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Showing posts with label devo max. Show all posts
Showing posts with label devo max. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Happy Tweeting time–votes for 16-17, nukes and Murphy on tax

Peter Curran @moridura ·  5m 5 minutes ago

#indy "Murphy to support handing full income tax powers to Holyrood" Anointed Brit.Est. candidate is all over media http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/murphy-to-support-handing-full-income-tax-powers-to-holyrood.25960228 …

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  16m 16 minutes ago

@Sparraneil I agree. They won't of course. But I'd still accept the tax powers as a major move forward to ultimate independence.

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  19m 19 minutes ago

TIMES RED BOX: "Labour's tax warning to independent schools" I agree - stop giving these privileged people subsidies.

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  21m 21 minutes ago

@Innealadair Nuclear is the central issue for me, Martin but patently it's not for most Scots - and that includes a fair amount of YES Scots

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  29m 29 minutes ago

#indy Morning Call on about favourite smells. My least favourite smell is the smell of Jim Muphy's Blairite expedient, values-free politics.

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  31m 31 minutes ago

#indy #WMD They didn't waste much time - all WMD subs to Faslane. Just in case Scotland wasn't already the prime target in a nuclear war.

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  33m 33 minutes ago

@severincarrell The Labour representatives on Smith Commission are Gregg McClymont MP, Iain Gray MSP, not Jim Murphy MP, Guardian's anointed

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  36m 36 minutes ago

@severincarrell Got it in one - he's the mouthpiece of the British Establishment, which increasingly seems to include to Guardian.

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  38m 38 minutes ago

#MorningCall Caller: "It's the political elite that are against votes for 16-17s" Bang on, mate. Gaun yersel - puncture the patronising NOes

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  40m 40 minutes ago

@severincarrell "The significant switch will be confirmed on Tuesday by Jim Murphy, the favourite ... " etc. Murphy is Brit.Est. candidate.

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  43m 43 minutes ago

@severincarrell Nor does Santa Claus(e) come down the chimney. The thrust of the headline and content is post Murphy, ergo propter Murphy.

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Peter Curran retweeted

Scottish CND @ScottishCND ·  58m 58 minutes ago

All UK nuke subs will be in Scotland. Subs to move from Plymouth to Faslane by 2020. http://thenational.scot

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  45m 45 minutes ago

Scotland to be offered total control over income tax after Labour U-turn http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/25/scotland-offered-total-control-income-tax-labour-u-turn?CMP=twt_gu … Murphy backs it, so it's a LABOUR U-turn?

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  48m 48 minutes ago

@severincarrell You makes it sound as if its BECAUSE Murphy backs it, Severin. It's an expedient Murphy, as always.

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Peter Curran retweeted

Ron Dickinson @ron_dickinson ·  1h 1 hour ago

@JimhumeHume The arrogance of WM & MoD knows no bounds Scotland to be ONLY UK submarine port by 2020 UNLESS we kick them out via #indyref2!

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Peter Curran @moridura ·  51m 51 minutes ago

#MorningCall The anti-callers on votes for 16-17s typify all that is wrong with NO - and they ARE NOes. How do I know? Don't make me laugh!

Monday, 3 March 2014

The “More powers after a No vote”con trick – recognise it for what it is …

Questions that every journalist with any regard for political realities and objective reporting should be asking the Holyrood Labour, Tory and LibDem leaders and their Scottish Westminster MP claque, e.g. Jim Murphy, Margaret Curran, Alistair Carmichael, Douglas Alexander and David Mundell when the question of more powers is raised.

In the highly unlikely event of the three Scottish unionist parties ever reaching a core consensus on more powers after a No vote on September 18th -

1) How do they intend to persuade the Prime Minister of an already fragmenting Tory/LibDem Coalition (which may not hold until 2015), the Leader of the Labour Opposition, and whichever politician is currently at the head of UKIP to agree to incorporate their recommendations in their 2015 manifestos to the UK electorate, given that there is highly vocal opposition to more powers for Scotland among senior figures in all of them?

2) How do they intend to persuade them to make a definitive promises to do this to the Scottish electorate during the remaining months of the referendum campaign?

3) How do they think such a commitment would be received by an English electorate already groaning under austerity, assuming their homes are not under water because of a complete failure of their government to manage their flood defences?

4) How do they intend to persuade the MPs, the peers and the institutions who have expressed their adamant opposition to more powers for Scotland to support them?

5) And finally, how do they explain to the large group - at one point a majority – within the Scottish electorate and the institutions comprising Civic Scotland - why they denied them a second question in the referendum that would have recognised their wish for  such powers, if not for the obvious reason that UK and Westminster has no intention whatsoever of granting them?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

What awaits Scotland after a No vote

This was my hasty (I was on my way to hospital ) reply to an article criticising the No campaign - Aren’t we already losing Scotland

I’ve left un-edited (but re-formatted and typo-corrected) In the cold light of today, James Forsyth’s comment weren’t exactly “touting” devo max and more powers – his piece was bit more considered than that – but it gave me the opportunity to say what I wanted. US opinion matters!

Comments [One comment]

  • Peter Curran says:

    December 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    James Forsyth’s comment touts the “jam tomorrow” of more powers to the Scottish Parliament after a No vote, delivered through one of the many variants discussed in the run up to the Edinburgh Agreement on the referendum – devo max, devo plus, devo something or other.

    The realities of the situation are these -

    The only mechanism by which more powers can be delivered, now or after a No vote, is The Scotland Act. It has already delivered a dribble of powers after the Calman Commission. The Scotland Act leaves absolute control with the Westminster Parliament over Scotland’s devolved powers: it created the devolved Parliament, it has the power to vary its powers by adding to them or subtracting them. It has the power to end devolution and dissolve the Parliament by vote in which non-Scottish MPs massively outnumber the 59 Scots.

  • In other words, until and unless it votes for full independence, Scotland is wholly dependent on the grace and favour of the British Parliament for its Parliament and any powers it has.

  • There are powerful voices in the Commons and the unelectd Lords who have always bitterly opposed the creation of a Scottish Parliament, regarding devolution as the thin edge of a wedge that would end the Union. There are a growing number of voices in England, notably the local authorities who bitterly resent what they see as Scotland privileged status in the Barnett Formula

  • There are strong voices, encapsulated by The West Lothian Question – coined by a Scot, Tam Dalyell – that questions the ability of Scots MPs to influence English legislation on purely English matters by their votes in Westminster, while English MPs cannot influence devolved matter in the Scottish Parliament. There are moves to reduce the number of Scottish MPs in Westminster. There is growing resentment in England and Wales about what they see as Scotland’s privileged position under devolution.

