Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Independence referendum - our policy is wrong

It is my sincerely held belief that our policy of denying the question of Independence on a referendum on Scotland's future is totally wrong and completely unjustified. This policy, to the best of my knowledge, has never been decided by the sovereign body of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, party conference. Sometimes I feel that the Democrats word in our party name is undervalued.

The referendum should consist of four questions:
1. Return to Westminster only government
2. Status quo
3. Increased powers for Scottish Parliament
4. Independence

Being a Federalist I would vote for option three and I believe that the majority of Scots would also support that position, which happens to be Scottish Lib Dem policy and one that I heartily agree with. Virtually no-one other than the loons of UKIP would favour option one, though I suspect a fair few Tories would harbour that in their hearts. There may be a little more support for option two and there will be a certain belief in option 4 - I suspect somewhere between 20-35% of people would take that option. Polls regularly show that our position of greater powers for the parliament is by far and away the most popular.

The other reason for changing policy and having the Independence question?
The Gnats would lose and be killed stone dead for at least a generation and their electoral support would melt away like snow aff a dyke.


Bernard Salmon said...

I think that if there is to be a referendum, it has to be on concrete proposals, as the 1997 referendum was. As yet, there are no concrete proposals for either independence or increased powers for the Scottish Parliament, so a referendum now is premature. I'd have no problems with the proposals of the Constitutional Commission being put in a multi-option referendum such as the one you suggest.

However, I would question whether if the Gnats lose it would actually have that much effect on their poll ratings, as there are a significant number of people who vote Gnat despite disagreeing with independence. And it won't affect the hardcore Gnats.


Well, we still have a parliametary system so most decisions should still be taken by parliaments.

Any constitutional changes to Scotland's status will impact the whole of the Union so I would suggest that, if there is to be a referendum on Scottish independence it should involve the whole of the UK.

The result, broken down into the various nations, might surprise everyone...

Stephen Glenn said...

Well said Iain. As you may well be aware my stance has been put it to the test for some time. Indeed I was calling for one before the 2007 election to call the bluff of the Gnats and rteally blunt their momentum.

I hope that the commission can come up with substantive ways to strengthen the Scottish Parliamnet within the UK which will make this the most inticing of the four options you mention. As Bernard says we need concrete proposals. I remember my surprise at the swathe of friends I knew who on seeing the proposals of the Good Friday were then persuaded to vote for it, based mainly on the fact that the objectors had nothing concrete to put forward.

W&W what if the Scots say were to vote for option 3 and enhance strength in their parliament but the English voted to led Scotland become independent what you want to do then. It would be the worse case scenario, that the Scots vote to stay in but the English seize on a chance to let us loose under what you are proposing.