2007 - 2022

To See Ourselves as Others See Us

O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
– To a Louse, Robert Burns

Today is going to be crucial in that the Westminster Govt will reveal their legal advice and we will (I believe) have an immediate response from the First Minister. What Alex Salmond and his team require, and may have, is perspective. There seems some confusion on whether the 18 month imposition has now been withdrawn, which is odd, given that was presented as the main motivation. ‘Botched’ doesn’t do justice.

What IS good about this process is the way it has drawn together the Labour and Tory parties who seem increasingly comfortable supporting the Quad’s proposals. Johann Lamont has been given airtime and Ruth Davidson has looked hopelessly exposed declaring on Newsnight Scotland last night that she ‘hadn’t seen the legal advice’.

Elsewhere, those with some historical perspective have noticed some Celtic parrallels. An Sionnach Fionn writes (The SNP, Scotland and the Ireland Scenario): ‘Has the British Prime Minster David Cameron hit the self-destruct button on the so-called United Kingdom?’ And asks: ‘So the question is now this:  what if the Scots are denied a referendum (or the referendum they want in the circumstances they want)?’ Before comparing the scenario with that of Ireland in 1919 when on January 21st the Dáil voted for and issued the Irish Declaration of Independence.

Over at Slugger O Toole, Peter Geoghegan compares the situation to a different part of Ireland, arguing: ‘David Cameron’s pronouncement that a binding Scottish independence must take place within the next 18 months has significantly altered the dynamic of the debate on Scottish sovereignty.’

Could an imposed poll face a nationalist boycott as it did in Belfast in 1973, thus rendering it politically impotent?

Finally, on the Ramblings of Jason O Mahony, he argues: ‘Salmond, on the other hand, is being very continental about this, recognising the subtle options open to him, and that by giving the people the final say in a future exit he has a good chance of finally bringing the country with him, step by cautious measured step.’

Whatever today brings, the feeling is that yesterdsay was a missed opportunity for Cameron’s forces. As Severin Carrell writes in the Guardian: ‘It should have been a masterstroke.’

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  1. As Severin Carrell writes in the Guardian: ‘It should have been a masterstroke.’

    Aye it was a Masterstroke alright, but not by Cameron!

  2. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Time for Scotland to read the Irish Declaraion of Independence read in the Dail in 1921. Might stiffen some sinews.
    Now is the time to start raising the pace and raising our ambitions.
    The deployment of the Devo max which we don’t support but know a large and significant proportion of the Labour Party does is a tactical masterstroke. Those who have declared for it can’t go back and are now in a difficult place.
    We must open doors for them. Who’ll be first across the floor?
    Has anybody read the claptrap from Andrew Hook in today’s Scottish Review?

    1. LJS says:

      It’ll be very interesting to see what happens to the Devo Max question from here on in. WOS had an interesting piece Re: Clegg’s interview in the Scotsman where he called both the Indie and Status quo postions extremist add to this Moore declaring he’s not a Unionist perhaps we may be about to see a big move on this from the lib dems!?! Granted this doesn’t fit with DC’s move at the weekend but equally who’s to say the Lib Dems knew what was coming.

      One things for sure either them or Labour need to come out for Devo max soon otherwise its gone. If AS gets the unionists themsleves to kill off devo max as an option then well that truley would be a masterstroke!

  3. allymax says:

    Calamity Cameron has blown it. Cameron is now more despised in Scotland than he ever was.
    Michael Moore now has the ignominy of delivering a unenviable speech on a matter his ‘superior’ Osborne, will be overseeing; what a disgrace for Moore, and his constituency in Scotland !

    The long and the short of it is, Cameron, and his Westminster oinks, have blown it; independence for Scotland is even more certain that it was two days ago.
    Typical Cameron; a Bulingdon boy, that thrashes around with everything he does, unthinkingly lashes out at everything, thinking he’s the Great Emperor; well, now he’s certainly the last of that orthodox; his Calamitous behaviour has seen to that quite effectively !

    Aye, good old Bullingdon boy Calamity Cameron; aye guid fir a laugh in Scotland.

