Saturday, March 16, 2013

Poll : Who should carry the independence banner in a Falkirk by-election?

Without wanting to get into any legally sensitive matters, it seems there is a renewed chance (albeit probably still an outside one) that there will be another Falkirk by-election over the coming months.  Yesterday the PB poster TheUnionDivvie made the intriguing suggestion that Dennis Canavan might stand in such a contest on a 'Labour for Independence' ticket.  It's not hard to see the appeal of that idea, because Canavan would surely walk the election, and the symbolic power of his party description would be like gold dust for the Yes campaign.

But is it really feasible?  Could Canavan combine constituency duties with his role at Yes Scotland?  Should someone with such a key role in a cross-party campaign group be re-entering the party political fray?  And would a proud party like the SNP be prepared to stand aside in his favour?

That's the subject of today's poll.  If by any chance there is a Falkirk by-election, should the independence banner be carried by an SNP candidate, or by Dennis Canavan?  You can find the voting form at the top of the sidebar.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yet another poll shows a swing in favour of independence

Cornish sex memoirist, "Thatcherite outlaw" and all-round Brit Nat extraordinaire Sean Thomas (aka "international thriller writer Tom Knox") gleefully brandished the latest TNS-BMRB poll on independence earlier today, apparently blissfully unaware that it follows the pattern of several other polls so far this year in showing a swing to the Yes side.  I'm grateful to him, because otherwise I might have overlooked the poll's existence.

There will be a referendum on Scottish Independence in the autumn of 2014.  If this referendum were to be held tomorrow, how would you vote in response to the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 33% (+5)
No 52% (+4)

At first glance the dramatic fall in the number of Don't Knows might look slightly odd, given that other polls of late have shown the complete opposite happening, but it can be fairly easily explained by the fact that this is the first time TNS-BMRB have used the actual proposed referendum question, rather than the long-obsolete question that might have been asked had the Scottish Government been forced to make do with a consultative referendum.  I'm still not mad-keen on the unnecessary use of a preamble to the question, although the wording looks neutral enough.

The numerate among you (which is probably all of you, unless Duncan Hothersall is making one of his occasional visits) will immediately spot that, although support for both the Yes and No sides has increased, the slightly lower increase for No means that there has been a modest net swing to Yes - of 0.5% to be exact.  Bearing in mind that the previous TNS-BMRB poll showed a 5% drop in the No lead, this means there has been a full 3% swing to Yes since the company's final poll of 2012.

Even more promising news comes from the other question that TNS-BMRB posed, which speaks volumes about one of the No campaign's Achilles heels - the fact that it will be compulsory for Scotland to have nuclear weapons on its soil if we reject independence.

The UK Government plans to replace the existing Trident nuclear weapons with a new system, at a cost of £65 billion.  Do you support or oppose the UK Government buying a new nuclear weapons system to replace Trident?

Oppose 60%
Support 14%
Neither 17%

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Falklands referendum was a massive missed opportunity, but the result must be respected

It's something of a red-letter day when I find myself agreeing with any part of a ranting by Mr Nile Gardiner, director of the 'Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom' (yuck), so I thought I ought to make a note of the occasion for posterity.  Of course he's right for all the wrong reasons - it's part of his ongoing paranoid obsession with the Obama administration's supposed betrayal of America's 'greatest and most noble ally Great Britain'.  But all the same, when he says that it's outrageous for the US to airily wave away a legitimate exercise in democratic self-determination by the Falkland Islanders, I think he's pretty much spot-on.

As far as sovereignty is concerned, there really is no point in the US urging the UK and Argentina to negotiate, because those countries have nothing to negotiate about.  If the UK's constitutional relationship with the Falklands is ever to change, that is a matter for negotiation between the islanders and the UK.  And if the Falklands are ever going to have any sort of constitutional relationship with Argentina, that is a matter for negotiation between the islanders and Argentina.  It's a grotesque irony that the Argentinian government witters on about "colonialism" while demanding a solution that is the absolute epitome of the colonial mindset - two powers negotiating for territorial control, entirely over the heads of those whose lives will be directly affected by any change.  I've said this many times before, but it's worth reiterating - the current residents of the Falklands and their ancestors are the only stable population the islands have ever had.  They satisfy all the criteria for national self-determination.  We in the Scottish national movement may find their enthusiasm for all things British somewhat quaint, but if our belief in our own country's right to self-determination means anything at all, it has to extend to the Falklands as well.

That said, this was an imperfect referendum.  As I pointed out in June, a one-dimensional question asking if the islanders wanted to retain their antiquated status as a UK overseas territory was a massive missed opportunity.  Instead, they should have been asked how they wanted their relationship with the UK to be modernised, thus removing the colonial label that provides cover for Argentina's own imperial designs on the territory.  The other shortcoming was that newcomers to the islands apparently had to satisfy a seven-year residency requirement to be eligible to take part, which must have had the effect of suppressing the No vote.  Quite what the point of that was I don't know - a referendum result that hadn't looked quite so North Korean in character might actually have earned more respect around the world.


Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?

Yes 1513 (99.8%)
No 3 (0.2%)