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.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London