Scotland politics

Scottish referendum: John Swinney to join Lord Smith commission

John Swinney Image copyright PA

John Swinney will be named as one of the SNP's two representatives on Lord Smith's cross-party devolution commission, BBC Scotland understands.

Mr Swinney, the finance secretary, will sit alongside the former Scottish Conservative leader, Baroness Goldie and the former Scottish secretary, Michael Moore, among others.

Labour and the Scottish Greens have yet to make their appointments.

Full details of the commission's membership have yet to be confirmed.

The SNP's other representative on the body will be MSP Linda Fabiani.

The Tories have already said they said would nominate Ms Goldie and legal scholar Prof Adam Tomkins as their representatives.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems said they would be represented by Mr Moore and Tavish Scott, their former Scottish leader.

All five Holyrood parties have been asked to serve on the commission, which was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron following last Thursday's referendum result.

The commission has been tasked with delivering more powers to the Scottish Parliament. A timetable for devolving the new powers has been set out by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Scott (left) and Mr Moore will be joined on the commission by representatives of the other four Holyrood parties
Image caption Ms Goldie is a former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, while Prof Tomkins is a legal expert based at the University of Glasgow

Announcing her party's two nominees for the commission, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "Adam and Annabel gave an invaluable contribution to the Strathclyde Commission on further devolution, and I have full confidence that their engagement with Lord Smith's work will enhance this process."


Analysis: Glenn Campbell, BBC Scotland political correspondent

There was a time when the SNP excluded itself from devolution talks, because its policy of independence was off the table.

The SNP refused to take part in the constitutional convention that drew up plans for the Scottish Parliament or the Calman commission which revised Holyrood's powers.

But following the "no" vote in the independence referendum, the party is taking a very different approach.

The deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has committed the SNP and the Scottish government to cooperate with Lord Smith's commission on further devolution.

There would be "no sitting on the sidelines" she said.

Her objective is to maximise the range of powers to be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood.

Both Ms Sturgeon and the finance secretary, John Swinney, met Lord Smith earlier this week.

The appointment of Mr Swinney, as a senior cabinet minister, to the commission underlines the SNP's commitment to the process.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have also appointed heavyweights. The Greens and Labour have yet to name their teams.

It's not clear what role the former prime minister Gordon Brown might have, as the author of the timetable for further devolution.

Would he prefer to press the commission from the outside or try to shape it from within? We'll find out when he returns from the UN in New York this weekend.


The Lib Dems' desire for UK federalism stretches back more than a century. It has welcomed Mr Brown's recent conversion to the policy, and the SNP's desire to use Mr Brown's prediction of "a modern form of Scottish home rule" as part of a federal UK within two years as a benchmark for its own devolution expectations.

Mr Moore said: "We need to be as ambitious as we can. We have seen the mood across Scotland expressed so wonderfully in the referendum last week.

"There's a chance for all of us to raise our game, raise our sights and make sure that we don't resort to the lowest common denominator.

"I want to see a federal United Kingdom. I'm not sure that we will quite achieve that in one bound, not least because it is also about how the rest of the United Kingdom wants to be part of that."

Mr Swinney said on Wednesday that Mr Brown's prediction of UK federalism within two years has set "an important benchmark of the type of level of agreement that has to be secured" by the Smith Commission.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the SNP will take part in the commission, although the party continues to support independence.

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