  • To grant more powers to Scotland after a No vote, or even promise them before one would be greeted with outrage by the English electorate and the Welsh Labour voters. It would be political suicide in the 2015 UK general election for any party that promised or committed such powers.

  • The Scottish electorate do not trust the UK on promises of more powers after a No vote in a referendum, because they have already reneged on just such a promise in 1979 after a referendum – they have form!

    But the decisive argument for Scots is that, had the UK Parliament and government any intentions to consider or grant more powers, they would not have opposed the second question in the Scottish referendum addressing the wish for devo max within UK revealed in poll after poll.

    Alex Salmond and the SNP government were willing to consider such a question and option, offering a middle road between independence and the status quo. The resolute opposition to the 2nd question – a deal breaker for the Edinburgh Agreement – by David Cameron and all the UK Better Together parties – told the Scottish electorate all they needed to know – that a No vote, far from producing more powers, was almost certain to produce a clawback of powers and a £4 billion reduction in the Barnett Formula.

    The Scottish electorate know that a No vote, in addition to attracting the astonishment and thinly veiled contempt of the world for a nation that rejected its chance to be independent, would result in either devo zero or devo minus.

    Only independence will deliver to Scotland and the Scottish people the freedom they need to determine their future in this uncertain world and the challenging times ahead.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Alistair Carmichael fumbles and blusters on what happens after a NO vote in 2014

Alexander Morrison "Alistair" Carmichael, the new ‘Scottish’ Secretary opens by criticising the YES Campaign for "lack of detail" and the second half of the interview blustering feebly, unable to give any detail or any consensus among the parties of Better Together on perhaps the biggest question of all for the Scottish electorate - What happens if there is a No vote?

(Real answer: Devo Zero and likely clawback of existing powers under Scotland Act, not to mention utter UK contempt for Scots and Scotland for failing to seize their chance of independence.)

Alistair, his party and his Tory and Labour friends will tell us only AFTER we reject our only opportunity to gain full powers through a YES vote for independence. The three parties that will then engage in a bitter UK election battle in 2015, with the gruesome UKIP snapping at their heels, driving them even further to the right.

In contrast, the SNP's White Paper will set out, next month, highly specific commitments on the structure and shape of a new Scotland, in as much detail as can be achieved before the major negotiation with UK after a YES vote, and the subsequent election for an independent Scottish Parliament in May 2016, where the Scottish electorate for the first time for 306 years will truly elect their own Scottish Government.

Bluster on that, Alistair ...

Monday, 12 August 2013

Monday, 15 July 2013

Would it really have been independence? Should we resign ourselves to less?

"Will it really be independence?" stuff still touted by those hostile to Scotland’s independence, by the fearful and confused – and by quite a few prominent journalists and pundits. (The latter group are either fearful and confused – or they’re being ingenuous…)

Clarity of thought is vital at this point for independence campaigners, so turn it around - anything that leaves ultimate control with Westminster won't be independence. (e.g. federalism or any one of the multiple variants of devolution being touted – devo max, devo plus, full fiscal autonomy.)

While the Scotland Act is in force, Scotland is not independent - everything is in the gift of Westminster, which electorally means England. And it can be modified or withdrawn at any time … The Union remains intact, dominant, with total control over Scotland.

If Scotland decides on its defence policy, its foreign policy - including when to engage in armed conflict - elects its own Parliament and Government and makes it own laws, it's independent. Anything less and it's NOT independent.

The core principle is fully independent within an interdependent world – independence that recognises the reality of interdependence in a rapidly changing and unstable world.

Independence is the freedom to choose, with no limits or constraints on those choices, except ones we freely make and enter into - and can freely unmake and exit from.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Why do some Scots? …

  • Why do some Scots want control of everything by devolution EXCEPT the things that REALLY matter to their lives and their children's futures?
  •  

  • Why do some Scots want control of everything by devolution EXCEPT the right not to be made a prime target by UK for a first nuclear strike?

     

  • Why do some Scots want control of everything by devolution EXCEPT the right to have weapons of mass destruction removed from their soil?

     

  • Why do some Scots want control of everything by devolution EXCEPT the right of Westminster to withdraw any or all of that control at any time?

     

  • Why do some Scots want control of everything by devolution EXCEPT the right to control their relations with other fully independent nations?

     

  • Why do some Scots want control of everything by devolution EXCEPT the right to have their children being sent to die in foreign wars?

  • The ominous undertone of the Better Together alliance of Tories, Labour (and LibDems) becomes ever more pronounced.

    Playing the foreign countries, foreigners and foreigness card becomes more prevalent, militarism is increasingly invoked - whether by threats over defence or appeals to an imagined glorious military past - and ex-servicemen are urged to rally to the defence of the union.

    Sinister organisations with paramilitary links from Northern Ireland plan to visit those of like mind in the West of Scotland, etc.

    Nuclear weapons of mass destruction, Trident, and the nuclear presence in Scottish waters is ever the backdrop ...

    All of this is meat and drink to an increasingly insular, anti-European Tory Party, but what in God's name is the Labour Party doing at the very forefront of this brand of militant neo-conservatism? The spectacle of Kezia Dugdale, a politician of principle and patently genuine commitment to social justice in this company appals me.

    Wednesday, 27 March 2013

    Ruth Davidson U-turns and pumps out more nonsense on devolution.

    Ruth Davidson talking legal, political and constitutional nonsense last night on devolution to Gordon Brewer. An intellectual miasma rises from her. Alex Massie and David Torrance, right-wing contributors to right-wing Think-Scotland.crap scrabble for something intelligent to say on Ruth.

    Ruth Davidson says that Tories were "on the wrong side of history". Now all she has to say is they're usually on the wrong side of humanity.

    An angler gives the fish more line to tire it out and give an illusion of freedom, then reels it in and gaffs it. This is essentially the Tory/UK strategy on devolution. But Lord Forsyth rather inconveniently blows the gaffe on the real Tory grandees view of devolution - - that it was a mistake, should never have happened and ideally should be reversed, a view shared by a large sector of the English Tory Party.

    But there is need from much greater clarity from YES campaign politicians, who far from clearing the confusion in many voters minds about the distinction between devolution and independence, are deepening the fog by sloppy thinking and quotes.

    Devolution definition: transfer or delegation of powers to a lower level especially by central government. Indy politicians, MPs and MSPs need to get a grip of terms.

    Today, David Cameron, the failing PM of a failing Government, failing economy, at war with its LibDem partners AND his own party, supports Ruth on devolution !!!

