Scotland: 17 days to “go”
Two “leader’s debates” down and 17 days to go – yes, a fortnight on Thursday, those in Scotland vote on the future of the UK.
Living a bit south of the border, I don’t like not having a say – but that is what our dysfunctional Prime Minister decided on when he concluded the Edinburgh agreement with Salmond.
The consequence is a real risk of the break up of the United Kingdom, if not this time then next time. If it is to happen I think a “next time” YES is probably best.
I don’t say this to “put off the awful day”, but to allow us all to learn the lessons of this campaign and to avoid a fractious divorce (this time) in favour of a more “conscious uncoupling” (next time).
There is a coalition for change in Scotland that consists of two (overlapping) points of view.
First there are those who view themselves as Scottish so much more than they identify as British, that rule from Westminster is an affront that can only be solved by independence – no matter what.
Secondly there are those who view the United Kingdom’s government by Westminster as broken and incapable of being reformed into anything that will address their concerns.
If I lived in Scotland, I would be in that second group. (Well even in England, I guess I am in that second group – but unable to do anything.)
The question then is how this coalition can best achieve its aims.
The current proposal as in Scotland’s Future is a set of aspirations that will have to be negotiated post “YES”. Much has been made of a “YES” vote being the “Sovereign Voice” of the people. Unfortunately the Sovereign Voice of one People cannot over-ride the Sovereign Voice of another People. It is quite likely that the people of rUK, if consulted, would not agree to the aspirations set out in Scotland’s Future – in fact they may be quite belligerent.
It is naive to believe that Scots can vote for Scotland’s Future and get Scotland’s Future – so the vote is to a degree a vote of faith. The die-hard Scots (group one above) might say, “so what, let’s go for it and accept a possibly bad-tempered dis-union”. The second group (those disillusioned with Westminster) may not be so sanguine about independence in such circumstances.
There is a vague “promise” that in the event of “NO” there will be further devolution, either devo-plus or devo-max. This sounds inevitable (no matter what anyone says!) and even though it is undefined would probably be a better basis for a later leap to independence. Any extra devolution has to involve a further degree of uncoupling – thereby reducing the amount of change associated with full independence. It also allows both parties to firm up any proposal for independence and for the nationalists to present a second manifesto for independence that is far less uncertain.
Second time of asking, “YES” could mean an uncoupling that will be a lot less fractious.