IN the second of a two-part article, STUART TOOLEY thinks it is time to start talking about the dependence referendum.

In my first piece for Labour Hame, I laid out the two frames in the biggest debate in Scottish politics. The first is the one preferred by the SNP, the parent-teenager independence frame: positive and inevitable. The second is the one preferred by Labour and the other unionist parties, the married couple separation frame: negative and the result of failure.

It is clear that despite using the separation frame, Scottish Labour has not stemmed the tide of the nationalist frame dominating the public debate. Unconsciously in my last article, I referred to the “independence debate” not the separation debate. Meanwhile, the media, and the public have been using the SNP’s frame for years. What is the solution? How do those of us who believe in the union start to win people over to our position using frames?

Well here we must revert back to the inspiration for this article, George Lakoff, author of ‘Don’t Think of an Elephant’. He argues that there are a group of people who will only ever be influenced through the Republican’s frame, and a group that will only ever be influenced through the Democrat’s frame. I think it is probably safe to assume that this is the case in Scotland. There will be a group who will only ever be influenced by the independence frame, others only influenced through the separation frame.

But crucially there is also a group who can be influenced through both frames – the crucial swing voters in the referendum. It is clear to me that there is already a tactic for this group: continuing to push forward with greater discipline the separation frame in all public appearances, press releases, speeches, etc.

This is in and of itself not a hugely consequential conclusion. That there is a need to create and solidly follow a line in the referendum will come as no surprise to politicians or activists. But there is a second message I would like to test.

If we want to be influencing those crucial swing voters, we could also try a different tact. Why not use the SNP’s independence frame – but turn it on its head?

Next time one of your nationalist friends says something about the independence referendum, why not correct them?

“You mean the dependence referendum?”

“The what?”

“The dependence referendum. If we become independent from the rest of the UK, we become more dependent on a variety of other institutions.”

“I don’t follow, surely this is about independence from England?”

“Well if we become independent from the UK, we’ll become more dependent on the scarce resources in the North Sea.

And we’ll become more dependent on our UN, NATO and G8 allies like the UK and the US to protect us.

And we’ll become more dependent on either the European Central Bank, or the Bank of England (who won’t be looking after our interests) to set our monetary policy.”

You’ll recognise all these arguments as three main arguments against separation. But when put in to the frame of (in)dependence we target the voters who could be swayed who have already accepted the SNP’s frame, as well as those crucial swing voters. 

Stuart Tooley is a member of the Labour Party in Edinburgh and works for a Labour MSP in the Scottish Parliament. You can follow him on twitter: @stuarttooley

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176 thoughts on “The dependence referendum? (Part 2)

  1. Does Labour really believe that comparing the SNP to the Nazis and Alec Salmond to Hitler is a vote winner in Scotland?

    Does this not prove what Joan McAlpine was saying about the anti-Scottish rhetoric that trips all too easily from unionist politicians lips?

    1. First of all, no-one compared the SNP to the Nazis or Salmond to Hitler. The Downfall meme is well established on the internet, and it does not denote a comparison with Hitler, it is merely a comedy device. Unfortunately it can be deliberately misinterpreted when taken out of its context, which is what has happened in this case. But no serious commentator could describe it as you have.

      As for your second point, I’m afraid you’re repeating Joan McAlpine’s offensive suggestion that disagreeing with the SNP means disagreeing with all Scots. Anti-SNP sentiment is not anti-Scottish sentiment. The majority of Scots didn’t vote for the SNP in the last election. Trying to co-opt Scottishness for the SNP’s sole use is precisely why Joan McAlpine needs to apologise.

      1. Ian Davidson in the House of Commons said the SNP were “neo-facist”.

        Nick Clegg called the SNP and those who voted for the SNP “extremists”.

        This is not not new in the past Labour has compared the SNP to the Omagh bombers. The Lib Dems have likened the SNP to the Nazis.

        From Tory, Labour and the Lib Dems too often we hear that Scotland is “too poor, too wee too stupid” to govern ourselves being only a nation of “subsidy junkies, and if independent would be part of the “arc of insolvency”. All these comments orginate in Scotland but all too frequently are taken up by our English cousins.

        All this jeering from the sidelines by Scottish unionist politicians and this continual denigration in the London papers is fundamentaly anti-Scottish. It is about time is was dealt with in the same way that Scots are trying to deal with the ills of sectarianism and alcoholism. It is political disease and it should be eradicated.

        1. No. It is fundamentally anti-SNP, it is NOT anti-Scottish in any way. You need to acknowledge the difference. As for dealing with anti-SNP sentiment in the same way the SNP are trying to deal with sectarianism, I don’t think we need any more empty gesture politics thanks.

          Back on topic please.

          1. Duncan, when McAlpine called the Unionists MSPs “anti-Scottish”, the likes of Douglas Alexander and Tom Harris jumped on this as to also referring to the supporters of these parties. That being the case, referring to the SNP as nazis, neo-fascists, etc. must also extent to their supporters, a good portion of Scotland.

            And that’s the problem with these types of negative tactics. It can too easily be twisted to be seen as referring to the wider public, hence the accusations of “doing Scotland down”, etc.

      2. Please allow me to summarise why last week’s events caused such annoyance.

        Scottish MPs are privileged to represent the sovereignty of the Scottish people in the Westminster Parliament. They have no mandate to hand that sovereignty over to Westminster. Supporting the Tory coalition to hold the referendum is contrary to the principle of the sovereignty of the Scottish people.

        The Scottish people gave a mandate to the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum on independence. The Scottish Parliament has no mandate to hand that responsibility to Westminster.

        Sovereignty is not the property of party or government.

        1. What a convoluted and wrong-headed argument. This is nothing to do with sovereignty. The right of the Scottish Government to hold a referendum is clear, but there is no point holding one which can be challenged by the courts and turn the whole thing into a long-running saga rather than a clear decision point. Therefore it is right that the UK parliament should ensure that the referendum is legal and binding from the start.

          Some commentators have suggested that the SNP’s real aim is to bury the constitutional question in allegations and counter-allegations of sovereignty and suchlike because they don’t actually want to have to put the question to the people, know they would lose and their party would disintegrate.

          Let’s focus our energies on getting a clear, legal, uncontestable referendum into place and put the issue to bed.

          1. The UK Parliament has no legal authority to organise a legally binding referendum that ultimately could dissolve the treaty of union. The treaty gives no such rights as the treaty is a treaty in international law. International oversight is essential for any legally-binding referendum. The UK would be challenged in the international courts if they tried to run this referendum.

          2. This sort of line worries me hugely, because we now have people on both sides threatening legal challenges if the referendum isn’t run in the specific way they want it to be. Sidestepping the electoral commission on one hand, sidestepping the sovereignty of the people on the other. Surely the last thing anyone wants is for the referendum to be buried in protracted legal wrangling for years? Is it?

            It strikes me that some indy supporters wouldn’t mind it being buried in legality if it looked like they might lose, and some union supporters wouldn’t mind that if it looked like indy might win.

            Can we actually agree how this thing can be run unequivocally and in the interest of establishing the will of the people? I hope so, but I fear not.

          3. I believe that we are in agreement. It would be best to keep this matter away from the law, away from the courts. We therefore need an advisory referendum run by an electoral body that we are confident will be free of political influence, and oversight by a body that can confirm international acceptance of the result.

          4. I sincerely share that wish, but I fear there are a lot of reasons why it might not come true.

          5. That is a really poor argument you know. If the UK Government has the capacity to make sure there can be no legal challenge to the referendum then it should do that but it should do that wthout setting conditions.

            What it has done – and what Labour is supporting – is to launch a hastily written consultation specifically in order to pre-empt the Scottish Government’s consultation. And their consultation does not simply consider any imagined legal issues. It is asking questions about the date, the franchise, who will oversee the referendum, what the question will be etc – as well as saying that it is going to rule out any question on Devo Max before the SG consultation has even taken place.

            To try and argue that all this is necessary so that the referendum can be legally incontestable is just not true and that is easily demonstrable. It is a clear attempt to wrest control of the referendum process, to impose conditions on it from on high. That’s why the SNP has picked up over 1000 new members this week and why people who aren’t natural SNP supporters are saying hold on a minute, this is just going too far.

  2. “Well if we become independent from the UK, we’ll become more dependent on the scarce resources in the North Sea.”

    As a senior consultant in the oil and gas industry I can assure my fellow Scots that the North Sea and WoS still have huge reserves of oil and gas yet to be produced. At worst half has been extracted (oil companies tend to not reveal too much about their reserves lest the tax shoot up), with a good 50-60 years of production ahead. Huge new BP Clair field will still be producing in 2060 for example. Given that oil prices will continue to rise long term, the second ‘half’ will produce much greater revenues than the first.

    Of course long term, an independent Scotland would need to move away from reliance on oil & gas. As it has 25% of Europes renewables potential, this is an obvious way forward.

    Oh, and I understood independence to be about Scots democratically deciding what is best for Scotland like other countries do, i.e. not just about trying to become ‘independent’ of the Welsh, N. Irish etc.

  3. Just for the record and to encourage sensible debate Joan McAlpine did not describe all opponents of the SNP as anti Scottish. She described those members of the Tory, LibDem and Labour Parties trying to interfere with or trying to stop an independence referendum as anti-Scottish.

      1. ? The Greens are not backing the Tories on the referendum. They want it to be decided in Scotland. It’s only Labour and the Lib Dems who are lining up with the Tories. The Lib Dems one can understand because they are in government with the Tories. Labour’s position is more inexplicable.

      1. Because Scottish voters gave the Scottish Government a mandate to hold a referendum on independence.

        1. … and because Scottish MPs at Westminster are privileged to represent the sovereignty of the Scottish people, they are not mandated to hand it to Westminster.

