“There will be a referendum on Scottish independence”

BBC Scotland’s Political Editor Brian Taylor says a referendum on Scottish independence  will happen. He would not have put his ample shirt on it to be wrong, when he could have hesitated.

Folk in Scotland understand devolution. They get the concept. But they believed that they were voting in a parliamentary election – a Scottish Parliamentary election. Not a rehearsal, not a dry run.

The more Labour reminded people that the main Unionist party was back in Westminster power, the more folk in Scotland appeared to calculate that they could counter that by voting for the SNP. In the latter stage of the campaign, Iain Gray modified that to lay a greater stress on attacking independence directly. Different problem, same outcome. Voters were not sufficiently frightened, if at all, by these tactics.

Final thought. To amend a phrase from the Scotland Act, “there shall be a Scottish referendum”. It will happen during the forthcoming parliament

(In the election) they were not voting directly for independence. Mr Salmond openly acknowledges that. But a referendum there will be.

Reacting to the SNP victory  David Cameron appeared   to concede the fact of a referendum

I passionately believe in our United Kingdom, so I congratulate Alex Salmond on his emphatic win, but I will do everything obviously as British prime minister to work with the first minister of Scotland, as I always do, and treat the Scottish people and the Scottish government with the respect they deserve.  But on the issue of the United Kingdom, if they want to hold a referendum, I will campaign to keep our United Kingdom together, with every single fibre that I have.

Right now Alex is trusting the Westminster and the pro union parties at home to make an almighty balls of it.  Ed Miliband, inexperienced and stuck in his metropolitan mindset made the crucial error in the campaign by treating the Holyrood elections as a stepping stone to Uk revival and Scots Labour tamely went along with it until too late.

The interesting question now is how Salmond uses his demand for greater taxation powers than the Scotland Act provides. Can concessions be made on Holyrood powers that have the effect of buttressing the Union case and deprive Alex of a platform of fresh grievance?  Measured concessions to a succesful devolved government is the way to tackle Alex. Ironically the Lib Dems, like Danny Alexander and Jim Wallace will probably be the coalition’s best advisers and give themselves a small platform for revival.

Legally Scottish devolution may not have introduced full self- determination for Scotland.   But the Westminster hurdles against it are made of paper. Separation can only be decided by the Scottish people.

, , , ,

  • M

    As this staggering news of an SNP victory in Scotland indicates a strengthened move towards Scottish independence and a possible break up of the Union the question must be asked does this leave Northern Irish Unionists literally ‘dead in the water?’

  • perseus

    why does cameron want the UK? he has no votes in scotland or NI,
    therefore treasury is paying out billions just to keep the thing together.
    Isn’t it patently unfair that free prescriptions and education benefit the peoples of scotland and NI, however it is the English taxpayer who funds this,
    whilst he/she has to pay for fees and prescriptions.
    That’s a double blow isn’t it? and for what.
    How long can this continue?
    seems a high price to pay for just a flag ( union flag )

  • Brian Walker

    perseus, I aasume he believes The value of the Union as with any nation, is about more than the flag. Nor is the cost of Scotland significantly more than its due

  • perseus

    indeed Brian but what is this value.?
    and who uses kingdom anymore? ( saudis )
    isn’t it just bragging? showing off..
    esp when others may want to go another way.
    The tory party IS an English Party, ONLY.
    The blue voting pattern confirms that ..

  • M,

    I think we sooner we have the referendum in Scotland the better and I’d be reasonably confident (as a unionist) about the result.

    And I can see in the foreseeable future here, a pro-union (but not in the *traditionally* accepted version, ie 12th celebrating, Rangers shirt wearing) majority in terms of constitutional status and a pro-Irish Unity majority in the Assembly. Not a terrifying prospect at all, should get everyone to up their game from the present incompetent stalemate we presently endure.

  • Dewi

    Bring it on

  • Henry94

    If, and we all agree it is a big if, Scotland voted for independence then the Union would be over. At that stage there may be room for the people of these islands to have a debate about a new relationship. If you started from a blank page what are the things that make sense for us to do together and what would best describe the ensuing relationship.

