Friday, 13 January 2012

How many many ??/?

The Herald reports that Canon Kenyon Wright, a stalwart of the Constitutional Convention, wants a second question on more powers for the Scottish Parliament on the referendum ballot because “a straight choice between independence and the status quo disenfranchises a large number of Scots who want neither”. In which case, logically and surely, there should be a third question to provide for those “disenfranchised” Scots who may wish to vote for fewer powers.

That may sound ridiculous, but there is a serious point to it. If there has to be a referendum then a straight “independence yes or no” is the only clear and coherent route to take. Including further options only muddies the waters, making a clear and acceptable outcome less likely and increasing the chances of the whole exercise ending in confusion, dragging on for years, and being decided in the courts rather than by the voters.

Last night on Newsnight, the blessed Paddy Ashdown made the point that more options dilute any result. (it's about 35 mins in).

For example, Option A gets 45%, Option B gets 35%, Option C gets 20%

Option A is declared the winner even though 55% didn't support it.

If option A is "independence", should we become "independent" based on a minority vote?

If option A is "Devo max" (whatever that is... but that's a different matter), do we follow that course, although a majority doesn't support it?

If option A is the status quo, won't Nationalists argue that the majority is against it and demand another referendum?

It's obvious that multiple questions create unclear outcomes. 

So the only acceptable, honest and coherent approach is to have a single in/out question. 

Of course, acceptable, honest and coherent may not be what our SNP masters actually want.

*I've redrafted this after complaints that, in trying to show that a three question referendum created "unclear" outcomes, the post was, in itself, "unclear".... 

I hope it's clearer now...


  1. If both alternatives are defeated then what is the problem?
    The majority would have spoken.

    (And you can't assume for non-voters, so effectively they don't count.)

    I think a more realistic outcome would be 70% in favour of Devo-Max.
    In polls it is the currently the most popular choice, so it would be a nonsense to leave it out of the referendum.