Yes to bargaining

The real dilemma for the Yes campaign is not whether it should switch from a defensive to an offensive mode as George Kerevan suggests (Perspective,16 July). It is how to overcome the uncertainty created by the circumstances of this independence referendum.

Voters now know they are not voting on whether autonomy should come about the week or month after 18 September. It is registering increasingly day by day that they are voting on whether the Scottish Government should negotiate an independence deal.

More worryingly for the Yes campaigners, voters are registering uncertainty as to what the outcome of those negotiations, on pensions, on energy bills, on tuition fees, on defence, on Europe, on Trident, will be. This referendum is qualitatively different to the ones held in 1979 and 1997.

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In 1979 the people were asked to pass judgment on an act of parliament (the Scotland Act 1978), the details of which were there for anyone prepared to read them. In 1997 the people were asked to pass judgment on a white paper on devolution, the details of which again were available to all.

Everyone knew, too, that the Labour government with its massive majority had the wherewithal to ensure its proposals would eventually become the Scotland Act 1998, creating the Scottish Parliament.

This time the people are being asked to refer to a white paper which certainly makes the case for independence. But it tacitly accepts that the final details will be the subject of hard bargaining. How the Yes campaign overcomes the uncertainty of all that will be more crucial than simply “offering a programme of economic and social change”, as Kerevan prefers.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court