A Referendum on Independence for Scotland

“It’s time for the people of Scotland to have their say on their destiny…”

Plans to give the people of Scotland their say on the nation’s future – including enhanced devolution and extending the powers of the Parliament to enable independence to be achieved – were unveiled today with the publication of a draft Referendum Bill.

First Minister Alex Salmond published the draft Bill which would give people the opportunity to have their say on two questions:

* first, whether the Scottish Parliament should have more devolved responsibility
* second, whether there should be an additional extension of power to enable Scotland to become an independent country

A consultation paper, published with the draft Bill, seeks views on the best option for the question on further devolution: full devolution including fiscal autonomy (known as ‘Devo Max’) or the more limited proposals made by the Commission on Scottish Devolution (the ‘Calman Commission’). Will the Unionist parties ‘Kill Bill’? By including the Calman options Salmond has again changed the ground from underneath them, and his reference to ‘circumstances after the next election’ is an un-subtle reference to the incoming Tory regime as England slides towards Aristocracy.

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  1. DougtheDug says:

    The big problem for the unionists, the Lib-Dems, Labour and the Conservatives, is what to put in the second question. Calman is a damp squib and has already been pulled apart by economists but there is no other costed, worked out agreed plan to replace it and it’s not up to the SNP to come up with either the plan or the question.

    I always thought that the Calman Commission was there to provide the third option on any referendum ballot if the SNP managed to get one through parliament but it ended up as a child unloved by either the Conservatives or Labour and only the Lib-Dems seem to want it even though it’s a pale shadow of their, “nations and regions”, federalist dream of breaking Britain into provinces. Calman should have been the, “Independence Killer”, option but it ended up as a hopeless compromise between producing something and changing nothing.

    The big problem for all three will be that, “devo max”, option. If it is an option which gives control of taxes and revenues to Scotland with lots of other powers and economic levers then it will be decided not by the Lib-Dems’ and the Conservatives’ two Scottish regional managers and Labour’s Holyrood office manager but by the the leaders of the three parties in England.

    As an option shouldn’t go on the ballot unless the electorate know what it means and the chances of the big two and a half in England agreeing on powers for Scotland which go way beyond Calman is not going to happen, “devo max”, is already a dead parrot.

    It’s a good ploy by Alex because as Calman is already a step too far for the Conservatives and Labour it’s going to have to be Calman and independence as the two questions on the ballot.

    It means there will be no “devo-max” option to distract the voters.

  2. bellacaledonia says:

    True but it might still be useful as Dev Max is probably the most popular option currently. It might be the 21st C version of what they didn’t want before – devolution. I wouldn’t be surprised if those who can’t process Calman end up backing Devo Max as the next best thing rather than independence.

  3. DougtheDug says:

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if those who can’t process Calman end up backing Devo Max as the next best thing rather than independence.”

    The problem is not that, “devo max”, won’t be popular with a lot of Scots, it’s that unless it is spelt out what it involves, what taxes, what powers, what revenues, what expenditure then it shouldn’t go on the ballot paper.

    “Devo max”, as a concept is vapourware unless the three unionist parties define what it means and that’s their problem. All of them would have to agree to a definition of, “devo max”, before it goes on the ballot paper and the chances of all three coming to an agreement on the transfer of control of revenue, spending and powers to the Scottish Parliament before the referendum bill comes before the Scottish Parliament is nil.

    Calman can go on ballot paper because they’ve already agreed what powers and taxes will shift to Scottish control even though the tax system they’ve worked out is a dog’s breakfast.

    Independence can go on the ballot paper because the powers of an indpendent country are well defined.

    Devo Max can’t go on till it’s gone beyond a catch-phrase and become a defined transfer of powers to Scotland.

    Devo-max may be attractive but it won’t be on the ballot paper so even if a lot of Scots may like the idea it will be a choice between Calman and independence.

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