        2. Indy, Indy, Indy….

          Nobody denies that the SNP has a mandate to have a referendum on “independence”. But democratically opposing the way they are going about it is not “anti-Scottish”. In a democracy it’s perfectly reasonable to oppose government policy. In fact it’s the essence of democracy.

          Attempting to close down the debate by claiming that it is “anti-Scottish” is open to the chage of being anti-democratic, IMO.

          1. But the UK Government is effectively denying that by launching its own consultation on the referendum.

            I am really interested in what people think that means – if they do not think it means an attempt to sieze control.

            Fundamentally what is a consultation for? It is generally seen as a precursor to legislation. And the questions that are consdered in a consultation are generally the matters which are to be legislated.

            So what explanation can there be for the UK Government consulting on matters such as the date of the poll, the franchise, the question etc unless they have an intention to legislate on these matters?

            Or what do you think they are going to do with the responses to this consultation? Hand them over to the Scottish Government and say there you go? What would be the point in that when they know that the Scottish Government will be consulting on the exact same issues and questions?

  4. “And we’ll become more dependent on either the European Central Bank, or the Bank of England.”

    To clarify, the BoE is the ‘Central Bank of the United Kingdom(s)’. As the seal of the Scottish and English Parliaments are both on the Treaty of Union (1707), the £ and it’s control (through the BoE) is a matter for both countries; it is their joint currency. If Scotland were to withdraw from the Treaty of Union, dissolving the United Kingdom (in current form), control of the £ would not default to the RUK, but would remain the joint responsibility of Scotland and the RUK. The solution to this would be a British Isles Central Bank controlled by respective Scottish and RUK governments to manage the ‘£-zone’ just like the ECB does in the Eurozone.

    Just because the Treaty of Union is 300 years old does not make it any less valid; it is covered under international law by the Vienna Convention on Treaties (1969), with this applying retrospectively.

    Regarding recent shenanigans, an apt quotation would be: “I don’t know what George Osborne’s degree is in, but it’s not economics”.

    1. The Bank of England predates the Treaty of Union, and while its precise legal status may be somewhat murky, it’s monumentally unlikely that the government of an independent Scotland would have any say in its governance. Certainly its leadership and, crucially, monetary policy would be entirely under the control of Westminster. The idea that the BoE would magically become a version of the ECB on separation, and create a “£-zone” is nothing more than wishful thinking. Scotland could adopt sterling upon separation, certainly, but we would give up any input into monetary policy.

      1. If what you say is true, then it would mean Scotland is not considered an equal partner in the Union by Westminster, justifying the argument of nationalists in this respect.

        To quote David Cameron:

        “Let me be absolutely clear, put my cards on the table. I strongly support the United Kingdom. I think it’s one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the world.”

        So is it a partnership or not? If the £, setting of interest rates etc is the sole property of the RUK, then it would appear not to be.

        1. Ludicrous argument. In your scenario Scotland wants to withdraw from the union. The current successful partnership is the UK, there is no such entity as the RUK just now. If Scotland pulls out of that partnership then it pulls out of everything associated with it. You simply cannot have it both ways.

          1. The £ is a joint asset is it not?

            Are you seriously telling me that an independent Scotland would have no control over the currency it would share with its former business partner? That would not be in the interests of an RUK government. A currency disagreement could destroy the British Isles economy in a matter of days if, e.g. petrol, diesel and gas exports from Scotland to the RUK had to be shut off due to payment problems surrounding such a dispute.

            I would hope that, should Scotland vote for independence, it and the RUK would work as partners on such matters, not adopt an “It’s ma baw an am no playin anymore” attitude. Or are you suggesting otherwise?

            The £ gains strength in part from being still a ‘petro currency’. It would be better for all if that remained the case in a Scottish independence scenario, certainly in the short to medium terms.

          2. Your description of a fuel blockade if Scotland doesn’t get its way doesn’t sound to me like “working as partners”. In fact it sounds exactly like an “It’s ma baw an am no playin anymore” attitude. So in your imagined independence world, Scotland holds RUK to ransom to extract concessions on monetary policy? Quite a prospect. Support for independence really does foster selfishness doesn’t it.

          3. Of course, if Scotland is to separate we must ensure we get our share of assets and debts. But if we want to share control over national infrastructure then we should stay in the union because that’s what we have right now. Separation means setting out on our own, surely?

      2. “Scotland could adopt sterling upon separation, certainly, but we would give up any input into monetary policy.”

        What input does Scotland have currently at the Bank of England?

        1. We all vote for MPs who make laws. It’s a fairly rudimentary part of our constitution, you should read up on it.

          1. Thanks for the patronising response.

            What I meant was, I thought the BoE was an independent institution with no political oversight?

          2. Both the governor and the court of directors are appointed by the government, and the chair of the court is selected by the Chancellor. In addition the make-up of the FSC and FPC are determined by government appointees. The bank is entirely subject to Westminster sovereignty.

          3. OK, that’s appointee’s by the Westminster government. And once appointed, they are an independent institution in charge of monetary policy.

            What and where is the Scottish influence on monetary policy at BoE?

          4. Directors are appointed for 3 years, which is less tenure than an MP or MSP, and the governor is appointed for 5 years, which is approximately the same tenure. Unless you think the Commons and Holyrood are independent institutions then let’s drop the nonsense about the BoE. Scottish influence comes from the fact, as I’ve noted before, that we elect people to parliament. It strikes me as odd that folk seem to forget that.

          5. Just hold a minute Duncan and calm yerself. 😛

            One of the current criticisms of the Independence/Sterling/Monetary Policy debate is that to do so would mean Scotland had no influence on monetary policy at the BoE. Im trying to establish what influence it has currently, and how that compares to no influence under Independence.

            So, to clarify, the influence Scotland currently has on monetary policy is limited to the election of MPs to Westminster. That influence is then manifested by the elected government appointing officials to the BoE. At this point, influence stops, right? The actual choice and implementation of monetary policy is then independently undertaken by the BoE. That is, Scotland has no direct input into monetary policy; only an indirect influence on BoE appointments.

          6. I’m entirely calm thanks. The point you’re missing here is that Westminster retains control over the BoE at all times, and can pass acts and create orders which define its policies and its actions. Hence Gordon Brown created the independent MPC in 1997 by order as chancellor, and then followed that up in 1998 with the Bank of England Act which set up much of the current governance. In 2009 the Banking Act set up the FSC in response to the global banking crisis – and so on and so forth. So it is not a fire-and-forget situation – the bank is subject to acts of Parliament and orders of the Treasury at all times.

          7. BaffieBox: I think the short answer you’re looking for is “none”. We’re represented at the BoE in the same way we’re represented in the House of Commons now, ie in no way that makes any substantial difference to anything, because we’re a tiny minority of MPs. Ask yourself this: if a decision of the BoE now was to be in England’s interests but against Scotland’s (or vice versa), what do you think the chances are that it would decide Scotland’s way?

            Having the BoE control interest rates and such in an independent Scotland wouldn’t be ideal, but it’d only be temporary and it would differ from the de facto position at present in no discernible way at all.

          8. Andy Malcolm:

            Are you saying we are ‘too wee’ to have a say in UK politics? If so why do the SNP want to separate from this this union to have a smaller voice in a larger union?

      3. that I do not tihnk is the case the BOE was nationalised in 1946 I think therefore it is an asset of UKPLC.In the event of Scotlande seceding it becomes part of the negotiations.Indeed at present Scotland has no voice on the monetary committee. The model to look too is the Chechelsovakian solution.
        They set up a joint bank till such times as they went on separate routes of currency.
        However what I find disconcerting in all this is the continuing negative approach to the Referendum Campaign.
        The result in May 2011 has to tell you something about that kind of posture.
        The Scottish people want to hear a positive message all they hear from Labour is NO.
        Perhaps the name should be changed from new Labour to No Labour.
        Time to get positive or soon the joke about Pandas and Tories will be about Labour.

  5. I think we are old enough to judge the Harris meme on its merits. Labour has a history of trying to associate the SNP with National Socialism which is not to its credit. Harris has apologised. On a wider note, recent polls are now indicating English people are more PRO independence than Scots. I think this is a consequence of 40years of anti-SNP propaganda by the Unionists which largely concentrated on Scotland being dependent on English largesse. It would seem the Scots have stopped listening to this stuff but our neigbours think its true.

  6. The parent-teenager frame cuts both ways. While it may suggest that becoming an adult is inevitable, it suggests that this has not yet happened and that the “teenager” (the Scottish voters) is rebellious, unruly, but still in need of a firm hand. A perfect example of the parent-teenager frame comes from today’s Daily Mail and an article by Melanie Phillips:

    Clearly, the teenager is a stroppy child who needs “tough love” to make them see sense. This fits Lakoff’s “Strict Parent” model perfectly. It is also deeply offensive and patronising. To that end, I don’t think the SNP really use that frame – rather, they use a dependency/independent frame but not necessarily drawing on the “parent-teenager” relationship because their goal is precisely to show that the Scottish voters are responsible adults, not unruly, irrational children. Melanie Phillips’ argument suggests that English voters have a maturity lacking amongst voters in Scotland. It is not a winning “frame”. It is more likely to alienate people than encourage them to come to an understanding of the English voters’ view (if, indeed, she even speaks for English voters – after all, they are not one group).

    As for the “separation” frame, I don’t think that “divorce” is as terrifying a prospect for people as you suggest, since it would be sensible to divorce some partners. And in terms of relationships – an over-controlling partner may not be someone you want to stay living with.

