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Independence only for the Scottish referendum – DailyTelegraph

Thu 20 September 2012, 12:36pm

The strongly pro Union Daily Telegraph boldly claims that Alex Salmond is about to concede that the referendum should be about the single question of independence when the details are finalised next month. This must be in part because of the difficulty in framing a clear second question about  the extent to which devolution powers might be extended, whether “devo max” or “devo more”.  If true, the SNP climbdown represents  a tactical victory for Westminster  which has been holding out for a single question all along. How Scottish opinion will divide on the single question is another matter. The pro Union side would do well to discuss the  option of extended devolution more openly  on the  assumption that the referendum may be lost .

Many believe the SNP are about to back down because of the legal advice they’ve received but so far have refused to disclose. This stonewalling  is being challenged in the courts by Scotland’s Information Commissioner at a hearing set for December, with a decision expected in the New Year. This may however be overtaken when the referendum plans are announced in October.

David Cameron met Alex Salmond “on the margins” as they put it of the Joint Ministerial Council of the UK devolved bodies attended by our own FMDFM. It was the first plenary since June last year. Not that you’d know much about the agenda from the coverage it received, or the bland Downing St communique.

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Comments (9)

  1. Framer (profile) says:

    Brain writes, “The pro Union side would do well to discuss the option of extended devolution more openly on the assumption that the referendum may be lost,”
    Why on earth do you concede something approximate to independence in front of an independence referendum Salmond is expected to lose?
    Look what happened in Catalonia. Madrid gave them freedom to spend what they want and then is obliged to bail them out. The result is the Catalans are demonstrating in millions for more independence rather than have to cut their budget.
    People in devolved areas are intrinsically statist and believe like Peronists that nothing should be denied to them by way of more government which is good.

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  2. John Anderson (profile) says:

    “If true, the SNP climbdown represents a tactical victory for Westminster which has been holding out for a single question all along.”

    Surely you could also argue that it is precisely what the Scottish govt have wanted all along too? Combined with the timing and franchise, they have succeeded at getting just about all of their proposals accepted. They just need to inflate the possibility of a 2nd question during these phoney war skirmishes, then tee up westminster to belligerently shoot it down with a metaphorical Clyde-residing WMD. Much to the predictable guffawing of the Telegraph et al. The yes campaign can then pitch for all the ‘unhappy with status quo’ voters (72% of electorate according to the recent British Social Attitudes survey) many of whom otherwise would have backed a second question. The ‘vote no and jam tomorrow’ approach you suggest lives long in the memory – many don’t forget what happened after 1979.

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  3. Mack (profile) says:

    @Framer -

    “Look what happened in Catalonia. Madrid gave them freedom to spend what they want and then is obliged to bail them out. The result is the Catalans are demonstrating in millions for more independence rather than have to cut their budget.”

    Not sure this is correct. IIIRC Catalonia are net contributors to the system, i.e. the pay more to Madrid than is redisbursed back. The reason they are demonstrating is in part due to the humilation of being forced into bailout by a central government they continue to fund.

    See –
    http://www.euronews.com/2012/09/20/spain-borrowing-costs-ease-catalonia-unhappy/
    “Catalonia, which is in northeastern Spain, generates one fifth of the country’s economic output and is home to 16 percent of Spaniards.

    More than half of Catalans say they want a separate state, and hundreds of thousands marched in Barcelona last week – the biggest such show of separatist fervour.

    The upsurge in Catalan separatism is founded on a conviction that Madrid is draining the region financially.

    The central government collects most taxation payments then redistributes them to Spain’s 17 self-governing regions, which run their own schools and hospitals. Each year Catalans say they pay 16 billion euros more in taxes than the regional government spends.”

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  4. grandimarkey (profile) says:

    I’m not sure if I agree with your analysis, Brian.

    I was under the impression that the SNP have always publicly stated that they were in favour of a one question referendum, saying that they would add a second question if the public consultation that they had undergone came back with a desire for it from the Scottish public.

    Either way, it is true that there is a want in Scotland for greater agency and if Westminster publicly states that it has refused to allow a second question on the ballot paper then this plays straight into the SNP’s hands.

    They will shout loud and clear that they wanted to put a second question on the ballot since the public desired it however Westminster wouldn’t let them. England is dictating the referendum and trying to hamper the choice of the Scottish people. This is precisely what the SNP want…

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  5. salgado (profile) says:

    Mack
    [i]The central government collects most taxation payments then redistributes them to Spain’s 17 self-governing regions, which run their own schools and hospitals. Each year Catalans say they pay 16 billion euros more in taxes than the regional government spends.[/i]
    How much of that 16 billion goes to subsidize other regions, and how much is being spent on Catalunya by the central government?

    I’m sure they’re still net contributors anyway, but I’m just wondering this.

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  6. Reader (profile) says:

    grandimarkey: Either way, it is true that there is a want in Scotland for greater agency and if Westminster publicly states that it has refused to allow a second question on the ballot paper then this plays straight into the SNP’s hands.
    Since the Scottish Government never asked for a second question; how can Westminster have refused?

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  7. DougtheDug (profile) says:

    “a tactical victory for Westminster”

    I’m not sure that victory is quite the right word to use since the other side never thought it was important enough to turn up to the fight. The unionists held a devo-max war and the SNP never cared enough to go.

    The idea that the SNP or Alex Salmond wanted a second question on the ballot paper is one of these journalistic myths in which received wisdom is regurgitated ad nauseum without any effort to check the facts.

    The SNP have certainly offered to put a second question on the ballot paper but only if someone else came up with a worked out and viable option and have always said they would only campaign for independence.

    Brian, can you provide us with any evidence that the SNP have ever asked the unionist side to provide a second question or asked to provide a second question themselves, made any effort at all to define what devo-max means or stated that they wanted a devo-max option on the ballot paper?

    The unionists “tactical victory” over the second question is one of the best examples of tilting at windmills you’ll ever get.

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  8. Grant (profile) says:

    Anything written about the “tactic(s)” of Unionists is going to be unbridled speculation.

    We’re yet to even hear any compelling arguments against independence. The ostensible rational for Unionist quietness being that they’re waiting for the referendum to be legally validated; they’re not counting unhatched chickens.

    Unfortunately, in the meantime, the vacuum will be continue to be filled by abject propaganda and detrimental imperialist nonsense, heard both sides of the border.

    Thus far, the staunchest argument to date has come from Peter Robinson. It was laughably irrelevant, generated as it was by his transparently selfish agenda.

    The Union’s hard-sell will come and when it does I’m sure they’ll find Scot’s of noble intentions and convictions to make it. Note: Hopefully not any biased Westminster MPs, who’ll loose jobs via independence.

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  9. BarneyT (profile) says:

    “Anything written about the “tactic(s)” of Unionists is going to be unbridled speculation ” – well I saw Ian Paisley with a little see through box full of wee orange sweets…I think these were his Unionist Tictacs!!!

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