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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Gordon Brown this week became the latest Unionist politician to pledge his support for ‘more devolution’.
 
The former PM was delivering the Donald Dewar lecture when he confirmed his support for more powers for the Scottish Parliament, although Mr Brown made it clear that in his opinion full fiscal autonomy was too far.

With Brown now joining UK PM David Cameron and a host of other Unionist politicians north and south of the border who have also signalled their own support for an all-new beefed up constitutional settlement, it has brought about an intriguing question; just what alternative to full independence will now appear on the ballot paper?

The argument has been put forward that because no political party is willing to adopt the parentless Devo-max option, then there exists no mandate for the ‘third choice’ and thus, it cannot legitimately appear on the referendum ballot paper.

However, it is becoming clearer by the day that the status quo itself is fast losing appeal amongst Labour, Tory and Lib Dem parties.  Faced with a growing prospect that the ‘no change’ stance may have no political backers by the time Autumn 2014 comes around then the No campaign faces a difficult task as they try to define what it is they are advocating.

Immediately after the 2007 Scottish election, when faced with an SNP government for the first time the Unionists panicked and set up the now infamous Calman Commission.

The aim was to spike the SNP’s guns by drawing Scots away from independence and onto the safe ground of Devolution.  The commission was a safe pair of hands, completely dominated by Unionists and for the three and a half years from December 2007 until May 2011 much was made of its considerations and recommendations.

However it failed, partly because its limited set of recommendations were then whittled further by Westminster based Unionists.

As May 2011 approached the alternative to an SNP government who had performed well as a minority administration and were offering the Scottish electorate a referendum on the country’s future, was a Unionist cabal intent on preventing any such referendum and offering a meagre plate of constitutional crumbs in response to a growing desire for more powers.

Now, as autumn 2014 moves closer, we are seeing the same game played out with the Calman Commission this time replaced by ‘Better Together’.  Unionists are facing the same dilemma in that they must try to determine the point at which Scots become satisfied with their new Unionist version of devolution.

With two thirds of Scots wanting significantly more powers than is currently on offer through the Scotland Bill, it is inconceivable that Labour, Lib Dems and the Conservatives will maintain a stance of vague promises of unspecified ‘more devolution’.

We are already seeing fractures emerge with former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish calling for something akin to Devo-max, which would see all powers return to Scotland with the exception of foreign affairs and defence.

There is also the Devo-plus camp, which includes Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem members and is seeking considerably more fiscal powers in an attempt at making the Scottish parliament more accountable.

Better Together head Alistair Darling has already given his backing to more income tax powers for the Scottish parliament.

Thus, the pro-Independence camp can merely sit back and watch as the opposition jostle and cracks appear with different factions putting forward their own definition of the new Union.

The Scottish government appear to have won the battle for the referendum date.  Signs are that they have also won the battle for sixteen and seventeen year olds to be allowed to participate in the referendum.

The final, and arguably the most important struggle is the one over what choices are available to the voter on the ballot paper.

Is it possible that what we will eventually end up with is a question over not whether we wish independence or the status quo, but one which asks Scots whether they wish a return of all powers from Westminster or whether they will settle for the, as yet undefined, 'more devolution'?

Comments  

 
# exel 2012-08-19 12:32
Mr. Ponsonby wrote: “The argument has been put forward that because no political party is willing to adopt the parentless Devo-max option, then there exists no mandate for the ‘third choice’ and thus, it cannot legitimately appear on the referendum ballot paper.”

True; so the choice is clear. Do we wish to secede from the union YES/NO.? What does it matter what the Labour party want, or any other unionist party. It is the electorates choice to make.
 
 
# bringiton 2012-08-19 12:39
Both the Tories and Labour have now made clear that fiscal autonony is inconsistent with remaining as part of the UK.
So,whatever more devolved powers they have in mind(if any)will exclude any meaningful fiscal powers for the Scottish parliament.
At least it makes clear to anyone who is undecided that if they wish the Scottish parliament to have any meaningful control over our income,then the only way is through independence.
Thanks Gordon for making this clear to us.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-19 12:49
The Unionists have painted themselves into a corner.

