This is the “Jam Tomorrow” promise of Alex Douglas Home in 1979. Just Jam? Scotland even had the toast hidden from her for umpteen years and more by one Westminster administration after another since the discovery of North Sea Oil .
The first question this proposal for more powers sparks is “why should we believe you this time?” The answer, just as clearly and from David Cameron’s own mouth was, “You shouldn’t”.
There was no other interpretation because Cameron didn’t actually promise anything; he said “consider”. We might as well ask the local bank if they’d consider putting a few million extra in that Super Saver Account we all have. You know, just so it might actually resemble the name. The bank will also consider the deposit you’re asking for, most likely for about a nano-second before kicking you out the front door. The bank pondered your request and pondered it well.
Nothing tells us Cameron’s period of contemplation will be any longer, or deeper than the Bank’s. This is because nothing stops him putting his proposals forward now. Let us consider what flavour of jam is on offer, and then we can decide if we like the taste.
It’s not Jam Tomorrow; it’s not even a promise of Jam Tomorrow. It’s a promise of a consideration of a proposal of a little Jam Tomorrow - after we gift him sufficient ingredients, consisting of the keys to our nation, which will supply him enough to ensure we can all eat cake. But then we know where Scotland’s choice ingredients are destined, the same place they already go in large part, to London and the South East.
Let’s consider that David Cameron was to keep his word, turn his considerations over a while and solidify them into promises, and that the promises actually make their way through Westminster’s echoing halls and into the legislative books.
What flavour of Jam might we expect?
The sensible money would be on soor ploom, made somehow without sugar.
We will buy it and we will consume it even as it makes our jowls hollow and our eyes water, our bellies cramp as we head with haste for the commode. We’ll do this because we’ll have no other immediate option. We’ll do this because we will have voluntarily voted away our own recipe book.
It will taste so bad for we’ll be supping knowing it could have been so much better had we not been so insufferably obstinate, stupid and voluntarily blind to uncovering the arguments we will afterwards wish we had not turned a deaf ear to. Arguments that would have made us aware the YES vote was our only option.
We will get Extra Powers, which might become a reality, but it is semantics. We might get the power to set our own speed limits or regulate air-guns. These will be our Extra Powers. However, expect to lose control over University funding, over our NHS and over much of our budget. But we will still have Extra Powers.
Also expect Holyrood to be completely neutered in some peculiar fashion, and the media will spin this in an effort to make it acceptable to the international audience, while at the ballot box we will be rendered powerless to impact our future, our children’s future or our national destiny. Yet we will still have Extra Powers.
We can expect this because Westminster has had the fright to end all frights, and Westminster does not like frights. Those in power in London have demonstrated time and again they will react ruthlessly to anything that causes them fright. For a recent example, just look at the sentences against the rioters last summer. With the Olympics approaching riots gave Westminster a fright and Westminster struck back - hard.
We can expect our welfare system, our community values and national sense of compassion to be obliterated. Social programs stand to be decimated as each cut in England transfers to a respective cut in Scotland. This is allowing that even Barnett survives the reprisals to come.
Our soor ploom jam will be on the shelf at Tesco’s, and as we put it out to be scanned at the checkout we might find ourselves looking into our mothers’ eyes, eyes that can hardly remain open after her last bout of chemotherapy. Mother may not even be able to stand properly, or may be incontinent, but she’ll be on that checkout or lose her right to sustenance - unless we can prove she’ll really be dead in a few weeks. It won’t matter that these inhumane policies will be what kills her – she’ll be scanning our soor ploom jam.
Before you get to the checkout you might walk past your child stocking shelves. She’s got a degree, she worked hard for it, but now she’s forced to work for her benefits because Westminster policies which decimated four nations to protect a city, means there are no jobs. You might pass her in the aisle knowing that your spouse, the only one still working in your family, is paying her wages through their taxes, because Tesco aren’t. Tesco are just giving her the bus fare to get to work.
Part of the recipe for tomorrows soor ploom jam appears to be making certain that big business makes more money as we subsidise them through our benefits system. It is Westminster passing these inhumane laws; it is often the result of these businesses lobbying London.
The recipe also seems to include protections for the City, the bankers, bonus schemes and more light touch regulation. It also includes isolation in Europe, more wage freezes, austerity, lower living standards, higher fuel bills and the weakest in our society being targeted and vilified. This soor ploom jam which London’s offering has a recipe most sensible folk might want to steer clear of.
In 2014 it appears there’s an alternative on offer, if we like Westminster’s soor ploom jam we can fire up the toaster. However, if we think our own recipe has even a chance of being a wee bit tastier we should dig through our ingredients and perhaps throw a few raspberries at London for its bigger jar.
Then, we will get busy making something fit for a real nation to enjoy.