Is Gordon Brown going on a freelancing operation with his timetable for new powers for a Scotland that votes ‘No’? The former Prime Minister has this afternoon released the timetable for further devolution, with the formal process beginning the day after the result, leading to a draft Scotland Bill being published by Burns Night in January 2015.
Brown will say tonight that Labour is ‘taking the initiative’, but it seems that David Cameron hasn’t discussed this announcement with him and that this initiative-taking has taken Downing Street by surprise (it might also be surprised that Gordon Brown is taking the initiative on anything, but especially given the Prime Minister’s official spokesman this morning said further announcements would be made ‘in the coming days’, not in the coming hours).
This afternoon, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman repeatedly refused to answer the straight question of whether Cameron and Brown had spoken about this announcement. He simply said that ‘he speaks to a series of senior figures on a regular basis’. That either means that the spokesman has no idea about whether the two men spoke, or that the two men definitely did not speak.
Now, whether or not Gordon Brown had told David Cameron about his plans or whether this was all part of an unusually impressive cross-party master plan, the point is that Gordon Brown seizing the initiative is a good thing.