Generation game

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When Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon signed the Edinburgh Agreement they foresaw a referendum that would produce “a decisive and respected outcome”. In answer to the question “What would happen if there is a No vote”, the Scottish Government’s referendum website stated: “It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

My Oxford English Dictionary says a generation is: “The average period, generally considered to be about 30 years, in which children grow up, become adults and have children of their own.” So, therefore, it has to be the case that the next referendum won’t come along until 2044. Dream on.

Even before voting took place, Alex Salmond introduced the concept of a “political generation”. This term does not appear in the dictionary, but the First Minister (a noted lexicographer) declared it meant 15 to 18 years. When heir apparent Nicola Sturgeon was asked about a No vote, she said the next referendum would occur whenever an SNP Government made a commitment to hold one in its manifesto. This is what she means by “respecting” the outcome of a vote.

The majority No voters have been assured by the SNP their interests will be foremost in the forthcoming talks over additional devolved powers. A likely story.

What we should expect is a manufactured crisis leading to the Scottish Government representatives withdrawing and claiming Scotland will only achieve the powers it needs through a Yes vote at another referendum. The nightmare of the “Neverendum” will have become a reality.

What needs to happen is the removal of the SNP from political power. This can be achieved by targeted tactical voting in the UK General Election next year, and the Scottish parliamentary election in 2016. Better Together, or another umbrella group, could advise voters which candidates would be likely to displace a sitting SNP MP or MSP. It would then be up to No voters to decide whether to use their vote tactically or not. I hope they do.

Herbert Coutts

Queen’s Road