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Showing posts with label The Scottish Independence Referendum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Scottish Independence Referendum. Show all posts

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Key Facts – all you need to know about Scotland’s independence and the referendum …

I am an individual Scottish voter, I have no role within the SNP, and my opinions are my own. I am an SNP supporter but no longer a party member. I first published this in November 2011

Here are the facts that I have heard from the SNP, in publicly available statements, from printed material, newspapers, periodicals and from the broadcast media – they have been freely available to every member of the Scottish electorate.

I have no trouble understanding them, and I cannot imagine that any adult voter would have trouble understanding them. Frankly, a moderately intelligent 12-year old would understand them. But clearly the large sections of the media, politicians and spokespersons for unionist parties are either unable or unwilling to understand them.

THE KEY FACTS, AS I UNDERSTAND THEM

The SNP stated in its manifesto that, if elected, it would hold a consultative referendum on Scotland’s independence, with a YES/NO question. If the answer is YES, the Scottish voters will have mandated the Scottish Government to negotiate the timing and terms of securing Scotland’s independence with the UK Westminster Government.

The Scottish Government will be fully mandated by the sovereign Scottish People to reach agreed terms in those negotiations, subject to core stated major policy positions, e.g. non-nuclear.

The SNP has defined independence in exactly the same way as every independent democratic country in the world defines it – total freedom to act in the interests of Scotland in every aspect of Scottish life – law, defence and foreign policy, taxation and fiscal policy, public services, relations with other nations, etc.

(No other nation in history has ever felt the need to explain to its people what independence meant in more detail than that, nor has any free people, even when suffering under non-democratic regimes, ever been in doubt what independence meant.)

Only Scottish voters - as defined by normal criteria of eligibility to vote in Scottish and UK elections, plus new provisions for 16 and 16 year-olds - will be eligible to vote. Scottish, in this context, does not refer to country of birth or ethnic group but to eligibility to vote in Scottish elections.

The referendum timing, legality and how other key questions will be handled have now been agreed in the historic referendum agreement with the UK Government.

The SNP will establish relationships with other nations through normal diplomatic means, and will seek to be a part of relevant interest grouping with other nations, such as the European Union and the United Nations. There is no doubt whatsoever that one of the world’s oldest nations, one that has had made a major contribution to that world in every field of human endeavour, with a distinctive history and culture that is recognised instantly in every part of the globe, would be accepted into the European Union and the United Nations.

The SNP will maintain a Scottish defence force and will protect the traditional identities of Scottish defence groupings. Serving members of the armed forces will be offered a free choice to either join Scottish defence forces or remain in UK defence forces.

The SNP will be part of defence alliances that it considers relevant to Scotland’s defence interests, and to the maintenance of our democratic way of life, and will take part in international operations as part of a coalition of forces in pursuit of objectives with which it agrees.

The SNP is committed to retaining the Queen -and her natural successors - as the constitutional monarch of Scotland.

The SNP is committed equally to a strong, vibrant private sector and to first-rate public services, properly funded and supported in an independent Scotland.  The SNP sees the private sector and the public sector as being complementary vital parts of a civilised nation, of equal significance and status, and not as in competition for recognition or resources.

The SNP is committed to supporting businesses large and small, and to the re-industrialisation of Scotland significantly based on alternative sources of renewable energy. The SNP is committed to supporting a strong, properly regulated and controlled financial and banking industry in Scotland. It is committed to supporting tourism and leisure. It is committed to free higher educations, and to fully supporting our world-class educational institution, ancient and modern.

The SNP will retain sterling as its currency until such time as it may seem in the interests of Scotland to change that, and such a change would be put to the Scottish people in a referendum.

The SNP will not join the Euro until it is in the interests of the people of Scotland to do so, and only after a referendum on joining the Euro.

The SNP asserts that the Scottish People are sovereign.

NOTE: In my original version of this, I reflected the anti-NATO policy.

The policy on NATO membership changed on 19th October to one of seeking NATO membership, providing rUK and NATO accept a non-nuclear Scotland and the removal of Trident weapons systems from an independent Scotland.

SUMMARY

That’s all I really need to know to determine how I will vote in the referendum. My thanks to the Scottish Government and the SNP for keeping me and every other Scottish voter so fully and frankly informed.

My reason for choosing the Scottish National Party to vote for in May 2007 and in May 2011 is that they are the only major party committed to delivering the independence of Scotland.

