OurKingdom: Labour shifting on fiscal devolution

Here’s a taster from my piece on OurKingdom today:

You wouldn’t know it from the debate about the future of North Sea oil, but the Labour Party has moved a long way towards accepting greater powers for the Scottish Parliament recently. In her first press conference
as Scottish Labour leader-elect, Wendy Alexander said she was prepared
to consider fiscal autonomy for Holyrood. “We need to look at how
politicians are more financially accountable,” she told reporters.
“This has to be a dialogue within the UK.” Greater tax powers were also
reportedly under discussion at a recent meeting between Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems to discuss an alternative to the SNP’s National Conversation. (full article at OurKingdom)

Update: The SNP’s Richard Thompson asks some searching questions about Labour’s policy in the light of the oil issue:

 given the large role played by North Sea Revenues in Scotland’s economy (£11bn
this year alone), how exactly can you have any kind of meaningful
fiscal autonomy, unless you also repatriate the revenues and relevant
tax powers to Edinburgh?

So, who’s got the upper hand in Labour
on this one? Wendy, or Westminster? Or is it all just a big scam by
Wendy, who after an appropriate period of time will announce that after
some suitably weighty consideration, fiscal autonomy is just a
distraction from the ‘real issues’ that those much fabled ‘people on
the doorstep’ will have been telling her all about? (Scots and Independent)



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3 responses to “OurKingdom: Labour shifting on fiscal devolution”

  1. Gus Abraham avatar

    I wish you were right Tom but as you can see from recent exchanges from David Cairns, the British state will never surrender control over North Sea Oil unless they are forced to.
    See this: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article331945.ece

  2. Tom Griffin avatar

    I’m not suggesting that Labour are ready to hand over North Sea oil revenue, just that they’re prepared to consider some limited fiscal powers.
    Perhaps that is why the oil issue has come up now, they’re setting out the limits of what they’re prepared to concede. One advantage of the Alexander/Ashcroft model of fiscal federalism is that it allows them to pick and choose what to devolve.
    Incidentally, I have some documents from the mid-1970s. here:

  3. Alex Buchan avatar
    Alex Buchan

    On Labour’s changing policy towards Scotland I came upon this article by Ruaridh Nicoll in the Observer today.
    In it he says that Wendy Alexander, has let slip that Labour are going to agree to a referendum on Scottish independence in 2010.
    The question is does she have Brown’s backing. The chances are she wouldn’t dare say this kind of thing without clearing it first.
    There seems to be two possibilities.
    1) That this is just designed to sow confusion in the SNP and that she has no intention of following through on this.
    2) That Labour has decided to go down this path.
    There are massive dangers for Labour if the second is the case. The lack of publicity around this dramatic change of policy suggest that, if they do intend to try to call the SNP’s bluff, they don’t want it widely known, at least not yet.
    This may be Wendy’s first gaff. And it’s difficult to credit that the BBC and others haven’t picked up on this.
    Agreeing to a referendum on such an important issue would blast a massive hole in Brown’s attempts to stop pressure building for a referendum on the EU treaty. Also this lays Brown open to the charge that he will let the Scots decide their constitutional future, but the English are denied any say in theirs. You can see how all this could be exploited against Brown in an election campaign.

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