As THE polls get increasingly close, there has been much discussion recently as to why the referendum does not contain an option for devo-max, the compromise and possibly most popular outcome. Maybe it’s because there was opposition to the inclusion of such a question in the consultation.
“What consultation?” people may ask. Well, in 2012 the Scottish Government ran a consultation on various aspects of the proposed referendum, including inter alia the wording of the question and whether there should be a second question. Of the 4.2 million people now registered to vote, only 20,109 Scots bothered to make any response (this from a total of 26,219 respondents).
In terms of the specific point on whether there should be a second question, there were 21,281 responses (there’s no information on how many of these were Scots), with 62 per cent opposed to the idea, only 32 per cent supporting it and the rest not expressing clear views either way.
The consultation analysis observes that many of the responses to this question were highly complex: “Respondents who favoured a second question and those who did not often provided detailed and nuanced arguments in support of their views.”
As one who replied and fell into the majority 62 per cent opposed to a second question, the main argument against the idea was that it was possible to envisage a three-way split in support for the different options – a third for no change, a third for independence and a third for devo-max – and that this would not provide a mandate of any kind. This was a valid position as it is highly unlikely that the either the nationalist or the firm “no change” voters would have suddenly urged their supporters to vote devo-max at this stage in the proceedings.
It would have been good if those who have arrived late at the independence debate and jumped on all manner of populist band wagons had paid a little more attention sooner.
Having been out and about campaigning and speaking to a lot of people, it worries me that so many seem to have so little real idea what they are actually voting for beyond a Braveheart hatred of Westminster, and that is a poor basis on which to make such a massive change.