    Both Davidson and Lamont looked risible yesterday; they haven’t a clue as to what’s going on. That’s what happens when politics moves faster than the Westminster delineated / devolved machine. Labour’s Lamont and Tory Davidson are not politicians, they are only placewomen that will always say ‘Yes’ to their Westminster Masters in London, but with nothing, I repeat nothing original to say nor offer the Scots people, or Scottish nation. Both the Tories and Labour in Scotland look worse than ever now. Like I said on the Bruce (picture), thread, Calamity Cameron will effectively wipe out Labour North, and South of the border with his political ‘backfire-antics’; it’s like watching the Keystone Cops, all rolled up into one Tory cabinet. Thank-God; more Yes votes coming to SNP and independence!

    As for the Irish comment; “An Sionnach Fionn writes (The SNP, Scotland and the Ireland Scenario): ‘Has the British Prime Minster David Cameron hit the self-destruct button on the so-called United Kingdom?” It’s funny, but true. I think the situation is very interesting now; although we won’t need to declare independence, it is always an option. For instance, Scotland holds the referendum; gets a majority Yes vote; then Scotland declares independence to stop Westminster trying to fudge and obfuscate the result. it’s an double-indemnity clause for Scottish independence now; oh good !

    As for Kenneth Roy’s ‘piece’, what a load of rubbish !
    I’ve read all these Westminster-hack journo’s for years and years now, and they never change their world perceptions, even if the world is changing. Mr Roy, (in his writing), has that uneasy ability to make the world seem a worse place than it really is. I mean, he reckons we shouldn’t become an independent nation because sumbdy can’t decide where to put the ‘r’; in McCaig, or in MacDiarmid. For God’s sake man; write something interesting !
    I mean, Chris’ Grieve really wouldn’t have minded if his pseudonym was misspelt, (or, for Mr Roy, maybe I should have written misspelled); we have a bonanza of brilliant headliners that journalists would kill over just now with Calamity Cameron sticking his foot in his mouth, and shooting himself in the foot; (read that one online at the Independent yesterday; still funny).
    All I can say is, Mr Roy, (and his Westminster msm ilk), usually writes a load of rubbish; so I’m not surprised.

  4. allymax says:

    One more thing. I notice over on NewsNet Scotland G.A.Ponsonby has written, “Ms Sturgeon insisted that the Scottish government did not need London’s permission to hold the ballot but said that if the coalition was worried about the legality then they could simply transfer the powers without any conditions.”

    ‘ballot’ ?
    ‘the legality… transfer the powers without any conditions.’ ?

    is Ponsonby trying to deliberately mess up this situation for Nicola Sturgeon ?
    The Scottish Government don’t need to have any so-called ‘powers transferred’ from Westminster because the Scottish Government and Holyrood already hold all the relevant powers pertaining to the legality and responsibility of the independence referendum in Scotland; ( I wrote on this matter on the Bruce picture thread already).

    Sorry NewsNet, but you’ve screwed up there.

    1. allymax says:

      In support to what i said earlier(Above) to the G.A. Ponsonby article on NewsNet Scotland.
      “Salmond’s chief spokesman said they were “totally confident” that the Scottish parliament already had the powers to stage an advisory or consultative referendum, but said it would accept Cameron’s offer of explicit legal powers to hold the poll only if there “no strings attached. …The terms of the referendum will not be dictated by the UK government: those days are over,” the spokesman added.” (Guardian).

      It’s slack journalism like the article in question that throws off people in their thinking; no room for slack articles. We’re in a battle now.

  5. Albalha says:

    I’ve copied this from the Guardian live blog, summary of Moore’s consultation, saying that the Scottish Government has no legal right to hold even a consultative referendum, sorry for the length

    Before I go, here are the key points from the consultation paper on Scotland’s constitutional future that Michael Moore, the Scottish secretary, has just published.
    • Ministers are claiming that if Alex Salmond tries to hold a referendum on Scottish independence without Westminster’s approval, it will be illegal. The UK government has never said this as bluntly before. This is what the consultation paper says:

    It is the view of the UK government that legislation providing for a referendum on independence plainly relates to the Union of the Kingdoms and is therefore outside the Scottish parliament’s legislative competence [under the Scotland Act 1988] … Accodingly, it is the UK government’s view that any bill introduced in the Scottish parliament providing for a referendum would be struck down by the courts.

    The paper says that, if Salmond were to try to introduce a bill in the Scottish parliament for a referendum without Westminster approval, a legal challenge to the legislation would be “very likely”. This could come from individuals or groups in Scotland, or it could come from Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, using the power that he has to refer an issue of this kind directly to the supreme court. (The supreme court has the power to adjucate when Westminster and the devolved assemblies disagree over legislative competence, but this has never happened since devolution.)

