Thursday 24 March 2016

Time for Scotland to look forward and not backwards

Had Scotland voted for independence back in September 2014 then today would have been the country's independence day. It didn't, so it isn't, but that has not stopped Unionist and Nationalist commentators from raking over its cooling ashes to show that they were right all along. 

The problem is that you cannot have a healthy polity when everyone is arguing about what might have been. The Southern United States and the Republic of Ireland behaved in just that way for almost a century after their respective civil wars were over, and the end result was a stagnant political culture that looked backwards instead of forwards. Scotland needs to reject that approach.

Thanks to a very high turnout in 2014, with a Yes vote that almost carried the day, the Smith Commission was created by a rattled Westminster. Out of that debate came the Scotland Bill, which became the Scotland Act 2016, having received its Royal Assent the day before what would have been independence day.

From now on the bulk of the things that impinge on people's daily lives will be decided in Holyrood and not Westminster. 

It is now time to start arguing about just what type of Scotland we want, within the overall framework of the United Kingdom.  

Holyrood has the powers: we need to push it until it uses them.

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