MacAskill sees federalism as the answer for Scotland – an overveiw

MacAskill sees federalism as the answer for Scotland – an overveiw
The Times, by Hamish Macdonell


Kenny MacAskill, the veteran nationalist and former SNP minister, has said that federalism could be the answer to Scotland’s constitutional logjam.


Mr MacAskill, who was justice secretary in Alex Salmond’s administration, has broken with the “independence or nothing” approach taken by many in his party to suggest that a federal structure could be fashioned to give Scotland more powers and keep it within the UK.


The former MSP does not ditch his desire for independence but says federalism could bring the two sides in Scotland’s constitutional dispute together and help to solve some of the problems caused by the Brexit vote.


Writing in The Times today, Mr MacAskill says that federalism, where it has been implemented, has worked well. He adds: “It is also a structure that many in Scotland are sympathetic to and which the majority of Scots may be supportive of, if a vote for it was offered.”


Mr MacAskill bemoans the fact that Scots have never been offered a vote on federalism. Each time Scots have been given a vote on their constitutional future, it has been a binary choice: devolution or the status quo, independence or the status quo. Mr MacAskill says he believes Scots would have backed federalism had they been offered it as part of a three-way choice in 2014.


The former minister says that a comfortable victory for federalism could have ended the constitutional wrangle for years in Scotland had the UK government had the guts to offer it.


Mr MacAskill criticises the way devolution is being handled in the UK, with Scotland gaining some powers but not others, leaving, he claims, an imbalanced and imperfect system.


He calls for the creation of a new constitutional convention for Scotland, a forum which could put federalism back on the agenda. And he adds: “Both the status quo and independence wouldn’t be on the agenda. The former isn’t tenable and the latter isn’t currently sought by a majority.
“However, federalism offers a potential route forward for unionists to improve the constitutional settlement and for nationalists to maintain the dream. It moves Scotland forward and works well elsewhere in the world.”


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