    Officials in London believe that if a legal challenge mounted, it would not be possible for the Scottish referendum to go ahead until the matter was resolved.

    • The UK government wants to give Edinburgh the power to hold a referendum. The consultation paper proposes three options. The government’s preferred option would be to use a section 30 order – an order giving the Scottish parliament the power to hold a referendum. This would have to be backed by the UK parliament and the Scottish parliament. Alternatively, the government could legislate for a referendum in the Scotland bill going through parliament, either by using the bill to give Edinburgh the power to hold a referendum or legislating for one directly. The government’s preferred option is to use a section 30 order. About 10 of these have already been used to give new powers to Edinburgh since devolution.
    • Minsters want the referendum to have just one question and to be held by a certain date. A draft section 30 order is included in the consultation paper and it says voters should only have to choose between two options in the referendum (ie, yes or no to independence). It also says the referendum should be held by a certain date. But no actual date is specified. Ministers think holding a referendum within 18 months is realistic, but this is clearly an issue that is up for negotiation.

    1. allymax says:

      “It is the view of the UK government”
      Nuff said. We Scots don’t need to take any notice of this typical Westminster bluff, bluster, and general b-s from Westminster.

      De-Facto; Scotland holds the referendum, gets a majority Yes vote, then Scotland declares independence. It’s done and dusted as far as Scotland, it’s peoples, and the international legal community is concerned; the ‘international’ precedent is Ireland doing the same. Westminster will try to fudge and obfuscate the result, but ostensibly, the ba’s burst fir Westminster.

      The fact is, the declaration of independence by ireland is now an internationally set and accepted precedent, perfectly against Westminster !
      And it’s now become a double-indemnity clause for Scottish independence also.
      Luv it.

      Side note; BBC text coverage states; “1726:Sir Menzies Campbell, Lib Dem MP for North East Fife, welcomed the announcement and asked why the SNP was not getting on with the referendum straight away. “Is that the Bravehearts are not so brave any more?”, he says.”
      Looks like Campbell has backed himself into his very own quisling corner !
      I know his constituency, and they won’t like that rhetoric at all !

    2. Alex BUchan says:


      Thanks that’s very helpful. This is very close to what I have been saying for some time. Since I read the article in the Independent on Nov 11th and on the BBC website on Dec 23rd, it’s been clear that having been in Canada to study what happened over Quebec the UK government have felt confident that they could be sure of wining this referendum.

      It was always clear that the main aim was to wrest the initiative away from the SNP and to avoid a consultative referendum that referred to the Scottish government entering into negotiations. They, rightly, saw this as easier for the SNP to win than a straight Independence YES/NO question. Timing was never a major issue, and, by being relaxed on timing now, they can appear to have been reasonable and make it more difficult for the Scottish government to refuse their offer.

      Cameron made a tactical blunder yesterday, but that’s all it was, the only weakness it shows is the extent to which he and the government are limited in their knowledge of public opinion in Scotland but this won’t be decisive in the final outcome. The fact that it’s forced Salmond’s hand means Cameron’s blunder will soon fade as an issue. The mistake we are making is in underestimating the British State – not something Irish nationalist would be likely to do.

      The fact that until recently Moore was talking about the need for a second referendum (thus, incidentally, accepting that the Scottish government could call a referendum) shows that he’s been effectively side tracked and that the present policy is the work of policy wonks in NO 10 under the direction of George Osborne.

      The need now is to stop thinking that the UK government is stupid. They know what they are doing and we have to get wise to it. One of their main arguments is going to be that Independence is different from devolution. This is an extremely significant move.

      People who say they will vote for independence at present will include a majority who would vote for it regardless of whether they will be better off or not, other’s may be less committed. All those who say they want dev- max think that devo-max combines the maximum security against London Tory policies with the security of still being inside the UK, so almost all of this group are sensitive to the issue of whether or not they will be better or worse off.

      Therefore, when this separation between independence and devolution is pushed, as it will be by all unionist politicians from now on, what they are hoping to achieve is a perception that independence is not about protecting Scotland’s interests and people’s personal interest but devolution is. Instead they want to portray independence as the obsession, of a minority of extremist political zealots. They will then try to use this as a framework to claim that nationalists don’t really care if your pension or benefits are worse because that’s not what motivates them.

