Folks, We need to submit to the Smith Commission. I know. It seems pointless. It very probably is. Time after time we’ve seen the Establishment lie to us, the governments renege on promises, expensive public inquiries be set up (Hello Leveson! Hello Hutton!) just for the Government to do sweet fuck all when the recommendations get published. I, like many of you I'm sure, think of these things like slush funds for lawyers. The government keeps the populace happy by looking like they are actually taking their views and outrage into account by setting up and inquiry or a committee and the eyes of a thousand lawyers sparkle as they go into a daydream montage of new cars, saucy ladies lying on yacht decks, champagne corks popping and water-skiing somewhere Caribbean and exclusive. Kind of like a 1980s Duran Duran video. Good luck to them I say- I only wish I’d had my conscience surgically removed and studied law instead of a stupid dumbass touchy feely arts degree that meant I had to work as a receptionist for 2 years after graduating because you don’t get job ads for post modernists, philosophers or poets in the papers. The day the government wants to set up inquiries into how the German post-war artists and filmmakers worked through the collective national guilt of the war years through their work, I’m cashing in, though. Similarly I can do a good line in providing evidence to an enquiry on how the “Male Gaze” is the only gaze relevant in Western cinema and until this changes women will only ever be portrayed as “The Other”. But until then I’ll have to make do with driving an 8 year old Mini, not being able to afford to go on holiday and shopping at Lidl whilst friends of Leon Brittan get all the cushy jobs.
Has nice dinners with the Brittans
who aren't involved in anything dodgy...
Yes, the Smith Commission is probably going be a big pile of diversionary pants, and the Conservative and Lib Dem government have probably already decided over a cup of tea and slice of Dundee cake (it is about Scotland after all! Pass the shortbread!) what they are going to give Scotland in the way of more powers. It’s probably going to look like power, but will in fact be the constitutional equivalent of a scam email from someone pretending to be a Nigerian prince.
So why bother submitting your ideas on what Scotland should be given by way of new powers? Why take the time to read the guidelines, do a bit of research and spend a couple of hours putting a letter together in the full confidence that it probably will end up in what an old boss of mine used to call File Number 13 (i.e: the bin)? Because, my friends, they don’t want us to bother. That’s why.
The guidelines to your submission tell you all you need to know. They have made it look difficult. You have not to write “a shopping list” of powers. Rather your submission must give reasons why the powers you want are necessary and beneficial. They would also like you to outline cost implications. Yes, you, an ordinary person are being asked to give a fiscal report. You heard right. Away and eat your cereal and don't bother your wee head about it.
But man, they need to be flooded with submissions from us ordinary folks. They need to be inundated. Because the numbers of submissions will be a matter of public record. They don’t give us so called DevoMax, we point to how many people demanded it. The legions of us who voted Yes and the folk who genuinely voted No in the mistaken belief that we were being offered something better (OK, OK…I know…) we need to represent our views. Even if it’s just for the SSP, Scottish Greens and SNP to point to them and say “Look! It’s the People it’s not just us that are going to hold you to account”.
So here’s my take on this. Don’t just submit to the Smith Commission, publish your submission. Blog it, post it on facebook, Tumblr whatever. Make it public. Email it to friends and say, I’ve done the leg work, take this and adapt it for your own submission if you find it too daunting to start from scratch. Do what us Indy Quines in Aberdeen are doing. Set up a stall somewhere in your local main drag, get volunteers with clipboards, print off hundreds of copies of the letter, with a checklist of powers that folk can fill out, put their name and address to and sign. If you have funds, post them off for them.
Six thousand people have submitted already but it has to be more. At the very least it needs to be the 1.2 million who voted Yes who submit. Call me naïve if you want to but I want to quote my hero Dougie McLean here from a song that has got me through the past month:
“ You can fall but you must not lie down”
You want a public consultation- you got one, Lord Smith. Brace yourself, chum.
You can see our letter here. Indy Quines: A Sample Letter to the Smith Commission Please copy it, or take it and adapt it and send it to , or write your own. But do write, you don’t have to be an expert on fiscal policy, just a person with a vote and a person that will not lie down.
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