(I have heard no coherent case for the preservation of the Union. Such conflicting arguments as have been offered have relied on a combination of vested interest groups, unelected bodies and individuals, nostalgia and emotionalism, scaremongering, indefensible statistics and a staggering lack of belief in and contempt for the Scottish people and their ability to run their own affairs.)

My reasons for wishing to be independent are -

the inability of the Union of 1707 ever to deliver equity and justice to all of the people of Scotland

the fact that the United Kingdom is not, and never has been a true democracy, but a coalition of unelected wealth, power, privilege and special interest groups, notably the military/industrial complex allied to and controlling a compliant political class and legal establishment

the staggering incompetence displayed in recent times (which I define as the last forty years) of all of the three main UK parties when in government, exemplified by the spectacular financial, fiscal, social and foreign policy incompetence displayed by the Labour Government 1997-2010 and currently being displayed by the Tory/LibDem Coalition since 2010.

A core policy reason for my support for the SNP and independence is that it is the only way we can have a nuclear-free Scotland, and only the SNP and Scotland’s independence will deliver that.

It therefore follows that my nuclear objectives cannot be delivered by anything short of independence, and therefore remaining in the UK but with radically increased powers – the devo max or full fiscal autonomy option cannot meet my requirements, nor that of many Scots voters.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Part Two: Independence and the voters - where are we at?

WHERE WE’RE AT NOW – 13th November 2011

The First Term 2007-2011

A political party called the Scottish National Party, with a clearly stated commitment to the independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom, and to calling a referendum in the second half of the Parliament should they be elected - with probably two questions being asked of the voters in that referendum - offered themselves to the electorate in a campaign that ran in April and early May of 2011.

They had already governed Scotland for four years from 2007 as a minority government – the first-ever SNP government of Scotland – in the devolved Parliament. During that period, without an overall majority, they had conducted the affairs of the nation of Scotland against a coordinated opposition comprised of the three unionist parties – the Tories, Labour and the LibDems – with only the intermittent support of the two Green MSPs and one independent, Margo MacDonald.

During their term of office, the combined opposition parties blocked major initiatives designed to tackle serious problems facing the nation, including, notoriously, minimum pricing for alcohol. The SNP government decided not to bring forward its bill for a referendum on Scotland’s independence because of the clear, stated intent of the opposition parties to block it.

Other major events during the SNP’s first term included the release of Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie Bomber, on compassionate grounds, which resulted in a storm of criticism from the Holyrood Opposition, the UK Government and the American Government, and the setting up of the Calman Commission by the opposition parties with the connivance of the UK government to deliberately frustrate the elected SNP government’s plans to secure amendments and extensions to the devolution settlement under the Scotland Act.

In 2008, a major financial crash occurred, affecting the whole of the UK and indeed the global financial markets, and two banks with Scottish roots, but now  global banks with a reach far beyond Scotland the UK and Europe, almost went belly up. The UK had little choice but to bail them out, and had Scotland been independent at the moment of their near collapse, UK Minus would have done the exactly same, because its own survival depended on it.

In 2010, Scotland decisively rejected the Tories at a general election, yet a Tory/LibDem Coalition, with the Tories as the dominant partner, now claims to be “one of Scotland’s two Governments”.

On the 5th of May, the Scottish electorate gave an overwhelming mandate to the SNP for a second term, confounding the experts and indeed the structure of Scottish devolution, which was expressly designed to prevent such an outcome.

The electorate did so in the full knowledge that –

they were voting for a party committed to achieving Scotland’s independence, a party whose raison d’etre is the independence of Scotland from the UK

they were voting for a party committed to an independence referendum with probably a second question in the second half of the Parliamentary term.

they were voting for a party that had released Megrahi

they were voting for a party committed to minimum pricing for alcohol

they were voting for a party that had refused to participate in the Calman Commission, and which rejected key fiscal recommendations of the Calman Commission

Not only did the electorate give the SNP a massive majority, they effectively reduced the Scottish Tories and LibDems to insignificant rump parties, and gave the Labour Party the worst results for half a century or more.

 

REACTION AND THE SECOND TERM 2011-2016

The UK London-based parties reacted with incredulity, despair, then denial. Their Scottish puppet parties reacted with all three reactions plus policy catatonia.

