Tom Harris, Grand High Panjandrum of Scottish Vote Leave and a former Labour MP, says a Leave vote in the EU referendum would automatically devolve new powers to the Scottish Parliament.
This is not an appeal to you to vote Leave on June 23.*
I strongly suspect that if you’re reading this site, you’ve made up your mind one way or another anyway, and if you’re a Labour Party member, you’ve probably come down on the establishment side.
But no, this isn’t an attempt to win more support to my campaign to persuade Scots to vote Leave. Rather it is an attempt to shed some light on the curious arguments being deployed by Scotland’s own establishment party, the SNP.
Now, to offer a word of explanation, a few months ago, when I was appointed Director of Scottish Vote Leave, I quickly realised that there was at least one powerful argument that might be deployed in favour of a Leave vote north of the border that wouldn’t work in England, specifically that once outside the EU, the Scottish Parliament would gain more powers. Control over fishing and agriculture, currently subject to the bizarre machinations of the Common Fisheries and Agriculture policies, would be among a range of powers automatically devolved to Holyrood.
Why automatic? Simple – because Donald Dewar was not a stupid man.
He understood, when many around him did not, that if the government in 1997 chose to list in the new Scotland Bill all the devolved powers that should be wielded by the still-to- be-born Scottish Parliament, that would immediately limit the new institution. Donald foresaw a time when areas of policy not yet thought of might present themselves, and rather than have them fought over and create unnecessary constitutional squabbling, they should automatically, by default, come under the remit of the Scottish Parliament.
So instead, Donald decided that matters reserved to Westminster should be the ones that should be listed and therefore limited. This meant that, for example, when newspaper regulation reared its (ugly) head in the wake of the Leveson inquiry, there was no debate as to which parliament should have the leading role: is it listed under “Reserved powers” in the Scotland Act? No? Then Holyrood it is!
Fishing, like newspaper regulation, is not included in the Act’s list of reserved powers, which is why Scottish Ministers currently have the responsibility of implementing the EU Common Fisheries Policy in Scotland. Which means (and stop me if I’m going too fast here) that in the event of the UK voting to leave the EU, Holyrood, not Westminster, automatically inherits fisheries policy.
Now, you are quite entitled to say that the above notwithstanding, you still prefer the UK to remain in the EU. Fair enough. I disagree, but that’s what democracy is all about.
What you cannot say – or at least, cannot say without spontaneous combustion taking place in the immediate vicinity of your pants – is that these powers would go anywhere other than to Holyrood. But hey, don’t take my word for it – take the word of Professor Drew Scott of Edinburgh University:
“If the UK leaves the EU, then by default these powers would come back to the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster.”
Professor Scott, incidentally, was a constitutional advisor to the Scottish Government in the run up to the independence referendum in 2014. I mention this because you would think that SNP politicians might take him more seriously than they’d take a former Labour MP.
Alas, no. The First Minister herself was reported by Buzzfeed last Friday as saying:
“If there’s a Leave vote we would not automatically get more powers in the Scottish Parliament.”
Except we would, so why would say such a thing? It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? If you’re the leader of a nationalist movement that has built a reputation of always standing up for Scotland and always fighting for more powers, what else can you say? Your own followers and voters might look somewhat askance at an admission that you’re asking them to vote against a proposition that would give your own ministers extra, important powers.
So simply deny. What about the Scotland Act? Deny. The precedent of newspaper regulation? Deny. Professor Scott? Deny.
Alyn Smyth MEP went even further in this dishonest spin yesterday in a column in the Sunday Herald. No doubt having been told by HQ of the need to kill this “extra powers” story before it did any real damage, he was happy to oblige:
“And for those who claim that Leave will mean more powers for Holyrood – how? We have just gone through the Smith Commission process, with ‘The Vow’ filleted at every opportunity. You think these same people will suddenly permit more devolution? You think Nigel Farage, who barely years ago wanted to abolish Holyrood, suddenly wants to strengthen it?”
You see what he did there? He asked the question about the process of transferring powers from Brussels to Holyrood and left it hanging like a rhetorical question, as if no one was able to answer it: “– how?” And then the slam-dunk – he mentioned Farage, the winning card in any Scottish political poker game. Yet, as has been established, neither Farage nor any other convenient right wing hate figure is remotely relevant to this.
And because these new powers would arrive at Holyrood without the need for a commission or any amendment to the Scotland Act or, in fact, any kind of stushie whatever, Alyn’s reference to the Smith Commission can only have been mentioned to remind his party’s supporters of the Union’s continuing perfidy.
