Thursday, 25 February 2010

Whatever happened to "Independence, Yes or No"?

The SNP has finally got around to publishing some proposals for its long-delayed referendum on independence. Except it isn't really a referendum on independence, it's a consultation exercise on two, SNP chosen, options for the constitution.

The BBC reports

that we will be asked two questions on two separate ballot papers.

Firstly, voters would be asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' on whether they support the Scottish Parliament being given new devolved powers.

The consultation paper offers two alternatives for this question, one based on the so-called "devolution max" option of giving Holyrood control of everything except defence, foreign affairs and financial regulation, and another based on the more limited powers put forward by the Calman Commission.

They will then be asked whether: "The parliament's powers should also be extended to enable independence to be achieved."
Interesting. Why two ballot papers? Does Alex Salmond think that separating the questions will make the issues appear separate to the electorate. Surely it's not some attempt, along the lines of "Alex Salmond SNP", to fool the voters?

And, if the question is as described, how can we decide on wanting "new powers" if we do not know and are not told, what those new powers might be?

Even the question on independence isn't posed honestly...what exactly does "The parliament's powers should also be extended to enable independence to be achieved." actually mean. Whatever happened to a simple "Independence, yes or no" referendum.

Why not pose the question: " Do you want an independent Scotland",

A simple, straightforward question with no room for confusion or obfuscation, and likely to produce  a clear answer?

Unless the last thing the SNP wants is a clear answer. Because it's odds-on that  it would be a clear "no", and that would be that for them.


  1. If Labour would support a simple yes no to independence referendum - and by that I mean Gordon Brown as well as Iain Gray - the SNP would do it like a shot.

    But you won't, will you?

  2. Indy,
    Why is it always someone else's fault?

    Labour didn't campaign on a referendum, the SNP did.

    Labour didn't promise a referendum, the SNP did.

    It's not up to Labour to deliver a referendum, it's up to the SNP.

    If the SNP wants a single question referendum, it's their job to propose it.

    Thye haven't so they obviously don't.

    Just saying "I would put forward my own ideas, but those nasty other people will not agree, so I won't do it", is pure wimpishness.

    What exactly are they 'feart o'?

  3. That's right Braveheart. It's not Labour's referendum, so Labour don't get to control the question - you can't have it both ways, saying no to the referendum then wanting to write the questions...

  4. Hello Jim.

    You could be right, but I was responding to Indy who said the opposite.. i.e. the SNP would have put a single question, but they were afraid Labour would oppose it...

    I would have no problem with a single "independence yes or no" question because, unlike Alex Salmond, I'm not afraid of the answer I would get from the Scottish people.

  5. And, Jim, as the referendum, if it is to go ahead, would need the support of the Scottish Parliament, then I suppose the Scottish Parliament will decide the wording.

  6. That is an utterly preposterous argument.

    The reason the SNP cannot hold a referendum with a simple yes/no question is because Labour and their Tory allies oppose that.

    That's actually fair enough. If you don't want a referendum on independence then vote against it.

    But you can't simultaneously block a referendum and attack the SNP for not holding one.

    The Labour position on extending the devolved powers of the parliament appears to be that no referendum is required. The SNP position on the other hand is that any major constitutional change requires the assent of the people. That's why there is a question on devo max or Calman or whatever the unionist parties decide they want.

  7. Not sure if I get the logic:

    if the reason "the SNP cannot hold a referendum with a simple yes/no question is because Labour and their Tory allies oppose that" come they are proposing a referendum at all?

    Or a referendum with other questions which everyone else opposes?

    Either they want independence or they don't.

    Either they want a referendum on independence or they don't.

    Everything else is playing games.

    Or waffle.

  8. Anyway, the latest Scottish opinion polls show that support for the SNP has crashed, which doen't bode well for their referndum adventure.

    For Westminster the headline figures are as follows:

    Labour - 42%
    SNP - 20%
    Tory - 19%
    Lib Dems - 14%

    Giving us

    Labour - 42 MP's
    LD - 9 MP's
    SNP - 6 MP's
    Tory - 1 MP

    maybe there should be a third question: "Should we be bothering you at all with this nonsense?".