Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Questions to which the answer is 'no seriously mate, I've got a train to catch - GO AWAY'

Another gem from Labour Hame, this time from Richard Olszewski...

"Devolution was described, memorably, by John Smith as the “settled will of the Scottish people”. Well maybe, but it certainly hasn’t been the settled will of all the Scottish people.

Labour’s 1997 White Paper on devolution stated clearly that the aim of devolution was “a fair and just settlement for Scotland within the framework of the United Kingdom.” It also said that “Scotland will remain firmly part of the United Kingdom.”

These were the underlying principles on which devolution was based and put to the Scottish people in the referendum of 1997 – held just 133 days after Labour took power, nationalists please note. More than 74 per cent of the Scottish people voted for devolution on this basis. This could hardly have been a more emphatic expression of Scotland’s “settled will”.

But the nationalists never truly accepted that..."

Perhaps I could try to drag Richard back to something approximating to reality at this point. Let's start with this - if there had been a multi-option referendum on the constitution in 1997 with all the three main options (independence, devolution and the status quo) on the ballot paper, we all know that devolution would not have received the backing of anything like 74%. Quite possibly, it wouldn't even have made it to 50%. The opinion polls from the period suggest that an outcome along the following lines would have been fairly likely -

Devolution 45%
Independence 30%
Status Quo 25%

So when Richard says that self-government firmly within the United Kingdom hasn't been the settled will of "all" the Scottish people, that's something of an understatement. If John Smith really intended the phrase to be taken in that way, he must have known it was always a rhetorical sleight of hand - there was indisputably a settled will in favour of a Scottish Parliament of some kind, but a deep split on whether that parliament should be devolved or independent. The sleight of hand became considerably more brazen when Labour held a referendum that didn't allow supporters of the parliament to indicate whether they wanted it to be independent or not. So, as Richard knows perfectly well, the vast majority of independence supporters made the best of a bad job by voting Yes to the only Scottish Parliament that was on offer. Or to put it another way, virtually everyone who would have liked to vote "No to the United Kingdom" in fact voted Yes in the 1997 referendum, as the closest approximation of their views. By contrast, virtually everyone who voted No was emphatically in favour of Scotland remaining within the UK.

Curious, then, that Richard - just like Roy Hattersley and others before him - somehow feels he can claim the 74% Yes vote as a vote in favour of the United Kingdom. I can only assume that he believes an enormous chunk of the electorate were behaving entirely irrationally. That being the case, perhaps he could just clear up one little thing, if he has the time. Given that supporters of independence were (unwittingly or perversely) voting in favour of the United Kingdom by voting Yes in 1997, how exactly should they have gone about expressing their opposition to the United Kingdom? By staying at home? By spoiling their ballot paper? By voting No and thus preserving remote control rule from London?

How, Richard?


  1. In true 'Admin of Labour Hame' style, I have an important announcement to make. Labour supporters will have their comments on this thread deleted, unless they say something I particularly approve of.

  2. In true 'Admin of Labour Hame' style, I hereby declare that the questions I asked have been left UNANSWERED by the Labour supporters on this thread.

    I'm bitterly disappointed in you all.

  3. "Settled will" is merely a snap shot of opinion of voters at a particular period in history within the limitations of what is being offered. Each generation should be asked anew - which way Scotland.

  4. So you noticed it too. The "unanswered" word on labourhame makes me realise why I usually avoided Tom Harris' blog.

    You want hold your head in your hands when after being told several times exactly why some question or assertion in the article is wrong the author or Tom Harris posts at the end claiming the question has been unanswered.

  5. I remember in 1999 a few voters I knew who had voted No thought now that the Scottish Parliament was not in existence that it right that Independence was the correct status rather than the 'half-way house' Parliament as they put it. So what is the 'settled will'? I always said Tam Dayell was right in his opinion that once you start on a journey you have to finish it.

  6. I've had three posts to Labour Hame moderated off. I'll not try again. I will read it often, however, as it is highly instructive. Fans of nuclear weapons and the arms trade, apologists for Blairs wars, defenders of indefensible, they are all there as a daily reminder of the past we are striving to leave behind us.

  7. I rejoice to see how weak the intellectual arguments of our opponents at Labourhame are.

    I note with delight how little interest it is generating among their own supporters.

    They fail, my friends, they fail :-)

  8. Also let us not forget.

    1) The "Constitutional Convention" did not allow Independence to be discussed

    2) Labour in Opposition produced the Calman Commission, like it did with its Alcohol Commission, in spite at not having been elected and as a spoiling tactic.

    They don't like democracy, especially when it comes up with the wrong answers, just like Berlusconi

    I will say this. My wife and I both voted for both options in the Devolution referendum, but desired full Independence. Therefore of that 74% vote cast, I have to assume 100% desire full independence.

    Over to the Bay City Labourites

  9. Anon, I recall Alex Salmond asking in 1997 why Labour weren't holding a multi-option referendum, and the stock response was "there was a chance to vote for independence in the general election, and the people voted for devolution". Salmond then asked the obvious question - "so why are we having the referendum, then?".

    Another question that remains UNANSWERED after fourteen years.

  10. The latest strangeness at LH: