Find a third way
Opponents of SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond are adept in the use of pejorative language. But it is inept when it comes from alleged supporters who failed to achieve his success.
John Gilmour’s quote about a two-question referendum (Letters, 17 July) should read: “a cop-out for naive dummies”.
My reading of Mr Salmond’s position is that he favours a single-question referendum, but if there were sufficient pressure for a second question on further powers, then that could not be ruled out. But independence would remain on the ballot paper.
Opponents try to mock the possibility of the “what-if” situation should there be, say, a 49 per cent vote for independence, and a 51 per cent vote for more powers. Of course, that is absurd. The questions would be framed: do you favour independence – Yes or No. If No, do you wish further powers?
Mr Gilmour speculates about the need for three questions: independence, more powers or the status quo. However, he overlooks the fact that the “status quo” will cease to exist in 2016, coincidental with the 2016 Holyrood election.
The passing of the Scotland Act 2012 will bring in the discredited Calman tax proposals, which have not been approved by the Scottish people.
If there is a No to independence vote, Calman would click in, and the Unionist parties, whether the present coalition or not, would have won, arguing that, with independence out of the way, the extra powers from Calman would satisfy any demand for additional powers, so no alternative would be required.
But the scandal over Calman is that, in February, David Cameron made his “offer” of Scotland being given more powers if Scots voted No, while the Scotland Bill was unfinished business at Westminster.
So, in order to authenticate the democratic process, we need a fourth question seeking views on what is, effectively, the second status quo of Calman itself.
Douglas R Mayer
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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