But I repeat my point: I don’t really blame them. What else could they reasonably do? Admit the truth of the matter, that the power to transform and rejuvenate our fishing communities would be in the hands of Scottish (SNP) ministers instead of Brussels bureaucrats, but that they were turning their backs on such a prospect? How could they reasonably have explained that?
Now, of course there’s the bigger question about why the SNP claim to support continued membership of the EU in the first place, but that’s a subject for a different article. In the meantime we’re left with the reality that Scotland’s biggest party, the party that was swept to power on a tidal wave of nationalist sentiment, is rejecting new powers for Holyrood, and asking its supporters to do the same.
As a non-SNP voter, I believe SNP ministers would make the right decisions for our fishing and farming communities. I believe they would make decisions based on Scotland’s interests. I believe they would make good decisions that would benefit Scotland.
What a pity Nicola disagrees with me.
*But vote Leave anyway.
22 thoughts on “I think SNP Ministers would do a better job of running our fishing industry – why doesn’t Nicola?”
The Labour Party leadership is totally out of touch with 50% of Labour voters on this issue. There is no way we should have run the “Labour IN” campaign.
This is the most important vote in a generation. Our party leadership by taking a unitary line has deliberately stifled democratic debate and therefore alienated half our parties vote.
If we vote to leave Labour will get away with it and UKIP will probably fade away.
If we vote to stay half of the Labour vote will never forgive us and we will be finished.
I agree with you Labour have made a major tactical error. They should have learnt their lesson from 2014 and let members and supporters a free vote without taking sides. Look at the disaster that has been Scottish Labour post Sep 2014.
Where I disagree, is, if it is a Leave majority; I think the opposite will happen with UKIP. I can see Labours northern heartlands and Wales move en masse to UKIP. This has already started in Wales.
If Remain wins the day, I don’t think the impact will be as bad, but look at what happened in Scotland when Labour ‘won’ that referendum.
But getting back to your main point Andy, Labour I believe have made an error in taking sides in what is and could have been spun as a posh boys fall out.
Agreed, it made has no good strategic sense whatsoever to run the “Labour IN” campaign.
No lessons have been learnt from the 2014 referendum.
So basically you’re argument is vote leave to help the Labour party? How will that persuade anybody who doesn’t support Labour to vote leave Andy? You never seem to think through your posts.
Mike, I don’t write my posts for the benefit of SNP toadies and lap dogs.
Still, I don’t blame you for wanting to hang about here, seeing that the SNP is a top down dictatorship.
You must find all this open debate a refreshing change?
LMAO So you don’t want to direct your campaign at the majority then?
No wonder yer a Labour drone.
Andy you are bang on the money the Parliamentary Labour Party are out of touch with ordinary people I expect that the majority of people in Scotland will vote to leave the EU.
Hahaha! Love it.
From the party that only permits invited audiences to hear the Word from London and that blocks any dissenting voices in order not to hear anything it might find disagreeable?
I agree, they have further split the support that remained after the indyref
First time I have agreed with an article on Labour Hame. Tom Harris is quite right in his analysis. The SNPs position on the up and coming UK in/out referendum is hypocritical on two counts.
First because more powers would come to Holyrood in the event of a Leave majority than would have come to Holyrood had Scotland voted Yes in 2014. Yet the SNP support Remain. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the real powers presently residing with the EU e.g. environmental, fishing, agriculture, to name but three are secondary to constitutional power.
Second, because it is an open secret never to be mentioned that the SNP pray for a Leave vote, the opposite from their stated preference. They whisper it amongst themselves, because they know a Leave majority is their last hope of a second Scottish referendum. They know it. We know that they know it. They know that we know that they know it. But they don’t dare admit it.
There is however one lesson to be learnt from the rank hypocrisy of the SNP and that it is their unquestionable discipline. Niccolo Machiavelli would be impressed.
“More powers would come to Holyrood……leave majority…..had Scotland voted YES”?
This is a ludicrous assertion, and flies entirely against known facts.
This is to assert that a Scotland under the control of Westminster, would have MORE power than, say, Denmark, within the EU.—Utterly preposterous!
The proposition that a ‘Scottish government would have more powers within an independent UK than it would have as an independent country within the EU’ is not preposterous but I will concede neither is it fact. It is proposition that Tom Harris has put and that I agree with. And I think it should be considered.
