Referendum on Scottish independence ruled out – for now

So the SNP’s bid to hold a 2010 referendum on Scottish independence is off. No surprise there, with a 60% majority in the Parliament in favour of the Union. Gordon Brown is blasting the SNP’s “obsession” with independence at the SLP conference in Dundee today, but as the Guardian points out, Alex Salmond may be in for a longer haul than Brown.

Privately, Salmond will be disappointed but not surprised. He did not expect to win next year’s proposed referendum. His core “gradualist” strategy is to build up the SNP’s reputation in government, by winning the next Holyrood elections in 2011, and strengthening popular support over independence over the next five to eight years.

David Cameron is making vague noises about better coordination with the devolved governments, but would these survive swingeing Tory public spending cuts?

  • kensei

    Brian Taylor’s blog has been fairly good on this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/briantaylor/

    over the last few days. The referendum bill always looked like a bit of a trap for the opposition to me: support it and have to run a potentially tricky referendum, oppose it and be painted as denying people the choice.

    I suspect Salmond will not be too worried.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Ah I kinda think that there’ll never be an Independant Republic of Scotland. The Scots just don’t have the balls to go all the way. It’s all just bluster with the Scots parading jovially around in their kilts on a 6 Nations match day with Scotland’s very special and number 1 fan, Princess Anne sat in the royal box. The links between England and Scotland are way too great…economic, cultural, faith, royalty and Rangers too. The Welsh are more or less the same.

    🙂

  • Dewi

    THe Scots Lib Desm need to take care.

    1)In the last Holyrood elections the SNP won the list vote on each and every LDem seat in the North East and the Highlands (mainland. Traditionally a strong nationalist presence in the Liberals – indeed there were electoral pacts in the 50s IIRC.
    2) Both recent by-elections have seen an enormius squeeze on the Lib Dems.
    3) The English leadership’s electoral priority must be to try and withstand the Tory onslauaght in South England and thus might well turn rightward.

    Interesting times – Salmond just needs to bide his time methinks.

  • picador

    Do you support Rangers, dewi? 😉

  • Jocky

    The big problem the lib dems have got is that the SNP have effecitvely called their bluff, they are seen to be no more than Labour’s lapdogs.

    The contrast between the English Lib-Dems, all promises to be an alternative to either Labour or Tories has been seen to be nothing but bluster. They wore the clothes labour gave them in order to get to the dance.

    So what’s the point of the Lib Dems in Scotland?

    The defacto nationalisation of Scotlands two main banks could be a much bigger problem to Salmond. An issue salmond has been quite on as in reallity there not a lot a devolved or sovereign scottish parliment can do about it.

    Whether this is a good arguement for or against independence is another question.

  • dodrade

    If gradualism didn’t work for the PQ in Quebec, whose differences from the rest of Canada are much greater than those between England and Scotland, why would it work for the SNP?

    I suspect that there a lot of SNP supporters who, whilst they are happy to see Salmond running the show at Holyrood, when push comes to shove don’t really want independence.

  • kensei

    dodrade

    If gradualism didn’t work for the PQ in Quebec, whose differences from the rest of Canada are much greater than those between England and Scotland, why would it work for the SNP?

    Gradualism has come incredibly close in Quebec. And that was with the PQ alienating people all over the show, IRC.

    There is also no guarantee that the current situation in Quebec will remain that way forever.

  • Urgh!!

    With David Cameron cosying up to the SNP in Scotland what way would the Tories be advising their followers to vote if there was a referendum!!

  • Phil

    I wonder how many of the Liebour and Fib Dem MSP’s who are against the people of Scotland having their say signed the Scottish Claim of Right?

  • Once again this raises the eternal question of whether the Republic of Ireland would still be in the Union today had the Unionists not blocked Home Rule. In that context in a weird sort of way, maybe we down here have something to be thankful to the Unionists for. It would seem logical that even in the context of declining North Sea oil-revenues, that were an independent Scotland to have sole-title to them, it would have the potential to become another Norway, making independence more viable than would otherwise be the case. But the fact remains that even when this argument had more credibility in the 1980’s, the SNP couldn’t win over the majority of Scots, and the SNP governs effectively at the pleasure of Opposition parties owing to the former only constituting 1/3rd of the seats in the Scottish Parliament. That alone will prevent an independence referendum for the forseeable future. My sense is that in the absence of conflict or overweening interference by Westminster in the autonomy of Scotland, the majority of Scots are prepared to remain in the Union. Methinks, though, that the real test of devolution as a durable constitutional settlement will face its first real test if David Cameron enters No.10 next year. He promises not to reverse it, but he can hardly speak for his successors should he be replaced as Tory leader into the future.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “Once again this raises the eternal question of whether the Republic of Ireland would still be in the Union today had the Unionists not blocked Home Rule.”

    Indeed we more than likely would. We initially wanted Home Rule, but with Dominion status within the Commonwealth, as like Canada and Australia.It was’nt too much to ask. The English King or Queen would have been still head of state. Ah perhaps it’s just as well history took the course it did because today, as a Republic, the 26 counties of Ireland has never enjoyed before such a great relationship with the UK. Everyone is on equal terms.
    It should be noted too that the Act of Union saw the demise of Ireland and her general status and welfare within the Empire, bar the northeastern part of course which became somewhat industrialized, the rest of the country remaining agrarian. Her cities, like Dublin, the second city of the Empire at one stage were no longer part of the the hub. Remember the occurence of the Great Famine too, just 50 odd years after the Union. Oh do I hear the word MOPERY bandied about by some!

    Indeed, perhaps it’s just as well history took the course it did!

  • Urgh!!

    Future Taoiseach said

    “Once again this raises the eternal question of whether the Republic of Ireland would still be in the Union today had the Unionists not blocked Home Rule.”

    It could not be that the Irish Unionists would do daft things that end up shooting themselves in the foot.