The UK consultation on #IndyRef

This is “A consultation on facilitating a legal, fair and decisive referendum on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom” available from the Scotland Office website. (PDF)

I agree with John Swinney:

“This is the biggest decision in 300 years so it must be founded in a fashion in which people have confidence. That means we’ve got to consult first on the approach to the question, the process, of the referendum. We then have to make sure that parliament has adequate opportunity to legislate. If we were to cut any corners in the legislative process, I’m sure I would be on this programme answering questions about jiggery-pokery.”

That consultation is being carried out at Holyrood, but you have until 11th May 2012 to consider your answers to that.

However, the deadline for responses for the UK government is earlier that the real consultation – Friday 9 March 2012. You can respond by letter or e-mail to:

Referendum Consultation
Scotland Office
1 Melville Crescent
Edinburgh
EH3 7HW
email: reply@scotlandoffice.gsi.gov.uk

I responded as follows – note my answer to questions 6-9. I think this especially worth saying to the UK government.:

1. What are your views on using the order making power provided in the Scotland Act 1998 to allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a legal referendum in an Act of the Scottish Parliament?

The Scottish National Party made clear several years ago that they would hold a referendum on independence for Scotland after winning two elections in a row. Prior to the May 2011 election, Alex Salmond amplified this – that if the SNP won, the referendum would be held in the second half of the coming term of the Scottish Parliament. No other political party committed to holding a referendum. The SNP won the 2011 election and secured a majority in the Scottish Parliament. They therefore have a clear democratic mandate to hold the referendum, which should naturally be legislated and run from Holyrood, by the Scottish Parliament.

2. What are your views on the UK Parliament legislating to deliver a referendum on independence?

That it would be unacceptable for the UK parliament to do so. No Westminster party has a democratic mandate to hold the referendum, and for the referendum to be run from Westminster, legislated by the UK parliament, would be a public insult to the democratic mandate of the Scottish government.

3. What are your views on whether the Scotland Bill should be used either to: i) give the Scottish Parliament the power to legislate for a referendum; or ii) directly deliver a referendum?

The first. The Scotland Bill should be amended to allow the Scottish Parliament to hold this referendum, with a sunset clause terminating in May 2015.

4. What are your views on the oversight arrangements for a referendum on Scottish independence?

I do not object to the Electoral Commission performing its usual role in an election. I note, however, that the Electoral Commission is responsible for “the guddle of the ballots” that allowed the SNP’s first decisive victory in 2007. But we have to have an independent body to oversee the referendum, and at present, the Electoral Commission is the best available. [Godhelpus, I might have added.]

5. Do you think the Electoral Commission should have a role in overseeing a referendum on Scottish independence?

Yes.

6. What are your views on which people should be entitled to vote in a Scottish independence referendum?

That the consultation being held by the Scottish Parliament, to which I also intend to reply, should be allowed to determine that.

7. What are your views on the timing of a referendum?

That the consultation being held by the Scottish Parliament, to which I also intend to reply, should be allowed to determine that.

8. What are your views on the question or questions to be asked in a referendum?

That the consultation being held by the Scottish Parliament, to which I also intend to reply, should be allowed to determine that.

9. What are your views on the draft section 30 Order.

That this would be an unacceptable interference with the right of the Scottish Parliament, and the will of the Scottish people expressed via the current consultation, to determine the question or questions to be asked in the referendum.

1 Comment

Filed under Elections, Scottish Politics

One response to “The UK consultation on #IndyRef

  1. Wee Red Squirrel

    I’d say I largely agree with most of those answers. I’d be especially keen to ensure that the referendum is run by Holyrood as much as possible. Having said that, it would be in Westminster’s best interests not to get too involved, for fear of sending too many irritated voters into the Yes camp.

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