When this proposal is looked at along with and at the same time as the result of the Scottish referendum of 2014 (an equation that Scottish nationalists seem to refuse to face up to) the UK EU referendum takes on a wholly different perspective. If the SNP were serious about achieving more powers and responsibilities for the Scottish parliament then of course they should be supporting a Leave vote. The EU has control over fishing, agriculture, environment, labour laws, and a lot more. Under the UK devolution agreement most of these powers would come to Holyrood on 24 June if it is a Leave majority.
Other parties including Labour and the SNP like to spin this EU referendum as a fall out between the posh boys, but it is a lot more than that. I give the Conservative Party and its MPs a lot of credit for forcing this issue and putting their beliefs for what they see is the right thing for the country ahead of the good of (maybe even the existence of) their party. It is a an important lesson for all political parties to remember but especially for Labour who seem to think The Party’s interests come before all else. When you hear politicians spout “I am Labour” or “trust me and my moral compass” and you don’t know what they stand for then you can be sure that party is in far greater danger than a party that may have split over ideology disagreement.
“Tom Harris, Grand High Panjandrum of Scottish Vote Leave and a former Labour MP, says a Leave vote in the EU referendum would automatically devolve new powers to the Scottish Parliament.”
And right there is what is commonly referred to as a moronic bare faced lie and from a man who opposes more powers for the Scottish Parliament. A man who believes the Smith commission recommendations were too generous.
Tom Harris shows no comprehension of understanding the debate in Scotland surrounding our constitutional position. Not surprising, giving his stance which led to his losing Westminster gig.
Its my belief the SNP are playing a long game, one step at a time.
Position itself on the “out” side on the EU and it would be dubbed again with the tag of “narrow nationalist” and “separatist” party ( though these terms are mysteriously absent now in the EU debate). So it goes with “stay” as step1, hoping there is a substantial difference between Scotland/England in the vote. Many SNP supporters WOULD naturally vote “out” if not for the Party stance. This difference potentially sets up step2—-a new Indyref, which doesn’t have to be immediate, but can be nursed along until the time is “right”.
The SNP seek much more from the future than control of fisheries, which are in any case, now largely constrained by limits on catch quota’s, no matter who sets them.
Mr Harris would be better sticking to playing with his dug, and Glasgow Rangers, because politics has gone way beyond his reckoning.
Tom Harris got horsed at the election a year past May but his puss is never off the telly
The SNP position on the EU referendum is a joke. If they were truly interested in more power being invested upon the Scottish people they would want out of the EU.
The “there will be another referendum if Scotland is taken out of the EU against her will” is a third rate con trick.
In 1975 the UK voted to remain part of Common Market.
In 2014 Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.
In 2016 we will vote as the UK whether to remain in, or leave the EU.
How Scotland votes in the EU referendum makes not one shred of difference.
“How Scotland votes in the EU referendum makes not one shred of difference”. That last line there says it all. Why would you want Scotland shackled to a system in which, by your own admission, it’s votes don’t count? That’s your narrow Nationalism right there.
Gordon, we joined the Common Market as the UK.
Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.
Therefore we will vote as the UK, whether to remain in, or leave the EU.
There is no constituency, regional, or national vote in this referendum.
Every vote is of equal value.
The SNP leadership really are grasping at straws.
You could list all the ex-Prime Ministers, and senior party figures from ALL sides who have endorsed the SNP position on Indyref2.
Presumably they are all con artists also, including Labour politico’s who assert there will be another referendum, if Scotland votes Stay, and England’s big vote takes us through the EU “separatist/narrow nationalist” door.
And if they all assert it WILL lead to Indyref2, they can hardly be surprised when it does.
Gavin, face the facts, there isn’t going to be another “indyref”, it’s all over.
The threat of a second independence is a useful tool, brought out of the box, by politicians of all parties, as and when it suits them. This includes your own Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond.
The SNP followers really are being led a merry dance.
Joseph Stalin would have called you “useful idiots”
The message that both Labour and SNP are pushing that most Scots are in favour of staying in the EU is propaganda the Parliamentary Labour Party in Westminster are in a bubble and are out of touch with their constituents in England and the same can be said for the Scottish Labour Party in Scotland as well as the SNP when the total votes are counted and broke down I am confident that of the total votes cast in Scotland there will be for a majority voting in favour of a Vote To Leave EU.
Their claims are based on several polling results not on wishful thinking. It looks either like the UK as a whole will vote to leave or the Scots vote will keep us in.
I will love to see how the Brexits react to that one after telling us for years how “Better Together” we all are.
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