They have presented no coherent vision of what the alternative to the binary YES to independence/NO, we'll keep the status quo choice. They remain hopelessly divided over their "jam tomorrow" offer; we can expect no details of how much jam, when it will be served or what flavour it will be.

What it worse, the Unionists both in Scotland and within the westminster parties know that, however sincere they may be in their desire for "more" devolution or even FFA, they have vanishingly small chance of managing to steer the necessary legislation through Westminster, even if they COULD agree on a coherent scheme.

Whether by accident or design (I actually don't much care which) the SNP have the Unionist parties on the run. They simply need to keep up the pressure, point out the absurdities of the Better Together shotgun marriage, and watch the NO campaign self destruct.

Even in the event that the 2014 result is NO, the Unionist parties will be able to draw little comfort. They will be unable to deliver on their promise of more devolution and likely be punished accordingly at the next Holyrood and Westminster elections; expect to see a lot more SNP MP's at Westminster, a lot fewer LD's at both Holyrood and Westminster, and a solid base for the final push for independence soon thereafter.
 
 
# Marga B 2012-08-19 13:00
Was there not something on the radio this morning about the dangers for labour of opposing the welfare state carnage of the tories in Westminster and holding hands with them over "devo plus" in Scotland. It just does not make sense.

At this rate, the English will be calling for "devo plus" as most of their public services will be trashed by 2014.
 
 
# CharlieObrien 2012-08-19 13:04
Some good points and I can see merit in them all,I just want independence,af ter independence that is when we can say what it means.I think more people realise that than the unionists give us credit for,they are still wanting to use crystal balls.
Jam tomorrow not a chance as I think if there is a no vote we wont even have a scone,in 60 years there wont be a Scotland,as they (Westminster) have all the cards and they will say well you had your chance and now your finished,just what I think.I also think Westminster or England's Academia has always been jealous of Scotland as we are senior to them in the country stakes we were recognised as a country hundreds of years before they were moulded into a country,and they keep trying to rewrite history to suit their snobbery.We will become part of a greater England as they will slowly get rid of the "We are British" routine,its for our children's children.Anyway we have only known a union how about giving independence a chance after all we have never known it.
 
 
# Rafiki 2012-08-19 13:09
The SNP is campaigning for independence, and the Unionists are campaigning for the status quo.

If there is another question on the ballot paper it has to be proposed by the Unionists; it is not the function of the SNP or the YesScotland campaign to put the case against independence, or campaign against themselves.
 
 
# Siôn Jones 2012-08-20 14:05
Please define the status quo?
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-08-19 13:17
I have whittled my aims for a new Scotland which are:
To create a modern nation based on equity of opportunity
To maintain a representative democracy with a proportionally elected Parliament
To ensure Scotland's historic practice of welfare and care for those in real need is maintained
To ensure all are subject to the same rule of law for their protection, liberties and rights as a sovereign people


The simple question I ask is just which settlement and which political party is most likely to deliver these aims?

The answer is a no brainer: 'Yes' to independence and 'Yes' to a SNP Government for the newly independent Scotland.
 
 
# fynesider 2012-08-20 07:56
Totally agree MJM....

All I would add is that it's well past time that we get the chance to "F*** things up" for ourselves. If we do manage this feat then we'll have no-one to blame but ourselves!
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-08-19 13:22
Quoting G.A.Ponsonby:
The argument has been put forward that because no political party is willing to adopt the parentless Devo-max option, then there exists no mandate for the ‘third choice’


Mandates derive from the the people, not politicians
 
 
# clootie 2012-08-19 13:24
I think the thrust of the article is something we have all known but perhaps not highlighted often enough to the undecided.

YES - is quite clear - INDEPENDENCE.
NO - what are you voting for? You must assume the status quo. In the unlikely case that some firm power(s) are passed in Law it must be remembered that they can also be removed whenever Westminster decides.

Devolution is power retained.
 
 
# robbo 2012-08-19 14:37
Quoting clootie:
YES - is quite clear - INDEPENDENCE.
NO - what are you voting for? You must assume the status quo. In the unlikely case that some firm power(s) are passed in Law it must be remembered that they can also be removed whenever Westminster decides.


Really? i think the status quo is by far the clearest. By definition if anything. Still a lot of things in regard to independence that hasn't been set in stone.