Everything the three UK parties have done since has continued that denial reaction – the Tories and the LibDems  have not yet broken through to an objective consideration of the reality: Labour are beginning to show a few glimmerings of understanding, but rather than producing a coherent strategy, this has resulted in near-panic.

The metropolitan media has failed almost totally to understand the new reality, and has periodic bouts of amnesia, when they block it out altogether. Only the Guardian newspaper has shown any real understanding, one that of late has approached a fatalistic acceptance of Scotland’s ultimate independence.

The Scottish media reaction has been a strange mixture of real, penetrating insights, especially by  a small group of print and television journalists, commentators, television presenters and interviewers, coupled with a contrasting, lemming-like regurgitation of factoids fed to them by the UK spin machine, leading them into a repetitive reiteration of simplistic questions that have already been clearly answered.

INTERPRETATION OF THE May 5th MANDATE

The first reaction of the Scottish Unionist opposition parties was to challenge the arithmetical validity of the SNP’s mandate, based on a farcical conclusion drawn from the poll turnout considered against the SNP majority. This line is so idiotic as to almost not warrant any response except derision, with the observation that if such arithmetic had been applied to UK elections, virtually no government ever had a mandate.

The opposition swiftly moved away from this nonsense (a few eejits are still peddling it) to interpreting the mandate. They reached the following set of conclusions, some reluctantly, and to each one I have offered my assessment and interpretation -

1. Not every vote for the SNP was a vote for independence.

This is undoubtedly true, and I base this on my certain knowledge that people I know well have told me that they voted on this basis, and it accords with common sense that it must be true of a number of voters. (The polls on independence appear to confirm this conclusion.)

2. The electorate voted for the SNP because they believed they offered the most competent team to govern in the difficult times ahead.

Leaving aside wholly irrational votes, this must be true of the vast majority. What goes with this conclusion, as night follows day, is that they judged that competence on the SNP’s record during four years of minority government, including minimum pricing for alcohol, the Megrahi release, and the SNP’s refusal to participate in, and serious reservations about Calman. Individual voters may or may not have supported each major position, but if opposed, they clearly felt that they were less important than the overall record.

3. The electorate voted for the SNP because they offered a positive vision for Scotland’s future compared to the negative arguments advanced by the opposition parties.

This is almost certainly true: what is equally true is that a positive long-term vision alone would not have been enough to secure a vote without a belief in immediate competence to govern effectively in a challenging present and immediate future.

4. Part of the electorate who were totally opposed to independence nonetheless voted SNP because of a belief in their competence and/or their positive vision for Scotland.

I do not believe this to be true – it offends against common sense, and all I can offer in support of my view is that I have never met anyone who expressed such a view. The idea that a voter who was diametrically opposed to – let’s give it their pejorative term – separation – would vote for the party who is totally and unequivocally committed to it doesn’t stand up for a moment.

5. Part of the electorate voted SNP in the belief that they would immediately call an independence referendum with one YES/NO question. This part of the electorate might have been supporters of independence or opposed to it. If opposed, they wanted a quick referendum and a simple choice to settle the question once and for all, or at least for a generation.

I believe that some supporters of independence voted in this belief. In so doing, they were either ignoring their party’s clear manifesto statements, supported at various times by statements from the First Minister and other ministers, or were – and still are – living in hope that, once in power, this is how the Party would act.

I cannot, however, believe that anyone hostile to independence, or separation as they would call it, could be so stupid as to vote for a party committed to it.

6. The Scottish voter won’t understand the significance of, and the distinction between two questions on a referendum ballot paper.

I have the highest respect for the intelligence and sophistication of the Scottish voter, but I do think a two question ballot paper – if there is one – would have to be very carefully structured, and considerable voter education done in the lead-up period. I’ve had my say at length on this in blogs passim, so I won’t go over the ground again.

7. Scottish voters don’t know what independence means.

Bollocks …

In summary: I believe we have a clear and decisive mandate to hold a referendum in the second half of this Parliamentary term, and to ask two questions if the Scottish electorate appear to want a third option to independence or status quo.

I believe we have a clear mandate to block the Calman recommendations until our criticisms are answered and our required changes implemented.

I believe that those Scottish voters who voted SNP but did not vote for independence on May 5th were fully aware of what the SNP stands for and its determination to achieve it, and they have an open mind – they will evaluate performance in office - and listen to the arguments.

