Sunday, September 14, 2014

Scottish Independence

Scotts Porridge Oates - or Scotts Humble Pie

I will be in the land of the round doorknob on 18 September – the day the Scots vote on independence from the UK. So, I better get my take in now.

First. This has been an almighty cock-up almost from its inception. It has to be said.

“The Edinburgh Agreement (full title: Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government on a referendum on independence for Scotland) is the agreement between the Scottish Government and the United Kingdom Government, signed on 15 October 2012 at St Andrew's House, Edinburgh, on the terms for the Scottish independence referendum, 2014.[1]
Both governments agreed that the referendum should:
  • have a clear legal base
  • be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament
  • be conducted so as to command the confidence of parliaments, government and people
  • deliver a fair test and decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect
The governments agreed to promote an Order in Council under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 to allow a single-question referendum on Scottish independence to be held before the end of 2014 so to put beyond doubt that the Scottish Parliament can legislate for the referendum.[2]
The agreement was signed by David Cameron, Prime Minister; Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland; Alex Salmond, First Minister; and Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister.
The legal status of the agreement is a matter of academic discussion.[3]
The last bit is the good bit. Mr Cameron's brain must have been on holiday that day to agree to such a plan. Or his advisers were out to lunch. By agreeing that only people living in Scotland could have a vote on a matter that affects the whole of the UK, Cameron ensured that the SNP were already half-way there to winning. What an idiot. No wonder he has spent the last week running around north of the border trying to cry his way to a No vote.
Second. The No campaign has been run by idiots – or failed politicians – or both. Only now when the chips are down have they tried to get their act together. Anyone with half a brain could have told them that just lecturing the Scots was not going to work. It's a bit late to start a hearts and minds campaign.
Third. Cameron should have played the monarch card. Had he threatened to resign if the Queen did not speak out (assuming she is a No supporter), he might have had the real trump card.
Fourth. He should have been more pragmatic. If it works, use it. Now we have Gordon Brown on-board. Late. Very late. Alistair Darling is a disaster.
Fifth. He should have agreed to debate Alex Salmond. Not in Edinburgh but in Parliament. Somewhere in Westminster Hall would do. With a packed audience. Alex could not have refused and he would have been murdered.

Sixth. He should have offered Devo Max either much earlier or not at all. Now he has the worst of both worlds. The Scots don't trust him to deliver and the English may well demand similar powers from central government.
Where do I stand? I think the Scots would be very foolish to vote Yes. A Yes vote may be the prelude to a fantastic new opportunity for the country, but it's very risky! I might also be the precursor to economic and political ruin. Cameron is right on one point – there is no going back. If it's a yes vote, then that's it.
(Except for the obvious point that the Act of Union was the result of a complete mishandling of the Scottish economy and with bankruptcy looming!)
My feeling is the No will win but it will be far closer than it ought to be.
Nightmare scenario: Yes wins but by only a few votes. Cameron refuses to accept the result and resigns. A new Tory Prime Minister disowns the Edinburgh agreement and demands a UK General Election to endorse his actions. UK votes for Tories believing they are voting for the Union and we get five more years of crap Tory rule.
(A bit like the Falklands War gave us Maggie Thatcher!)
In any event the prospects are not great!

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