There's a short piece in the Scotsman by David Maddox which attempts to weave a narrative of (and I'm paraphrasing here) : Nicola Sturgeon has slapped down Alex Salmond by saying that only Trident, and not Devo Max, will be a red line in any post-election negotiations with Labour. The SNP will merely "argue very strongly" for full fiscal autonomy.
If there was the slightest truth in that, I would be as concerned as anyone, because although I feel incredibly strongly about getting rid of nuclear weapons, I wouldn't want more powers for the Scottish Parliament to be de-emphasised. I've had a look to see if I can find a video of Nicola Sturgeon's supposed comments, but without success. I did, however, find an interview with her on yesterday's Good Morning Britain in which she says this -
"So that kind of arrangement [a confidence-and-supply deal with Labour] possibly, but we'd want commitments from Labour to substantial powers for the Scottish Parliament. I'd want them to drop this crazy idea of renewing Trident nuclear weapons and putting them on the Clyde. I think we'd want to see a change to the austerity agenda that's impoverishing so many kids, not just in Scotland of course, but across the UK. So we'd drive a hard bargain."
That seems absolutely crystal-clear to me - a transfer of substantial powers to the Scottish Parliament is not just something that the SNP would be "arguing for", but is one of three things that they'd make a key part of any deal, and all three seem to be accorded equal importance. I suppose Maddox's get-out clause might be that an insistence upon "substantial powers" is not the same thing as making full Devo Max an unbreachable red line. But was the latter ever actually proposed by Alex Salmond? Or is Maddox using a creative interpretation of Salmond's rhetoric in an attempt to generate an "SNP split" where none exists? I think we can probably guess.
If negotiations with Labour occur, it seems to be the case (as we've always assumed) that the SNP will simply be pushing for as many new powers as they can possibly get. In those circumstances, it will be interesting to see what happens to abortion law, because of course that was something the Tories and Lib Dems were prepared to transfer to Holyrood, while Labour pompously insisted that they were never going to allow a situation where women would not have the same rights across the UK. Leaving aside the fact that this is ignorant of the current reality (there are already two completely different abortion laws in the UK, one in Great Britain, one in Northern Ireland), it presumably means that women will be ineligible to become Fisheries Minister in both England and Scotland. Isn't that right, Frank Doran?