Some things are just too irritating to leave alone. I'm on a week's holiday in Madeira heading to the airport. But having spotted news that Gordon Brown is to announce plans for a "radical devolution of powers" to the Scottish Parliament, I feel compelled to opine.
1. Are these powers radical for Scots or just for Gordon Brown? As far as I can see there is no mention of tax-raising powers or a definite commitment on income tax. The heavily trailed package might have been radical if presented a year ago – when Labour et al were complaining about the inordinate length of the referendum campaign and GB was making one of his many rehashed but "highly anticipated" speeches about the future. But no. It might have been impressive if enshrined in a second indyref question committing a Westminster government to action -- before that was batted off the agenda. But no. It would have been truly game-changing if announced when Gordon Brown was actually Prime Minister. But not a squeak.
2. Apparently GB considers he must "enter the nationwide debate on Scotland's future from today because a moment cannot now be lost in detailing the positive case for a strong Scottish parliament in a strong Britain." So what were his previous speeches about -- calling for legislation to make the Scottish Parliament permanent -- if not "entering the debate"? This guy's had more indyref maiden speeches than the entire House of Commons for a decade. Meanwhile the SNP's White Paper has provided plans on almost everything – allowing plenty of hostages to fortune in the process. So will Gordon give the same detail on key points like "pooling resources across the UK?" Will journalists and those ever vigilant business voices even demand it? Will anyone query why GB didn't suggest this package last year? Indeed why has this story so far been reported with gushing reverence?
3. Commentator George Eaton observes that Gordon Brown is a feared weapon in the No campaign because he is so popular in Scotland. I appreciate many long-term Labour voters still have loyalty to the ex PM and his efforts reducing poverty through tax credits and public spending. Indeed compared to the ConDem coalition, the last Labour government did make Britain more equal. But nothing like the equality enjoyed by most of our European neighbours. And because most change was achieved by stealth, GB failed to make the political arguments needed to create a new sort of society. That's partly why those wins were so short-lived. If Labour doesn't realise it yet, maybe they'll get it before Sept 18th. Whatever the outcome, Scotland is looking for transformational change in our lifetimes. Not more ae been. I wait to be gob-smacked by today's speech – when I get hame.