and at the complacent croneyism that seems to drive a lot of the Westminster politics. Down in England the disillusion is more with the questionable antics – and spectacular political ineptitude – of the European government institutions. It seems to be that old adage of the ‘grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ that drives many people’s national ambitions, rather than any desire to see how the existing system can be influenced for the better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

    Robert Wakeham May 26, 2016 2:36 pm Reply
  • Nice one Bob, spot on.

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    Oban4me May 26, 2016 9:32 pm Reply
  • ?

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    Nae Fear Here May 26, 2016 9:43 pm Reply

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