Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Nearing The End Of The Beginning - Alex Salmond - 1, David Cameron - 0



Most Sunday papers this weekend suggested David Cameron must be feeling rather smug because, in the final stages of the more than tedious negotiations for the independence referendum, he denied Alex Salmond the right to have a second question on the ballot paper.

The media consensus appears to be Westminster has won the battle of the legal aspects.

I disagree.  Alex Salmond has played the game with superior skill in the past months.  He had a specific check list and has achieved it all, with the exception of a second question.  Some say his determination to include a second question was purely a bargaining tool and one he would be happy to concede if his other requests were granted.

Now Mr Salmond has had the date approved.  Mr Cameron is about to hand over the legal power for the referendum and he can introduce legislation for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote.  The wording on the ballot paper will be the SNP's preferred wording with amendments made by the Electoral Commission and no interference from Westminster.

The battle over independence has a long way to go but it appears Alex Salmond is winning all the important early contests.

One message anyone who supports independence must broadcast loud and clear is that should result be in the No campaign's favour there will be no changes to the status quo.  In fact Westminster could rescind some of the powers already granted to the Scottish Parliament. How do we know that no further powers will be given?  Alistair Darling, the heid bummer of the No campaign, told us so last week.  If the polls are to be believed, two thirds of people in Scotland will be unhappy with his prediction.

17 comments:

tris said...

I shouldn't think that Alex wanted a second question.

He has spent his whole life in politics with the object of obtaining independence. But, according to every opinion poll, that was what the Scots wanted, so it would have been ridiculous to not suggest it.

Alex has never proposed that it should be, but he said that if another political party (I imagine he considered the supposedly federal Liberals) wanted to propose it, he would take it forward to the prime minister.

The Home Rule Labour and Liberal parties, presumably on orders from their Conservative bosses in London (they are paying for the No campaign), did not take him up on it.

Of course the popular press has been pleased to make it look like a defeat for Alex, but hey, as he won everything he wanted to win, why would he care?

But Alex would know that although there are further responsibilities that could be devolved, there are no important ones. Not without amending the Treaty of Union, which would require the assent of the Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament...the one that doesn't exist as such...

So, in fact, he didn't even concede that. What he did do was ensure that it was London, and not Edinburgh who appeared to deny the Scottish public the option that they have over and again indicated they wanted. It was CAMERON that said NO.

Already people who would have voted for Devo Max, have come out in favour of independence.

Win win as I see it.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Devo Max is (was)at best, given the lack of commitment or even consideration by the Westminster cabal, a cop-out for the status quo -perhaps even an opportunity for the status-min.

At best it would give Westminster an open cheque on the amounts it charged for it's policies on welfare, defence and foreign affairs and add complication to the accounting for taxes raised in Scotland by UK companies whose HQs are in England. For instance the sales of Tesco et al raised in Scotland and the subsequent profits and taxes - Vat and corporate -on these sales are, to my knowledge, not allocated to Scotland in the GERS accounting.

But the real problem for Westminster is the pros and cons inherent in Scotland as a political pawn round one specific fact.

For the Conservatives the loss of one MP is mere collateral damage compared to strengthening their hold on Westminster power, for Labour the loss of 49 Mps is a disaster.

Labour is on the rocks and the Conservatives are laughing their socks off. Hence the reason for the silence from one lot while the other is in hysterics. In fact both couldn't give a damn about Scotland other than to screw all they can out of it.

JRB said...

The score may be 1 - 0, but we haven't reached half time.

Complacency may be our downfall yet.

Sobers said...

I think you underestimate the importance of the second question. It was a halfway house, another stepping stone on the way to full independence that the public could be induced to take, without frightening the horses, so to speak. It is VERY difficult to get electorates to change the status quo, unless there is a massive obvious problem. All you have now is a stark choice - full independence, with all the unknowns that entails, or the status quo. I would be prepared to wager a fairly large sum that on a pure in/out vote, Scotland will vote for the devil it knows. The unknowns at a time of economic uncertainty are too great. When faced with the reality of the ballot paper the head will put the X in the no box, even if the heart wants it to go in the yes box.

