Comment: it’s time to move on from the referendum

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Two contrasting subjects dominated my time in the Scottish Parliament this week.

On the one hand I was delighted to be able to secure a debate on Oxfam’s campaign to reduce extreme inequality, the subject of my last column.

Members from all sides rose to the challenge posed by Oxfam, morally affronted that over the last five years, while most families have had to adjust to the demands of austerity, the number of billionaires has more than doubled.

On the other, we had political reaction to the Smith Agreement on the new powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and, from some at least, a list of pettifogging and dispiriting excuses as to why Holyrood would be unable to make a real difference.

It is not that unusual in politics to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, but I found myself wondering how long is this going to go on.

How long are we going to keep re-running the referendum?

I am not asking anyone to stop believing in independence or to give up their political beliefs, but having spent more than three years discussing little other than constitutional change is it not time to move on?

The Smith Agreement has delivered more than was ever promised in the run up to September 18 and certainly goes beyond any settlement I imagined.

We should be turning our attention now to how we use that power to tackle inequality; to give our children the best chance to make the most of themselves; to caring for each other.

I would be happy to start with the basics.

The Scottish Government says it wants to reshape care for older people, but then demands £20 million in cuts from our local authority casting a shadow over Bonnyton House.

The new First Minister talks about the importance of literacy and attainment whilst increasing class sizes and threatening our libraries.

I have the highest aspirations for Scotland but they are not an excuse for inaction nor for blaming others.

They provide the motivation and the principles for practical and immediate decisions.

Let’s stop living in grievance or trying to create more divisions in our country — let’s heal the inequalities that already divide us.