    Devolution is NOT independence - it is a grace-and-favour concession by the ruling government to a subject province, and can be clawed back piece by piece  - or abandoned outright - at any time under the Scotland Act.

    Tuesday, 21 August 2012

    A cry of frustration about process–and my reply

    COMMENT

    BarontorcTuesday, August 21, 2012

    Am I just becoming exasperated or what? Tell me who controls the REFERENDUM?
    What has it got to do with Cameron or any other UK mover and shaker if the 16/17 year olds alongside every other person in Scotland get the chance to offer their OPINION in that referendum?
    If you're worried about shouts and screams from everybody and their aunties - where they have no locus and no say - so bloody what?
    The VOTES will be counted in 2015 for Wastemonster and for Holyrood in 2016 - then and only then will the future for Scotland's people be decided - in Scotland and for Scotland.
    If we keep going round in "what-if" circles - we'll end up - up our own bahookies!
    Leave that to the sh** stirrers - they're very good at it.

    MY REPLY

    You're just becoming exasperated, Barontorc. I feel that way too at times, but here is the reality – we control the referendum, but -

    There are a number of ways to approach a country's independence, the main ones being  unilateral secession - either by violent revolution or velvet revolution - or by legal, democratic referendum followed by negotiation. Scotland has chosen the latter for the obvious reason that opinion is divided within Scotland and either of the first two options would create violent conflict within Scotland and suppression from outside of it.

    What is proposed is a consultative referendum, i.e. one that is simply an expression of the will of the Scottish electorate and can be presented to the UK Government as such, and as a basis for negotiation. It is vital that that process be endorsed, as far as is possible, not only by those in favour of independence but also those opposed, both within Scotland and outside of Scotland.

    The first requirement, an essential one,  is that the Scottish Government considers the process to be legal under Scottish and international law.

    The second requirement – not essential but desirable in my view -  is that the process be regarded as legal under EU and UK law.

    The third requirement – intimately related to the first two - is that the outcome of the ballot itself be beyond reasonable legal challenge.

    Any discussions and any measure that contribute to the acceptance by all Scots that i) the outcome of the ballot is valid and ii) that the subsequent negotiations are conducted on a legitimate basis - and ideally the UK, the EU and the world community - are therefore well-worth pursuing.

    All nationalists occasionally entertain fantasies of a Slovenian velvet revolution, where we just walk away from the UK and, after a brief kerfuffle, it is accepted. But that is a fantasy and there is no basis in the current Scottish mood for it happening.

    So the occasional cries of frustration - including mine - are understandable, but ultimately unhelpful, other than to let off steam before returning to sanity.

    regards,

    Peter

    Sunday, 19 August 2012

    Why don’t BetterTogether and the UK want a second question?

    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.

    MY REPLY

    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.

    To be or not to be – but what is the second question?

    Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, saw it clearly – or at least Will Shakespeare saw it clearly for him. “To be or not to be – that is the question.” Hamlet asked himself whether he wanted to live or die – to exist or not to exist.

    I considered exploring this in more depth in relation to the referendum, only to quickly be faced with the blindingly obvious realisation that Shakespeare has an unparalleled understanding of human nature and the human condition and I don’t.

    There was no second question for Hamlet. In some way I feel that fact is significant to Scotland’s choice in 2014, but without Will’s help I do not have the capacity to develop the concept.  This will regrettably be no barrier to those equally lacking in capacity but also seriously deficient in judgement who will latch on to the quote and take it further.

    I can only shudder at what the Daily Mail, The Times, or Johann Lamont or Ian Davidson, or his partner in The Coalition against the Independence of Their Native Land (BetterTogether) Ruth Davidson might do with it. Perhaps that master of pompous – and vacuous -  neo-Churchillian cadences, William Hague might wrap his rhetorical gifts around the idea.

    Iain Macwhirter had his own question today in the Sunday HeraldHas Salmond said yes to no second question?

    While lacking the eternal nature of To be or not to be? this question has a catchy, journalesy feel to it, and is undoubtedly relevant. Well, has he, in private or otherwise? Here’s what that well-known figure, a spokesperson for the First Minister said today -

    “We have always said that we have absolutely no objection to a Section 30 Order in regard to the referendum, and the UK Government has to understand that the terms and timing of the referendum must be decided in Scotland, by the Scottish Parliament – not dictated by Westminster – and that includes a possible ‘more powers’ option.  It is only right that these matters are carefully and properly considered, which is exactly what the Scottish Government are doing in our consultation.”

    The ‘We’ is not the Royal ‘We’, it means the Scottish Government. If I may be so bold as to translate the statement, it means something like this -

    ‘We don’t need the UK’s legal approval to hold our referendum or frame our question – or questions – but if a Section 30 order helps to avoid the nuisance of legal challenges, that’s OK with us.

    But we won’t be told by the UK government how many questions we will have, nor will we accept that as a quid pro quo for a Section 30 order, but since we are not hell-bent on having a second question  (despite outrageous statements about the nature of our relationship with Civic Scotland, Future of Scotland and the SCVO, and the fact that everything we do and say seems to suggest just that) we still have the opportunity of the consultation outcome, and its interpretation, to justify a decision to go for a single YES/NO question, opinion polls permitting, of course.

    Such a decision would, of course, be completely unrelated to the granting of a Section 30 order.

    I wonder what the Prince of Denmark – somewhere in literary eternity - will say after the referendum about all of this – and whose skull he will be contemplating as he considers the result?


    Thursday, 12 July 2012

    Unhappy tweeting time – devo-max

    Tweets

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    The voice of the people of Scotland is heard at the ballot box, and if necessary, on the streets, e.g. the poll tax resistance. Listen to it

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Beware of equating some of the institutions of Civic Scotland with the people of Scotland - some are the vehicles for powerful individuals.

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Who are the real advocates of devo-max/devo-plus? Powerful corporate and financial interest groups with a heavy stake in perpetuating the UK

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    With a YES vote majority the UK has no choice but to negotiate the terms of independence. With a devo-max vote, Scotland must go cap in hand

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    The devo-max argument: if we promise to be nice and not demand our independence, will you be nice and give us a little more power? Please?

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Federalism, home rule, devo-max and devo-plus are all euphemisms for continued UK control - the power to grant or remove power from Scots.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    The Scotland Act is an instrument of UK power. It conferred devolution: it can take it away gradually or totally. Devo-max is a Trojan horse

     

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Some advocates of independence favour gradualism. Vote for devo-max and gradualism may mean gradual claw-back of powers. Only independence!

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    The Scotland Act can remove powers as easily as it confers them. Devo-max is a trap - UK holds power over what to grant, what to take away.