So Alex Salmond make be 1-0 up right now, I suspect he has to play into a very strong wind in the second half, and will end up losing 3 or even 4-1.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Sobers - you may be right but it was a halfway house on the road to nowhere and 'nowhere' already has a self inflicted massive and growing obvious problem.

cynicalHighlander said...

Sobers you forget that with Labour in Scotland swinging hard right trying to outdo the Tory's in privatisation, means testing and nuclear weapons the end of the Union is far closer than anyone could imagine a few years ago. We now have a group 'Labour for Independence' movement officially launching next month with a current memebership of over a thousand and two years to go, what odds would you like to offer on the Yes camp failing.

Sheila said...

Just my opinion but...

We have global governance now - "democracy" and party politics are a distracting side-show.

Scotland is way ahead with complying with the global blueprint: http://www.home-education.biz/forum/general-discussion/12948-big-brother-scotland.html

Salmond is spouting "Scotland's cry is independent, but interdependent"

http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Scotland-s-cry-is-independent-but-interdependent-3636023.php

Ehh??

subrosa said...

I'd agree with you Tris as I think his 'invention' of Devo-Max was just a bargaining tool. What would be the point really of having a half-way house?

subrosa said...

Good explanation Crinkly.

J. R. Tomlin said...

I keep thinking that they can't really be that stupid. I mean -- seriously. Would anyone actually believe that?

subrosa said...

I think it's the best of 10 JRB and I'm not seeing any complacency. My intention was just to offer my views on the recent negotiations.

subrosa said...

Maybe so Sobers and I agree many would have gone for the second question, but what good would it do? It wouldn't have brought us any nearer to independence and just produced years of endless wrangling with Westminster.

We have to be confident and get the message across.

subrosa said...

I see where you're coming from Sheila, but I'd rather be independently interdependent than dependently interdependent.

Just my opinion. :)

subrosa said...

Jeanne, I don't think Cameron cares one way or the other. He has nothing to lose bar one MP.

He just has to ensure that the division of finances benefits England more than Scotland.

Sobers said...

" It wouldn't have brought us any nearer to independence and just produced years of endless wrangling with Westminster."

It is closer to independence because Scotland would have more powers, but with the financial backstop of the rest of the UK still there. Hence people are more likely to vote for it than the (possibly) scary prospect of pure independence.

The wrangling with Westminster is actually a feature not a bug of Devo Max, because it provides all sorts of possibilities for trouble-making, and engineering of situations, the end result being the demand 'Well you see we need to be REALLY independent to be able to do what we want to'. And 5-10 years or so of Devo Max would reassure the voters that Holyrood could hack it, that the sky wouldn't fall in if they had more powers etc. Thus it would be easier to get a yes vote for pure independence down the line.

If on the other hand you get a no vote on an In/Out vote, it rather puts a stop to any more talk of independence or more powers for Scotland for a good while. 'You've had your chance, you voted no, now put up with the status quo you voted for.'

So I actually think that Cameron is 1-0 up, if you assume he wants to retain the Union, which isn't necessarily a stone cold certainty. As other have pointed out, he and the Tories have a lot to gain by Westminster losing the 58 non-Tory MPs from Scotland. That would hand them a virtual stranglehold on Westminster.

subrosa said...

Some of your points are very valid Sobers and I agree that a No vote will sideline Scotland for a couple of generations.

However, was devo-max ever on the cards? I don't think Salmond thought so and tend to think he introduced it as a bargaining tool. Hence my score.

Sobers said...

I don't think Devo Max was a bargaining chip. I think it was a strategy to get enough pro-change votes in the referendum, that the status quo is not an option going forward. In a pure In/Out vote my feeling is it would be 60/40 (or maybe 55/45) in favour of the status quo. If you chuck a Devo Max option in I reckon that would split at very minimum 35/30/35. Thus giving Salmond a 2-1 majority for change from the status quo. Which is very important for the Nats - to keep the independence band wagon rolling forward, even if the end goal is still a way off. What they do not under any circumstances want is for it to stop dead for a generation, which is what will happen if there is a no vote on a straight In/Out vote.

Thus what Salmond is left with is a very dangerous (for him) vote - get it right and he gets what he wants, get it wrong and the raison d'etre of his entire party is knackered for decades. Politicians don't like granting referenda where the outcomes are that starkly opposed. They prefer them to be more of a forgone conclusion.

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