The ‘Edinburgh Agreement’ is signed by Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond on October 15. It paves the way for just a single Yes/No question on Scotland leaving the UK and allows 16 and 17-year-olds to vote.
THE SCOTTISH and Westminster governments set the seal on the independence referendum when David Cameron and Alex Salmond signed-off a deal on the issue in Edinburgh. Disappointingly, the question to be put to the Scottish electorate is going to be a simple yes or no to independence without the third option of Devo Max. The Liberal Democrats have discussed the idea of having another referendum a year after the independence vote on whether or not to devolve more powers to Holyrood but after what promises be a long and gruelling campaign leading up to the independence referendum now scheduled for the Autumn of 2014, it is open to question how much of an appetite Scottish voters will have for another vote a year later.
In the Tory camp Peter Duncan, the former Conservative MP and shadow Scottish Secretary, has called for the Conservatives to embrace devolution. Writing in The Sunday Times of 7 October 2012 he says: Poll after poll has established what most of us have already come to know: the most popular option that could be presented to Scots in a referendum is neither the status quo nor independence, but an enhanced form of devolution. And, with agreement almost reached on a straight yes/no question on the ballot paper, strategists in both the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns realise that the fight will be over that centre ground. Most observers suspect that 40% of the electorate are there in the middle, wanting more powers for Holyrood short of independence. It’s a big proportion-well worth fighting for”. Mr Duncan sees devolution as in keeping with pre-Thatcherite Tory support for localism and he describes Mrs Thatcher’s reversal of the previous Conservative commitment to devolution as “a major mistake”.
Elsewhere on the Scottish political scene, the Greens have once again decided to join the independence camp after expressing earlier reservations over the official pro-independence campaign.
The NLP in Scotland campaigned to get Devo Max on the ballot paper but it is not going to be deterred by the decision to have a straight yes/no question put in autumn 2014. Indeed, our message of federalism and decentralism for the whole of the United Kingdom needs to be promoted even more than before to reach the large number of people disenchanted with the omission of the option of Devo Max from the vote in 2014. Despite the ongoing foul weather, (including the worst September storms recorded for 30 years), distribution of Caledonian Voice continues. If you would like copies of the newspaper to distribute then please get in touch. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org