The Westminster party leaders promised the Scottish people new democratic powers on a clear timetable. But since the referendum, David Cameron has said he wants to link democratic powers for Scotland to other changes like banning Scots MPs from voting on some issues in the UK parliament. This could mean the promise gets delayed or broken. That’s unacceptable. Let’s tell all the party leaders – a promise is a promise, you can’t add extra conditions now.
This week people queued up on Cowdenbeath High to sign the petition making clear that the Tories need to stick to what they promised. The message to the Tories was clear – stop playing politics with what people know they promised before the Referendum.
Last week I spoke in the First Ministers debate on the outcome of the referendum and gave my view that the outcome was not about who won and who lost as I believe that all 3.6 million people who voted are the winners. We are all winners for we all voted for change, we were all promised change and it is now I believe up to us to use the momentum of the debate and outcome to drive change. But, I also made the point that as new powers come into the Parliament next year and then the outcome of the current negotiation brings further devolution we have to move beyond the constitution and focus on power for a purpose, the purpose of achieving a more socially just and fair Scotland.
I said before the vote on the 18th that regardless of the result there was no magic wand and indeed the continued focus on the constitution had the effect of removing any policy discussion or commitment from any of the political parties to addressing the actual issues that will determine whether or not Scotland is a better more fairer and more just country. I will be working to focus the debate onto the issues around tax and spend, education, skills and employment, the NHS and social care, poor housing and a shortage of housing, the centralisation of local government and a new politics of openness and transparency that engages communities in determining the priorities and actions of government. If we cannot move beyond the constitutional debate then I fear we will make little progress in tackling the issues that make a difference in people’s lives.
A promise is a promise and they need to stick to what they promised so we can get on with the job of addressing the issues that are impacting on people lives in communities across Scotland.