Scots could vote in referendum on devolution package

John Curtice: 'Enduring settlement' seen as inadequate. Picture: Robert Perry

John Curtice: 'Enduring settlement' seen as inadequate. Picture: Robert Perry

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SCOTS could be asked to vote in a referendum on the latest package of devolution for Holyrood, a leading academic has suggested.

The UK Government has failed to generate enthusiasm for its so-called “enduring settlement” in the Smith commission plans, with many Scots already writing it off as “inadequate”, according to leading commentator Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University.

Senior SNP MSPs have cited unionists’ failure to deliver on “the vow” of extensive new powers as possible grounds for another independence referendum.

Professor Curtice argues in a paper on the aftermath of the referendum entitled Scotland, a Year On that it is surprising the pro-union parties have not contemplated putting the Smith Commission’s proposals to voters in a referendum.

“Quite why the advocates of more devolution in Scotland should want to eschew the possibility of demonstrating public support for their answer to the country’s constitutional debate is far from clear,” he said.

“Their reluctance certainly gives the impression that they are more interested in elite manoeuvring than in matching the ability of the SNP to develop a popular movement.”

He said last year’s independence referendum failed to deliver a decisive outcome.

“The fact the SNP could well win another overall majority presents it potentially with a dilemma,” he said. “Should it or should it not suggest that if it does win a majority it will seek to hold a second referendum?

“Many of its Yes-voting supporters will want it to do so, and their support might be at risk if they felt that the SNP was no longer pursuing the goal of independence as speedily as it might.

“But the party will also be aware that if it were to lose a second referendum then that certainly would prove to be ‘decisive’, and holding such a referendum on the back of polls that suggest the outcome would be something close to a 50:50 split would certainly constitute a considerable risk.”

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