Michael Moore (the Secretary of State for Scotland for those who aren't fully up to speed) has a good article in the Scotland on Sunday preparing the populace and pushing the appeal of the Calman recommendations that the coalition will seek to make law later this year.
It is a persuasive piece, not so much fuelling the reader's imagination as tempering it. Michael states, quite correctly, that "detailed analysis, proper consultation and a substantial cross-party agreement" is required before a change can be made to the devolution arrangement and to this end it is only Calman alone that currently passes each three tests.
This is surely inadequate. One can't prove the merit of a particular proposal by urging the audience to disregard all alternatives. Has anyone anywhere yet argued why Calman is the best solution for Scotland? Not that I have seen. An added oddity is the intriguing fact that the Liberal Democrats have a stated preference for 'Calman Plus' which would see Scotland raise 70% of its own taxes, not the standard 'Calman' which would see us raise only 20% of our own taxes. Even Michael Moore's party doesn't believe that the Calman recommendations is all there is.
I am not suggesting that a higher percentage of raising our own taxes is necessarily better. Following such a philosophy through to its natural conclusion would mean the coalition writing a new law resulting in Scotland raising 100% of its own taxes, a result that perhaps some on the Conservative benches (and all on the SNP benches) would be happy to contribute to. Full fiscal autonomy is my personal preference as it removes all imbalances in the relationship between spending and tax-raising and ensures that the Scottish Government has the appropriate responsibility for its decisions.
So it begs the question - when did Scotland decide that Calman was the best option? Yes, there was a review group of 15 members which of course each will have had a significant (if varying) contribution to make but Calman is hardly the "culmination of an extensive programme of engagement all across Scotland" that our Secretary of State claims.
Where is the consideration of Reform Scotland's call for significantly more fiscal powers? Where is the consideration of fiscal autonomy/responsibility as called for by the Chief Executive of MacDonald hotels, the Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, the Policy Institute, Gerry Hassan, The Spectator's Fraser Nelson, Kwik-Fit founder Tom Farmer, Clyde Blowers Chief Executive Jim McColl and so many more. That is not to mention the SNP of course who forms the Government of Scotland.
In falling short of their own preferences by compromising with Calman, the Liberal Democrats are making the exact same mistake as they made over the AV referendum when they prefer a significantly more proportional voting system to what is on offer. How can we know what Nick Clegg and his party really want if they continue to refuse to stand up for it?
Calman may well be the most popular option amongst Scots as well as amongst 'unionist' politicians but we won't know until we ask them. It's certainly not "the only show in town" when Calman Plus, fiscal autonomy and independence are perfectly viable and woefully under-srcutinised options.
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