Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Just when you thought Clegg couldn't blunder any further, he starts channelling Ian Davidson

I see that Nick Clegg has had a little moan about Alex Salmond wanting to "have another crack" at the independence referendum (even though, to the best of my knowledge, no-one in the SNP leadership has proposed an early second referendum unless circumstances change), and in a disturbing echo of Ian Davidson's notorious "bayoneting the wounded" comment, has compared the outgoing First Minister to a Japanese soldier who doesn't know the war is over.

Let me put a thought to you, Mr Clegg.  You are Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with special responsibility for constitutional reform.  I'm not entirely clear what you've been doing in that role for the last four-and-a-half years, given that I can't actually think of a meaningful constitutional reform that has occurred over that period.  But you nevertheless have an opportunity to redeem yourself now by implementing the solemn promises that secured a narrow (rather than a "pretty emphatic") win for the No side.  Once you've done that, you're then perfectly entitled to enter into a discussion with the people of Scotland about whether or not a second referendum would be appropriate.

Just to remind you, the promises you need to deliver are -

"Devo SUPER Max."  (Devo Max is the devolution of virtually all powers other than foreign affairs and defence.  It's unclear what the 'SUPER' refers to, but presumably it must somehow be even more impressive than Devo Max.)

"A modern form of Scottish Home Rule."  (See above.)

"Near federalism."  (See above.)

The guarantee of Scotland remaining within the European Union.  (This is not consistent with briefing journalists that your party will concede an in/out referendum on the EU in order to stay in coalition with the Tories after the next election.)

"The Scottish Parliament is permanent."  (This means abandoning the doctrine of absolute Westminster sovereignty, and irrevocably surrendering London's right to legislate on devolved matters unless given permission to do so by Edinburgh.)

So you get on with that little lot, Nick, and once it's all signed, sealed and delivered, you'll be in a splendid position to make the case that a repeat referendum would be totally inappropriate for the foreseeable future.  But if you fail to deliver, then quite simply you have no mandate, because the mandate received by the No campaign on September 18th was firmly tied to a "vow".  In those circumstances, I'm afraid that whether we should at some point "have another crack" will quite rightly remain an open question.

Oh, and given that the Lib Dems are on 5% in YouGov's latest Scottish subsample, and the SNP are on 49%, it's just possible that opinions may vary about which political leader most closely resembles a deluded Japanese soldier who has failed to recognise that the game is up.


  1. One in twenty people plan to vote for the Lib Dems? In the name of the seven hells, why? I can grasp theoretical reasons why someone might consider voting for just about any party, from the Communists to the BNP, but the Libs?
    Is it just people trying to shock the pollster or something?

  2. Keaton : It just goes to show that Nick Clegg's appeal to "Alarm Clock Britain" didn't go unheeded.

  3. Have you seen the following assessment of the latest polls, James?
    If so, how do you rate the assessment?

  4. We will get Devo nothing worth anything and will be thankful. Labour might even deliver health and safety law. Christmas truly coming early this year.


  5. I have just completed a YouGov poll asking voting intention for Westminster, Holyrood constituency, my referendum vote and asking how I would vote if the referenda were run again today with the same question (Should Scotland be an independent country?).

    These questions were the first block in a larger survey rather than a full poll with the remaining questions addressing very different matters (jewellery purchases & holidays) so I suspect that this may be private polling and/or a smaller organisation/publication.

  6. "I can't actually think of a meaningful constitutional reform that has occurred over that period"

    Er... the Scotland Act?

  7. I did say "meaningful", Anon, and in any case most of the very modest provisions of that Act have STILL not taken effect. The only other example I can think of is the extension of Welsh devolution after the 2011 referendum, which was certainly significant but had almost nothing to do with Nick Clegg.

  8. Much better than "brilliant".. .....outstanding in your question as to what Nick has actually achieved... I know they keep rabbiting on about lower taxes.. but the conveniently forget lower wages in respect of inflation... or ... how the amount & quantity has actually gone down in size.... but the price has remained the same or slightly increased... like biscuits ... or cereal.. etc etc..