WHERE WE’RE AT, WITH NO DOUBLETALK …

The glaring, undeniable Scottish Government priority right now is to meet the formidable challenge of the economic and banking crisis, not hold a referendum.

The UK Government and Scottish Unionist’s demands for an immediate referendum are cynically politically-based.  If the FM said yes to their specious request, they would be thrown into even greater panic and driven to even greater incompetence than they are now displaying, and that’s saying something … Their thinly disguised political motive is to make mischief, not to force a referendum, although if they listen to some lunatic voices within the unionist camp, they might try to gerrymander their  own referendum, which would be an act of utter political folly with consequences no one could predict.

If a referendum was held now, the chances are it would not deliver a YES vote to independence, although it might just …

If it did, or delivered a second option vote for devo max, no one, least of all the incompetent UK Coalition Government – which may fall prematurely – would be able to devote the time to the complex negotiations necessary to deliver either option. That leaves aside the question of legal challenges, which I cover below.

LEGAL CHALLENGES TO THE RIGHT OF THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT TO HOLD A REFERENDUM

The law is a process which now and again delivers justice and equity, but often doesn't. We can expect the kind of war of legal experts that has erupted recently to intensify until the debate proper starts,when Alex fires the starting gun. I think he may have to fire it a little sooner than he'd planned … (see above)

I could find a team of eminent lawyers tomorrow - if I could afford them - who would persuasively make a case that the Act of Union and the Treaty of Union were illegal from the start and we should all walk away from them now. I'm sure the UK would find a team who would argue equally persuasively that the Act of Union and the Treaty of Union are binding till hell freezes over, and only Divine intervention can change them.

The freedom of nations is not decided ultimately by such things, although they play a part in window-dressing a course of action actually pre-determined by other political forces.

If I could finance my own referendum as a massive sample opinion poll, say with 35% of the electorate taking part and say 51% of that number saying Yes to independence, I could and would demand immediate negotiations on our freedom and bollocks to the law. If my request was firmly rejected, then I might consider older forms of political action, all entirely peaceful, but rather more direct than briefing lawyers.

The thrust towards independence by any nation is not driven by law, nor is it determined by law – it is determined by the will of the people, however it manifests itself. The law is a necessary adjunct to the negotiations after independence becomes an inevitability.

I fervently hope that we can determine the will of the Scottish people by a referendum properly conducted by the Scottish Parliament, at a time that is right.

But the present crisis of capitalism, for that is what it is, represent a great wind of change blowing across the UK, Europe and our planet, and the Left are in disarray worldwide and have nothing to offer in this great crisis, one that they forecast for a century or more but are now totally ill-equipped politically to handle. There are great threats to democracy within the crisis, and the vicious interests that have the will to exploit it are already ‘slouching towards Bethlehem’ as Yeats presciently foresaw in the 1920s, long before Hitler and fascism.

There is an oasis of sanity in the North of Europe, however. I can do no better than quote the Sunday Herald lead article of today -

SCAREMOGERING ON EU BACKFIRES para 9

Scotland is one of the cradles of the Enlightenment and one of the world’s oldest democratic communities. An independent Scotland would inherit part of the UK budget deficit, but it would also inherit around £400 billion in North Sea oil, a quarter of Europe’s entire wind and wave energy resources, and five world class universities.

I would recommend reading the entire editorial – it is what I had always hoped for from the oldest continuously published newspaper in the world – The Glasgow Herald.

Scaremongering on EU backfires - Sunday Herald  13th November 2011

Global Spin - Time Magazine: An Independent Scotland? Q&A with Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond (Jay Newton-Small , November 4, 2011 ) Interview Time

EXTRACT

Alex Salmond:50 countries have become independent from London since the Second World War. In just about every case they were told the whole thing would be a complete misadventure, a disaster.

And I'll tell you something strange.

You know, when I was an MP in London where I was for the best part of a quarter of a century, I met all of these high commissioners [ambassadors from the Commonwealth] at various events and occasions, countries large and small, rich and poor and you know what? Not a single one of them ever said we're coming back under London rule, not one.

 

Friday, 21 October 2011

It’s that indy thing–ye cannae rattle a Nat

Every time Andrew Neil questions a Scottish Nationalist politician, it's worth 1000 votes for independence. Gordon Brewer knows, understands, but has to go through the motions of Paxo-like faux naivety.

But the metropolitan media just don't get it, and persist in the same ludicrous, simplistic questions.