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Imposition of the Stamp Act by Britain led the American people to fight for independence. Scots are vulnerable to Scotland Act impositions.

    Tuesday, 13 March 2012

    The ‘experts’ and the referendum questions

    In my recent blog on the Scotsman’s report of Prof. John Curtice’s reported two question referendum Ask the bloody question(s) I analysed the contradictions and weaknesses of his second question - but I was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, feeling that he had been misreported by the Scotsman. He hadn’t, as the clip below shows …

      As far as the rest of the world is concerned, I have been wasting my breath on these matters for some years now – there is a persistent and determined failure to come to terms with this by politicians, by the media and by political commentators. I think it makes their wee heids hurt …

    As for the rest of what is laughably called the ‘debate’, the misrepresentations, factoids and downright lies continue unabated from the unionist side and from semi-informed academics who should know better. I want to believe that so-called experts are truly that – expert – and that they tell the truth and do not politicise it, but I am regularly forced by their behaviour into an invidious choice as to which of these attributes is true, because on recent form, they can’t both be true. Either they don’t know what they are talking about or they are being economical with the actualité.

    Let me try, almost despairingly, to yet again nail the nonsense to the floor -

    THE FACTOIDS – that which everyone knows is true, except it ain’t (Norman Mailer)

    Factoid one: The SNP and the Scottish government keep changing their definition of independence, and are unclear as to what it means.

    Since their election in 2007 as the Government of Scotland, the SNP and the Scottish Government have been clear about what independence means – and so have the majority of the electorate. It means Scotland running all its own affairs as an independent country, while retaining the Queen as constitutional monarch, being part of a currency union (now preferred as sterling) and being part of the EU, of the UN and of suitable defence partnerships and treaties.

    It means intelligent and free cooperation with others in an interdependent world, especially the nations of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, our long-term friends and neighbours, but also with the free Scandinavian countries who are also our good neighbours. It means playing our part in international affairs, including international peace-keeping operations and alliances, based on our free, sovereign judgement as an independent country. It means non-nuclear, Trident-free Scotland.

    Factoid two: The SNP and the Scottish Government actively want a second question in the referendum ballot as a fallback position in case they lose the independence referendum.

    The SNP and the Scottish Government are totally committed to achieving the full independence of Scotland, will have a referendum to determine the Scottish people’s support for that, and would prefer a single YES/NO question to determine the matter. Only by full independence will Scotland have control of defence and foreign policy and truly be a nation.

    But, since being elected as the Government of all the people of Scotland, not just the nationalist supporters of independence, the Scottish Government has recognised that a substantial body of Scottish public opinion and the electorate favour substantially more powers being devolved to Scotland by Westminster, but wants to remain part of the UK.

    It is the view of the SNP and of the Scottish Government that it is their duty to ascertain what choices the Scottish people would therefore want to be allowed to make in the biggest political decision of their lifetime, indeed, the biggest for over three centuries. That was the Scottish Government’s position in the 2009 consultation, and it is their position in the 2012 consultation now underway. It is also quite evidently the position of a very substantial and influential body of opinion in Scottish society and beyond Scotland.

    Devolution of powers may be defined along a spectrum from zero – the pre-1997 position – to total, the so-called devo max option. Devo max, far from being undefined, is clearly defined by common sense – it means everything except defence and foreign policy.

    Anything less than devo max, e.g. devo plus, Calman, Cameron’s vague promises and the various vacuous and nebulous suggestions of other unionist politicians demands definition. Only Reform Scotland has attempted this in devo plus, and the ill-fated and doomed Calman-inspired Scotland Act has defined the other.

    SUMMARY

    Following the conclusion of the consultation exercise now underway - and after the local elections in May - the Scottish Government and the SNP will set out progressively - over the referendum lead-in period until Autumn 2014 - their full prospectus for independence. This will represent their negotiating position with the UK Government after a successful referendum outcome, i.e. a YES vote to independence. In the event of a NO vote to independence, all bets are open.

    There is no confusion and absolute clarity on the nationalist side.

    There is deep confusion, lack of clarity and a lack of any coordinated approach on the unionist side. This is unhealthy for democracy and for a referendum outcome that will be supported by all the people of Scotland - and the UK - whatever it may be.

    For the UK’s sake and for Scotland’s sake, Tories, Labour and LibDems - get your unionist act together and start behaving like mature adults. And try to find some experts who can talk objective sense, and  a statesman or stateswoman to lead your campaign …





    Friday, 9 March 2012

    Ask the bloody question(s)–Professor Curtice’s two questions

    Professor Curtice is an eminent and respected academic, with a long honourable record of commenting on Scottish electoral matters. I am therefore astonished at his proposal for two questions in the independence referendum in 2014.

    Assuming today’s Scotsman has reported him accurately in the little graphic (not shown in the online edition) at the head of Eddie Barnes’ article Expert offers three choice-vote in just two questions Professor Curtice has fallen into exactly the dangers and pitfalls of a two-question ballot paper that have been detailed by many, including myself at some length in previous blogs.

    From Drop Box

    Referendum ballot paper

    Referendum ballot questions

    Referendum ballot question - confusion?

    The first question – Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? – poses no problems. It envisages two possibilities only, and one answer only - YES or NO – gives a complete and unequivocal voter response.

    But the second question – If Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom, do you agree it should have “devo max” or the status quo? – has several weaknesses in construction.

    Since it is conditional on the answer to the first question, it assumes a NO answer to the first question. But by whom? The voter answering the question or the outcome of the total ballot? Since answering the second question is not prohibited by answering the first, a voter may answer both questions making either assumption.

    For example, a voter may legitimately answer YES to the first question and YES to the second, in other words, have a fallback choice. As a supporter of independence, that is exactly what I would do, and have the right to do, since my assumption is that if the YES vote fails, and Scotland remains a part of the UK, then I want devo max.

    My YES vote to the second question would then be aggregated with what could be a minority YES to the second question by those opposed to independence. While I am clearly happy with that, it is evident from the comments of those opposed to independence that they would not be, and confusing and contested outcomes could result.

    Of course, the Electoral Commission could rule that the second question will only be counted if a YES vote fails. But have they the right to make such an assumption and decision if in fact many voters quite reasonably completed the ballot on different assumptions?

    The second question itself is badly structured and worded. If I say YES to the question - If Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom, do you agree it should have devo max or the status quo? - what am I saying YES or NO to?

    YES I agree it should have devo max  or  YES I agree it should have the status quo?

    If I say NO, am I saying NO I don’t it agree it should have devo max   or   NO I don’t agree it should have the status quo?