    The argument that you can focus on dependence on other instutions just reinforces the dependence frame – you have to convince people that they are somehow less dependent on Westminster than on, say, Europe. But by talking about it in this way you are actually still reinforcing the idea of dependence on Westminster and telling them – you’re stuck either way, so just lump it. Not a particularly positive message that one. What you are really saying is that Labour is more intent on winning a propaganda war than actually engaging in a discussion about constitutional change. And the conclusion of that may well be that Labour are a no change party, which is why they have lined up behind the Tories and the Lib Dems.

    If you take the “change” frame – then Labour are a party who are not currently offering change. In fact, the party has said that any discussion of changes to devolution should be suspended until the independence referendum is out of the way. No doubt the party hope to pour cold waters on Devo-Max as well. But the real danger for Labour is that the SNP will promote change, a group of Devo-Max supporters will coalesce around civil society and public figures, and Labour will have spent two years reinforcing its no change message. On this, as with Ed Balls on the economy, it will offer voters nothing to distinguish themselves from the Tories or the Lib Dems. Jim Murphy’s refusal to share a stage with a view he endorses is laughable. Labour last week demoted themselves to bit players in the constitutional debate.

  7. Look Stuart, if some-one came out with an argument against independence to me, based on changing the word independence to dependence I would think they are off their head. And you cant think a lot of your fellow Scots if you think they would believe the rest of the dribble you were spouting there.

  8. Stuart

    The dependence referendum frame is a gift for your opposition. As a parliamentary researcher you know that the Scottish Government is totally “dependendant” on a block grant from Westminster, which the Scottish Government, (whoever forms it), has no control over. For your proposed frame, it’s the elephant in the room, that makes your argument ridiculous.

    Shopping at “Weasley’s Wizard Wheeses” is not going to cut it. If this is the best of of the pro-union thinking, then the union is doomed.

  9. Many of us would happily be dependent on the resources of the North Sea, even moreso if the international boundary were to return to the position prior to the decision of Blair to transfer 6000 square miles of the North Sea from Scottish to Westminster jurisdiction.

  10. I really hope that plain speaking is going to be the basis of the debate which our country is going to have. Using words like ‘separation’ or ‘dependence’ reminds me of the daft situation in the USA in 2005, when right-wingers demanded that the word ‘French’ be replaced by the word ‘Freedom’. This produced the laughable ‘Freedom Fries’ , ‘Freedom Toast’ and ‘Pardon My Freedom’. Woody Allen opted for plain speaking: I don’t have to ‘freedom-kiss’ my wife when what I really want to do is French-kiss her. I’m with Woody. Let’s have less of this linguistic manipulation and get on with the debate.

    1. You should tell Angus Robertson and the SNP then. They have issued a decree to banish the word “freedom” from the SNP’s independence campaign vocabulary. Remarkably, the message has been adopted almost universally and almost instantly, even by the most rabid cybernats who used to talk about “freedom” every day. Tells you quite a lot about how “renegade” these abusive voices really are. Renegades don’t follow instructions on vocabulary.

      1. Blimey, Duncan, you don’t half talk a lot of cobblers. “Renegades”? Who has EVER called SNP supporters “renegades”, exactly? They’re a respectable mainstream modern political party – the party of government in Scotland, in fact – not a mob of football casuals or anarchists.

        1. I think you misunderstand my point. Online SNP supporters are in the main perfectly affable people. But a significant minority – far more than in other parties – are abusive. The SNP’s affable majority dismisses these loud voices as being out of character or renegade. My point was that those same abusive folk have apparently instantly taken to heart the linguistic admonishment from SNP HQ. So they cannot be complete renegades when they at least partially toe the party line.

          1. “But a significant minority – far more than in other parties – are abusive. ”

            On and on and on with this tired old lie. Can you point to a SHRED of actual evidence suggesting that that’s true? Because if you can, it sure as hell didn’t come from, say, the comments on the Scotsman.

            It’s idiotic expecting either side to have a rational view on this, because when some random Labourite – for the sake of argument, let’s call him “Tom Barris” – comes out with some nasty dig at the SNP, you probably file it in your head under “hilarious” rather than “abusive”, somewhat skewing your own figures. Everyone else on all sides does the same thing, seeing offence where they want to see it and harmless knockabout comedy or pin-sharp comment where they want to see those instead.

            So for the love of God, stop with this embarrassing playground “It’s aw him, Mammy, it wisnae me!” drivel, at least until someone neutral is so unbelievably bored that they do some sort of impartial research into it. It’s just *dismal* from a grown man.

          2. As I already said in another comment, I have friends across all parties including the SNP and in private conversations ALL of them agree that the SNP has a bigger problem with online abuse than other parties do. I’ve been told this by Labour and Tory folk, who you will of course dismiss, but also by Greens and Lib Dems and, most convincingly, by SNP people who are embarrassed and angered by it.

            I do take your point that such observations are entirely subjective and no objective data is available to my knowledge; but the overwhelming consensus across all parties in private conversation is that the SNP has a bigger problem than other parties do.

          3. You illustrate my point perfectly by deleting the previous comment. But I’m intrigued that “me and a handful of my mates” now equates to an “overwhelming consensus”…

          4. The previous comment that was deleted was:

            “Yeah, and I didn’t believe it then either. Your friends probably just can’t be arsed with another haranguing.”

            It calls my honesty into question, it includes vague personal invective and most importantly it adds nothing to the debate. Try harder to be constructive or go and play somewhere else.

        2. Respectable? I only respect parties who stand up for the interests of the many not the few. I don’t hate the SNP or it’s members but I hate that they stand in the way of Labour achieving our goals of equality, tolerance and fairness.

          You can’t hide from the fact that the SNP’s main aim is separation and ours is a Labour vision of social justice where we work together to create a better society for all our citizens and not just one community.

          The only topic on these sorts of sites that get responses from cybernats are on separation and if that is not the topic it is quickly raised by them. The SNP will always be more vocal when it comes to portraying our nation as a downtrodden, oppressed country when we are a world leader in many ways, along with our partners across these isles.

      2. Duncan will you either cease with these swivel eyed allegations or provide the evidence to back them up?

        I asked you yesterday to provide your evidence that personal abuse is allowed on as you said, but you ignore that request. Will you also ignore this one.

        What is it with Labour and making wild eyed foaming allegations and just hoping they will stick? And yes I can provide evidence if you wish me to.

        On the Joan MAlpine statement:

        If you look at the BBC Question time on the iPlayer again and witness the mugging dished out to Nicola Sturgeon by Dimbleby and Douglas Alexander you can see just how rancid the Unionist establishment are prepared to be. Alexander behaviour was similar to that of a spoilt wean in the supermarket. He quoted Joan McAlpines words selectively and then harangued and bullied Nicola whilst the biased chairman looked on in glee.

        Here is what Joan said:

        “I make absolutely no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish in coming together to defy the will of the Scottish people”

        And this is what Alexander quoted on QT:

        “I make absolutely no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish”

        He left out the most important part of the quote, which is not surprising given that it flags up once more the cabal formed by the unionist parties seeking to deny Scotland her right to self determination.

        For four years they plotted and schemed with the Torys and Liberals to block the referendum, now that the mandate was removed from them by the Scottish electorate last year, they are screeching to have it immediately on there terms.

        Hypocrisy of the highest order.

  11. Can you give me any sensible idea why either of Stuart ‘s pieces were
    were considered helpful contributions to the debate or deserving of publication. Fiddling about with the names of easily recognisable concepts or ambitions is spin not substance – and in these cases very poor spin indeed
    Any ability to affect the political choices that the word “separation” had is long spent – and it didn’t do a lot in the first intance anyway.

  12. “I don’t follow, surely this is about independence from England?”

    Wales + Northern Ireland = (Greater) England?

    This sounds like an old imperialist Tory mindset, not a Labour one surely.

    Funny how people seem to always portray Scots supporting independence as ‘anti-English’ as if the UK contains only Scotland and England. There are 4 home nations in the UK; it is offensive to Wales and N. Ireland to imply otherwise.

    If you want to use the old independence is ‘Anti-[insert specific people(s)]’ argument might want to correct this to:

    “I don’t follow, surely this is about independence from Wales, N. Ireland and England?”

    Lest your article appear anti-Welsh and anti-N. Irish. I suppose we might need to consider ‘anti-falklander’ for that matter too maybe, and ‘anti-St. Helenan’ and….

  13. DH: “Support for independence really does foster selfishness doesn’t it.”

    DH: “If Scotland pulls out of that partnership then it pulls out of everything associated with it. You simply cannot have it both ways.”


    In a partnership one partner does not ‘own’ anything; they ‘share’ things. If that partnership is to be dissolved, they agree with each other how those things will be divided between them. They may agree that it is best to still share some things if that works out best for them.

    In the case of a hypothetical Independent Scotland and an RUK, the latter would be wanting to buy (import specifically) petrol, diesel and gas (among other things) from the former; something crucial to both the buyer and the seller (who needs the cash). A shared currency would make such transactions much easier in addition to keeping petro support behind the £.

    I think you will find that this is exactly what will be proposed in due course (we are already seeing hints), either pre or post (if a Yes vote does occur) referendum. Why? Because it would be a sensible, fair and equitable solution benefitting both parties, i.e. no need for my hypothetical Russian ‘turn it off’ or your ‘pulls out of everything’ type dimplomacy 😉

    As neatly pointed by others, the BoE is an independent organisation. It decides on interest rates and when to print money etc, not the UK government. Easy enough for it to do the same for a new £-zone with an ‘independent’ Scotland.

    1. As pointed out by me, the BoE is entirely under the governance of the UK parliament. Your original post was claiming that an independent Scotland would retain an element of control over the Bank of England. This is unsupportable by any evidence I’ve seen. Now you seem merely to be suggesting that Scotland would retain the £ and the BoE would continue to be under the governance of the (R)UK parliament. I’ve never doubted that that is what is being mooted, but it needs recognised that that means Scotland ceding all monetary policy to the RUK, not retaining any control over our central bank.


