Monday, January 9, 2012

David Cameron wants it, the readers of the Daily Mail demand it - it's time for Scotland to GROW UP

I've been slightly curious as to why the media seem to assume we should treat the UK government's legal advice on an independence referendum as intrinsically superior to the Scottish government's advice (perhaps they've mistaken Dominic Grieve for a Supreme Court judge), but the plot thickens - if the Independent is to be believed, it appears that the two sets of advice are in fact virtually identical...

"The Prime Minister will publish legal advice that concludes the SNP administration in Edinburgh can hold a binding referendum only with the British Government's permission. He will say he is prepared to give his backing to a vote only as long as it is held by the summer of 2013.

Mr Salmond wants to hold the referendum in the autumn of 2014 to capitalise on the patriotic buzz caused by the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, both of which will be held in Scotland that summer.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond insisted he was not prepared to enter into deals. Mr Cameron says he will back a vote only if it is held next year. He is set to publish legal advice stating that Scotland can carry out a binding referendum only with the backing of the UK Government."

Is that it? All these dark mutterings about new legal advice, and all it amounts to is that the Scottish Parliament can only hold a consultative referendum, rather than a binding one? Er, I think we've known that since at least 1998, but thanks all the same.

This detail is also rather amusing -

"Ministers in Mr Cameron's Coalition hope that an earlier vote would enable campaigning for a referendum to take place in the afterglow of the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations and the London 2012 Olympic Games."

Ah, you mean like holding the Royal Wedding a few days before the Scottish Parliament election last year successfully headed off an SNP landslide? Yes, these wizard schemes never fail. At least Prince William and Kate Middleton were reasonably popular in Scotland - after the BOA's antics over the last few years, and the way that the Olympics have robbed Scotland of vital investment, I'm not so sure the same can be said of "Team GB". But by all means let's see what the Olympic 'afterglow' looks like in practice.

* * *

There's no entertainment known to man quite like perusing the readers' comments on a Mail article relating to Scottish independence. Here are my favourites from yesterday -

"...some facts for our Scottish friends: You vote for Labour in droves, Labour ruined the country, now that the country is ruined you want to leave it because you are disatisfied, you continue to vote for Labour. You are sure to soar as an independent nation as you demonstrate great logical thinking skills. I will give you an analogy to highlight my point. What you are doing is the equivalent of letting an oil company drill on your land, then becoming disatisfied with the natural disaster on your land, then arguing in favour of allowing oil companies to drill on people's property at the same time as saying you need to move due to the natural disaster....then when arriving at your new property asserting that you will allow an oil company to drill because you think it is a good thing you are in favour of."

I've seen some cracking analogies in my time, but it has to be said - that one is an absolute belter. The only thing that could make it even better would be an explanatory diagram.

"As someone born in England but studying in Scotland, I support the prime minister's decision. Salmon wants to bide his time so that he can play petty politics to drum up support for Scottish independence. Salmon thinks he is above 300 years of history. Above the world's greatest union. He is not."

I'm confused - when did Alex Salmond ever claim to be 'above' the Swiss Confederation? Bloody arrogant of him if he did.

"This reminds me of the kid that ran away from home and never made it to the end of the road. Why cant we give them a taste of what it will be like without us and stop all funding as of now. They wont last long and they'll soon change their minds....Let them experience the real world without England to cover for them, they will soon come crawling back with their tail between their legs, begging us to take them back."

Oh, absolutely. After all, the people of Ireland famously refer to independence from London as 'the Historic Error', so why should it be any different for Scotland? Let's get this nonsense out of our system ONCE AND FOR ALL.

"You will have no MP's in our English parliment. No reprisentation at all. Nil. Nada. Zip. Still want you own show??"

Yeah, Scotland, you're really not thinking this one through, are you? If you were independent, you wouldn't have the Union Jack anymore. None of it. Not even a dash of red. Still want to go? No, I don't think you understand - YOU'D HAVE TO HAVE YOUR OWN FLAG. You see, you wouldn't be part of the UK anymore, so you wouldn't be allowed to have ours. Not quite so sure now, are you, sonny? Yeah, you see, all this talk of independence is all very well, but when you actually start thinking through the ramifications...what? You still want to go? Dear me, you don't seem to be understanding my words. Let's try this. If you were independent, you wouldn't have the Tory cabinet anymore. None of them. Not even Eric Pickles. Are you MAD?


  1. Given the tone of its readership (and I don't expect there's a silent majority of readers who feel any different), it will be interesting to see if the Daily Mail stands for or against Scotland ending the Union. There would be a certain irony if the Daily mail "swings it for Salmond" (as I'm sure we'd see in a headline somewhere!).

  2. Love your work James.

    Admire your patience to read through that drivel and then comment on it.

    Don't forget though we have a few in Scotland with the same mindset. Labour hame springs to mind. Let's be honest, we have the same brain dead folk walking amungst us as well.

    Maybe a peice on why some of the Scots don't get why Independence is a no brainer.

  3. James,

    Outstanding post.

    I’ve just listened to the BBCs political correspondent (the one who’s not Nick Robinson) explaining David Cameron’s rationale for a 2013 referendum. This is what he said:

    “If the vote is held in 2013...David Cameron believes that most Scots will shy away from a Yes vote and will vote No rather than make the huuuuuuuuuge leap to independence”.

    Thank goodness that, unlike the Daily Mail, the BBC is still upholding such high standards of objective journalism.

  4. What would happen if Cameron does hold a referendum this year or 2013?

  5. Anon II : Yes, it's going to be challenging for all the London broadcasters to report on the referendum objectively, given that support for British unity almost seems to be programmed into them as a 'prime directive'. I hope they're having a serious think about what authentic neutrality would look like in this instance.

    Anon III : If Cameron unilaterally holds a referendum, then I presume the SNP would be minded to boycott it and aim to hold their own referendum later on as planned. But I'm not sure that's what Cameron is talking about - it seems to be an amendment to the Scotland Bill to allow the Scottish Parliament to hold their own legally binding referendum, but within a tight timetable. In which case it can be safely ignored.

  6. Duncan Hames, husband of Jo Swinson, said today that the referendum should be administered by the UK Electoral Commission. What do you make of that?

    Also how would the post-referendum negotiations be conducted? Couldn't they get bogged down in legalistic minefield over issues such as the EU, currency, oil, debt, trident, defence? These negotiations could take years.

  7. Anon : All the unionist parties want Electoral Commission oversight, because they think they would get a more favourable question. On your second point, obviously the negotiations would be complex, but my guess is they would be concluded more quickly than most people imagine. Once there is a mandate for independence, the momentum to settle matters will be overwhelming.

  8. Speculation about constitutional jiggery-pokery is all very well and occasionally enlghtening.

    But let's cut to the chase. One of the major weaknesses in the No campaign is that Scottish Labour is being led by someone who looks like an extra in Coronation Street. With one important difference: an extra in Coronation Street probably has more charisma.