    In my view, the Electoral Commission should look critically at these questions and tell Professor Curtice to go back and think again.



    POSTSCRIPT

    I gave Prof. Curtice the benefit of the doubt, thinking the Scotsman graphic might have been at fault. But I was wrong - list to John Curtuice state the question here.

    Friday, 2 March 2012

    Consultation, devo this and devo that …

    The factoid has taken root, and is now stated as fact – Alex Salmond wants a second question, and is happy to accept devo-something as second best – a consolation prize if independence fails to win a majority. The Scottish electorate are now safely marginalised - having shown disturbing signs of being a sovereign democratic voice – and the future of Scotland will be determined by Civic Scotland, Reform Scotland, and the outcome of the referendum consultation. In fact, there is no real need for a referendum at all, since a series of unelected bodies, representative of nothing but the agenda of those who lead them, and the outcome of a self-selecting online questionnaire will determine how we are governed.

    When we get right down to it, anyone who wants to start up a body that they claim represents Scottish opinion can launch their own consultation on Survey Monkey. All this is very heartening – we can dispense with all the political parties, manifestos, elected officials, etc. and simply claim to speak for the people, whom we can rely on to remain safely silent.

    Well, not quite – the forms of democracy must be maintained so as not to frighten the horses, so a referendum will be held, with a ballot paper so confusing that the outcome will be contentious enough to be dismissed, unless of course it gives the right answer, namely – anything but independence.

    The world will be safe for WMDs, Trident will stay in the Holy Loch: death in foreign fields, the Labour Party gravy train and the House of Lords will continue, the poor, the vulnerable and the sick will still be the scapegoats for all our ills: the Tory conspiracy against ordinary people can press on relentlessly to destroy the NHS and the welfare state, and the military/industrial complex can expand the killing machine again. The parade of coffins draped in the Union Jack can continue, fat old men in berets, blazers and badges can revel in the death of the young, and the Last Night of the Proms will acquire a new resonance.

    The scales have fallen from my eyes – I see it all clearly now, and can spend my declining years reading old copies of Boy’s Own Paper and singing Rule Britannia. Oh, happy Empire day!



    Wednesday, 29 February 2012

    Devo plus–a “contribution to the debate” – or something else?

    The First Minister, Alex Salmond has gave his official reaction – through a spokesperson - to the devo plus launch yesterday in a press release -

    PRESS RELEASE

    Commenting on the launch of the ‘Devo Plus’ campaign on more powers for the Scottish Parliament – including responsibility for Corporation Tax and a geographical share of North Sea revenues – a “spokesperson for First Minister Alex Salmond” said:

    “Scotland is in a process of independence, and we welcome this contribution to the debate on the need for substantial economic, financial and social powers for the Scottish Parliament.

    “With access to all of our resources, an independent Scotland would be the sixth-richest country in the developed world in terms of GDP per head – compared to the UK’s 16th place.  Year-on-year, Scotland is in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole – taking all Scottish revenues and all spending in Scotland into account, the Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures show that, in the five years to 2009/10, Scotland was in a stronger financial position than the UK to the tune of £7.2 billion – or over £1,400 for every person in Scotland.

    “The ‘Devo Plus’ launch reinforces the need for clarity, in place of the current confusion, about what No in the referendum from the Tories and other anti-independence parties actually means.  This information needs to be in the public domain well before the referendum.

    “People across civic Scotland are considering the powers that we need to have a successful economy and fair society – instead of punitive cuts and a stagnant economy from the UK coalition – and it is becoming clear to people in Scotland that the only way to secure the job-creating powers we need is to vote Yes to independence in the autumn 2014 referendum.  And we are extremely confident of achieving a Yes vote for independence.”

    I was going to blog at some length on this in relation to the Newsnight clip of last night, with Jeremy Purvis and Linda Fabiani, but in the light of the FM press release, I think I’ll let my ideas simmer for a bit longer.

    Here’s the clip. Linda Fabiani is one of those MSPs who always seems to me to speak with a desperately needed clarity, in the light of the sometimes obscure statement of other SNP spokespersons. She is one of a group of direct communicators, that for me includes Kenneth Gibson, Alex Neil, John Swinney - and a few others - who speak in a language that the ordinary voter can really understand, cutting through the fog of politician-speak and obfuscation aimed at the chattering classes that so often obscures the message from other party spokespersons.

    Linda states clearly what I hope is party policy – the SNP wants independence, wants a single question, and regards devo max - or indeed devo anything - as only a recognition that Scotland needs the power to run its own affairs – all of them – that only full independence and a YES vote will deliver.

    The only reason they are consulting on devo max, etc. is because as a democratic government of all the people of Scotland, they must ensure that the voter is allowed to make the choices they want to make in the ballot booth.

    But let me say that I don’t wholly trust the motives of the organisations pushing devo max or devo plus – they claim to be trying to ‘inform the debate’ but to me they seem to be trying to circumvent the democratic processes of party politics and government in exactly the same way as the Calman Commission did, and with exactly to same motivation – to neuter the elected SNP government and prop up the union.



    From Drop Box

    Sunday, 19 February 2012

    Alistair Darling – naive, disingenuous, or just woefully unprepared for Isabel Fraser?

    Alistair Darling has been an MP for 25 years. He served in the Labour Cabinet continuously from 1997 to 2010, and was Chancellor of the Exchequer for three years. Among the other post he has held are Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Sec. of State for Work and Pensions, Sec. of State for Transport, Sec. of State for Scotland and Sec. of State for Trade and Industry.

    He is widely touted to lead the Campaign to Stop Scotland Becoming Independent, although he would prefer to call it Keep Scotland in Britain. (Since Britain has been an island for between 180,000 to 450,000 years, short of a drainage and infill plan for the English Channel, Scotland will remain part of Britain.) The campaign is, of course the campaign, to Keep Scotland in the UK, a political, not a geographical entity.

    Given Darling’s curriculum vitae, one would expect him to be in command of his brief for an appearance on the Sunday Politics Scotland, a hugely influential news programme at this critical juncture in UK politics, not to mention European politics. Additionally, he was facing the programme anchor, Isabel Fraser, perhaps the most formidably effective political interviewer Scotland has produced, with a trained legal mind and forensic interviewing skills.

    Watching his performance yesterday with increasing incredulity, I concluded that there were only three possible explanations for his lamentable performance -

    1. He was politically naive. I think this can be safely rejected, except perhaps in the arcane area of negotiation, which politicians, unless they have a diplomatic background, are usually inept.

