Friday, 6 March 2009

No referendum - for now (probably)

It seems that every time I try to take a wee break something comes up. Guess I should pass comment on yesterday's Parliamentary debate on "Scottish Government Failures." Or rather, as everyone else has done, ignore the substance of the debate and comment upon the Lib Dem amendment on the potential for a referendum.

So, Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats have stated their position. They will not support a bill to allow a referendum on independence during this term of office.

The wording of the motion Parliament agreed (by 72-47 with one abstention - Margo) is:
That the Parliament notes that SNP manifesto promises have been broken on a wide range of issues including health, housing, community safety and education; further notes the absence of a credible strategy to address the needs of people facing difficult economic circumstances and to tackle poverty and disadvantage; regrets that the Scottish Government prefers to focus its attention on the powers it does not have in order to pursue its party's agenda of separation; urges the Scottish Government to examine how it might effectively use the powers at its disposal to meet the needs of people by sustaining economic activity and employment and supporting communities across Scotland, and calls on the Scottish Government to concentrate its efforts on economic recovery and abandon its divisive plans for a Referendum Bill for the remainder of its term of office.
Now I don't know about you, but that motion suggests to me that they are not exactly chuffed with the SNP Government's record. Which begs the question, why don't they make moves to remove the SNP from power by forcing a vote of no-confidence through?

But that, I guess would mean they would have to come up with alternative ideas rather than just bashing the government, that they'd have to act instead of wax lyrical about principles they (allegedly) have.

If the Unionist parties are so confident that the end result of such a project would be a "No" vote, why don't they let the SNP have their vote? If they believe in the Union and believe that their stance is the correct one - and, crucially, that the majority of the Scottish population agree with them - then, in the now famous words of one W. Alexander, why don't they "Bring it on"? A rejection of not only the SNP's core policy but their whole raison d'etre not only deliver a huge blow to the SNP's credibility as a governing party but kill the question dead for at least a generation.

Rejecting their plans for a referendum only leaves open the question, builds uncertainty over the future (something they seem keen to avoid "in this economic climate") and gives the SNP the opportunity to paint them as "obstructionist" and "undemocratic" when they fail to give the people their say in the constitutional future of Scotland. And that is win-win for the SNP.

I can't fathom these tactics. If, in fact, there are any tactics at all.


Jeff 6 March 2009 at 11:48  

I fully agree. I think they are looking too short term. Does Salmond really want a referendum next year? I doubt it.

Y como estuvo espana? Vas a en el burro en la playa?

Tengo que ir. Ciao!

subrosa 6 March 2009 at 11:56  

I've just done a wee bit on this too. The againsts are between a rock and a hard place because the know full well the SNP will use their No vote to tell the people the opposition refused to give them a say.

Not particularly good strategy at all and as Jeff says short term thinking.

If Alex Salmond manages it he could well come out of it all much better than the others and without having to put the Bill up next year. Who knows?

Ideas of Civilisation 6 March 2009 at 19:37  

I suppose it slightly depends on your point of view.

In terms of tactics you can look at it one of two ways:

1) They really believe there should never be a referendum. Thus their actions are fixed (and logical).

2) They just don't want it now. Although at that point it's not quite clear when would be acceptable.

Assuming (as I do) that the three parties believe they would win such a referendum then the answer may be the fear of the so-called 'never-endum'.

This is obviously based on the Quebec experience where every 'no' vote is met with another ballot shortly after, and so on.

To be honest though I'm brutally unconvinced that it's that big a public issue; I honestly don't think the bulk of the public care that much.

By way of anecdotal proof only I have never, ever heard anyone who is not political discuss this issue, expressing a view either way.

The only way it may be come political is if lots of people get sick fed up hearing about it and demand one - but I would imagine those people are unlikely to be supportive of it.

Holyrood Patter 7 March 2009 at 17:47  

You should have spent more time in M4.01 Malc!
a number of things here were missing from the SNP side of thursdays debate, which i think would have been highly effective!

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