pulledDuring the 1980s, pressure for a Scottish Parliament stemmed largely from the view that devolution might be able to protect Scotland from the worst excesses of Thatcherism. The last fourteen years have certainly confirmed that logic, even if some of that Thatcherism was being pushed at Westminster by New Labour. The decisions taken at Holyrood by this administration and its predecessors have almost all been either better than Westminster’s equivalent decisions for England or at least no worse. That’s why the idea of abolishing the Scottish Parliament, as floated by the occasional fringe voice from the Tories or Labour, is now utterly inconceivable.

The current Coalition is engaged in a direct assault on the poor across the UK, particularly through tax and benefits, and on immigrants – all areas that are primarily reserved, even if Holyrood can make some difference on all of them. Although independence is for keeps, not just to block this particular Tory/Lib Dem administration, this kind of policy agenda certainly helps make the case for independence.

But it’s not just “if Holyrood had powers over these areas it’d be making better decisions”, even though that seems likely to be true no matter who’s in power at Holyrood. It’s also a broader issue of coordination and direction. Is it really in Scotland’s interests to have the key policy issues that affect us all divided between two legislatures and two lots of Ministers, Ministers who will so often have radically different objectives? Does it help Scotland to have social policy pulled in two directions at once? Even on economic issues, where the SNP are closer to the Westminster consensus than I’d like, the two administrations aren’t exactly in lock-step.

As the US shutdown illustrates, a single national government doesn’t always lead to coordination and efficiency, or even common sense. But I’d rather we didn’t have to have a Scottish Government which spent a chunk of its time either complaining about Westminster’s poor decisions or considering how to work around them. I’d also rather that when people have a problem they need help with they don’t have to check Schedule 5 of the 1998 Act to work out if they need to speak to their MP or their MSPs.

We need a single Parliament, fairly elected, responsive and transparent (and yes, one which devolves more power down to communities too), one which deals with every national issue, and which holds to account a single government which drives policy in a clear direction: whatever direction it was elected to take us in. Given we’re not going back to unitary rule at Westminster any time soon, that can only come with a Yes vote next year.