        “In 1998, it became an independent public organisation, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the Government, with independence in setting monetary policy”

        The BoE sets monetary policy independently of the UK government. That’s how central banking systems work. While funded by the UK government, it is not ‘controlled’ by the UK government; it just ‘works with it in the interests of the UK and those countries/dependencies using the £’.

        If Scotland retained the £, it would be of interest to this central bank to make sure that its policies did not cause problems in the Scottish economy lest those cause problems in the RUK economy. In that sense, it would be doing its job on behalf of both an independent Scotland and the RUK. Westminster does not decide interest rates, the BoE does based on the performance of the £ zone.

        By ‘control’ (ok, wrong wording) I mean the BoE would ‘listen and communicate’ with the Scottish Government as it would the RUK government as both would be using the currency it is managing. The performance of the Scots economy using the £ would be of major importance to the BoE; ~10% of the British Isles £-zone economy can’t be just ignored; that could be disastrous. Of course for maximum use of its services Scotland would be expected to pay its share of running costs just as it does now (with 8.4% of the gold in the vault belonging to Scotland), much like the ECB and Eurozone countries.

        The main ‘disadvantage’ is that the BoE would be setting monetary policy for the whole of the £ zone, not just for Scotland. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to every system. If the RUK economy was in good shape and the £ trading well, it is perfectly sensible for Scotland to use it particularly given the level of trade between the two. If things change, then an independent Scotland might wish to decouple and have its own currency or join another currency union.

        While things are going to get rather heated (due to some being for and some being against) for a while, if Scotland does vote for independence, there will be no point in things being heated after that as it would harm both respective economies. Ergo, an RUK government would offer its baw, Scotland would chuck in some goalie gloves, and they’d both get on with playing the game together.

        It is true that being ‘completely’ independent is impossible. North Korea is the closest example. But people currently saying ‘Scotland continuing to use the £ would not be independent’ is frankly silly as it implies none of the Eurozone nations are ‘independent’ nor any of those countries using the US dollar or pegging their currency to it.

        ‘Independence’ in the modern global sense is the ability to choose which currency you use; it is not defined by it.

        1. Okay, let’s get back to reality here. There is no such thing as “the £ zone”. Since the 2009 Banking Act the BoE has had a statutory objective to ‘contribute to protecting and enhancing the stability of the financial systems of the United Kingdom’, not “the £ zone” (which doesn’t exist). Scotland could choose to use Sterling or to tie a new currency to Sterling but that would not change the statutory responsibilities of the BoE. Only an Act or an Order can do that.

          I’m glad you’re now acknowledging, albeit by pretence that you didn’t mean it, that an indy Scotland would have no control over the BoE. But let’s not pretend that an RUK wouldn’t either – the UK Parliament retains absolute control over the BoE.

          A country being completely independent is perfectly possible. What you mean is it wouldn’t be sensible for Scotland. I agree. That doesn’t give you licence to redefine “independence” to mean “the subset which is sensible”. Independence means no dependence, taking us neatly back on topic.

          1. The Australian pound and the Irish pound were both separate currencies pegged in value to Sterling. I think if an indy Scotland wants any prospect of joining the EU a separate Scottish pound pegged to Sterling is probably the way to go. The Channel Islands and Isle of Man have ceded monetary responsibility to the Bank of England but have no input to its policy.

          2. Scottish pound pegged to Sterling is probably the way to go.

            We are in agreement on something at last.

  14. “And we’ll become more dependent on our UN, NATO and G8 allies like the UK and the US to protect us”.
    I am glad you have touched on defence in your notes of guidance on how to correct what you call ‘nationalist friends’. The removal of WMDs from Scottish soil is for many of us living in Scotland the main focus of difference between the parties. I take the view that countries which have experienced the military protection of the USA and the UK have not exactly prospered under the arrangements, on the contrary thousands of citizens have been killed and economies wrecked. The current air of hostility towards Iran confirms that neither the USA nor the UK are planning an early cessation of their benevolent warmaking. Many of us would happily leave these matters SOLELY to the UN, and would view an independent Scotland with no WMDs as a positive step towards a better world.

  15. “And we’ll become more dependent on our UN, NATO and G8 allies like the UK and the US to protect us”.
    You mean just like Denmark, Finland, Holland, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Latvia, Lithunania, Estonia, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy Greece,Luxembourg,Iceland, Slovakia, Solvenia,Croatia, Serbia, Albania, Cyprus, Bulgaria , the Czech Republic, Poland etc etc etc…….
    How do these poor sods sleep in their beds at night?
    Is Duncan supplying you these killer points?

    1. I think that’s what he means, yes. Quite a shift from a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and leadership roles in NATO and the G8.

  16. So Scotland has a seat on the UN Security Council?
    My goodness. Have I been asleep?

    Seriously though why do you think being an invisible part of a UK membership of the UN Security Council has any benefit to anyone in Scotland?

    1. Invisible part of? We’re all in the UK. We’re no more or less visible than anyone else in the UK. We all get to vote in UK elections.

      Maybe you see no benefit in our seat on the UN Security Council or our position in the world – fair enough. A lot of people do, and I think that was the point.

      1. Do you really think people are going to vote on the basis of having a seat on the security council or not? You surely can’t be serious. People will vote on the basis of what they think is best for themselves, their families and their communities. That’s it, basically. What makes you think that normal people actually care about Britain being big and important and having its own nuclear weapons etc so that it can retain a seat on the UN Security Council? In point of fact I think many people find that intensely irritating. They are seeing things that people rely on in their day to day lives like schools, hospitals, community facilities suffering under a cuts regime while at the same time money continues to be wasted on international status symbols. It’s the ultimate kind of fur coat and nae knickers approach. That’s a reason to vote for independence, not against it.

        1. Hold on, I wasn’t saying I thought that, I was trying to explain the point being made in the hypothetical conversation set out in the article. I’m sure people vote on the basis you suggest, but for some, our standing in the world tied up in our history is very important.

      2. “We’re no more or less visible than anyone else in the UK.”

        What a ridiculous comment that is. What’s more visible, one person or ten people? British policy is in practice English policy.

        rUK is welcome to its seat on the Security Council, if it gets to keep it. I, and I suspect most Scots, couldn’t possibly give any less of a pish if we “punch above our weight on the world stage” or not, especially if that translates to sending our fathers, sons and brothers (and indeed, mothers, daughters and sisters these days) off to die in someone else’s Godforsaken desert for no good reason, and wasting billions of pounds on nuclear penis-substitutes.

        1. There’s that nationalist blindness again. You know what? The English aren’t a homogeneous group! They do not all share a view which becomes UK policy! In fact they all, just like all of us, have a single vote in elections. Hence we are no more or less visible than anyone else in the UK.

          1. The relevance of that comment to anything under discussion is zero. We’re not talking about individuals, we’re talking collectively about nations – you cited “Quite a shift from a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and leadership roles in NATO and the G8”, but I’m pretty sure that neither you nor I has one of those – COUNTRIES do.

            And as a COUNTRY Scotland’s representation is effectively nil, because even if *every single Scot* voted for the same political party, we’d still have fewer than a tenth of the UK Parliament and therefore no influence on what Britain does with those NATO and G8 seats. (As I’m sure you’re aware, Scottish MPs have held the balance of power at Westminster just twice since World War 2, and only briefly.)

          2. Nations are built of individuals. Our nation (the UK) is built of individuals living across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, and every one of us has the same representation at UK level. This politics of envy is built on a false prospectus that says the English get to decide policy. They do not. We all have an equal vote, and the result is the British government. You could equally say that even if everyone across the north of England voted for the same political party they’d have no influence on what Britain does. It’s a nonsense. We all have equal influence on what Britain does, and drawing geographical lines around votes doesn’t change that.

          3. “Nations are built of individuals… We all have an equal vote… north of England… blah blah”

            None of it remotely relevant. The subject under discussion is SCOTLAND, and SCOTLAND as an entity has no representation at NATO, the G8, the UN or just about anywhere else. The referendum in 2014 won’t be about independence for you, or for my mum, or for my street or your neighbourhood. It will be about independence for SCOTLAND, and therefore Scotland is the relevant entity. Your international brotherhood of the workers has no meaning here.

          4. Wrong. The subject under discussion is the UK and Scotland, and I was talking about the UK, since it is the state we all live in right now.

            Interesting that the best response you can come up with is “not relevant”.

          5. Duncan you are absolutely spot on with your analysis of our representation in the UK.

            If everyone in the south-east of England voted one way and the rest of us voted another they wouldn’t get the govt they voted for. You can use that argument anywhere, the nationalists use it for Scotland in the hopes it will push more people into the separation camp.

      3. “Maybe you see no benefit in our seat on the UN Security Council or our position in the world.”
        Duncan, please explain what you mean by “our position in the world”. For what it’s worth, I write from the point of view of someone who has worked in various parts of the world, and in my view the perception of Britain in the countries where I have worked is one of sad disappointment, so much so that one of the most offensive expressions used by Arabic speakers is “Balfour Agreement”. Britain has since the 2nd world war proved itself to be a shameless lackey of the USA, dependent on the selling of war machinery all over the world, and most significantly to the autocratic states of the Middle East. Britain has not quite accustomed itself to being a small country in Europe, with no Empire, few European friends, mass unemployment, crippling poverty and a massive economy headache.
        Morality is the point where we position ourselves on the continuum between good and evil. For each individual this will be a personal choice. I admire the strength of your allegiance to your party. The implication of this, however, is that you accept along with Britain’s “position in the world”, the positioning of WMDs in Scotland, the export of WMDs to dodgy states and the subservience of your country to the foreign policy of the USA.

