“These are Funny Times” were the opening words of Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador to our country, Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque, as she embarked on her eagerly awaited lecture of “What has changed since the Scotland Referendum?" in front of more than 70 members of the ABS.
“These are funny times for a representative of Her Majesty’s government,” she continued. In readiness for the UK General Election on 7th May 2015 Parliament had been dissolved by the HM The Queen with far reaching implications for all serving British Civil Servants, which includes herself. During this ensuing period of electioneering she is forbidden to voice any personal comments. To do so will result, as the Ambassador refreshingly stated, in her “getting the sack!” The lecture, she warned, could only be factual.
Our President, Dr. Kurt Tiroch, briefly reflected on and summarised in his introductory address the period since the debate in May 2014 at the Café Landtmann, Bel Etage, featuring Angus Robertson, SNP, and the subject “Scottish Independence Referendum” right up to David Cameron, British Prime Minister, who promised on the eve of the Referendum on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street that Scotland will have more powers within the UK, ending with the probing question what actually happened since then?
Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque took up the lecture with recapping that Scotland lost the Referendum. A majority of 55% wanted to remain within the United Kingdom. The Scots wanted to keep the Pound, the single UK market, British Armed Forces and UK Pension Provisions.
All political parties pledged in the “command paper“of the “Smith Commission”, that Scotland should receive an Extensive Devolution.
60% of all expenditure in Scotland will be controlled by Scotland. The Scottish Parliament will be a “permanent institution”. Welfare, Transport (“Scottish Transport Police”), Speed limits and even own Scottish Road Sign-Designs will be under Scottish control. So will be the licensing of offshore oil and gas production. All that should become Law in the next Parliament, i.e. after the 7th May Election.
The Ambassador also spoke about the troubled Province Northern Ireland and Wales, the poorest country in the UK. And last but not least England:
The major issue is the Westminster Question, addressing the sore point of Scottish MPs voting on English matters NOT affecting Scottish affairs. The new battle cry is: “English Votes for English Laws”. (EVEL)
She completed her interesting lecture by confirming that Foreign Affairs, Armed Forces (Defence), Pensions, the famous “Barnet Formula” (calculating tax funds being distributed amongst the constituent regions of the UK) would still remain with the central government.
Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque closed with the factual statement that the UK being largely ignorant of federalization unlike real federal states like Austria and in that respect has still a lot to learn.
The Question and Answer Session was naturally a bit one sided due the special circumstances but nevertheless very informed and very lively.
After our President closed the meeting we were, as always, entertained in the splendid surroundings of the Ambassador’s Residence to an excellent running buffet and drinks which included sekt, beer, red wine, water and a delicious Grüner Veltliner as the author of this article can vouch.