You can't rattle a Nat, Andrew. Historical inevitability - and their country - is on their side. But keep it up, please, you're doing a fine job for the independence of your country - that was Scotland, wasn't it? Or is all that long forgotten?


Monday, 3 October 2011

A letter to the Herald – in full

Ruth Marr is a regular contributor to the Letters pages of our Scottish newspapers. As someone who did a fair amount of that at a point in time, I accept the reality that editorial judgment must be exercised as to whether to print or not, and in editing content, for reasons of space and other considerations. I don’t believe that editors censor letters – if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t publish at all. And I repeat my long-held view that, whatever my difference with the Herald’s news coverage on occasion, I regard its Letter Page as the glory of the newspaper, and in the highest traditions of free journalism, free debate and exchange of views. It is the voice of the Scottish people, in all their political diversity, and is unmatched in this context by any other Scottish or indeed UK newspaper.

Ruth had a letter in today’s Herald, and it made perfect sense as printed, at least to me, but since I know it was an edited version of the original, I think it is useful to reproduce the original here, and I have Ruth’s permission to do so. The topic is a vital one, and an area where the Coalition Government and David Cameron are playing with fire, but seem to be too obtuse to recognise this fact.

 

FULL TEXT OF EDITED LETTER IN TODAY’S Herald

During the Scottish Parliamentary election campaign Alex Salmond made clear to the electorate  his plans to hold a referendum on Scottish independence during the latter half of this parliamentary term, and on polling day was given a resounding endorsement by the voters. 

What part of that do opposition politicians not understand? Is it because they are so accustomed to saying one thing before an election and doing another after it that they find it hard to grasp the concept of a politician honouring his promises? Ever since the SNP victory, opposition politicians have been needling Mr Salmond to break his word and hold an early referendum, and now, ominously, the talk is that Westminster might step over the Scottish Government and hold its own referendum, under its own terms. ( 'Westminster weighs up holding Referendum first' The Herald, October 1st). 

David Cameron's threats that he will not allow the First Minister of Scotland to use his term in power to campaign for Scottish independence is an unwarranted and unpardonable interference in the devolved government of Scotland. Mr Cameron's assurance that he would show respect to Scotland has been revealed as an empty promise.  But a promise which will be kept was made to the voters by the Scottish Government on the timing of this referendum, and when it is held it should be the Scottish people and only the Scottish people who have the power to decide Scotland's destiny, whether Westminster likes it or not. 

Ruth Marrsubmitted 1st October 2011, edited version published today, 3rd October 2011

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Scottish Independence Referendum–core principles and objectives–a downloadable document

After my previous blog, it occurred to me that others might share and endorse my two core principles and three core objectives for the referendum and Scotland’s independence.

I have therefore made them available as a downloadable document for others to consider, and sign and submit to whomsoever they feel appropriate, e.g. MP, MSP or First Minister.

 

Here is the link - The Referendum on Scotland's Independence - core principles and objectives

 

The  text and format of the document is as follows -

 

THE REFERENDUM ON SCOTLAND'S INDEPENDENCE

I am eligible to vote in a referendum on Scotland's independence, and I subscribe to the following two core principles and three core objectives -

Independence is the fact or process of independence – it is the state of not being dependent, or the process of ending a state of dependency.

Independence is the natural state of free individuals and free peoples

I want a nuclear-free Scotland – free of nuclear weapons and bases

I want a Scotland with full fiscal and tax raising powers

I want a Scotland with full control of its foreign policy, defence capability and the decision to commit its defence forces

I am prepared to trust the elected government of Scotland and the team it selects to negotiate all matters relating to these principles and objectives. I expect them to consult with the Scottish people on detailed measures only to the degree that it does not prematurely show their negotiating hand or constrain the necessary flexibility that all negotiators must have.

I do not require a second referendum to ratify the agreement reached on the detailed terms of the independence agreement, providing none of the deal breakers above are compromised.

I reject totally the rights of any other country or nation to vote in that referendum, or to claim a right of veto over it, or its results in any shape or form.

I will abide by the democratic decision of that referendum, providing it is conducted legally and properly in accordance with principles of Scots law, UK law where relevant under the Act of Union, and the principles of international and European law.

Signed ____________________________________

Date ____________________________

NAME (block letters) ________________________

ADDRESS ___________________________________

____________________________________

____________________________________

POST CODE ___________________