Devo-max is clearly the most ambiguous. Personally i think a federal system would be best choice in such a situation. With federal and local taxation, not just in Scotland but all the other constituent countries including England. The question is what balance do you strike between the central state and the constituent countries.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-19 15:30
Quoting robbo:
Really? i think the status quo is by far the clearest. By definition if anything. Still a lot of things in regard to independence that hasn't been set in stone.

Devo-max is clearly the most ambiguous. Personally i think a federal system would be best choice in such a situation. With federal and local taxation, not just in Scotland but all the other constituent countries including England. The question is what balance do you strike between the central state and the constituent countries.


How do you think such a federal system would work though? More to the point, what chance has it got of being introduced within the current deeply reactionary crypto-medieval UK system of governance? Good grief, they can't even summon up the wherewithal to reform the House of Lords.... what chance is there of them coming to a consensus about the kind of political and structural changes necessary to introduce a federal system?

Another point to ponder however (pace Kelman's comments posted elsewhere recently about the long term threats to Scottish culture as opposed to nationality posed by remaining within the Union), is that in the unlikely event of a "real" federal system being introduced, there is a risk that over the long term, Scotland simply becomes North Britain, a glorified county with a proud history behind it, some eccentric legal and educational practices, and a funny accent.

I doubt the relative size of the constituent units would help much either; England and Scotland are simply too diverse, and increasingly have too little in common socially and politically to make the Union worth saving. The sooner it is euthanised the better; let's not drag the process out for years, let's just put a bullet in its brain in 2014.
 
 
# clootie 2012-08-19 15:55
robbo

Denmark / Norway / Sweden / Ireland / France etc. do not appear to be spending too much time explaining to the population what Independence means!

It is recognition of and authority over your domain - seems pretty straight forward to me.
 
 
# John Lyons 2012-08-20 15:15
Spot on Clootie. Once we've established that OUR government, elected by us, will be in charge, then we can worry about the details of independence.

The question is not "Do you want to be in Nato or out of Nato?", "Do you want the pound or the Euro?, "Do you want to be in the EU or out?" The question is "Do you want ALL of these questions to be answered by the Scottish Government."

Vote for independence.

Once we have it, then we can worry about who comes forward for election and what thier policies might be.
 
 
# WRH2 2012-08-20 04:30
Clootie , I think you have really summed it up. Quote, "Devolution is power retained". I'll quote it to anyone who says they are against independence.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2012-08-19 13:56
Best not to refer to the Westminster Govt as the UK Govt as that title no longer applies to them on a singular basis. The UK Govt now consists of the Westminster Govt the Scottish Govt the Welsh assembly and the NI assembly collectively. To refer to the Westminster Govt as the UK Govt is to give them ideas above their station within the UK. Something they should be made all to aware of before the negotiations begin for the full restoration of the Scottish Parliament.
 
 
# Peter A Bell 2012-08-19 14:19
Good to see growing demands for answers about what a NO vote actually means. An issue I tackled a couple of months back - bit.ly/NfYqUU.

As things stand, a NO vote effectively means whatever the Tory?Labour/LibDem anti-independence coalition wants it to mean. Who can possibly be happy putting that kind of power in their hands?
 
 
# Taysider 2012-08-19 14:25
The definition of independence is clear, it is sovereignty with the freedom to make our own choices and represent ourselves on the world stage. Voting YES is about voting for own choice and our own representation. Exactly what choices we later make and how we represent ourselves are second order questions. What is voting NO about. I don't think anyone really knows. I think a simple YES / NO referendum will throw into stark relief that the NO camp don't know what they want and don't know if they can deliver. Is it the status quo? Is it Calman? Is it more? If so how much more? Increasingly I think people will move to the clarity of the YES position and away from an uncertain NO position. When the Unionists talk about the uncertainties of a YES vote these uncertainties can be thrown back at them with interest. With YES we choose and decide. With NO we only get a say in the choice and can be overruled every time when it comes to decisions.
 
 
# brusque 2012-08-19 14:35
I haven't waited all my adult (voting) life to start pandering to the wishes of people who can't bear the thought of Scotland standing on it's own two feet and creating a Nation which will make us proud.

