What new powers does Scotland need to achieve a fairer society?
Report from University of Stirling for the Smith Commission
On the 18th September 2014 a record 85% of the Scottish people turned out to vote in the referendum on independence. 45% of them voted Yes: and of the 55% who voted No, over 25% wanted significant additional powers to be devolved to Scotland.
Prior to the referendum, Scotland was politically engaged in a way that was energetic, informed and inspiring. This engagement has continued after the referendum, with grassroots campaigns, rallies, petitions, and it is clear that politics in Scotland can never be the same again. Scotland’s people have found their voices.
On 19 September 2014 the Smith Commission, chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, was established as a fully independent body to facilitate talks on the devolution of further powers to the Scottish Parliament. The Smith Commission will publish its Heads of Agreement in November this year.
This timetable was met initially with horror, not least by academics such as myself, who said there was NO WAY that the civic population of Scotland could be meaningfully involved in such a process.
We were wrong.
Lord Smith has invited written submissions from third sector organisations, and invited the public to feed directly into the process by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, in writing to The Smith Commission, 7th Floor, 144 Morrison Street, EH3 8EX, and via the website https://www.smith-commission.scot/.
On the 16th October, he paid the University of Stirling the great honour of visiting us in person to ask us what we thought. 32 staff and students gathered to discuss the question: What new powers does Scotland need to become a fairer society? I would like to thank all the students and staff who took part in the discussion, the Principal’s Office, particularly Jennifer Harrison who organised the event, the rapporteurs, Lord Smith of Kelvin and the staff at the Smith Commission, and BBC Scotland who covered the event, and the ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change who are helping to publicise this report and gather together additional comments from the public on the issues we raised.
These are the ideas we came up with. Between the participants, we wanted ‘It all’ (ie as much devolution as possible) – but not all of us wanted everything. People are very enthusiastic about the policymaking implications of devolution, but not all agree on what levers we need in order to affect change in the areas we care about.
Please feel free to comment on our answers, and we will gather the responses together and pass them onto the Smith Commission.
Scotland has found its voice: the key question is now, are the politicians ready to hear it?
Professor Kirstein Rummery
University of Stirling and ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change