    2. He was disingenuous. This seems the most likely partial explanation, namely, that he had been given (by who?) a brief to block questions about just what the hell David Cameron, his boss in the Campaign to Stop Scotland Becoming Independent - disorientated, full of Quaker Oats and full of emotional **** – meant when he delivered his jam-tomorrow ultimatum to the Scottish electorate – Vote No to your country’s independence and we might just give you some unspecified additional powers.

    3. He was woefully unprepared. Whatever his state of mind or brief (1 and 2 above), Darling was undoubtedly woefully unprepared for the interview, both in factual terms, in strategic and tactical terms and above all in behavioural terms. (Half an hour with a bog-standard presentational skills consultant before the interview would have mitigated the disastrous consequences.)

    THE INTERVIEW

    Alistair Darling opened with what became his broken record theme, one that echoed the Prime Minister – the question “Are we staying in the United Kingdom or are we leaving” must be answered by a referendum “- sooner rather than later -” and must be answered first, then you decide what the consequences are. He also stated that tax raising powers had to be fundamental in any further devolution of powers.

    Isabel Fraser: If what you are seeking is clarity in the debate, then isn’t it entirely reasonable that voters go into this referendum debate knowing exactly what you are proposing because here, today, you’re saying we could have more tax powers, they could be income tax powers …  I mean, within that, before we just leave that concept – are you talking actually about the rate of income tax or the threshold? Could we vary the threshold? And equally, if we have income tax powers, there's no point in having that if you want to be fiscally coherent unless you have borrowing powers which allow you to offset any fall in income tax revenue?

    Alistair Darling: You could – but I mean, look -

    Isabel Fraser: Are you saying all of that is up for discussion?

     Alistair Darling: Look, I don’t think anybody would argue that the status quo – what we have at the moment, erm – is satisfactory. It was fine in 1998. Things have moved on – the constitution is always something you need to look and see what’s best. But the first question you’ve got to ask before you get on top any change at all, is – Are we staying in the UK – or – are we going to leave? If we’re going to leave, a whole lot of other questions then arise: if we’re going to stay, then we can look at what further we need to do.

    But I honestly cannot see for the life of me why we’ve got to wait till 2014 before we can actually answer that question. Why don’t we get on with it – we could easily have this referendum –eh – next year and decide that and then decide if – if we’re going to stay, then let’s look at what more we can devolve – what more powers the Scottish Parliament can have  - and I think, y’know – most people, I mean, y’know – David Cameron – in actually a welcome step for the Conservatives has said – look – he’s moved from the position of being – y’know – the traditional Tory position of being outrightly against any change to that there could well be change – and equally on the nationalist side … You know, if they’re going to leave the United Kingdom, then let’s look at some of the consequences of that …

    Having just transcribed this rambling statement –which confirmed in spades my initial impression of it in the broadcast – I look again with incredulity at Darling’s c.v. above. I would have expected such fractured syntax and confusion of ideas from John Prescott, but from a former Chancellor of the Exchequer? Note the transition from ‘we’ when initially talking about the referendum decision to ‘they’, as in “You know, if they’re going to leave the United Kingdom ..” That confusion of identity is going to dog the Campaign to Stop Scotland Becoming Independent throughout. The Scottish electorate know who they are – the unionist coalition do not.

    But back to the interview …

    Isabel Fraser: But Mr. Darling, it would seem that what you’re proposing is a one-sided debate. I mean – why do we have to wait for the alternative? This is going to be the most important vote in 300 years of Scottish history. What you’re saying is – trust us, and we will deliver. You’re requiring this enormous leap of faith. Why, if you accept now the status quo is no longer an option, why not spell out clearly what the alternatives are so the people can make an informed judgement about whether we stay within the United Kingdom – or not?

    Alistair Darling: Well, isn’t the first question you have to ask is – Are you staying or are you going?

    Isabel Fraser: But people are already asking the other question. Is the fact that you’re not raising the possibility of further powers a concession that actually Labour in Scotland have been completely out of the game on this – you are so far behind the curve? Why don’t you seize the initiative and outline a coherent and positive case where people can make a judgement about whether what you’re proposing is what they want or not?

    Alistair Darling: Well, actually you know – if you look at, erm – in the pipeline there are changes being made – the Calman Commission, and so on, which we set in train, but what – what, what I do think is that the way in which you address the question of whether we’re staying in the UK or whether we’re leaving is – is got to be a positive case, it’s got to be what is best for Scotland: and my answer to that question is – the Scotland will derive huge benefits from the strength of the UK, just as the UK has huge strengths about – eh, through being in the European Union. You’re part of a bigger – eh – country, you’re part of something that’s much stronger, that benefits can flow from that …

    Now – the first question you’ve got to ask so far as the current debate is going on is – are we staying in the United Kingdom or are we leaving? Now, we could easily have that question decided far, far sooner than Alex Salmond wants. I understand why he wants to put it off – because he doesn’t think he can win at the moment. We need to answer that question now, and then once you’ve decided that,  then you decide – if you’re staying – well, what more, eh, powers does, eh, the Scottish Parliament need – that is best for Scotland. If you’re leaving, then – you know, you then have to ask all sorts of difficult question, to which at the moment, there are pretty vague answers. You need to get that discussion now!

    Isabel Fraser: If, as you want, Scotland says no to independence, what kind of political leverage do you really imagine Scotland would have in going to Westminster and asking for more powers after a No vote in Scotland? It would have no leverage at all.

    Alistair Darling: No, it – I think it would – because there is – you know, in a way that, eh, would have been unimaginable even a year ago – I think there is a consensus amongst all the political parties, and more importantly in some ways amongst Scotland itself, and, y’know, other parts of the UK that, that, that the settlement reached in 1998 – eh is – is not what we want at the moment – we need to move on from that. People fully understand that – and of course there’s going to be a lot of debate as to what you devolve or what you don’t, y’know, and what the arrangements might be … But the first question – I’m sorry to keep going – coming back to this is that – I understand fully well the nationalists don’t want – eh – they want to another option on the table to sort of muddy the waters here. Let’s answer the question – Are we staying or are we going? Once you’ve answered that question then, you know – then there does need to be, y’know, an immediate debate about what further powers the Scottish Parliament needs, and so on. 

    And remember whilst all this is going on, an awful lot of people in – in Scotland are facing losing their jobs, who are worried about their children or their grandchildren – and so on … y’know, its the economy, that’s the thing that actually matters – these are the big questions. But let’s get this constitutional question decided one and for all -  it’s being raised now – let’s put it to the people and let the people decide, and then you know, the politicians have to get on with it And – and do what they what they need to do as quickly as they can.

