Tag Archives: devomax

Of devolution, independence, and oil

Scotland has oil. In 2001, the UK was producing 2.54 million barrels of oil per day from the Scottish waters (and using 1.699). Demand for oil has risen, but the revenue from the oil has dropped by about half. The silly season is already out on how the Unionists might resolve this if Scotland votes yes in autumn 2014: the English Democrats want to know how did our oil get under their water? and Lord Kilclooney suggests partitioning Scotland.

As ever, there’s some sound discussion about the legalities around the independence referendum at Peat Worrier:

While Wallace’s colleague, Michael Moore, has said that the UK Government would not attempt any legal challenge to Holyrood legislation authorising a referendum. Wallace’s statement, by contrast, at least still countenances the possibility. Given Moore’s ditheriness, and the range of wrangling interests pulling the coalition this way and that, I doubt too much stock should be put in whatever view the Secretary of State happens to be entertaining today. This was followed up by a piece in the Scotsman, in which Wallace kept open the possibility of litigation, to spike an SNP referendum, if the transfer of powers (with or without conditions) cannot be agreed between the parliaments.

But it looks like things are progressing – the Scottish Government have agreed to use the Electoral Commission, which suggests in turn that the Westminster coalition aren’t planning to try an undignified blocking strategy.

Joyce McMillan had some altogether sensible advice to give to Johann Lamont in the Scotsman yesterday:

Already facing a collapse in Labour votes and membership caused by the party’s movement to the Blairite right since the 1990s, and facing a triumphant Scottish National Party which has now become the focus of all hope for many centre-left Scottish voters, the new Labour leader now has to deal with her party leader’s decision to join the Prime Minister’s gang on the constitutional issue. She has to agree that Scotland should be made to hold a “binding” yes-no referendum on independence, and to rolling out Westminster Labour “big guns” to lead a government-inspired campaign designed to frighten the Scots into voting “no”.

Now tactically, of course, it is tempting for Labour to join the Tories in wrong-footing Alex Salmond, by demanding the straight yes-no referendum which he fears he cannot win. The First Minister has clearly been taken aback by the extent of his own success in demoralising the opposition parties in Scotland, which has left him without significant support in promoting the “devo-max” option which he also wants to see on the ballot paper; and Labour is doing all it can to prolong his pain.

This is the kind of moment, though, when serious political leaders have to take a step backward from the fray, and the consider the long-term future of the movement which they seek to represent. It’s this kind of courage and statesmanship that is now required of Johann Lamont. The party she leads was founded on trade union representation, on the co-operative consumer movement, and on a passionate belief in Scottish home rule as part of what we would now call a federal UK.

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Scotland for ourselves: honest debate wanted

There’s a lot to be said for Scotland staying in the Union.
There’s a lot to be said for Scotland becoming independent.
There’s a lot to be said for devomax.

All of these possible options in the referendum have many really excellent points in their favour – more than enough to think about over the next two and a half years. Yet it’s easy to see that when David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Ed Milliband all join hands and aim for us, we’re in for a doomfest.

Remember AV? The No To AV campaign went directly to lies, lies, and more lies: the Yes To AV campaign followed suit: and instead of having a sensible discussion about the benefits and drawbacks and tactical choices in campaigning for a change in the voting system and what a No or a Yes vote could mean, we ended up hearing about faked-up costs that the campaigners made up, and looking at pics of babies on ventilators and cat videos.

It would be great if the independence referendum campaign could happen positively. If everyone who supports Scotland staying in the Union could stick to their honest belief about why that’s the best thing. If everyone who supports Scotland’s independence could stick to their honest belief about the advantages. If everyone who supports devomax could stick to their honest belief about why this is the way to go in autumn 2014.

Okay, and fair criticism of the options you’re not going for is reasonable. But if you know already which way you’re voting in autumn 2014, you ought to have good solid positive reasons why, not just negative thinking about the other two. Let’s hear those. (This is a perfect example of the kind of thing I mean: Scotland 3.0)

Above all: I want all five main Scottish parties to commit to giving us only their honest, positive, reasoned views about which option they’re supporting. It would be great if Westminster could keep their neb out, but small chance of that: let’s at least try to keep the discussion positive, clean, and reasonable in Scotland.

I don’t know how I’ll vote yet. I’m not easily convinced either way. But the one thing about which I can be readily convinced: that some at least of the politicians will be arguing not about what’s best for Scotland, but about what’s best for their party and their party’s financiers. Politicians who go negative, who support negative campaigns, who rely on attacks and unreasoned scaremongering – those are not thinking about what’s best for Scotland.

So maybe that’s what we ought to be writing to our MSPs about right now. I will if you will. How about it?

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Filed under Politics, Scottish Politics