Saturday, January 14, 2012

Devo Maxers for Indy?

After I posted my planned submission to the UK government's consultation on an independence referendum, a commenter pointed out that Westminster can hardly be trusted to accurately summarise the results of consultations, in the light of the Spartacus Report. I don't necessarily think that's an argument against taking part, but it's certainly an argument in favour of making sure that submissions are as watertight and as immune to misrepresentation as humanly possible. Having since sent my submission off, the one thing that does bug me slightly is my response to Question 8, asking about the question or questions to be posed in the referendum. I think in retrospect that before making the point that it should be exclusively a matter for the Scottish Parliament to decide upon, I should have first spelt out in crystal-clear fashion that it was my own personal view that there should be an additional devo max question. After the jiggery-pokery identified by Spartacus, it's not too hard to imagine the people who simply say it should be up to the Scottish Parliament being defined as part of "the 74% (or whatever) of respondents who expressed no interest in a second question", which would then grotesquely be used as a justification for Westminster legislating to ban the Scottish Parliament from adding a second question! So just a cautionary thought for anyone planning to make their own submission (which I would still urge you to do).

This particular subject is vitally important, because if by any chance we do end up with a single-question referendum as a result of Westminster interference, there's a massive opportunity for the SNP if they can win the 'battle of perceptions'. Potential devo max supporters who come to realise that it was Cameron and Osborne who denied them the chance to have a say on their preferred option may well be more likely than they otherwise would have been to plump for full independence in a two-way forced choice. Who knows, we might even see a "Devo Maxers for Indy" campaign!

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I haven't yet followed the practice of other bloggers by putting a "things people have said about me" section in the sidebar, but if I ever do I'm going to give pride of place to the following 'testimonial' from the ever-delightful CyberYoonYoonist 'Moniker of Monza', and put it under the heading "Yet Another Reason Why I Support Independence" :

"You're a typical Brit, a product of the Empire. You can call yourself Scottish if you wish but you aren't."

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Staying on the subject of the nutters over at PB, they of course overwhelmingly have a fawning attitude towards the US as a "beacon of freedom" (translation : hard-right conservatism). So it suddenly dawned on me that if Richard Nabavi ever has another bash at his rather desperate line of argument that the SNP want "children" to take part in the independence referendum, it'll be easy enough to direct him to the many examples of US states that allow "children" (ie. 17-year-olds) to vote in presidential primary elections. If it's a good enough way to choose the holder of the most powerful office on this planet, I'd say it's good enough for the decision on independence.

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The other night on Question Time, Douglas Alexander trotted out the line that independence would "make the English foreigners", which presumably is going to be one of the 'appeals to the heart' during the referendum campaign. But for the answer to that charge we need look no further than the title of one of the great UK offices of state, the 'Foreign and Commonwealth Office'. By the UK government's own definition, therefore, Commonwealth countries (of which an independent Scotland will be one) are not "foreign" to each other, as they indicate by having High Commissions in each other's capitals, as opposed to embassies.

In any case, Ireland is not even a Commonwealth country. When Douglas visits Dublin and looks around at people, does he really only see "Johnny Foreigner" staring back at him? What a narrow (if I may say so) view of the world...


  1. Agreed on the need to make a watertight submission James. I'm just putting mine together. One thing that strikes me about the multiple questions issue (aside from how patronising the claim that multiple questions is too confusing) is that people are quite capable of coping with the arguably far more complex issues in a general election. On top of that, it's common practice in countries like the US (of course you'll be aware of that) to have referendums on different issues, taking place at the same time as elections. It also occurs to me just now that this is exactly what happened with the AV referendum - that's consistency at work right there. Or not.

  2. Ezio Auditore da FirenzeJanuary 14, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    We Florentines barely suppressed a snigger when dougie talked on QT about rejecting "narrow nationalism" just after making the case for the union that "our fathers and grandfathers fought together against fascism"!

  3. OldChap : Ironically enough, the last time I voted in a US referendum, not only was it included on a ballot paper as long as your arm covering literally about twenty different elections, it was on the very subject of whether 17-year-old "children" should have a vote in primary elections in the state of Vermont! (The result was Yes, if I recall.) And, yes, Clegg has got an almighty nerve in making the "confusion" point about a two-question ballot, when he airily waved away such concerns over holding the AV referendum on the same day as the Scottish parliament election.

    Ezio : On a vaguely similar theme, I was amused to see this in the Guardian from a resident of Berwick-upon-Tweed...

    "Another woman, who considers herself to be English, said Scotland should not separate from England as it was stronger being united. "Like with families, there's strength in unity," she said. What about Europe? "Well. Perhaps not in every case. But it's a very complex matter.""

    Which pretty much sums up the intellectual coherence of the high-flown "stronger together, weaker apart" rhetoric!