        1. Of course our position in the world can carry negatives as well as positives. For some it will be a source of shame, for others a source of pride. The point is that some people see a benefit in it. That’s all.

          1. No Duncan, it isn’t it at all. Don’t you see? The nationalists want us all to think the same way, there can’t be two views on Britain. It has to be that people see the UK negatively and therefore we must disassociate ourselves from the UK. I hope you agree Duncan or else you must be anti-Scottish!

            Honestly a 5 year old could come out with their arguments.

  17. The main problem Labour have here is that I don’t think you even know what the debate is about, never mind how to frame it.

    For example I’ve seen a number of comments from Labour peeps on twitter – including from Duncan – saying that the fact that the SNP says Devo-max’ needs to be part of the referendum debate proves that we don’t think we can win independence etc cos we want Devo max on the ballot paper. When in fact what we have said is that it needs to be part of the debate about what goes on the ballot paper. We don’t have closed minds about that. We’ll listen to whatever arguments are made by civic Scotland about that. You won’t. So you are not even going to be in that debate far less framing it.

    1. Indy,

      I have said this before. This is a charade by Salmond to create the impression that the SNP are open-minded and the rest are closed-minded on further powers for Holyrood.

      Labour support more powers for Holyrood as do the Lib Dems and the Tories, I believe, could easily be convinced.

      What we oppose is having a referendum that asks people whether they want:

      1. Devolution
      2. Devolution
      3. Independence

      it is a clear ploy by wee Eck to split the devolution vote.

      We should have a straight forward question and once you’ve been defeated we will include you in our discussions on how to make devolution work better for Scots. Sorry not just Scots but make devolution work better in the interests of all in the UK by creating a fairer system that refelcts the needs of all people in the UK.

      That is a grown up policy and one the SNP can’t stand as it requires co-operation with our friends and neighbours.

      1. There is going to be a discussion. It’s going to be part of the consultation on the referendum bill.

        We see in the Herald today a new survey saying that 58% of Scots want the Scottish Parliament to have full fiscal autonomy with 46 per cents saying that there should be a question on that on the ballot paper while 43 per cent say it should just be a yes/no question.

        Fair enough that is just one survey but it’s part of a trend. The SNP is going to consult on having a question on Devo Max – while making it clear that our preference is for independence. It will be up to Labour whether or not you engage in that debate but all the signs so far are that you will not even consider it and civic Scotland may as well be talking to a brick wall.

        1. Hilarious the knots the SNP are tying themselves in now because they know they can’t win an independence vote but they can’t get anyone else to argue that continuing with devolution needs a referendum. So now they are going to explicitly consult on an option they categorically oppose, and pretend it’s because they are even handed? Absolutely hilarious.

          1. We think we can win an independence vote. And what you need to consider is that everyone in the real world doesn’t see this in terms of neat boxes marked independence/devo max/status quo. That’s just how political types see it. From a non-party political perspective there’s a lot of people who would like to see Scotland being largely self-governing, raising and spending its own finances, taking its own decisions about most matters but continuing to have some sort of co-operative relationship with the rest of the UK.

            You can call that whatever you like – devo max, indy lite, pick’n’mix, whatever.

            That’s what people are going to be talking about while you sit in the corner saying Absolutely Hilarious!

          2. Then go ahead and hold an independence vote. Let the people choose between staying with devolution or going for independence. Do it tomorrow.

          3. Indy misses the point entirely here. People have already voted for devolution they don’t need to vote for it again. What they need to vote on is whether they prefer devolution or independence. As I said above the SNP know that independence isn’t going to win unless they gerrymander the referendum.

            They know that about 35% want separation so they want to split the other 65% into, say, 33% and 32% devolution and devolution respectively. This would mean independence comes ‘top’ even though devolution has 65% of the vote.

            The SNP know they can’t win and now they’re trying to cover their backs so they don’t look like complete failures – partial ones but not complete ones.

            Also talking about polls, what about the survation poll that put support for independence among those who would vote SNP in a GE at 25%? Try convincing your own voters before you try and convince the anti-Scottish in society.

          4. Actually its hilarious and sad that yourself and your party would deny the people of Scotland even a chance to say whether or not they wanted the opportunity to vote on a devo- max option, when all evidence appears to say otherwise. You and your party certainlly can’t claim the moral high ground on this subject.

          5. Sorry, how are the SNP proposing to ask the people of Scotland whether they want to be asked about devo max?

          6. Pay attention to facts please, folks.

            “As early as 2009, I proposed to the then SNP minority government that any referendum should include a third or middle option, which I defined as ‘Secure Autonomy’ rather than ‘Devo Max’, on the grounds that ‘power devolved is power retained’.” Kenyon Wright, in a letter to the Herald.

            Whatever term DevoMax, IndyLight, it was proposed by the Constitutional Commission, not by Alex Salmond.

          7. Kenyon Wright is merely one of many folk who have proposed it over the years. The reality is that today, Alex Salmond is pushing for it, and we all know why.

      2. GMcM why wait until after the Referendum ,this is the very moment to give the Labour vision for Scotland.
        There is a strong possibility that the Tories are going to hold sway in Westminster for the foreseeable future.
        Do you honestly believe that should the Yes vote fail Westminster will bring forward any new powers to Edinburgh ,Cardiff or Belfast?
        Scots remember the declaration of Perth ,Alex Douglas Homes promise of better devolution ,George Cunninghams 40% rule.
        By not offering an alternative now both Lab and Libs are putting Party before the people.
        To quote Douglas Alexander the problem seems Labour hate the SNP more than they love Scotland.
        An alternative of FFA or Devo Max would do several things ,firstly and most importantly improve the governance of Scotland ,also likely defeat any Independence chance ,and give Labour a meaningful message.
        To sit on the sidelines just sniping at the SNP will just give us the same outcome as May 2011.
        The up coming council elections may finally give the Party the wake up call it desperately needs.

  18. I can not believe this – is this a joke?

    You think trying to rename the ‘independence referendum’ the ‘dependence referendum’ will save the Union?

    How about “Do you a agree that Scotland should remain dependent on the United Kingdom? That should work a treat…


  19. Significantly when Ruth Davidson was asked about the benefits of Britain she came up with the same stuff. I would expect that of a reactionary Tory however but not of any sensible person in the Labour Party.

    Have you had a look at this. It’s going viral

  20. When I was a boy, both my father and my grandfather told me that Scotlaand was too wee and too poor to separate. It was true then and it’s no less true now. Labour has to hammer that home to the voters if we want to remain part of Great Britain. The truth will win the day.

  21. We are going to hold a vote Duncan. It will be in Autumn 2014. I genuinely do not understand what Labour are so scared of, to the extent that you are determined not to take part in the debate and will even back the Tories trying to shut it down. Because in a sense you don’t have to really take a position. You certainly don’t have to take any responsibility. You could just almost see how things go and try and frame the debate in a way that reflects Labour’s core aims and values, whatever they may be – anti-poverty, greater equality, whatever. You could try and frame the debate in a way which would ensure the issues that you say matter to you the most are front and centre. But instead you are only talking about opposing independence. It’s why you want to define yourself as an anti-independence party that intrigues me. Obviously Labour are not pro-independence but why define yourself so much by what you are against rather than what you are for. You must realise that, much as you may be against the idea of Scotland becoming a fully fledged independent state, the status quo is not really sustainable so why nail your colours to that mast? I suppose all will become clear in due course.

    1. I suspect even you are tired of defending the delay in the vote, but please stop pretending that anyone is trying to shut down the debate. As you know I don’t consider unionism a Labour value, and I’m happy to abide by the decision of the Scottish people. The point I’m making is that shoehorning “devo max” into a debate about independence is dishonest, and needs to stop. Let’s debate devolution versus independence. Those are the two options on the table, and Labour are the champions of devolution.

      1. What delay? It will be held when we are ready to hold it and that date has been chosen for obvious reasons. I have no need to “defend” that. The choice was the Scottish Government’s to make and they have made it.

        And if Labour are the champions of devolution then start championing it. Because that is not what you are doing right now. Johann Lamont said that since all 4 parties (excluding the Greens) support a yes/no referendum on independence then anything else is muddying the waters. That sounds a lot like a political stitch-up to me. So much for the grandiose claims about the Scottish people being able to determine the form of government best suited to their needs!

        How are they supposed to determine that except through discussion and debate and some form of decision-making process? That is what we are offering.

        1. Indy, I seem to recall comments from you in the past that were 100% guaranteeing that the SNP did not support putting Devo-max on the ballot and this was the ‘unionist parties’ trying to stifle the chances of independence.

          Now that wee Eck has put his support behind it you seem to be saying that it is right to do so because you are opening up debate and it’s the will of the people etc etc. No it’s opportunism and it is an attempt to fiddle the referendum.

          It is quite clear that the online nationalists aka cybernats do exactly what they are told at any given time regardless of the hypocrisy in their position. Why not take a position and stick to it.

          Our position on this is CLEAR. We want a straight yes/no on separation and then we will continue, as we believe in the process of devolution, to achieve the right powers to make our parliament more effective and make Scotland and the UK a fairer place for us all to live in.

          1. Incidentally I think you have misinterpreted or maybe misrecollected my comments. I do think it unlikely that there will be a second devo max option because there does not appear to be any political support for it, the unionist parties having closed ranks, but the SNP was always very clear that the question COULD be included so of course that will be part of the consultation. That’s actually why I find Labour’s position so hard to understand. You could have said yes OK let’s have a debate about Devo Max etc WITH NO CONSEQUENCES FOR YOURSELVES. Instead you have locked yourself into an alliance with the Tories and created the circumstances where people who support change – even short of independence – can only choose between the status quo or the SNP’s preferred option.

