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by Louise Wilson
27 November 2023
Devolution ‘hijacked’ by SNP says Labour grandee

Photo by Anna Moffat

Devolution ‘hijacked’ by SNP says Labour grandee

Devolution has been “hijacked” by the SNP and used as a “vehicle to campaign for independence”, a Labour grandee has said.

Lord George Foulkes has accused the Scottish Government of ignoring devolved issues, while at the same time deliberately straying into reserved areas for perceived constitutional gain.

Speaking exclusive to Holyrood, Foulkes said former first minister Nicola Sturgeon “pretended that she was prime minister of an independent country”.

He said: “She’s a very able politician and a very effective communicator, but not good at running the Scottish Government and all the areas that she should have been running. That’s the one thing I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about.”

He added: “They should be required to stick to spending the money they get, by whatever means they get it, on devolved areas.”

The Labour lord has previously raised the latter point with cabinet secretary Simon Case, head of the UK civil service.

In July, Case told the Constitution Committee in the House of Lords, of which Foulkes is a member, that he is considering whether “further guidance and clarification to civil servants about what is and is not appropriate spending” is required, following concerns Scottish ministers are civil servants for reserved areas.

Foulkes also raised concerns about the UK Government moving into devolved areas, which he described as “just as bad”.

He said: “Some of the people who have never been in favour of devolution have said this proves devolution is a failure. Well, it doesn't – it proves that devolution can be misused, but if it was used properly, it isn't a failure.”

Foulkes also spoke to Holyrood about the next general election, predicting a Labour majority of around 50 and the party to overtake the SNP in Scotland.

He also dubbed Brexit a “total disaster” and said the UK rejoining the EU would be “ideal”, backed the abolition of the House of Lords, and spoke out against some of the ageist abuse he receives on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

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