Nothing can be perfect, and nothing can be divided up to suit some, but not others. There is not need to talk about compromise, that can wait until the next Election, when we can examine the manifesto's of all parties and declare our allegiance to the one which offers us those things closest to our wishes.

For me it is Independence or nothing - because, regardless of false promises from the Union, it is exactly NOTHING we will get when they are done with us!!
 
 
# Ready to Start 2012-08-19 14:59
Make a note to watch Sky News on Friday at 7 pm. Programme entitled Born Bankrupt which deals with Team GB's legacy. That is Gordon Brown's Bankrupt Britain.
 
 
# Leswil 2012-08-19 15:01
Get it right folks, ANYTHING suggested by the Union conspirators, is ALWAYS going to be less than Scotland should have AND less than Scotland really needs.

They can fiddle with the edges but Scotland's time has come and we must play it well.

The needs of the Union will always determine what Scotland actually gets, the population difference alone tells you that.

Through the other needs of the Union, just consider the wastage that is the normal in their world.

MP's expenses, subsidised this and that, the House of Lords, money hole London, stupidly expensive military costs ie Aircraft carriers with no planes!

They cannot make the right decisions for the people of the country, they still have the infrastructure that governed an empire long gone.

Of course there are many more ways they run through the money.

They cannot be trusted, we must not fall for their tricks. They have caught us out before, we cannot allow them to get away with it again.
 
 
# Silverytay 2012-08-19 15:36
Some people seem to think that the unionists are campaigning for the status quo .
Lets be quite clear about this ! the unionists are not campaigning for the status quo.
In the event that we Scots are stupid enough to vote no , then the unionists would take it as a green light to roll back everything that has been achieved in Scotland over the last 5 years .
In the event of a no vote the best that we could hope for is that the tory,s win an outright majority in the u.k general election and the S.N.P win another majority in the next Scottish elections .
 
 
# Highland Tiger 2012-08-19 18:46
You have hit the nail fair and squarely on the head there. People do seem to think a No vote will keep things just as they are. I have been telling folk that Westminster will reek revenge and do everything to neuter the Scottish Parliament to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

Then the free University Education, free prescriptions etc etc that have made Scotland a better place will disappear as the Scottish Parliament is starved of funds.

A No vote isn't an option, we have to make people aware of that, even if it is a form of scaremongering.
 
 
# J Wil 2012-08-19 16:53
The only thing the unionists seem to want is some limp arrangement which retains the majority of power and control in Westminster.

If the umionists are determined to have a two option referendum the 'status quo' question should be kept off the ballot paper as no one seems to want it.
 
 
# forrabest 2012-08-19 17:16
O/T "We are Scotland" new pilot project by NNS - I applaud and support this, just donated. Looking forward to more interviews.
 
 
# sid 2012-08-19 17:37
the problems with devo max,independenc e lite,full fiscal autonomy or whatever it is finally called are wide and varied.
if you put 10 unionists in a room they would come up with at least 20 different descriptions of what it was and what it should be able to do.
we then of course have the jam tomorrow part where they are unable or unwilling to actually tell us what they mean and what they would offer(as little as they think they will get away with)as some extra crumbs for doing as we were told

whilst anything remains with westminster
"the mother of all parliament's" will give and take whatever they please whenever they please
Sid
 
 
# peter,aberdeenshire 2012-08-19 17:40
Not that it will change how I personally vote but the Unionists have to define the greater powers and when they will happen in the event of a no vote. Stuff this jam tomorrow crepe!
Another point on the falling newspaper sales, do the shareholders and board of DC Thomson really think having Martin bringing his unionist mate Macdonnell on board will increase their sales. Speed read his first column and what a pile of ... that is.
A once family friendly in my opinion balanced paper ruined by an anti independence stance. Goodbye old friend but enough is enough.
 
 
# RTP 2012-08-19 18:11
Its ok for some.

Gordon Brown claims £20,000 for flights to London

Gordon Brown has spent nearly £20,000 of his parliamentary expenses on flying between London and Edinburgh, despite rarely appearing in the House of Commons.
 
