By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson’s recent conversion to more powers for Scotland is being questioned after it emerged the subject will not be debated at her party’s Scottish conference next week.
According to reports in the Telegraph, Davidson has blocked any debate on extending the powers of devolution claiming she doesn’t want to “tie the hands” of Conservative peer Lord Strathclyde who has been tasked with looking into what powers might be offered in the event of a No vote.
The under pressure Scottish Tory leader recently announced a U-turn on further devolution after initially stating her opposition to more powers by referring to the current settlement as a “line in the sand”.
There will now be speculation that the inexperienced Scottish Tory leader is having her agenda set by London. According to the Telegraph, there is a split amongst her MSPs with several expressing disappointment that the issue will not be discussed but others apparently happy that the party focus is against independence.
Commenting on the reports, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said:
“It is not surprising Ruth Davidson has prevented discussions on ‘more powers for Scotland’ as we all know the Tories have no real commitment to it.
“We have heard these empty promises before – it’s like 1979 all over again and they have no intention of delivering more powers for Scotland.
“This is yet another gaffe from the Tory leader in Scotland, following news that her much promoted devolution panel not only hasn’t met – it has not even set a date to start discussions.
“Even her own party are unhappy with how she has handled the whole affair. First her own backbencher Murdo Fraser launched a thinly-veiled attack on her leadership, then her previous supporter Lord Forsyth also attacked her, adding to the disarray and confusion in her party.
“People in Scotland will not be fooled again. The majority of people in Scotland want full powers over tax and benefits – this is not what the anti-independence campaign is offering and can only be achieved with a Yes vote for independence next September.”
The issue is an indication of the fault lines that are appearing between the Scottish based Unionist politicians and their London based counterparts.
In April, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was left embarrassed after her proposals for extra tax powers were left in tatters after leader Ed Miliband refused to give his backing. It emerged that her own group of Scottish Labour MPs over which she has control, had criticised both the proposals and the way that they had been announced.
The lack of clear thinking behind Ms Lamont’s announcement was laid bare when her deputy, Labour MP Anas Sarwar, was unable to articulate the benefits of the policy when interviewed on the BBC.