Monday, September 6, 2010

Referendum or not to referendum? You could always ask the people...

Further to this post, from Monday morning's Scotsman.
THE Scottish Government has confirmed it is poised to drop its flagship plan for an independence referendum in this parliament, despite spending three and a half years preparing for the vote.

First Minister Alex Salmond is set to abandon plans to put his referendum bill before MSPs and will instead appeal directly to the electorate to back the need for a vote on independence at next year's Holyrood election.

The strategy was unveiled to Nationalist MSPs last week and will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

The SNP had pledged to hold a referendum before the 2007 election, with a preferred date of St Andrew's Day, on 30 November, this year.

But with any bill expected to be voted down by opposition parties in Holyrood, Mr Salmond is instead planning to "appeal over the heads" of the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tory parties and try to get the electorate to support a vote on independence
I think the pledge was to hold it before next year's election not 2007 but pedantry aside, the cancellation/postponement is a recognition of political reality. But that reality, in terms of the likely voting breakdown at Holyrood, has been the case since the SNP came to power as a minority government, so what's changed?

Not so much "changed" as "not materialised in the first place". The hoped for increase in momentum pushing for it from the public has, despite projects such as the National Conversation, simply not developed in any meaningful form.

*However* the Conservatives and the Lib Dems want a referendum on an AV voting system, for which there is also no "momentum" from the electorate whatsoever for. The Labour Party, although not 100% united on the issue, want a referendum next spring on more powers for Wales. Guaranteed a "yes" vote on that one? Not at all certain; the "yes"s are hardly riding forward on a wave of overwhelming public support.

So... if the SNP do make the independence referendum in Scotland an election issue (and they would be silly not to), then what coherent arguments in a democracy can the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, in particular, make against its granting?

Thanks to Tony for the handy background on this one;)


Dilettante said...

This is precisely why people should avoid referendums (that is actually the correct plural!) - once you hold one you lose all the arguments against direct democracy.

tony said...

You are welcome Oneill.

Seems this is an all or nothing strategy from the SNP. I was at a meeting last night and pointed out the obvious (I am new to these things) much to the chagrin of the obviously hegemonic influences. It is an absolute improbability (the polite term i used to them) that the SNP would get enough MSP's to enable them to outvote the combined Unionist parties after next years election.

I argued succesfully that we had to get the score on the door..............let the Unionists vote it down and we take that hypocrsy in light of the other referendums of their desire to not treat Scotland equally.

Jon bon jovi and a blaze of glory is much prefferable rather than the current fudge.

O'Neill said...


In certain circumstances (eg where politicians wish to change a constitution or relationship with Europe etc) and where there is a real public demand, I think there is an argument for them. For


Do you know for a while it didn't click who the "Alex" was at the bottom of the email you copied and then I thought can I use this verbatim. And then lo and behold, the next day there it is in the Scotsman! Your argument makes more sense from a tactical pov

tony said...

Didn't you know I have contacts in high places ;¬)

Both arguments make sense but only one is achievable. Tacticly we must make voters aware that the only way to save jobs is to vote SNP which is a vote for independence.