DELIVERING more powers for Holyrood must be done for the good of the people rather than as a “get-out” for an SNP which has “lost its nerve”, the Secretary of State for Scotland says today.
Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore says that political parties, businesses and civil society must work together to create a blueprint for more powers that should be dealt with separately from the independence question.
Liberal Democrat MP Moore underlines his commitment to delivering a referendum with a single question on independence on the ballot paper.
He argues that having senior figures in the Scottish National Party favouring a two-question ballot amounts to an admission that the Nationalists are not confident of winning the independence vote.
“The ongoing effort by the SNP leadership to promote a second question on further devolution seems like an admission that the party cannot win the arguments for independence,” Moore writes.
Rather than including a second question on more devolved power, Moore says that all the parties should work on their own proposals to strengthen Holyrood before forming a consensus with business and civil society.
“This process of further devolution must be conducted in this way. It must be designed to meet the needs of people in Scotland, not to serve as a get-out clause for a Nationalist cause that has lost its nerve,” says Moore.
Moore also suggests that holding a two-question ballot would give the SNP the chance to try to claim that independence had not been rejected by the Scottish people.
“They can muddy the waters, confuse the issues and hope for a Yes vote on the second question to save their blushes on the first.
“Then they can claim that independence is still viable – that the two-question referendum makes it impossible to conclude that separation has been rejected that another referendum must be held in future years.”
But the SNP’s Westminster leader and referendum campaign director Angus Robertson said it was up to the pro-Union parties to outline their plans for more devolution before the referendum in autumn 2014.
Robertson said: “If the anti-independence parties are saying there will be more powers for Scotland, then they have a democratic obligation to put them on the table so that the people of Scotland can see what the alternative amounts to. Such an offer needs to be in the public domain well before the referendum. There is plenty of time, if the anti-independence parties are serious about it.
“We are extremely confident of achieving success with a Yes vote for independence in the referendum in all circumstances.
“We believe the case for the Scottish Parliament making decisions to help people, create jobs and grow the economy will defeat the vague alternative of the anti-independence parties who prefer such decisions left at Westminster.
“Claiming that if Scots vote against their own self-determination then they will get something ‘better’ is just what happened in 1979 – and that didn’t lead to anything except a 20-year silence.
“That raises questions about how serious or credible Moore’s position actually is.”