 
# Nautilus 2012-08-19 18:23
I agree with #Silverytay that if we vote NO on the promise of more powers that meet Scots’ needs and aspirations, we will have to take their word that these powers will be granted after the referendum. Going on the history of the Westminster government of whatever colour, we have seen them renegue on nearly all of their election manifesto promises. What chance do we have of them keeping their post-referendum promises?

A ‘NO’ vote would give them carte blanche to remove powers from the Scottish parliament and roll them back to London. ‘See, the Scots didn’t really want independence, David.’

Do we really want to have another 10 years of no suffrage, recession, relative poverty and inequality with those incompetent, wasteful, privileged ne’er-do-wells down there, or do we want an energetic, competent, economical government in Edinburgh run by professionals that will bring us level with the rest of the world? One that Scotland elected. I think I know which I’d choose.

Vote ‘YES’.
 
 
# roguesquadron 2012-08-19 18:27
Any news on a YouGov poll which puts independence at 27%? A unionist friends put a post on Facebook showing an apparent decline in support for Independence from January to August with the comment 'Proving once again the intelligence of the Scottish people'. I had to bite my online tongue.
 
 
# oldnat 2012-08-19 18:48
As far as I can see, this is a particularly poor report from the Press Association.

google.com/.../...

The SMoS poll was done by an obscure group called "Scottish Progressive Opinion". It has nothing to do with YouGov, and only a total cretin (step forward UKPA reporter!) would try to compare different polls from different organisations, without any understanding of polling techniques, statistics or even arithmetic.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-08-19 19:11
hear hear.

And anyway, with 2 years to the vote, devo max still floating around, the Tories still in coalition with the libs, no possibility in predicting who will win the next UK GE etc etc; there's not a lot of point in rollercoasterin g on the polls right now.

And there is something very wrong with yougov. It's missing 10-12% of the voting population, or getting their views wrong. I suspect its that 10-12% who have since devolution been voting Labour for the UK but the SNP at home and supporting independence. This pattern became really apparent post 2007 when Yougov started to deviate massively from all other polsters on the Y/N Q.
 
 
# Juteman 2012-08-19 18:54
It was in the Mail.
dailymail.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# jasp303 2012-08-20 08:21
Here's an earlier one of theirs I found. They aren't a member of the BPC if that makes any difference.

- "Labour is ahead in the race to power in the 2011 Holyrood elections, according to a poll [Scottish Progressive Opinion] for the Scottish Mail on Sunday newspaper.

- With less than two months to go..., a total of 43% of voters with definite intentions to vote for a certain party said they were backing Iain Gray's party in the constituency ballot, ahead of 37% for the SNP.

- ...the results mean Labour would end up with 63 seats - up by 17. The SNP would have 49 seats, an increase of two."
 
 
# the wallace 2012-08-19 18:37
I would take any polls from unionst sources with a large pinch of salt,they are only trying one of their old tactics of trying to sow seeds of doubt in our ranks we are scotsmen,so stand strong my friends and keep believing,our liberation draws nearer.
 
 
# Andy Anderson 2012-08-19 18:41
As I understand the situation the UK Government has accepted the Scottish Government's date for the referendum, they have now accepted the ballot question is for the Scottish Government. They have accepted that 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote. The only remaining issue is what choices should be on the ballot paper.
Well surely we can reach an understanding on that. If as demorcats we all accept that the choices available should be what we understand the people want on the ballot.
We know they want independence on the ballot paper because at the last Scottish election they voted for the party which advocated it, giving them a clear majority.
We know from many opinion polls that the Scots want an option of full fiscal autonomy on the paper.
No political party, nor any community or civil group is now advocating the Status quo.
So why do we not just prepare a referendum which offers independence or devolution which includes full fiscal autonomy.
This would give us the straight choice which many are calling for, and it would cover what we know the majority of Scots want and what they have already voted for.
Or is it that the Die hard unionists are being less than honest. surely not!
 
 
# Silverytay 2012-08-19 18:59
Andy Anderson
As you have already stated the unionists are being less than honest because the agreements are conditional on A.S agreeing to only one question .
Once again Wee Eck has played the unionists hook , line and sinker .
O/T Scottish Skier
Are you about tonight ? Like roguesquadron I would like more info on the you gov poll .
Is this a rogue poll ? or is it a unionist bounce to the olympics.
I have been trying to post on the mail that if it is a bounce due to the olympics then it falls to reason that the yes campaign will get the bounce in 2014 when we hold the commonwealth games , the ryder cup , the year of homecoming and the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn .
 