    Isabel Fraser: So, Mr. Darling, what message does Johann Lamont as leader of Scottish Labour have to give to the Labour conference in a few weeks, then? Fairly briefly, if you don’t mind – and clearly. What’s the message she has to get out?

    Alistair Darling: Well, I think the message is very clear  - it’s got to be about – y’know, it’s about all the difference a Labour administration can make at the local authorities which are coming up for election in May – the difference that the Scottish Parliament already have in relation to training, in relation to education, in relation to our universities and so on. You know, this is a very powerful message – Labour can make a difference. and on the constitution, y’know – yes, we have moved – and yeah, we needed to move. Eh, but on the fundamental, question, we are much, much stronger – we will be a far better nation, eh, within the United Kingdom than we would by breaking ourselves apart from that. It is a very powerful message, and I’m quite sure she’ll make it.

    Isabel Fraser: Alistair Darling, thank you very much indeed for that.



    MY VIEW: Anyone who thinks Alistair Darling would be the right person to lead the Unionist campaign after this showing needs to think again. Coherence and charisma were notable by their absence from this  performance.

    ANALYSIS

    I can offer a negotiator’s summary of the situation  -

    There is going to be a referendum in 2014 on Scotland’s independence. It cannot be stopped by the UK Government without risking a political upheaval, and they have, de facto, accepted this.

    The UK don’t want Scotland to leave the UK.

    The UK didn’t want a referendum at all, but since there will be one, they want it as fast as possible, with one question only.

    The Scottish Government intend to hold a referendum in 2014 on Scotland’s independence. The SNP as a party want full independence, but opinion polls indicate that a substantial number of the Scottish electorate (and a body called Civic Scotland) want greater powers for Scotland but want to remain in the UK.

    The Scottish Government, as the government of all the people of Scotland, are obliged  to ascertain what questions and what options the electorate want to see on the referendum ballot paper. This will be determined by a large-scale consultation, now underway.

    No unionist (UK) political party has set out their views of what extra powers – if any- they envisage being granted, and no comprehensive arguments for remaining in the UK, other than vague emotional ones, coupled with the assertion that Scotland is better in than out, have been offered.

    The UK Prime Minister has offered only tentative commitment to as yet unspecified powers, but only if Scotland votes no in the referendum on a singe YES/NO question to independence.

    No agreement exists between the UK and the Scottish governments on -

    1. The timing of the referendum.

    2. Its legality.

    3. The wording of the independence question.

    4. Additional question on the ballot paper.

    5. Votes for 16 and 17 year olds.

    Since the referendum is a consultative referendum, a YES vote to independence would be followed by negotiations on the mechanics of implementing independence.

    A NEGOTIATOR’S RECOMMENDATIONS

    There are two negotiations in this situation, one of which has already started – which I will call the pre-referendum negotiation – and one which will start after the referendum result is known, which I will call the post-referendum negotiation.

    The pre-referendum negotiation will be a prime determinant of the referendum negotiation, which negotiators sometimes call the context and agenda negotiation. It is critical from a power dynamics situation, since failure to reach agreement at this stage can result in unilateral action by one or both parties.

    Political negotiations take place in a very different context to commercial negotiations because of the media spotlight and the information needs of the electorate. In this negotiation,  the Scottish Government is the change agent and the UK Government represents the status quo. The Scottish Government derives its mandate from the Scottish people, but within a devolved settlement controlled by the UK Government.

    To use a very old negotiating classification, this is a conflict of interest, not a conflict of rights under UK law, although international rights do exist. Conflicts of interest are settled by agreement or by power: conflicts of rights under existing agreements are settled by negotiation or by law.

    Essentially, the context is one of negotiations between nations, i.e. diplomacy, even though the Scottish Government is not yet independent. In the case of any nation seeking independence, the subordinate nation has to behave as though it were independent before that independence actually exists, i.e. it has to emphasise its capacity to act unilaterally even though the status quo does not theoretically permit it to do so. This is why much of the legalistic discussion that rages is peripheral and essentially meaningless.

    The implicit unilateral action here is that the Scottish Government will hold a referendum on its terms and on its timing, with or without the permission and imprimatur of Westminster.

    This has in fact gone beyond being implicit – it is explicit, and, de facto, has been accepted by Westminster, because the alternative would be civil unrest on a scale that would make the poll tax riots look like a tea party. Everybody in Scotland knows this – few are willing to publicly acknowledge it.

    It is therefore vital that the UK Government gets its act together for the pre-referendum negotiation so that the referendum itself can be conducted in a national climate of consensus about its purpose, if not about its outcome.

    The outcome of the referendum has to be accepted equally by those who voted YES and those who voted NO – and perhaps those who voted for other options on the ballot paper or papers. Only then can the negotiations that follow a vote for full independence – the post-independence negotiation – take place in the right atmosphere.

    Only then can the negotiations – if any – that follow a vote for remaining in the UK be meaningful. Whether those negotiations take place at all will be determined in part by the balance of the vote, and critically, by whether or not choices other than straight independence, e.g. devo plus, devo max or devo something are offered on the ballot paper.

    I therefore offer the following recommendations to the parties -

    To the UK unionist parties and anti-independence campaign

    Drop the pejorative, emotional language and concentrate on setting out the factual benefits of remaining in the UK

    Stop pretending that Scotland being a free sovereign state within the European Union would be the same thing as being a devolved, non-sovereign part of the sovereign state of the UK. In the first case, it would be a free association of inter-dependent cooperation between nations: in the second, it is being a subordinate region of a sovereign nation within Europe, with no place at the European table and no capacity to influence the agenda.

    Exactly the same recommendations in respect of the United Nations, and to membership of NATO or Partnership for Peace.

    Stop trying to influence the outcome of the independence referendum by vague, unspecified commitments to offering a little more power conditional upon a No vote.

    To the SNP and pro-independence campaign

    Sharpen the vital democratic distinction between the SNP, as a political party and the party of government, and the Scottish Government as the Government of Scotland.

    Make it clear that the SNP does not want anything other than independence and a single question referendum, and that this is the party’s unified consensus.

    Make it clear the the Scottish Government will only include a devo max or devo plus type question in the referendum ballot if the consultation exercise clearly demonstrates a wish for such an option, and that if it doesn’t, no such option will be included, regardless of the views of Civic Scotland or any other non-democratic body.

    Set an early deadline for the conclusion of the pre-referendum negotiations on the points of disagreement. i.e.

