Tag Archives: devolution

Salmond proposes an independence loop-de-loop

You may have noticed I gave myself a miliband or two of wriggle room when I said that my Friday post on Scotland was ‘possibly’ my last one.

Euan Ferguson’s hagiographic, and appallingly badly written, article about Alex Salmond in the Observer today got me hopping:

The border, slow epoxy, is setting. Every indication, every poll, not least that revealed in today’s Observer, is that the SNP has a convincing, unassailable lead, and that on Friday Salmond will form a coalition with Nicol Stephen’s Lib Dems, and become First Minister: and, in 2010, in keeping with his manifesto, will take the country into a referendum vote for independence.

Really? Nicol Stephen is currently ruling out a coalition unless the SNP block their plans for an independence referendum. And the latest, largest, poll, puts an SNP-Lib Dem coalition at having a majority of 1. Hardly a strong administration then – that suggests that for the Lib Dems to agree to it, their price would have to be rather high indeed.

But the biggest nonsense today has to be Salmond’s claim that independence was “not a one-way street“. The Scots can suck it and see – if they don’t like it, then they can run back to Mama England’s ever-loving arms.

At what point are the English going to be given a way on all this I wonder? Pretty much everything the SNP have been asserting assumes the good will of the English – a good will which is likely to be in rather short supply during the divorce proceedings. Why, for example, should we accept this “Union of Crowns” idea? If a referendum were held, would the English go along with it?

But the fact that Salmond is now saying this suggests that he now recognises that the independence issue is growing increasingly toxic for the SNP. He’s trying to shut down the debate – he has to still pay lip service to independence, but with so many platitudes as to render it almost meaningless.

A wee bit of pedantry

It’s always very annoying when you read an article which you agree with the overall thrust of, but the author includes in it some complete howlers that undermine their case.

Iain MacWhirter’s piece about an English Parliament in the Herald today is a case in point. Less importantly, but still annoying because it is in the first paragraph:

So what would an English parliament actually look like, if those 61% of English voters, in last night’s Newsnight poll, who say they want one, get their way. Well, I’m tempted to say that an English parliament would be a bit like day one of a Liberal Democrat party conference. The LibDems already have a federal structure and delegates from England sit, in splendid isolation, at their annual conference to talk about English affairs.

Er, no we don’t. In fact, the first day of conference is normally reserved for business motions and receiving reports, all of which are federal, as anyone who glanced at the agenda would know.

More significantly though is this:

Scots MPs voted, famously, on the 2004 Higher Education Bill, which introduced top-up fees in England, but that didn’t stop it becoming law.

The point, Mr MacWhirter, is that Labour Scots MPs voted FOR the Higher Education Bill, thus imposing top up fees in England that would otherwise have fallen, despite the fact that Labour supported the abolition of tuition fees in Scotland. Now, I would happily accept the argument put forward by many constitutionalists that they should not necessarily have been prevented from voting in that debate, as it is undeniable that the Higher Education Bill had implications for Scotland, but that is a different point to the one that Iain MacWhirter is making here.

Generally however, this is quite a good article which nails some of the sillier aspects of the English Parliament campaigners’ arguments.

On a related note, this ranks as my favourite Act of Union story.