Iain MacWhirter | The Herald
FIRST there was one option, now there is a whole raft of them.
No sooner had Alex Salmond and David Cameron struck the Edinburgh Agreement, and opened the way for a single-question referendum on independence for Scotland, when along come the Liberal Democrats with plans for a full-scale federal restructuring of Britain. The Scottish Labour Party has also finally convened its Devolution Commission. And of course David Cameron has suggested that Scotland can expect enhanced devolution if we are good boys and girls and reject independence. Suddenly you can’t move for devolution commissions. What will Scots make of it all?
Well, the Liberal Democrats first. Their Home Rule Commission under the former leader, Sir Menzies Campbell which reported this week, has essentially restated their long-standing policy of federalism. The LibDems want a formal separation of powers between a federal UK level of government and subordinate state governments in the component parts of the UK. Much like the United States of America – though smaller. The Scottish Parliament would gain full powers over income tax and domestic policy, while leaving defence, foreign affairs and overall currency to a new level of government. It’s a system that works very well in countries like Australia and Germany where federal systems were introduced by British colonial and wartime administrations.