‘Respect’ demands second historic deal
What did the signatories to the “Edinburgh Agreement” mean by saying that they would work towards a “referendum result that everyone will respect”?
Eddie Barnes wrote cogently about the difficult period of negotiation that might follow a Yes vote (Analysis, 16 October). But why should that be necessary?
Now that most procedural aspects of the independence poll have been resolved, surely the focus should be on the actual details of autonomy. There needs to be a second “Edinburgh Agreement” before the vote in the autumn of 2014.
It should spell out exactly the terms on which independence might be granted. It would answer all the questions on citizenship, external relations, pensions, security, taxation and so on. It need not compromise either side in the debate. The more civilised unionist argument is that they have little doubt that Scotland could go it alone; they simply feel that we would be better off within the United Kingdom.
The more civilised Nationalist argument is that the Scottish people should have the freedom to decide their own destiny; that could actually mean stronger devolved powers within the existing settlement. Therein lies the potential for agreement.
Let us see a prospectus – agreed by both Holyrood and Westminster – that sets out the circumstances in which independence will be granted but leaves it for the voter to decide the way forward.
When First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron shake hands on an agreement like that, there will be genuine cause for celebration and real belief that both do “respect” the other’s position.
Scotland is not a dependency. England is not a dependency. The referendum is not about “independence”, but about separation.
The recent TNS BMRB poll showed just 28 per cent support for separation, down from another poll figure of 35 per cent in June.
This time-wasting ego trip for separatist politicians is a distraction from the pressing need to raise standards of achievement whether educational, industrial, social or economic.
In 1976, the industrialist Sir William Lithgow, addressing students in Glasgow, observed: “Without the procreation of wealth there can be no distribution of wealth… We are a nation of bankrupts, intellectual bankrupts dodging reality. We are a nation of experts in telling other people how to manage their own affairs.”
After months of arguing for one independence referendum question, I am stunned to hear Labour now complaining that the SNP has failed to obtain a second question for devolution supporters. The SNP has surely done just what it set out to do in its 2011 manifesto. The 40 per cent deserve representation, however, and Scotland really needs a better quality of opposition.
How hard would it be for Johann Lamont to tell her MPs at Westminster to promote a devo-max referendum bill?
With support from the Lib Dems (Better Together, after all), this could be on the statute book in months, certainly in time for a devolution referendum in October 2013. Pigs might fly first, I expect.
Isle of Arran
What right has the Prime Minister to sign up for an independence referendum without specific parliamentary debate and approval? Some 80 per cent of Scots didn’t come out for an SNP administration, yet they have one. Will independence be similarly foisted on them?
I find it rather disturbing that David Cameron would agree to a vote with a Yes or No answer that could effectively break up the UK but will not give the British people a comparable vote on exiting the European Union. That strikes me as double standards and a refusal to listen to the British people.
I believe David Cameron suspects the majority of people in Scotland do not want independence, whereas he knows full well that if a vote on leaving Europe were given today all the latest opinion polls suggest strongly that the result would be an overwhelming Yes to get out of Europe.
Cameron should call a referendum on Europe on the same date as the independence referendum in Scotland as that would be fair to the United Kingdom as a whole.
There will be a straightforward Yes/No referendum in 2014. This is being portrayed as a negotiating victory for David Cameron’s unionists – despite the fact that the SNP and Alex Salmond have always said that was what the SNP wanted. The SNP even framed the Yes/No question it intends to use.
What, of course, happened was that Alex Salmond noted that a substantial proportion of Scottish opinion supported another possible option, that of increased powers for the Scottish Parliament short of full independence.
This appeared to be the most popular option. He suggested that, if those who supported this could clearly frame it, it could be included as an option on the ballot.
This was in the gift of Westminster, but has been refused. So Mr Cameron’s “victory” has been to be manoeuvred into denying the Scottish people their favourite choice. This looks to me a lot like General Custer’s victory at Little Big Horn
The unionists don’t appear to have worked out yet that they have tumbled head first into a trap which was cleverly prepared for them.
Dave McEwan Hill
As the razzamatazz over the signing of the referendum documents dies down, one cannot help questioning whether the referendum issue is dominating the lives of some of Scotland’s people to the same degree as that of Alex Salmond’s.
Will the 1,700 workers of Hall’s in Broxburn who are losing their jobs and the thousands of electricity consumers who are paying more, in part because of Mr Salmond’s renewable energy policies, be really as concerned about the matter?
With the independence question unlikely to be answered for another two years, perhaps it’s time for the First Minister to descend from Cloud Nine and tackle to day-to-day problems that affect everyone.
Now that a decision on the referendum has been made, I hope that you intend to expand your coverage of this important issue.
I am sure that assiduous research will enable you to discover some tiny forgotten corner of your paper that does not already bang on about this every single day.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
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