Party consensus on further devolution

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See also: Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats

Joint declarations

The three main pro-union parties published a joint pledge in August to deliver more powers after the referendum[1].
The original intention was to include proposals in their respective manifestos for the 2015 Westminster General Election, but they have now committed to a timetable outlined by Gordon Brown on 8th September and endorsed by all three parties. See After a No Vote.

A further promise by the three party leaders appeared in the Daily Record on 16 September[2] under the heading "The Vow", in which they pledged to make the Scottish Parliament "permanent”, “extensive" new powers, the "sharing of resources equitably across all four nations”, a continuation of the Barnett allocation, and a promise that spending on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Possible roll back of devolution

The Better Together campaign points out that the three parties supporting a No vote have a strong track record of delivering on devolution not just for Scotland, but also for other parts of the UK. There are already more powers coming to Scotland through the 2012 Scotland Act[3].


  1. Scotsman: McLeish No vote warning 15 August 2014.
  2. Daily Record: David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg sign joint historic promise which guarantees more devolved powers for Scotland and protection of NHS if we vote No 15 September 2014
  3. Scotsman, ibid

Joint declarations

Former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish says Scots must think “very carefully” about voting No in the referendum because promises of more powers may be not be delivered. The “difficult” Westminster system may thwart the pledges of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to hand greater devolution to the Scottish Parliament[1]
In his blog on 28th August 2014, entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter wrote[2]
"...our politicians do democracy a disservice in not providing a cast iron tri-party agreement on additional powers for Scotland"
Alex Salmond described the declaration on September 16 by the three party leaders as "A last minute desperate offer of nothing[3]." Criticisms from the Yes camp of the offer include that a "permanent" parliament is a meaningless platitude as long as Westminister has the power to overturn its own previous decisions. The new powers are actually new responsibilities to raise taxes, without any further share of UK revenues. Sharing resources equitably across all four nations does not advance the present situation in which Scotland provides a disproportionate share of the resources. If you reduce the portion of Scotland’s block grant to which the Barnett Formula is applied by making Scotland raise the rest itself from taxation, you can keep the Formula exactly the same but slash billions from the actual amount of money it delivers. The Scottish Government can ultimately only slice the pie it gets from Westminster. It can’t control the size of that pie to help the NHS[4].
Former Labour first minister Lord McConnell on August 23 claimed that Holyrood’s funding formula would “wither on the vine” and be replaced by a new needs-based UK-wide system because of the new tax powers coming to Holyrood. "The biggest change would be within ... the different regions of England.”[5]

  1. Scotsman: McLeish No vote warning 15 August 2014.
  2. Scotland September 18
  3. Daily Record: Alex Salmond dismisses Westminster pledge to enhance Scotland's powers after a No vote September 16, 2014
  4. Wings over Scotland: Nick Clegg Signs Another Pledge 15 Sept 2014 (retrieved 17 Sept)
  5. Scotsman: Barnett Formula will be ‘replaced’ says McConnell 24 August 2014

Possible roll back of devolution

Alain-G Gagnon, professor of political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal, said: "People need to be aware, if you go for a referendum, if you lose it you will have to pay a price. Scots should be advised that the centre always wants to protect itself. Even if they say they want to consider some devo max ... their strategy will be to limit the power of Holyrood."

Quebec's No vote in its second Referendum in 1995 was so narrow - the difference was fewer than 50,000 - some thought the narrow victory for No would force concessions, more autonomy. It did not. Bernard Drainville, a prominent member of Quebec's main independence force, Parti Quebecois added: "the rest of Canada ... assumed that losing makes the future threat of a referendum less credible[1]

Canon Kenyon Wright, who chaired the Scottish Constitutional Convention which laid the groundwork to set up the Scottish Parliament in 1999 suggests that Westminster might take “revenge” on Scotland in the event of a No vote[2].


  1. Herald: Scots will suffer if the vote is No, experts on Quebec warn. 16 June 2014 .
  2. Scotsman: Westminster will take revenge on Scots after ‘No’ 14 August 2014.