      2. No. The two options on the table are the status quo and independence. Nobody with the power to deliver it is proposing further devolution of powers.

    2. No, Labour are not nailing our colours to any mast that states we want the status quo and that’s final. We are saying that devolution (on any scale) is a different beast from independence and should not be on the same ballot paper.

      Once independence is defeated we will (as Duncan says) continue as the champions of devolution. The SNp are trying to make out they’re the champions of devolution and independence. Well you can’t look both ways at the same time as you cross the street without someone being hurt. While the SNP try to carry out this particular trick the lives of many Scots are getting worse as poverty, in whatever form, is increasing and has since the SNP came to power.

      Indy, you scoff at an aim of greater equality and tackling poverty. I think that says it all about the SNP and their priorities frankly.

      1. But you are not willing to discuss it. What are you saying to people? We refuse to discuss extending devolution but trust us to do that if you vote against independence?

        I am not scoffing about anti-poverty measures and greater equality by the way – I am giving those as two examples of things that Labour are meant to care about. But you don’t say anything about them. You could be arguing that devolution needs to be expanded to, for example, give the Scottish Parliament control of the welfare system, tax and benefits so that there can be a more co-ordinated approach within the devolution settlement to reducing dependency and tackling poverty.

        But you don’t – why is that? I think it is because you see any expansion of the powers of the Scottish Parliament as further movement towards independence. So because you are against independence you are against expanding the powers of the parliament. So you have got yourselves into a position of arguing against any actual change while at the same time you reserve the right to say we are the party of devolution.

        And underlying this is your perception of devolution as being the opposite of independence – so people have to choose between independence and devolution because you see them as being contradictory. Whereas for many people they are actually part of the same continuum. Devolution means the Scottish Parliament controlling certain things like health, justice, education. Devo max would mean it would control some additional things, like taxation, welfare, economic policy. At the furthest end of the scale the Scottish Parliament would control everything – that would be independence. I do believe that this is how most people see things – they don’t see devolution and independence as being opposites; they see them as being different levels of self-government. And that’s why a lot of this discussion is just passing you by while you spend more and more time coming up with conspiracy theories about why the SNP is doing X, Y or Z.

        1. No, our position is that we wish for Holyrood to have more powers. But you cannot conflate the two issues of more powers for devolution and separation. They are not the same thing orvariations on each other.

          We will campaign for more powers for Scotland’s Parliament as we believe that more accountability will lead to a fairer Scotland and UK. It is why we campaigned YES YES not YES NO. It is why we set up Calman. It is what we will continue to do as we believe in devolution. Don’t try and paint our position as something that it is not.

          By saying our position is to oppose more powers is negative campaigning as you misrepresent our true position. I suggest you try some more of that positive campaigning because this clearly isn’t going to work for you.

          1. What powers do you want Holyrood to have though?

            Under the Devo Max model everything bar foreign affairs, homeland security and defence is devolved.

            So is that how far Labour would go with expanding devolution?

            Or if you would stop sooner where do you draw the line?

          2. Indy your comment above is an example of you trying to create greater urgency within Labour to define exactly what is best in terms of devolution.

            Why should we skip to the end when devolution is a process? Especially if the end we believe is correct now is not what will be best suited in future?

            Why are you in such a rush for us to state our position? You haven’t been quick say what independence means? You haven’t been quick to hold a referendum. Most people polled want it within the next 2 yrs; why do you ignore them but listen to those who support an ill-defined constitutional policy?

  22. The premise of both these Stuart Tooley articles is utterly farcical.

    They are so completely ridiculous that they look more like spoofs than an attempt to formulate a strategy.

  23. Duncan, I believe proposing a devo-max option can be done in the Referendum consultation coming out next week 25th January (Burns night). How are the options from the labour party coming on ??? or do you still have to wait until D. Cameron gives the go-ahead.

    1. We already have devolution after Labour held a referendum and the Scottish people voted for it. The SNP complained that Scots hadn’t been given the option of independence, and vowed to hold their own referendum should they win power. This they are now, apparently, eventually, going to do. Why on earth would that referendum need to ask about devolution again as well as independence? The process of devolution continues, with the Scotland Bill extending it significantly without any need for a referendum, and future extensions quite likely after that. The only question needed is over the choice between continuing with devolution, which as you and others point out the majority of Scots support, or choosing separation, sorry, independence, which the majority of Scots don’t want.

      Why are the SNP so desperate for two devolution options to be on the ballot? I think we all know the answer. Why don’t you stick to your party policy for once.

      1. There were a number of Labour MPs who wanted Scots to be given a choice on independence. This from Michael Connarty last week:

        “It is very important that we get it clear that this is not the end of the debate about powers for Scotland ; this is only about the referendum on being in or out, which I happen to think is 13 years too late, as it should have been on the ballot paper in the first devolution referendum.”

        I think “being in or out” nicely avoids the word independence.

      2. Why dont you unstick from whatever your party “maybe? at a guess? who knows?” policy is, and let the people make up their own minds as to what they want on the referendum, you know a consultation.
        And the reason people may want to ask about devolution again is that they are not satisfied with either the present powers that the current system provides or what the so called Scotland bill is proposing. Maybe they want more and should expect their political representives to at least listen to them and represent their views, instead of hiding behind a petty party policy.

        1. The SNP has been pro-independence no matter what public opinion said for many years. Are you seriously suggesting that every other party should only be allowed to adopt a constitutional position if public opinion is behind it? And that they have to base that opinion on a consultation? Ludicrous.

          1. That is clearly not what he is saying. He is saying that politians ought to listen to what people want and then represent their views. That doesn’t mean every party policy has to be decided by opinion poll, but it does mean that the general public should have a say and on matters such as this their say is actually what matters most.

          2. You and labour are pro-devolution, but only if it is the type of devolution that suits you and the rest of the unionist partys. It does not seem to matter what the people of Scotland think, and if they are saying they want the option of devo-max as their type of devolution that is their right and you should respect that.

          3. Okay. If the people of Scotland are saying they want Devo Max, why are the SNP continuing to push for independence? By your logic the SNP should stick to doing what the people of Scotland are saying they want.

  24. Duncan you are asking people to buy a pig in a poke there. You really can’t ask them to trust you to take devolution forward unless you are prepared to say how far, and unless you are willing to test the options.

    Are you really suggesting that full fiscal autonomy could be implemented without a clear democratic mandate from the Scottish people? Because that is what Devo Max really means after all and that’s what opinion polls suggest most people want, at present.

    Clearly we in the SNP think that we can persuade people over the next 2.5 years to go that little bit further – to go all the way, to coin a phrase, to independence.

    And I know there are other people who have flagged up difficulties with full fiscal autonomy within the Union and who have even suggested that there would need to be some form of UK wide consultation before it could happen. That all needs to be considered and examined before decisions are taken.

    What I think people would like to know is where the Labour Party stands now. Do you support full fiscal autonomy/financial independence/devo max? Or not? If not, what further expansion of devolution would you like to see? If you are unwilling to put it to a vote that suggests that you are not really looking at any meaningful expansion of devolved areas. Would that be correct?

    1. I hope the Scottish Labour Party will make its support for further devolution clear in due course, but I won’t be lectured on urgency by someone from a party which has delayed and delayed its flagship policy and still won’t tell us what we’re meant to be voting yes to in 2014!

      What is the yes for? Keeping monetary union and the union of the crowns? Just keeping the union of the crowns? Or not keeping any union at all?

      1. Eh? I am not lecturing you about urgency. I am saying this debate will be happening over the next 2.5 years. It would be good to know where Labour stand in all this but it’s no skin off our nose if you choose to opt out.

        Will you be voting yes to the Union of the Crowns and the monetary union? Yes. Of course future parliaments and governments could decide to do things differently if they got a mandate for that but in the immediate post-independence period as far as we know there will still be a monarch and there will still be sterling and we don’t propose to change either.

        1. If it’s no skin off your nose why is it the sole topic of conversation? Why doesn’t the SNP just stick to arguing for independence?

          By the way, I think retaining the union of crowns is a major tactical error. You’d pull a lot more votes from the left if you went for a republic, which, after all, was SNP policy until very recently.

          Isn’t it funny that you’re telling me what Labour’s policies should be and I’m telling you what the SNP’s policies should be!

          1. We are probably going to get the votes of the left anyway, especially now that you guys have jumped into bed with Cameron trying to thwart the referendum.

            It’s the people in the middle who decide elections and will decide this too.

          2. Jumped into bed with Cameron? Dear me. Among the many things you guys say that you don’t believe, that has to be the most silly.

  25. Can sort of see where the Unionists argument comes from with regards to maybe we should just make this a debate about whether we’re going to be independent or not. It is a huge decision and perhaps it is clouding the issue to debate other constitutional arrangements.

    I could envisage Devo Max not being on the ballot paper if there was a cast-iron assurance that should there be a NO vote to independence then the Unionist/Devolutionists would bring forward Devo Max immediately. Frankly though I just don’t trust the anti-independence parties to do that. I think that it may well be that the Scots will vote no to independence; but should that be the case I think that Scots will be looking for something along lines of Devo Max. I’m just not sure if I believe the Unionists will deliver it and Full Fiscal Autonomy will be kicked into the long grass with smirking jubilation at the NO party. Therefore, perhaps the Devo Max option needs to be on the ballot simply to force the Unionists to organise it.

    Let’s face it the Unionist parties only created the Calman Commission to try to give as many powers to Scotland as it “could get away with” without really getting to the nub of the Scots aspirations and making the SNP look like they’ve won concessions.

    As much as I understand the merits of the Unionist argument about one question and think they’re welcome to it (and, as pro-independence, I think it presents the best chance for Independence to win) I think Indy is right in that the debate we’re talking about here is what level of self-governance do we want the Scottish Parliament to have?” Status quo, something short of independence or full independence?

