I felt this comment and reply warranted being pulled out on to the main blog page
DougtheDug Sunday, August 19th 2012
I find that there is a question which is much more interesting than whether or not the SNP will agree to a simple Yes/No question on the ballot paper.
It is, "Why are all factions in the unionist camp, Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem so hell-bent on burying the second question as soon as possible before the results of the consultation and the presentation of the referendum bill?"
It doesn't really make sense on the surface. A devo-something option, properly spelled out and offered on the ballot paper would kill independence by either splitting the independence vote or winning outright and since all three of the UK parties have been heavily hinting that there's going to be a feast of new devolved powers for Scotland if it votes no then a second question on devo-something seems to agree with their future policies on Scotland.
If the unionist parties simply stay quiet the SNP don't have the power implement a second question even if they have a brainstorm and put one on the ballot paper.
The reason of course is that despite the "jam tomorrow" hints the unionists have no intention of offering anything significant to Scotland if it votes no and what they want is for the SNP to accept corporate guilt by shutting off the second question early in agreement with the unionists.
That way the SNP cannot then point at the unionist camp and say that they have denied Scots any other option apart from independence once the unionists fail to come up with an amendment to insert a second question in the referendum bill because they were party to the decision to kill the second question before the bill was presented.
You raise relevant points, DougtheDug. My perspective is as follows -
Q. Why are the unionist factions insisting on a single question and opposing devo-max?
It makes sense to me on several levels -
Firstly, based on the polls, they expect to win on a single question.
Secondly, they believe Alex Salmond and the SNP strategic leadership want a second question (I believe they do too) and that devo-max is his fallback position. They don't want the SNP to have a fallback position - they believe a NO vote will neuter them if not destroy them.
Thirdly, they don't want to deliver any more economic powers to Scotland, not because it would be a stepping stone to independence (in my view it would kill independence stone dead if delivered) but because an economically independent Scotland challenges frontally the UK's conspiracy of wealth, power and privilege, and it might well be more successful socially and economically than the UK.
Fourthly, they believe (accurately in my view) that while the Scottish people have a de facto right to unilaterally determine their independence, they do not have a legal right to unilaterally determine the degree of devolution they have while remaining in the UK.
I don't agree with you that the SNP could not put a second (or a third, fourth etc..) question on a consultative ballot. They could, legal or not, just as they can put the independence question. But the UK would have a much greater legal - and ethical - right to reject it.