Friday, 26 February 2010

Scotland's Independence Referendum Bill

Yesterday morning Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, published the Independence Referendum Bill consultation document which offered opposition parties the chance to frame a question on alternatives to outright secession. The proposals in the draft Bill are now out to a nine week consultation.

The proposal is for a referendum with two questions on two separate ballot papers and mirrors the approach of the 1997 referendum on the Scottish Parliament. You can see a copy of the Bill here.

First voters would be asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' on whether they support the Scottish parliament being given new devolved powers.

The consultation paper offers two alternatives for this question: one based on the so-called 'devolution max' option of giving Holyrood control of everything except defence, foreign affairs and financial regulation and another based on the more limited powers put forward by the Calman Commission.

They will then be asked whether "the parliament's powers should also be extended to enable independence to be achieved".

About a third of Scotland's people want independence but the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey issued in January showed 69% want to see their parliament take on more responsibility.

Scotland's opposition parties been giving their usual anti-soundbites against the Bill. "Unnecessary and unwanted", "a vanity project", "waste of money", "putting narrow nationalism ahead of the interests of Scotland" - all protestations we've heard before.

Whether one supports independence or not, there is one serious aspect of this Bill. It offers the Scottish people the chance to vote for their own futures in a referendum. Opposition parties must remember that when they are refusing to acknowledge this Bill, they are refusing the Scots the chance to decide their own futures.

Yesterday the unionist parties ignored questioning the FM on the subject at FMQs. They can't continue to ignore it for long. There are many throughout the UK who have long desired a referendum on the EU and been promised one by both labour and the tories - yet they have been openly conned. They will be watching this closely and see a government, who promised the people a referendum, fight for the right to achieve their objective. The actions of those against this right will also be closely observed.


Vronsky said...

Interesting piece by Bryan Gould in the the Guardian. Contains this (although I'm sure he's not thinking of Scotland):

The economic interests of a wider European economy – to say nothing of small matters like a functioning democracy – will be best served, not by a forced but failed attempt at convergence through a single monetary policy, but by country-sized governments deploying all the instruments of macro policy to suit the needs and interests of the economies for which they are responsible.

Couldn't agree more.

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

Let us have the referendum, I shall campaign for continued Union, and let the people decide.

End of.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Version One is equivalent to Polyfilling a piece of cracked and rotting wood then painting it over.

Version Two - merely paints over the rot.

Version Three - gets rid of the rot and replaces the wood.

It's a question of jerry - jerry built or jerry mander, both lack structural integrity.

subrosa said...

Many thanks for that Vronsky. I couldn't agree more either. We used to have a reasonable model of that until the words 'less regulation' came into the politicial world.

subrosa said...

That's fair Dean.

subrosa said...

I think perhaps this post needs to go to an English blog too RA. Will do that right now.

Billy said...

I think hat they have the wording wrong Subrosa.

It should be more like "Should we continue to waste £35 million per year sending Scottish MPs to Westminster to do nothing but interfere in English matters".

Putting it like that should produce an overwhelming Yes vote as who would want to waste money on unemployed MPs rather than spending it on schools, pensioners or patients.

subrosa said...

If only they were allowed to word it in that way Billy. The suggested wording is a wee bit ambiguous though some have said.

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