During the 2014 independence campaign I led over 100 “Better Together” volunteers in an area of Edinburgh which is home to tens of thousands of people. Over that summer each volunteer I trained was told that our message was that a No vote was about securing more powers for Holyrood. This was the vow we made on literally thousands of doorsteps.
Eighteen months later it is now clear that that vow has been delivered with the negotiations on the Fiscal Framework reaching a successful conclusion. As John Swinney said on BBC Radio Scotland today “the Smith Commission report has been delivered” and as Nicola Sturgeon said in Holyrood yesterday “this deal will ensure that funding for Scotland will not be changed without the Scottish Government’s agreement ”. This is what Scotland voted for in 2014.
As the party of government, it fell to the SNP to ensure that more powers were delivered whilst ensuring “not a penny” is taken from the Scottish Government’s budget. The SNP’s role is ironic given the finical ruin that would have come with their preferred referendum outcome. An outcome which no independent fiscal analysis has shown would be in Scotland’s interests.
We cannot, however, let more powers and fiscal agreements be the end point of Scotland’s political enlightenment. The SNP have shown themselves to be a timid government which is happy to tinker at the edges of the problems Scotland faces and manage gradual decline in public services. It’s now time for the political class in Scotland to put their constitutional differences aside and draw up bold plans for Scotland’s future. Let’s talk less about the 1707 Act of Union and more about using Holyrood’s newly won powers to ensure health, education and welfare in Scotland is fit for the 21st century.