Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Let's try this again

For some reason the link to the piece on Tony Blair's lies and arrogance over Scottish devolution keeps breaking. I think the single quotes in the URL are confusing Blogger, which is housekeeping half the URL away.

So I shall do something I normally associate with Uncle Jimmy, and paste the whole article in here, along with its URL:




SCOTTISH Labour MPs and activists yesterday accused Tony Blair of betraying the party's devolution commitment.

As he launched the Scottish manifesto in Glasgow the Labour leader revived fears among his own rank and file that he would water down his party's pledge to deliver a Scottish parliament with tax-varying powers, .

Mr Blair infuriated his own party by ruling out Labour raising taxes in a newly-created Scottish parliament.

He also claimed Westminster sovereignty over a Scottish parliament and compared its taxation powers to those of an English parish council.

One senior home rule activist said last night: `He seems to be backpedalling on tax and that frightens us all because we now doubt whether he wants a Scottish parliament at all. Yet again this is something forced on us that we knew nothing about. Yet another stab in the back.'

Mr Blair said yesterday: `Sovereignty rests with me as an English MP and that's the way it will stay.' He insisted it was a `constitutional fact' that Westminster would retain sovereignty, effectively giving London-based MPs the right to abolish a Scottish parliament.

But that flew in the face of a promise made by the Scottish Constitutional Convention, a body made up of Labour and the Liberal Democrat MPs, trade unions, councils and the churches.

The Convention, set up to draft a blueprint for home rule, drew up the Claim of Right signed by the late Labour leader John Smith and all but one of the party's 50 Scottish MPs.

It stated the Scottish people would be sovereign over the parliament. But Labour's Scottish manifesto reads: `A sovereign Westminster Parliament will devolve power to Scotland and Wales.'

And Mr Blair said yesterday: `The Labour Party is committed not to raise the basic or top rate of income tax, and so is the Scottish party. The Labour Party will not be raising income tax.'

The Scottish people would not be sovereign over the parliament, he said.

`What Scotland is getting is devolution and that means the local services can be run here in Scotland and rules and laws applying to them can be made here. It's not separation or the break up of the UK.'

John Major was quick to pounce on the blunder. He claimed Labour's plans for a Scottish parliament had collapsed in `total and utter chaos' with Tony Blair's decision to impose a veto on any use by Labour of a Scottish parliament's tax-raising power.

He ridiculed Mr Blair's position and said: `Scotland isn't a parish. It's a great nation, one of four nations that has made the United Kingdom one of the great influences on the world.'

He said a Tory government would fight to preserve the United Kingdom, `whatever the electoral cost may be'.

Mr Blair forcing his will on the Scottish Labour Party showed `staggering arrogance or total incompetence'.

Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth said: `The whole devolution fiasco is a mess of contradictions and deceptions - a dog's breakfast. The Scottish Constitutional Convention worked for six years and in six minutes Tony Blair has shredded its proposals.'

Sir David Steel, Liberal MP and chairman of the Constitutional Convention, described the Labour leader's statement as `gobbledegook'.

He said: `I'm afraid Tony Blair is very confused in his statements about Scottish self-government. Sovereignty resides with the Scottish people.'


At 15 May, 2010 14:36, Anonymous Phil said...

Takes me back - that statement of Blair's was the last straw for me, the moment when I realised I couldn't possibly vote (New) Labour.

At 16 May, 2010 21:04, Blogger Rob said...

I reached that point when Blair became party leader, as I'd registered him as a thoroughly nasty piece of work when he was Shadow Home Secretary. The 1997 general election was the first time I seriously considered not bothering to vote as neither Conservative v NuLabour seemed fit to be in government.

But Blair's devolution gaffe is certainly up there with his instruction to his staff to come up with "eye-catching initiatives with which I can be personally associated" as a reason to despise him.

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