 
# Breeks 2012-08-19 19:31
I defy any Scot to read this and not vote Yes.

newsnetscotland.com/.../...
 
 
# J Wil 2012-08-19 20:18
The Sunday Times have an article saying that Cameron is about to cut a deal with Salmond over the referendum. He will accept Salmond's question provided the Electoral Commission approve it, but only the one question on the ballot paper - Independence or not.
 
 
# RJBH 2012-08-19 21:38
Cochrane of the DT... on about the same subject...
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-08-20 08:06
Cameron cannot cut a deal with the First Minister as it was he, the first minister who expressed the desire for self determination for the people of Scotland way back in May 2011.
From that moment on and in accordance with international law, Cameron et al should have immediately backed off and allowed Scotland to carve out its desired way forward and how to go about it. The mother country, in this case, the UK as remains must and should not interfere in any way with the aspirations of the seceeding country/nation.
As Scotland qualifies as an identifiable nation within the UN criteria then we, the Scots have every right to unfettered control of the referendum agenda.
Any mother country or in this case, England can lay down no conditions, rules or obstructions towards the progress towards potential independence.
Cameron has no cards to play and Salmond should know this, sure he does.
 
 
# Galen10 2012-08-20 08:56
The trouble is Upspake, large sections of the Unionist ascendancy don't accept the logic of your view at all, as we saw from cameron's ill-judged early interventions in January, and the report of the SAC recently and the subject justifications of those findings by Davidson and his ilk.

Such people, whilst they might pay lip service to the notion that the Scottish people can in the abstract decide their own future and opt for independence, are totally bound to the preservation of the Union.

As such, they will use any means to make sure such an eventuality never comes to pass, by fair mans or foul. That much was evident from the attempted fixing of the Scottish parliamant to deny the SNP a majority, Lord Robertsons ill-judged gloating about devolution killing independence stone dead etc.

The current intimations of panic as they realise that the vote in 2014 might be YES, are likely to become more hysterical the closer we get to the date; hence the democratically challenged SAC's finding that basically we could only have a referendum if Westminster saw fit to allow it.

It still seems to me that for the SNP, the stark choice between the status quo or independence is the best stick to beat the Unionists with; "jam tomorrow" isn't an option, and that's probably the most important thing supporters of independence have to convince undecided voters of.
 
 
# DonaldMhor 2012-08-20 08:49
Robbo said.

Quote:
Really? I think the status quo is by far the clearest. By definition if anything. Still a lot of things in regard to independence that hasn't been set in stone.




To me anyone who says that is just being deliberately obtuse. If you do not have the imagination to understand what it means to any country to be independent, then you really need to go and do some reading about the other countries in the world. That is 196 at best estimate. The UN are digraceful not allowed to count Taiwan for fear of upsetting China. And who is pulling these strings? Why the USA.

Scotland will, like these 196 countries enjoy the status of being recognised internationally as an independent country. See the Blair Jenkins question?

Of course there are questions that are not set in stone, simply because these questions are being raised in a never ending circle of unionist propaganda to cover the fact that they them selves cannot answer the questions put to them.

The main plank of this referendum campaign has been the fact that it will take place in the latter end of the parliament as it now is. This allows time for debate, and time for a white paper to be published and debated to take care of the circle of never ending questions. Independence is a journey, or as that famous unionist Tam Dalyell said, a motorway with no exit. That journey was begun a long long time ago, even before devolution.

When that argument is put to a unionist, the retort is generally that "you cannot be independent in the EU anyway." Having conveniently forgotten that one of their previous scare stories involved the FACT that we would be prevented from joining said union, having also ignored the fact that we are already in said union. Confused you will be?

Unionist scare stories are subject to the laws of diminishing returns, which is why they are trumpeting for "referendum now," like frightened elephants, having previously spent years blocking one. They know that they have run out of steam, stories and credibility. Another very good reason for waiting to 2014.

