Brown’s Home-Rule pledge must be honoured, says Salmond


  By a Newsnet reporter
Any extra powers to Scotland must match Gordon Brown’s pledge of Home Rule made in the final days of the independence referendum campaign, First Minister Alex Salmond has said.
Mr Salmond was being interviewed on STV when he was asked if his party would be making submissions to the commission being headed by Lord Robert Smith of Kelvin as it tries to set out a firm package of extra powers to be given to Scotland.

Confirming his party would take part in the process, he told STV’s Political Editor Bernard Ponsonby:

“We’re not short of ideas, I think what we’ll probably table is something that approximates to the ‘nearly federalism’, or the Home Rule proposal that Gordon Brown was speaking about so eloquently during the campaign.

“We’ll try to encapsulate what that might represente because that is what perhaps a quarter of people who voted No seemed to think they were being offered.”

The comments from Mr Salmond are a clear indication that the SNP will pursue the three Unionist parties to honour their eleventh hour pledge made on the front page of the Daily Record to legislate for new powers within a set timetable set out by former Labour leader Gordon Brown.

In a speech, broadcast live by the BBC, Mr Brown promised that a No vote would lead to a more federal UK with Scotland having the equivalent of Home Rule.  The Labour MP’s late offer, two weeks before the referendum, followed a Yougov survey which showed the Yes campaign had overtaken its No rival.

The extent of the powers promised by Mr Brown went further than that offered by any of the three London parties months earlier.  Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems all proposed a different package of extra powers, with Labour the least of the three.

Days later, Mr Brown’s Labour party colleague Alistair Darling, who headed the anti-independence Better Together campaign, confirmed in a TV interview that Devo Max would indeed be the prize if Scotland voted No.

Asked by Reporting Scotland presenter Jackie Bird if his campaign was now offering Devo Max to voters, Mr Darling confirmed they were saying “Yeh”.  Devo Max is widely acknowledged to mean Scotland gets all powers with the exception of defence and foreign affairs.

However Mr Salmond appeared sceptical that Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems would honour their promise to the Scottish people, adding: “Everybody knows the packages offered by the three Unionist parties are as weak as water.

He said: “We know that they bare little resemblence to Gordon Brown’s Home Rule, or ‘near federalism’ as you can get.”

Speaking yesterday, Lord Smith warned that he had no power to compel the three London parties to reach agreement on what further powers should be devolved.

“My job is to create a process through which agreement is reached, but I cannot force an agreement. It will not be easy; it will require positive intent, courage and compromise from all parties.” he said.

A UK Government command paper is set to be published by October 31, Lord Smith will also listen to other political parties and wider groups before publishing recommendations for further devolution by November 30.

Yesterday, Lord Smith met with Holyrood’s Presiding Officer and representatives of the the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Green Party, Scottish Conservative Party, the Labour group in Holyrood and Scottish Liberal Democrats.  Each will be invited to submit two representatives to the commission.

Later this week, Scottish civic institutions and business groups will be sent a letter inviting them to submit their views on more powers.

Next week, Lord Smith will announce plans explaining how individual Scots can have their own say on the issue.

[Newsnet Scotland has started a petition to have broadcasting devolved and brought under the control of the Scottish people.  The petition can be found by clicking HERE.

We would encourage everyone to sign this petition and make others aware of its existence.  This is important now that Lord Kelvin has announced he will be taking input from Scottish organisations on further devolution. 

Lord Smith of Kelvin has said he will present his recommendations on 30th November.]