Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Indyref: The promise, and its problems

The three Westminster leaders have made their promise. On the front page of the Daily Record, they all sign up to a vow that includes new powers for the Scottish Parliament, the continuation of the Barnett formula, and a promise that the Scottish Parliament will have the last word on health spending, and on keeping the NHS in public hands.

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Since Gordon Brown unveiled the timetable for this vow last Monday, the parties have needed to repeat their pledges as often as possible so that as many voters pick them up before polling day, and so that they really appear to mean it. But here are a number of problems with the vow.

1. Promise-breaking politicians make another promise, Scotland shrugs.

Why would you believe the Westminster politicians you’re fed up with anyway? Even Unionists such as Bob Geldof, speaking last night in Trafalgar Square, say ‘we’re all fucking fed up with Westminster’. Nicola Sturgeon found it pretty easy to respond to this pledge, pointing to Nick Clegg’s head on the Record front page and reminding voters of another iconic pledge he signed…

2. The promises are coming a bit late.

It doesn’t matter how many front pages you sign next to your new promise to Scottish voters, you’ve still only unveiled this offer in the last two weeks. If you had it planned for ages, then why wait until the point that it’s so late you appear desperate? Or if you’ve only cobbled together this promise in the last few weeks, then is it really a good idea? Better Together had been pressuring the Westminster parties for a good long while to get on with the devo-more promise, but Gordon Brown only produced the timetable last Monday.

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