    1. The timing of the referendum.

    2. Its legality.

    3. The wording of the independence question.

    4. Additional question on the ballot paper.

    5. Votes for 16 and 17 year olds.

    A negotiation without deadlines is an endless negotiation – be prepared to call time if negotiations fail, and unilaterally state the Scottish Government’s position on items one to four above. (It is probably a bridge to far to unilaterally commit to votes for 16 and 17 year olds.)

    Publicly acknowledge and reiterate at every opportunity(it has already been stated at road shows, meetings etc.) that the independence of Scotland is a bigger question than the manifesto of any single party, nationalist and unionist, and that how Scotland is governed - and by which party or parties - after independence will be the decision of the Scottish people in democratic elections.

     



    Wednesday, 25 January 2012

    The only fair referendum ballot paper? - but would it cause confusion?

    _____________________________________

    CONSULTATIVE REFERENDUM

    Answer only one question - tick only one box.

    If you answer more than one question, your ballot paper will be null and void. CHOOSE ONLY ONE OPTION - GIVE ONLY ONE ANSWER

    I want a fully independent, sovereign Scotland.

    I want Scotland to remain in the UK with no increased in current devolved powers to Scotland.

    I want Scotland to remain in the UK with some additional powers devolved to Scotland.

    I want Scotland to remain in the UK with all powers devolved to Scotland except defence and foreign policy.

    N.B.  If you have answered more than one question, i.e. ticked more than one box, your ballot paper will be null and void.

    ________________________________________

     

    COMMENT

    A minority, presumably led by Lord Forsyth, may call for a fifth question - a reversion to pre-devolution status. I believe there is no evidence for other than a tiny Tory minority asking for such an option, and that it therefore should not be offered. (A caller on Call Kaye this morning asked for just that!)

    Some nationalists - how many  I do not know - might want devo max as a fifth fall-back question if independence fails. I do not believe such an option should be offered, because it would require a transferable vote option.

    Is it too complex? I do not believe it is. There are no gradations of independence - independence delivers devo max and negates the other options. The last three questions are all the reasonable options for those who do not want independence.

    Some might argue for a YES/NO on independence, but that again would require a conditionality clause, and answering more than one question, e.g

    If you say YES to independence, do not answer any other questions. If you say NO to independence, choose one, and only one of the following two options.

    I want Scotland to remain in the UK with some additional powers devolved to Scotland.

    I want Scotland to remain in the UK with all powers devolved to Scotland except defence and foreign policy.

    This is too complex and confusing, in my view, especially since the first question, the independence question would be a YES/NO, but the other two would be box tick answers.

    Doubtless, some will argue over the sequencing of questions, i.e. the order they are set out on the ballot paper. Since it is a referendum with the overarching theme of independence, I believe the order I have set out is reasonable.

    Friday, 20 January 2012

    The UK’s nuclear panic - and devo max

    To see oorsel’s as ithers see us - Al Jazeera - Breaking up Britain? 19th Jan 2012

    Among the many perceptive insights in this article are these -

    When independence comes “the UK will lose 90 per cent of its oil and gas reserves in the North Sea and almost half its land mass.”

    Malcolm Rifkind (“who is himself a ScotAye, right) says "It would certainly open up the question of permanent membership of the Security Council in a way that would be quite awkward for the UK."

    Professor Malcolm Chalmers, Research Director at the Royal United Strategic Institute, notes the central nature of the nuclear issue, and the desperation of the UK to force Scotland to retain the bases. The observation is made that if the bases go after independence, “it is a real possibility that the UK could be left with no operational nuclear deterrent because the submarines could not be safely berthed.”

    The article also notes that “The ability to continue formulating its own policy is also a factor motivating Scotland's drive [towards] independence.”

    And there you have it in a nutshell - defence, the nuclear bases and the UK’s status in world affairs hang on Scotland’s independence, and nothing else really matters as much to the Unionists.

    I’ve said a lot about the nuclear and defence issues over the years, and you can find my views by looking down the right hand index of blog search terms.

    But the essence is this, for me at least -

    1. I want a nuclear-free Scotland, and the only way to achieve this is full independence. I am totally and utterly opposed to the concept of the nuclear deterrent and WMDs.

    2. I do not want anyone other than the Scottish Government that I elected to commit my country to war and to foreign engagements.

    3. I do not want anyone other than the Scottish Government that I elected to send our servicemen and women into harms way and to die.

    4. I am not a pacifist, and believe in conventional defence forces, and in joining with other countries in international military operations, e.g. peacekeeping operations or strategic interventions that Scotland supports.

    The only way to achieve these objectives is the full independence of Scotland as a nation, since all of the UK parties are committed to nuclear weapons and the ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent.

    Independence delivers devo max, i.e full fiscal autonomy, by default. The price of devo max without independence exacted by the UK is -

    1. Retention of Scottish nuclear bases.

    2. Retention of the Trident weapons of mass destruction.

    3. Retention of the concept of the nuclear deterrent.

    4. Retention of the right of the Westminster Parliament to send Scottish servicemen and women to war, and to die.

    If you want to retain the UK, by definition you are endorsing all of the above.

    If you want devo max without independence, by definition you are endorsing all of the above.

    If you want neither devo max nor independence, by definition you are endorsing all of the above.

    The Labour Party, the Tory Party, the LibDems are committed to the UK, therefore they are committed to all of the above.

    THAT IS THE STARK REALITY OF REJECTING SCOTLAND’S INDEPENDENCE - THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE INTERPRETATION.

    The media slide away from these issues whenever they can, and focus instead on the economy. The economy is important - defence issues are vital.

    Unionist politicians slide away from these issues whenever they can, at least until they are driven into panic mode by being forced to face them, as  Jim Murphy has been today by  Alex Salmond’s position on Scotland defence forces and resources..

    Last night on STV, a politician I have some respect for, Henry McLeish, slid away from these issues, because despite his realism on Scotland and Scottish politics, he is a Labour politician and shackled to nuclear weapons like the rest of them.



    Until very recently, these issues, and therefore the lives of Scottish servicemen and women were in the hands of one Liam Fox, the then Defence Minister. The circumstances leading to his downfall - preceded by desperate attempts to defend him and prop him up by Tory politicians - told us all we need to know about the reality of defence matters, defence procurement and the M.O.D. when in such hands.

    At the moment, more Scots seem to want devo max than want independence. If they reject independence, there is no guarantee they will get devo max, because it will then continue to be in the gift of the Westminster Parliament, and Scotland has no democratic way of securing it, nor any negotiating card to play.

    If the Scottish voter in favour of independence cannot persuade those against it to change their minds, then we default to nuclear weapons, war and death.

    It’s as simple as that, and nothing will ever compensate us for that fatal choice. Make it with care, Scottish voters.