Darling refuses to confirm if Scots will see new powers in event of No vote


  By Martin Kelly
Labour MP Alistair Darling has refused to confirm if Scotland will gain any new powers in the event of a No vote in this September’s independence referendum.
The former UK Chancellor, who is head of the anti-independence campaign Better Together, told the BBC that any decision on what new powers might be handed over would not be taken until after the referendum.

Devolution “is a process” he told BBC Scotland presenter Bill Whiteford, and added “The first thing to do is to get the constitutional question settled” .

Mr Darling defended the lack of any concrete proposals from the No campaign in the event of Scots rejecting independence and appeared to suggest nothing beyond the powers already included in the Scotland Act, would be devolved to Holyrood.

Responding to suggestions the No campaign appeared to be offering the status quo, Mr Darling referred to the Scottish Government’s recently published white paper which set out its vision for an independent Scotland, and replied:

“We’re not talking about two competing white papers here.  What we’re talking about is the nationalists got elected in 2011, they’re quite entitled to put to the people the one thing they are dedicated to which is independence … separation.

“The other side to that are those of us who actually say no, this is not in Scotland’s best interests.”

He added: “It is not the status quo because the world moves on […] we’ve got the power to raise income tax and fix the income tax rate in 2016.”

Mr Darling’s response to questions on new powers following a No vote echo similar remarks from campaign colleague Professor John Gallagher, who this week claimed Scots who say they want more powers aren’t aware of the extra powers yet to be implemented.

Asked on Scotland Tonight if he hoped to forge a consensus amongst the Unionist parties for more powers, the academic replied: “That’s not my job at the moment, my job is to focus on the positive case”

He added: “Of course there is immediately a sign of more powers for Holyrood in the Scotland Act which will was passed on a cross party basis just a couple of years ago and which will come into effect almost immediately after the referendum vote if the Scottish people vote to stay in the United Kingdom.”

Recent opinion polls have suggested that a majority of Scots are in favour of Holyrood controlling Welfare, Pensions and Taxation in the event of a No vote.

See Alistair Darling’s full interview here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-25681694