By a Newsnet reporter
A major blunder by No campaign leader Alistair Darling has revealed that the Tory-led anti-independence campaign will offer Scotland virtually no chance of more powers.
Speaking to Holyrood Magazine, the former Labour Chancellor, who presided over the most catastrophic financial crash in generations, suggested that in the event of a referendum no vote, anything other than ‘minor change’ would have to be in all UK party manifestos.
The admission by the Better Together chief effectively means the Tories would hold veto over any more powers to be passed from Westminster to Scotland. It follows a recent plea from Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie for both Labour and the Conservatives to include significant more powers in their manifestos for the next UK general election.
The admission poses another headache for Labour in Scotland, after their leader Johann Lamont proposed a Commission on Cuts threatening key services, including the imposition of NHS prescriptions and university tuition fees, cuts in apprenticeships and police officer numbers, and a hike in the council tax.
Speaking to Holyrood Magazine editor Mandy Rhodes, Mr Darling said:
“…If you want anything more than a fairly minor change to the constitutional arrangement then at some point you are going to have to ask the rest of the UK which means that all the parties in a general election would have to have in their manifesto what they would intend to do.
“At the moment this question has been confined to north of the border but once you go a little bit further then you are going to have to engage with the rest of the UK which is a rather different debate to the one we have had so far..”
Kenneth Gibson MSP said that Mr Darling had given the game away by letting slip that there would be a Tory veto for any new powers.
Mr Gibson, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee, said:
“It is now clearer than ever that only independence will give us the tools we need to become a more prosperous and fairer country. Mr Darling has – not for the first time – said something he is going to live to regret.
“I am pleased this has come to light – if the Tories and other anti-independence parties insist on denying the people of Scotland an option on greater powers, then it is only fair that they come clean what a no vote means – which is now confirmed as effectively nothing for Scotland.
“This is a serious setback for the negative No campaign. Retaining the constitutional status quo has consistently been the least popular option among the people of Scotland.
“Only with a Yes vote for independence can Scotland gain the full decision making powers we need to live and work in a fairer, more prosperous country.”