    This debate is about the level of self-governance we want. To state that we can’t talk about what level of devolution we want within that when this is the argument many Scots are having is simply wrong.

  26. I liked the comment that after a no vote in the referendum, Labour will work to increase the powers of the Scottish Parliament. It’s a nice thought; I just worry about when. It presupposes Labour getting back into power at Westminster which could well be at least a couple of elections away – in the meantime a Tory government will draw the line at existing powers as their Scottish leader has declared.
    To carry on as we are now for at least another 10 years or more as Scotland is marginalised by a Tory government that has no interest in Scotland and will increasingly play to its little-England constituency is a terrifying thought. Would a Labour party in opposition be able to stop the Tory privatisation drive in the NHS and Education with the inevitable financial spin-off consequences for Scotland

    I agree therefor with Duncan Hothersall that there should be a simple yes/no question but would urge him along with his Labour colleagues to fight for a yes vote to save Scotland from the prospect of years of uninterested Tory rule

    At as an aside, I am sceptical about Westminster ( no matter which Party is in control) ever giving Scotland meaningful financial powers – Westminster would have too much to lose.

  27. Ok I have read part two and waited to make comment in case I had missed something or perhaps misunderstood.
    Sorry but I still hear that Danny Kaye sketch about the vessel with the pessil.
    It maybe very clever political theory but it makes no sense, its called the independence debate because thats what its about, thats what its been called for forty odd years. Why because thats what its about, thats how folk understand it and how they reference it. But by all means call it the separation debate or if you must the dependence debate (good luck with that one). The consistent word is debate, so lets stop the sand dancing and have the friggin debate.

      1. No it’s not! So don’t be such a smart ass. It’s pessil and it’s got nowt to do with mortars.
        Anyway I’ll let you get back to thinking up your justifications for the craven surrender to Tory economics by the two Eds.

        1. It’s pestle, and your denial is typical of your party’s arrogance, et cetera and so forth.

        2. I think the spelling of pestle/pessil may be one of those historic thingies (don’t ask me as I am dyslexic). However, if you are bored like I am at the moment and watch the scene one cup has a pestle on it (as in pestle and mortar) and the other has a dragon.

          Now, let’s get back to the real debate.

          How do you pronounce Scones.

          1. But let’s establish first that the pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon.

            The vessel with the pestle/pessil has the brew that is true.

            A lot is riding on that.

  28. DH seems reluctant to spell out what Devo Max means to him – how far he would like to go in devolving powers. I ask him again to answer Indy’s questions above. I’m really interested in hearing what he thinks. Of course he not have any coherent idea….

    1. I’m broadly in favour of fiscal autonomy for the Scottish Parliament.

  29. So, given UK Labours recent outpouring of support for the current Tory cuts and the recent joining of a srike against the very same cuts, us the poor wee voter seem to be a bit confused about what Labours actual position is on Tory cuts.

    Can anybody shed any light?

    1. Pretty simple: for the last 18 months the Tory/Lib Dem mismanagement of the economy, cutting too far and too fast, has stunted growth. The only way to cut the deficit is to create growth, but the Tories have failed to do so. Labour would have promoted growth in the last 18 months and our economic plan was based on that. That baseline has now changed, because the Tories have stunted growth, so Labour’s plans have had to change to match the new reality created by the Tories.

  30. Independence and separation aren’t merely two ways to describe the same thing. Independence means having the ability to make our own choices about the relationships we form, the services we share etc. – on equal terms with our partners. Separation implies cutting off and not forming relationships with the wider world. It doesn’t take much reading to see which of these positions is being proposed by the SNP.

    By trying to frame the debate on the basis of an inaccuracy (ie calling it separation) you are too easily discredited. Just as trying to describe supporters of independence as tartan-clad, anti-english braveheart obsessives doesn’t work, cos it simply isn’t true. People see through it pretty quickly. A positive, honest case is needed for the ‘no’ camp.

  31. So Duncan are you finally going to admit that the Scottish people have the right to have a “devo-max” question in the referendum if THEY request it, regardless of any political partys policy.

    1. If the referendum should be set by consultation then the SNP has no business demanding a question on independence unless the Scottish people request it. In reality the referendum is happening because a political party’s policy was to ask about independence, and that political party was elected. There is simply no credible argument for anything else – which incidentally was the view of many SNP folk until very recently when your leadership started to soften its line on the question.

      Personally I’m in agreement with Nicola Sturgeon – you have a mandate for a yes/no referendum, and you should go ahead and hold one and stop trying to hedge your bets.

      1. Do you ever read any other blogs I wonder? Cos there is an interesting article on Kate Higgins’ blog just now from someone making the argument that there should be a question on Devo Max. Not a nat. It is people like him you really need to be engaging with, not people like us. And you ought to do so on the basis that their view is a valid one – they are not just “useful idiots”.

      2. Duncan, after reading that very twisted reply I have to conclude that you therefore do not agree with the “Claim of right for Scotland” which is if I may remind you, ” We hereby acknowledge the Sovereign Right of the People of Scotland to determine the form of Government best suited to their Needs. ” .
        I think you will find the “Claim of Right for Scotland” is a very CREDIBLE ARGUMENT for the future of Scotland indeed.

        Game, Set and Match.

        1. I completely support the claim of right. You evidently need to read my comment again and stop thinking that you’re being clever, which you aren’t.

          1. But Duncan you completely avoid answering the question, ” do you believe the people of Scotland have the right to have devo-max as an option on the referendum if they want it, or dont you”, instead you either answer the question with another question or you print some twisted high fluting rant to which there is no feasible answer. You claim “Labour is the Champions of Devolution” but what is “devo-max”, its just devolution so why are you and labour not championing it, it makes no sense.
            In your eyes I may not be particularly clever but I am experienced, and one thing I can recognize is avoidance, so yet again I must ask, do you believe the people of Scotland have a right to have devo-max as an option on the referendum if THEY want it. A straight yes or no will do.

          2. I believe Scots have the right to whatever form of devolution they want, or indeed independence if they want it. Of course they do. But since we currently have devolution – the Scottish Parliament and all its trappings is up and running thanks to the Labour Party – we can amend it whenever we like and it needs no referendum to do so. Indeed the devolution settlement has been amended many times since 1999, and never once has anyone demanded a further referendum to check the people are happy. The people elect representatives to make such decisions.

            Independence, in contrast, is a major constitutional shift from where we are now. It is right that a decision on that should be taken by referendum now that a party with that policy has been elected into government.

  32. D H,
    Does your support for full fiscal economy for the Scottisg Government imply your support for William Hague or David Cameron invading another country, eg Iran, in the name of freedom, in the same way that Thatcher, Major and Blair prosecuted their version of foreign policy on behalf of the Scottish people in the 90s, and latterly on behalf of the Scottish Government in 2001?
    Persons or parties who do support such actions, are, in my view, complicit in condoning war crimes.
    If you do not support this view of responsibility for foreign policy lying with Westminster, please expand.
    Regards, and thanks for keeping the level of debate well above the level of the Scotsman blogs.

    1. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m opposed to war crimes. But that does not persuade me that either the UK or Scotland should absolve itself of any responsibility in the realm of foreign policy. Judge each issue on its merits, make the best decisions we can, learn from our mistakes. What else can we do?

      And Hague and Cameron will be gone soon. We shouldn’t make constitutional decisions based on personal or political dislike.

  33. I’m very disappointed by the utter hash this coalition government is making of the UK economy. Especially when they started from such a lowpoint in the economic cycle following Labours tenure at the wheel.

    Anyway, back to this article. Very well written by young Mr Tooley, with a catchy theme at the end about Scotlands dependence (or not). Rather like “You can be sure of Shell”.
    Of course the actuality is that Scotland will have a free choice regarding who they want to be dependent on rather than having choice foisted upon them by what looks like, unfortunately, a perpetual Tory Government at Westminster.

    Duncan, your avatar does resemble that of Kenny Logan, that ex contestant in Strictly. His hands were described as ‘banana-like’ if memory serves me well.

  34. “You’ll recognise all these arguments as three main arguments against separation. ”

    Is this correct? Are these really the main arguments in favour of trying to argue that Scotland is better off remaining part of the UK?

  35. “Next time one of your nationalist friends says something about the independence referendum, why not correct them?”

    Aren’t we all nationalists, in the sense that we want the future of Scotland secure, and have a positive vision of the future of our country, nomatter the direction we all want to take?

    Can it not be true that one can be a ‘nationalist’, but also a liberal, conservative, socialist, communist or fascist?

  36. Thank you Duncan, I think that was a yes. As for the current devolution system it may have been proposed by the labour party but it was voted in by the people of Scotland and any thanks should go to them. Also how would it be possible for the current devolution system to evolve to the level of devo-max under our current elected representatives at Holyrood. Surely if we had those powers we would have used them.

    1. Devolution is being significantly extended right now under the Scotland Act. I see no reason to believe it couldn’t be again.

      1. In the event of a “No” vote in the referendum – especially a one-off super-legally binding “No” vote, like the one Cameron just offered us – you can be absolutely certain that devolution will not only NOT be significantly extended, but will be entirely curtailed, post-result. Which is why Cameron offered it to us in the first place, with the provisos being a sudden-death referendum within 18 months, overseen by the UK Electoral Commission. Even ardent Nats know what the result of that would be.

        Cameron is not really as stupid as he looks and sounds and acts and writes and governs and legislates, I fear.

