Friday, 24 July 2009

Yes, the Nats' Referendum IS rigged...

It's not just the wording of the question - an exchange of comments on my last post:

Observer said...

I've just read my own post and need to amend it. The referendum the SNP wish to pursue now is not the formal question that needs to be asked to establish independence. The first referendum will be to open negotiations. After that, there would need to be some other formal question posed by way of Scottish GE or referendum again (I don't know) to establish independence.

sm753 said...

Now as for your second post.

I was initially astonished that you think there would be more than one referendum.

The Nats have made it clear over and over again that as far as they are concerned, it would be a one-time, irrevocable choice.

At least verbally.

But now I've looked at the relevant section of

"5.11 It has been suggested that there might be two referendums: on the principle of independence, to give the Scottish Government authority to negotiate; and following Acts of Independence being passed by the Scottish and United Kingdom Parliaments. A second referendum would recognise the significance of the decision for Scotland to become independent and allow the people of Scotland the final say on the matter. On the other hand, there are strong arguments against such an approach. One referendum on the principle of independence could give the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government sufficient clarity and confidence that the people wish Scotland to become an independent state. The prospect of a further referendum could reduce the certainty of the choice facing the people at the referendum, and reduce the impact of the decision that the people make. As a democratically representative legislature, the Scottish Parliament could carry forward the people's will to conclude the arrangements to deliver independence."

So now I can see why you're confused. When it comes to putting it in writing, they don't quite come to a conclusion, do they?

There's a strong hint that there would only be one referendum, but no actual unambiguous statement.

And that ambiguity is clearly working, since it managed to confuse even you.

Which is one of the reasons why people like me think that the whole referendum scheme is rigged and fraudulent.

And, therefore, that the Nats are bunch of shifty, dishonest con-artists.

No need for me add anything, really.


Indy said...

Not really.

It has been SNP policy that only one referendum is required - but that was based on the assumption that it would be a binding referendum. As we know the Scottish Parliament can only hold a consultative referendum. Legally under the Scotland Act only Westminster could legislate for a referendum that would grant Scotland independence.

As you may (or may not) be aware the Constiutution Unit at the School of Public Policy UCL has done a lot of work on this.
The case is summarised in this letter by Professor Robert Hazell. It is only a summary however - you should read the other papers and the book 'Scottish Independence a practical guide'. It may give you a greater understanding of the issues.

Sir, The political furore after Wendy Alexander’s call for a referendum on Scottish independence (report, May 12) suggests that if the Scots vote “yes”, they would automatically become independent. Not so. The most that a referendum initiated by the Scottish Parliament could achieve is to authorise the Scottish government to open negotiations with the UK Government.

Those negotiations would cover a wide range of complex issues that could take a long time to conclude. The Czech-Slovak “velvet divorce” in 1992 required 31 treaties and more than 2,000 agreements. These would constitute the terms of independence on which the people of Scotland deserve a separate vote.

The Constitution Unit has long argued that Scottish independence requires two referendums. The first reason is a question of law: under the Scotland Act only Westminster could authorise the second referendum that would grant Scotland independence.

But there are also reasons of principle why there should be two referendums. People in Scotland might support independence in principle but would think again when confronted with the terms of independence. The terms will include not just issues like North Sea oil, but division of the national debt, Scotland’s continued membership of the EU (not automatic), and the future of the UK’s defence bases on the Clyde.

There can be no doubt that the first referendum, if passed, would give the Scottish government authority to demand independence, and compel the UK Government to enter into negotiations. But the Scots are entitled to know the detailed terms of independence before making the final, momentous decision.

Prof Robert Hazell
Director, the Constitution Unit, School of Public Policy, University College, London

sm753 said...

Yes really, Indy.

I agree with Hazell's sentiments.

So why doesn't the Nats' own document actually come and out and promise a second referendum (or lack of one)?

Instead, it is deliberately deceptive and confusing.

Indy said...

No it is not deliberately deceptive and confusing.

It is a consultation paper not a bill. When the bill is published it will set out exactly how the process will take place. At the moment all options are under discussion and that is what the paper is seeking views on.

I do of course welcome your agreement with Professor Hazell that the most that a referendum initiated by the Scottish Parliament could achieve is to authorise the Scottish government to open negotiations with the UK Government.

I hope that you will now make that case to Scottish Unionist and others who persist in putting forward their conspiracy theory that this wording has been put forward because the SNP Government thinks it will get a bigger vote rather than because it is what the referendum would in fact authorise the Scottish Government to do.

Scottish Unionist said...

Good post, SM. You are right that the ambiguity over a so-called "consultative" referendum adds credence to the shared view of the three unionist parties that the SNP's proposition is essentially rigged, intended to send a false signal that people can vote for exploratory talks without any great risk.

Observer said...

I don't think at this stage you can say whether there will be a further refereendum or whether the issue will be decided by an election. I think a number of things will be determined after the *initial* mandate to open negotiations has been achieved. To be honest with you I don't know of anyone who thinks that the initial mandate would lead straight to independence. There are a whole load of i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed before we reach the final decree stage of the divorce.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

Thanks for your offer on my bit SM,
Any actions that the Vic was in that you know of, would be most apped.Maybe a pint or twa in the tap.

sm753 said...


I have a couple of books on the Vic.

Do you think the Tap is an improvement on Bert's, overall? The food's definitely better.

What's happening to "the horror, the horror" that was the Raeburn House?

It looks like it's all gone bust and we're getting nothing.