Independent countries around the globe are inter dependent due to trade and monetary policies in any case. See China, USA. China needs the USA to be solvent enough to want to buy it's goods and USA needs China to be solvent enough to want to but it's bonds and dollars. Scotland as a fully independent country will have these same relationships as we once did. For example we traded extensively with the Baltic region and Scandinavia, trade that was instantly forbidden post union of 1707, as we had to forfeit our merchant fleet, and obey the rules of commerce as dictated by London.

Geography, as always, played a big part. But in the days when sea travel was supreme, to be joined by water rather than land was a huge plus. Land travel was almost impossible compared to what we now have. Scotland had easier access to Scandinavia and Northern Europe than anywhere else and was an active member of the Hanseatic League, which originated in the 13th Century by German Merchants and came to monopolise Baltic trade right up to the mid 17th Century. The first record of trade between Scotland and Germany is a letter from William Wallace to the merchants of Hamburg and Lubeck after his victory at Stirling Bridge in 1297, declaring that Scotland was free and that trade could resume.

Alex Salmond is sending the same signals to the world now. Scotland is open for business!

The fact that out largest trading partner is now England is no accident, it was designed that way for precisely this point in time.

To use these trading links as some idealistic tool to encourage retaining the union makes no sense at all, it is the small independent countries, ironical around the Baltic and Scandinavia that are the success stories of the EU. It is they who have weathered the financial storms sweeping the corrupt banking systems. It is they who are showing strong recovery signals, it is they who have the most often quoted and admired social structures in place that nurtures and protects their citizens. Yes even Ireland and Iceland these much sneered at and slandered countries by our ignorant desperate unionist opponents, like Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander. Check the UN HDI index and they are much higher placed than the UK.

What these same unionist are now desperately seeking is a get out of jail card, a jail they have built. They are seeking a question that will answer the question they are so concerned about. How do we placate the two thirds of Scotland's voters who want to see much greater autonomy and yet retain all our privileges, salaries, pensions, expenses and status in Westminster. That very sadly is the great unanswered question for unionist politicians and their ilk.
 
 
# exel 2012-08-20 14:58
clootie 2012-08-19 14:24
“I think the thrust of the article is something we have all known but perhaps not highlighted often enough to the undecided.
YES - is quite clear - INDEPENDENCE.
NO - what are you voting for? You must assume the status quo. In the unlikely case that some firm power(s) are passed in Law it must be remembered that they can also be removed whenever Westminster decides.
Devolution is power retained.”

Siôn Jones 2012-08-20 15:05
“Please define the status quo?”

Both posts emphasise the problem most people are having with the current question put to us by the Our Scotland, Our Referendum consultation document.

We are being asked if we wish the Scottish Parliament to start negotiations with the Westminster Parliament to set aside the Acts of Union. “the status quo” does not appear in that document as an option as we are judged to be clever enough to know what our constitutional position presently is.
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-08-20 17:40
Anyone claiming to be clever enough to know what the UK's piecemeal, unwritten, often arbitrary and frequently indeterminate constitutional position is should be far too busy mastering cold fusion and uniting the Israelis and Palestinians to worry about independence for Scotland.
 
 
# Old Smokey 2012-08-20 17:17
Slightly O/T (but related)
Just saw in the Herald that the No Campaigne are giong to 'blitz' Scotland this weekend coming (25/26 August)
'No campaign plans weekend war to ram home Better Together message'
Quote 'Better Together bungled the announcement of the event on its Facebook page. This initially said there would be a "National Campaign Day" next Friday, then changed it to next Saturday, then changed it again to both Saturday and Sunday, then finally changed its name to the "National Campaign Weekend".'
and
'Volunteers from Labour, the LibDems and Tories are to receive "campaigns in a box" containing sign-up forms, banners, Saltires and Union flags, balloons and children's face paints in order to catch voters' attention at street stalls and fetes.
Note the giving away of Saltires
They are hoping to cash in on the so called Olympic feel good factor
heraldscotland.com/.../...
and
facebook.com/.../...
 
 
# westie7 2012-08-22 22:02
More one sided unchallenged drivel tonight on Scotland Tonight.
Toff fae Ipsos Mori delighting on great it is to now have another question on the table.
 

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