Wednesday, 29 May 2024

State of the Union:

The Union, Independence or Devo-Max
– What Future For Scotland?

The Scottish Constitutional Referendum – is it simply a choice between the union or independence? The NLP believes that Devo-Max must also be included on the ballot paper as the ‘third option’.

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT is facing a difficult choice. How many choices does it give the electorate in the long awaited 2014 referendum?

Everyone expects the main question to revolve around whether Scotland should remain within the union or should it seek independence. However, there’s now talk of another choice being offered – whether Scotland should stay within the UK but have the power to raise (and spend) its own taxes. This third option is popularly known as Devo-Max.

Devo-Max is, in effect, the next and final step in the long process of devolution. It represents the maximum power that can be devolved to Scotland from Westminster. Scotland will control their tax collections (full fiscal autonomy) and what services they spend it on. Westminster will only look after ‘UK wide’ services, such as Defence and Foreign Affairs.

When Tony Blair introduced devolution in 1997 he did so to protect the Labour party from a growing SNP. He did not believe in proper devolution. If he did he would have introduced it for ALL the UK’s nations; Scotland, Wales, Ulster and England.

Blair’s fudged settlement meant that Scots will have to wait another two years before it can obtain full devolution. In the meantime, the English are still waiting for their voices to be heard!


However, the National Liberal Party proposes to deal with the current fudged devolution settlement through the creation of a federal UK.

First of all, an English Parliament would have to be created. Then greater powers – Devo-Max – would be devolved to the houses of all four home nations. This means that all of the nations of the United Kingdom would have a greater say in their own destiny.

This would also allow a reduction in the number of MP’s currently being sent to Westminster. The role of Westminster would mainly be concerned with defence and issues of national (involving all the home nations) and international affairs. Internal affairs (within each home nation) would then be the responsibility of each devolved government. This is the nature of a proper federal state and will ‘square the circle’ of the present imbalance.


The National Liberal Party is one of true democracy. We will support whatever the people decide! However, our view is that the Scottish referendum will only be truly democratic if Devo-Max is offered as an alternative to independence and unionism.

The inclusion of this ‘third option’ is necessary in the interests of democracy. It’s also a practical option as it allows Scots REAL power without losing the ‘British’ link.

THE National Liberal Party will be producing leaflets in support of the idea of including the ‘third option’ – Devo-Max – on the Scottish referendum ballot paper. They will be specifically designed for distribution in Scotland. Look out for further news on this new initiative in the not too distant future!

For more information relating to the future constitutional make up of the United Kingdom, NLP members and supporters are encouraged to read the following articles:
State of the Union – Do Scots want to leave the UK and is Federalism the answer?
State of the Union – A Federal Vision.

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