      1. Freoboy says:

        Underestimating the UK Govt is certainly not a good idea and it does appear as if they have taken the Canadian situation to heart.

        Personally I always think that a simple read across from another country’s experience is fraught with danger. You can never know whether what works ‘there’ will work ‘here’ and constitutional theory and practice can be subtly as well as obviously different.

        What appears obvious is that the puts the legal issues to the fore ie do it our way or we will strike you down in the Courts.

        What they have neglected, or are simply ignoring, is the political dimension. In this the SNP surely has the upper hand and its worth reflecting on how many times a country/people have not been able to achieve self determination because of a legal technicality – the answer surely is never?

  6. Albalha says:

    Having watched the whole debate the most surreal, though not surprising was the MP for Beckenham Bob Stewart asking how he could get a say on the fate of his ‘ancestral home’, you couldn’t make it up.

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      What I though was most significant was when Margaret Curran said that the Scottish Government believe that they have legal advice which is different. When she said that Jim Murphy who was sitting next to her looked over to the government benches and nodded as one would nod to friends who quite can’t believe what was just said. What this showed that when it comes to Scotland the two front benches are as one, in fact you got the feeling that it was a case of Westminster solidarity against a rebellious upstart.

      1. Albalha says:

        Absolutely. Just watched a News Channel interview with Salmond and he seemed to be saying they will bring in legislation in January next year to pave the way for the Autumn 2014 vote. I’m not a much of a legal whizz but do we know what this legislation would be in the context of the 1998 Act?

      2. Alex Buchan says:

        Well. He is obviously trying to ignore the UK government’s parallel process of a consultation on the conditions and wording of the referendum, so he can only mean his original idea of a consultative referendum asking for permission to enter negotiations. If he’s any sense he will quickly say that he has decided to have a second referendum on the outcome of the negotiations because that is providing more than the UK government is offering. Some have said such a consultative referendum is within the S.P. powers, but I think it’s now clear that it wouldn’t get past the Supreme Court so he is looking for a stand-off (the Advocate General can refer any legislation from the S.P. to the S.C. before Royal Assent).

  7. Just saw the Scottish independence referendum story on BBC.com. Hooray!

  8. Castle Rock says:

    The Scottish Government will go down in history for pulling one of the best political manoeuvres in years for announcing the date of the independence referendum while Michael Moore was still taking questions on the UK’s Government’s plans on giving powers to the Scottish Parliament to call the referendum.

    Pure genius.

  9. Albalha says:

    Alex Buchan thanks for the response. Interesting times indeed. For anyone who feels minded to tell Mr Moore et al what they think the details courtesy of the BBC Live blog.
    Want to take part in the UK government’s consultation? Here are a few details….

    The deadline for responses is – Friday 9 March 2012
    Post your response to – Referendum Consultation, Scotland Office, 1 Melville Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 7HW
    Email your response to – [email protected]

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      Thanks I’m going to ask them why they think removing my right to vote on Devo-Max is deemed to be more democratic. I just noticed on the Guardian that Martin Simme and the leader of the STUC are going to front a new campaigning group mid-January to campaign for Devo-Max. I’m joining it. I want independence but know that independence ref could be lost. I think it’s irresponsible to put Scotland in that position at the mercy of the UK government who will quickly move to legislate to gain more controls over what the Scottish Parliament can and can’t do. As I’ve said before those who think we can afford to lose this, are mistaken.

      1. Albalha says:

        Yes I think you’re right, indeed just listening to Michael Moore live on Newsnight, the fight is far from over.

  10. Alex Buchan says:

    Have just read that the Scottish Government have said that they will accept the UK governments offer of the powers to have a legally watertight referendum but only if there are no strings attached, which must include the stuff about only two questions. The UK government will never agree to that now. So it’s a standoff with the possibility that the UK government might stage their own referendum in which case we will need a massive and inventive campaign of civil disobedience to obstruct that.

    1. Castle Rock says:

      Hi Alex

      I really can’t see how they would be stupid enough to hold their own referendum (yes it’s in the consultation document but surely its there as more of a threatbluff than anything else?). The only way for that to work is for the Labour Party to give them their support but are the Labour Party that suicidal?

      If the Tories and the Lib Dems tried to do it on their own, well, as you say…

    2. Bravo for taking your cue from Iceland!

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