  37. 153 replys and I can’t find one that is relevent to the article.
    Stuart, you seem to think that Labour is not “framing” their argument properly; that the problem is one of presentation rather than substance, and that if Labour started to refer to the independence referendum as the ‘dependence referendum’ then the argument and support will swing their way.
    I can’t agree with you. The referendum, the debate leading up to it and of course the outcome is the biggest discision we as a nation have had to make in 300 years. It will shape the future of these islands for ever.
    The next few years will be a great time to live in Scotland especially if you are interested in politics. The debate will dominate all conversations, in pubs, around tables and in the work place. Every one will need to have an opinion and will require to defend it.
    How the arguments are presented will be important I grant you, positivity I think will be key, but it is the substance of the referendum debate that is the key; ‘our nation in a union or independent’ . Its as big an question as it gets.

  38. I agree this is a once in a generation chance for Scotland

    All the parties need to think hard about their positions (what the other parties think is not as important as defining if their current position is sustainable)

    Labour is a party of choice- they had the foresight to give Scotland a choice in the referndum on the Scots Parliament
    This referndum had 2 questions, but may (in many parties) seem to think our heads will explode if we are asked 2 questions

    You can expect the tories to disagree with all things in Scotland, you can expect the LibDams to do what the person with the hand on the controls says.

    This leaves Labour – decisions, decisions, decisions……

    I really hope Labour will come up with positive ideas for the union, then we can have a decent debate- not just “I’m telling ye…… it’s grim, grim, grim” when then ‘I’ question raises it’s head.

  39. . Duncan,
    Any views from your side of the fence on the axing of ‘Newsweek Scotland’ by the BBC? Do you, as I do, get a distinct whiff of political bias at the BBC?

  40. Actually, speaking of dependence referenda, there was something I noticed about Alex Salmond’s EU policy which I don’t think has been picked up yet. Alex Salmond supports the latest EU treaty,* which in order to stop national debt getting out of control requires national governments to OK their budgets with the EU. At present, I think, MSPs don’t have to check their budget with Westminster before they can pass it. So if Alex Salmond had been in charge of an independent Scotland, Scotland would actually have less control over how she spends her money than she does now? Or am I just missing something?

    * Or, at least, he opposed the Prime Minister when David Cameron opposed it. I suppose it’s possible that Salmond is just trying to score political points on the matter, and secretely thinks that vetoing the treaty was a good idea.

  41. Duncan

    What do you think about the opinion that if Scotland votes against independence/separation it will lose the opportunity to get devo max for a generation. all we and our children will end up with is talk/discussions about further powers or some other token gesture.

    1. I think we need to do everything we can to avoid that, including, but not limited to, smashing the Tories in the next UK election, and advancing the argument for further devolution as strongly as possible in the Labour party.

      1. But we *did* ‘smash’ the Tories – there’s only one left!

        Oh, right – it’s Labour’s old “let’s wait for the rest of the UK to wake up” argument again.

        Judging by how well Milliband is doing I’d say we’re in for quite a long wait…

        If it’s all the same to you, I’ll not bother thanks…

        1. Odd response, given that the question was based on the hypothesis that Scotland votes against independence. What would you do? Just keep shouting louder and demand endless referenda until you got your way?

          1. If people keep voting for a party which is offering an independence referendum, then there will continue to be independence referenda.

            Is that not how democracy works?

            If course there will be only one however, and it will deliver a Yes vote at around 62.5%. So don’t worry too much about neverenda…

  42. The total lack of substantial points and actions (bar a few extremely marginal things) that Johann Lamont could feasibly ask the Scots Government to do in the face of the financial position we are all in demonstrates another problem of the Status Quo. The Scotland Act clearly doesn’t allow for any accountability of the Scots Government in a time of economic downturns. It has, unfortunately, shown itself to be just a pocket money Parliament in this respect.

    That is a problem for the SNP. They would love to have the powers to see what they could do with them. But also a problem for Scottish Labour. They have nothing really to attack with when it comes to the economy and thus the SNP remain unscathed.

  43. Can I be quite clear here.
    I have no idea why any Scot would think it worth waiting for the next UK Labour Government.
    The UK Labour party bears no resemblance whatsover to the Labour Party my parents knew and the Labour party I was invited to join and stand for when I was a teacher in Lanarkshire in the 1960s.
    The game’s up. The ball’s burst. Or whatever else way you want to describe Scotland’s Labour Party.
    Very instructive has been the way Labour supporters on this blog continually deploy Tory arguments without even being aware that that is what they are doing.

    1. You have said this on numerous occasions here Dave, you hardly need to say it again, and it certainly doesn’t become any more convincing by virtue of repetition! And in any case it’s not about “waiting for” a UK Labour government, it’s about voting and campaigning for it. And a huge number of Scots think it worth doing, as witnessed by the overwhelming support given to Labour candidates in 2010 general election in Scotland. You may have fallen out with Labour, Dave, but you cannot speak for others. Lots of people, rather than walking away, are sticking at it and fighting for principle rather than capitulating to the self-interest of nationalism.

      And deep down, Dave, I suspect you are not proud of supporting nationalism at all. I suspect you are as disgusted at the chest-beating Braveheart nats who want to corral assets for the few and build figurative walls around our country as I am. You are holding your nose and voting SNP in the hope that all that will go away and Scotland can become a socialist paradise. Beware the Scotland you might help create. Nationalism is not a force for good.

      1. Oh good grief – get a grip will you!! Don’t you see you’re as much a nationalist as ant SNP member? The difference is that you’re a *British* nationalist.

        1. No, and that is a key point. The idea that anyone who opposes Scottish nationalism must de facto support British nationalism is a nonsense. You cannot declare everyone a nationalist just because you are one. Even the Scottish National Party makes no claim to nationalism as an intrinsic part of itself, and the Labour party is internationalist in outlook.

  44. Separation instead of independence, I ‘get’ that. Dependence, instead of independence, not so much; I doubt that it will catch on.

  45. Good god, you really are in denial, if you are an internationalist away to Ethiopia and do some real good for the poor on this planet.

  46. Duncan,

    You say above that you are an internationalist. I would see myself in similar terms, and I’m a member of the SNP. The difference between us is that I want my internationalism expressed through a Scottish Parliament and not moderated by a slavish adherence to what Westminster appears to see as realpolitic, in other words doing exactly what Washington wants us to do.

    With the exception of Harold Wilsons’ honourable refusal to get the UK involved in Vietnam I am not really seeing our (UK) relations as anything other than slavish support for US foreign policy. If you see it as a more personal crusade then you can do that whether or not your passport says UK or Scottish on it.

  47. I note the Socialist Worker has come out in favour of Scottish independence… but then again they are a socialist organisation

  48. To pick up a point abou the EU…Salmond beleives that there will be no problem abouit continued EU membership and Cameron/Milliband and the other guy (Clog? Kellog? Something like that….) say this is not the case, but actually none of them really knows for sure since there is no real precedent. The situations with East/West Germany and Czechoslovakia were not genuinely comparable to that of the UK.
    In practice dissolving the 1707 Treaty will almost certanly mean something for both parties in their relationship with the EU, but both will have to face negotiations. It may mean that Scotland will have to set a timetable for joining the Euro and/or that the other party to the Union (which, incidentally is England, not the document) will no longer have the rebate currently enjoyed by the UK. What we should be sure of is that neiher party will get exactly what they want or feel that they deserve….but that’s politics for you.
    In general, Labour is well behind the curve – and the elctorate – on the independence/devo-max/home rule issue. In part this stems from a beleif that Labour has failed to ‘get it’s message across’ and hence lost two elections. In fact everyone knows Labour’s position, it’s just that not enough people like it.
    Also, Labour have not stood up for the treaty of Union ‘warts and all’ just the bits that fit with a Westminster agenda. This may be understandable, but it’s not necessarily wise. Protecting the Union has to mean just that if Labour is to be credible. The transfer of sea-bed from Scottish to English legal jurisdiction was crass and the very existence of the Supreme Court is most certainly a breach of the very essence of the Treaty of Union. Neither action was a good way of giving people confidence that Labour fights for Scottish interests.
    Incidentally, the Gnats really don’t want a ‘third question’, they just want to be able to persuade people that they are willing to accept the thing that most people want – a similar relationship to the rest of the UK as Man or Guernsey – thus protraying Labour/Conservative and the Glib-Dumbs as the parties that are actively opposed to doing what the people want. The sooner Labour embraces Fiscal Autonomy, the sooner the Gnats become vulnerable. If the tories get in there first (and they may well once they dump Ruth Davidson) it will be them, not Labour, that benefits from a nationalist decline and I don’t think may folk want that.
    Alternaitively, if the electorate are presented with Staus Quo or Independence in an atmosphere that indicates that the Unionist parties prefer to deny the most popular option (and FFA does not require any great cosnideration outside Scotland, since if Scotland is subsidised FFA will be a benefit to rUK) that may push electors toward independence rather than the status quo when they go to the ballot-booth.

  49. Firstly not that keen on the article (enjoyed part 1) but interesting debate; if a little painful in parts for someone who has only recently discovered an interest in politics! Duncan you get a medal for your unrelenting defence of your views.

    But at the risk of antagonising you….. i think Dave hits the nail on the head in post 20th jan. I’m not sure what labour stands for anymore!

    We can surely agree that the scots are not happy with the status quo. Over the next 2 years labour are going to get the biggest stage to sell an important policy to the scottish people -devolution- but Labour are not going for it? The stance labour seems to have is; that we want devolution for Scotland but not if the SNP can take the credit and we can talk about it later if we get back into power!

    It gives the impression that labour will withhold the polices they believe in if they feel that it might benefit the opposition; which feeds into the “party before people” label which labour has become associated.

    If for example labour go fully behind an agreed devolution package with westminster and “beat the SNP” that gives labour this “peoples mandate” does it not? Is that not a positive journey to embark on, and win or lose a better starting point than Labour is in now?

    As things stand labour appear to be stuck in a very damaging place!

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