Putting to one side the Lib Dem leadership contender's cretinous implication in the Herald that the SNP are turning Scotland into some sort of ultra-nationalist police state, Farron has actually said something today that's quite interesting. He's unambiguously stated that a Devo Max option should have been on the ballot paper last September, although regrettably he doesn't seem to have been asked the obvious follow-up question - ie. does he condemn his Lib Dem colleagues in government for directly ensuring that didn't happen?
He was, however, asked whether there should be a Devo Max option in any future independence referendum. This was his reply -
"Yes, I guess that would make sense. The Scottish party would make that choice and I would respect that choice. But I am sure they would consider that."
Which again begs an obvious question - WHY are you so sure they would do anything as sensible as consider the matter with an open mind, given that they dismissed the idea out of hand last time? In reality, of course, the distinction between the Scottish party and the UK party is as much of a fiction in the Lib Dems as it is in any of the other London-based parties, so unless he changes his mind, Farron's views on a Devo Max option should indeed move things in a very different direction. In the light of that, it would be useful to have clarity from him on the following points -
1) If you have conceded the principle that Devo Max is something the people have a right to decide on, that implies it is a legitimate and feasible option (regardless of whether the Lib Dems support it themselves). Will the Lib Dems therefore stop pretending that the Smith package more or less represents the end point of what is possible for Scotland within the UK, and that the choice is a binary one between Smith and independence?
2) If Devo Max was a legitimate option to put to the people last September, will the Lib Dems now acknowledge that their failure to do so means that it is a nonsense for anyone to claim that the referendum result established that a package of powers far short of Devo Max was somehow the will of the electorate?
3) The public have already been consulted on independence, but they haven't yet been consulted on Devo Max. If you think there should have been a multi-option referendum last year, it would surely be logical to now hold a single-question referendum on Devo Max as a remedial step. If, for the sake of argument, the SNP were to propose that, would they be able to look forward to Lib Dem backing?