Friday, 23 March 2012

Sand castles in the air

Tom Gordon

DAVID Cameron delivered a staunch defence of the Scotland Bill in his speech to the Scottish Conservative conference in Troon this morning.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, famously described that same bill as a "line in the sand" for devolution.

But within hours of Cameron's speech, two senior Tory MSPs were washing the line away.

Asked about it in the Daily Telegraph debate on the conference fringe, former Scottish leader David McLetchie said:
"I don't think the line in the sand has to be the line that's presently drawn in the Scotland Bill...  but what I do say is there has to be a proper process and a proper case made for any further change."

Then former Presiding Office Alex Fergusson, an advocate of Devo Plus, went further.

He said: "A line in the sand, I think, is impossible to achieve for anything but the very shortest space of time.

"Devolution has always been open to evolution.

"And it is quite clear to me that the Scottish people want more say in their own affairs, and I am convinced that they will not see the very real advances that are made through the Scotland Bill, which are being enacted as we sit here, they will not see that as anything more than a temporary, stop-gap measure.

"I'm afraid, in my view, that's all it ever was going to be.

"But it does give a very powerful signal that Westminster, that this government, has got a respect agenda and will deliver on agreed measures, and that should not be taken lightly.

"But this is an ongoing evolution that we are part of."


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