Brexit and Indyref2: let’s not box ourselves in when considering Scotland’s future

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John Downie says Brexit and Indyref2 are not the only issues at play when deciding what kind of country we want to be

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21st March 2017 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

It was interesting to see ex-prime minister Gordon Brown’s recent intervention in the debate on Scotland and Brexit. He spoke of federalism offering a "patriotic" way forward through the fog of Scotland’s future and that of the UK after Brexit. It was even more interesting to see how little impact his pitch had.

I’m not really surprised. After all, Brown appears to have put himself out to pasture while the Labour Party stumbles through the chaotic reign of Jeremy Corbyn.

It’s a shame really, because the former PM makes some important points. Powers and resources currently handled at European Union level will need to be organised differently as a result of Brexit. But how should that be done?

John Downie

John Downie

There are, of course, parts of the current devolution settlement that don’t meet our needs or are not well organised

The third sector has an interest in many related policy areas: agricultural subsidy, rural development, state aid, employment and human rights, research, refugees and asylum seekers, environmental protection and many others. 

There are, of course, parts of the current devolution settlement that don’t meet our needs or are not well organised. These include:

  • Universal Credit and other adult welfare benefits
  • the muddle of the crown estate,
  • taxation to cover devolved costs,
  • equality law,
  • drug misuse,
  • and transport.

As the debate carries on we need to be assertive in making the case for powers to come back to Scotland from both Europe and London.

In our submission to the Smith Commission, SCVO asked for all welfare, employment law, equality law, energy, employability powers and many others to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. This is still our position.

The previous focus on specific powers and responsibilities has meant a piecemeal devolution of powers, a situation that is inhibiting our ability bring about real change.

In order to bring about the fair and just Scotland we want to see, a more substantial package of devolved powers should now be delivered. We need a genuine transfer of responsibility which enables Holyrood to achieve the best outcomes for people in Scotland.

In the midst of Brexit and IndyRef2 this is becoming a forgotten issue. But it’s far too important to let slip.

John Downie is director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

23rd March 2017 by Jack

It's all very well desiring more powers so that Holyrood can affect change but they already have significant power they won't use. It's become painfully obvious this is deliberate to try and keep grievance to a maximum to keep support up for Indyref2. Rather than wait for more power the Third Sector needs to start lobbying the Scottish Government to bring about change now in the areas already devolved. Instead too many organisations are trusting politicians when they say "I'd love to help but those bad people at Westminster won't let me".