I meant to comment on this piece from the Scotsman anti-independence propaganda conveyor line on Tuesday, but other events got in the way, notably the Commons vote on the English NHS bill.
The facts behind this piece are that the referendum is in 2014, the general election (assuming the incompetent Coalition doesn’t collapse before then) is in 2015 and the Scottish Parliamentary elections are in 2016 – and, of course, The West Lothian Question – Guardian
Peter Jones, the author of the Scotsman piece, poses three scenarios -
Prompted by yet another London expert, Prof. Robert Hazel of University College London, he asks what the Scottish SNP MPs elected to Westminster in 2015 for only a year - if the referendum delivers a YES vote in 2014 – will do in that year, before they “disappear back to Scotland to look for another job”. Would they vote on purely English matters. e.g. the UK NHS, and would the unionist Westminster MPs let them?
As Peter Jones well knows, despite his faux-naïf question, they have already “imposed a self-denying ordinance on themselves that they would not vote on anything that didn’t affect Scotland”. But this very week, they departed from that self-denying ordinance to vote against the pernicious UK NHS Bill that will destroy the NHS in the rest of the UK, because it will impact on the Scottish budget, and is therefore not a purely English matter.
Far from being prevented from voting on it, they were actively lobbied to vote on it by Labour and LibDem rebels, and have received their subsequent expressions of gratitude for their principled departure from their normal WLQ abstention.
Jones’ next point asks if in this pivotal year of 2015, the last year in which Scotland will have to send MPs to Westminster, if there was an election outcome that threatened a hung Parliament, would the SNP MPs enter into coalition with a UK party to prop up a new UK Government?
My informed guess is that they wouldn’t, for the obvious reason that, as Jones points out, such a coalition’s coat would be on a one-year shaky nail, and would collapse when the SNP MPs went in May 2016. There is also the fascinating point that such a government would be the one negotiating and ratifying the Scottish independence settlement! But who knows what the tactical demands of that time will be?
Peter Jones’ last point relates to the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2016. If the details of the negotiated settlement are known – or leaked – by that time, would this turn the Scottish election effectively into a referendum on the negotiated settlement terms?
Interesting questions – except that Isabel Fraser, interviewing the First Minister, got there before Peter Jones, as this clip reminds us.
Unionist run about in confusion and panic faced with such questions – nationalists just get on and answer them …