  • ayeYerMa

    perseus, maybe Cameron is showing more integrity than the average politician by caring more about the nation as a whole, rather than selfishly caring about votes for his own particular party (I wish our own NI politicians could take a leaf out of his book).

    Really, it is not all about money. The people of the British Isles in the 21st century have more in common with each other than differences – petty nationalism today merely stirs-up division, hatred and (in our case) violence. It benefits us all and gives us strength to work together rather than against each other.

    Indeed Henry94, a vote for Scottish independence (however hypothetical and unlikely) may end up forcing the possibility of a fully federal British Isles to the fore and actually benefiting us all greatly.

  • Henry94


    Federation may not be the ideal solution. I’d see a council of independent friendly nations working together on agreed areas of mutual interest. It would be a workable alternative to the ‘ever-deeper union” approach that has made the EU so despised.

  • perseus

    yeah henry94,
    let the rugby pitch decide who’s got the biggest dick;
    4 countries, partners, friends all equal.
    anything else you have to say to them “put it away”

  • Dewi,

    “Bring it on”

    Just as a matter of interest have you or any of the other Slugger bloggers covered the fortunes of the Québécois separatists in the recent Canadian elections?

    Think there might be lessons to be learnt there on both sides, what you reckon?

  • Greenflag


    ‘If you started from a blank page what are the things that make sense for us to do together and what would best describe the ensuing relationships’

    Problem being that the starting page is never blank . The detritus of recent and not so recent history rears it’s sometimes ugly visage and strident voices .

    I think Mr Salmon will take his time before going for that referendum and much will be predicated on the ‘shambles’ that the Tories may yet make of the economy . The LD’s have been issued strong notice in Scotland .

    Longer term a four nation set up along the lines of the Scandinavian Council with each having it’s national ‘representation ‘ in the EU might work better for all the peoples . But being realistic -it has to be said that ‘national sovereignty’ is not what it once was. It’s not 1848 . In this day age given the globalised world economy and power wielded by extra national financial institutions such as the IMF/ECB etc -small nations risk being ‘squeezed ‘ dry not so much by their larger neighbours but by the international corporate ‘citizenry’ of the global economy -namely the 20 biggest banks on the planet .

    Perhaps one reason for the SNP’s success is the realisation by many Scots that Labour when in Government dropped the ball as regards the Royal Bank of Scotland and it’s near collapse .

  • JR

    I wish scotland well in their vote for indipendance and I hope if they vote overwhelmingly in favour of it the country will not be split in two.

  • trash

    Time to split. Scotland is Scotland England is England there is no harm in separate governments. We will still work together and can on big things for this Island like defending it etc. But like this we will always fight and bicker. We are better off now being separate nations.

    British empire is gone we are the last of the substantial nations left in it – it is an empty club we in Scotland would like to leave now.

  • Michael_Barton

    “Isn’t it patently unfair that free prescriptions and education benefit the peoples of scotland and NI, however it is the English taxpayer who funds this, whilst he/she has to pay for fees and prescriptions.
    That’s a double blow isn’t it? and for what.”

    Let’s be clear about this, part of devolution is that Scotland and the other constituent parts of the UK are given freedom to decide how they spend some of their own budget. Inevitably that results in them choosing to offer certain things which aren’t offered in England – and not to offer some things which are available in England. It is absolutely not the case that the Scottish Parliament can pass things like free prescription charges and then leave English taxpayers to pick up the bill.

    If we want to make an argument about which parts of the UK get more public spending than they should then that’s fair enough, but it has nothing to do with free prescription charges or university fees. The argument would be about the proportion of the UK budget each constituent part of the UK gets, not about how they spend it. It’s also an incredibly complex one because you have to take into account demographic factors and countless other issues that affect the cost of delivering public services.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Given that most UK legislation is derived from Brussels these days (and I’m not a eurosceptic, just the way things are) I’m a bit lost on what the potential benefits of independence actually are, as opposed to having something like a federation.

  • Dewi

    “…for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
    That’s why Joseph.