By David Torrance

Today will see First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron conclude negotiations on an independence referendum expected to be held in October 2014. It will be hailed as “historic”, while both parties will claim to have achieved the upper hand. The truth, as ever, is somewhere in between.

From the UK Government’s perspective it has achieved what its strategists always called the “main prize”, in other words a single referendum question. The Scottish Government now claims it never wanted a second question in the first place which is – at best – disingenuous. Westminster pursued this relentlessly, and has undoubtedly won.

Unionists did not, however, win on the timing, which has to be regarded as the Scottish Government’s main prize. The Prime Minister wanted a vote sooner rather than later, but having cleverly pre-announced the likely date earlier this year, the First Minister effectively bounced Cameron into accepting his preferred timing.

The other outstanding issues – franchise, wording of question and campaign finance – have to be regarded as draws. Although the Scottish Government will be able to extend voting to (some) 16 and (all) 17 year-olds, it will have to do so on the basis of the existing electoral register. There aren’t that many of them (fewer than 90,000) in any case, and polling is divided as to how they’ll vote.

On the wording there was also a compromise. While the Scottish Government will decide what question is asked in 2014, the Electoral Commission (EC) will be fully involved, as it has been in most other elections. The SNP initially resisted this, but backed down when it became clear there was no compelling argument against the EC having an oversight role.

Finally, the issue of campaign finance has been managed so that both sides are relatively content. Although the combined Unionist parties will most likely raise more than the Nationalist forces (the Scottish Greens are not noted fundraisers) to spend during the formal referendum period in the summer of 2014, the disparity won’t be as great as it would have been under existing caps.

Both sides can, therefore, claim victory. The SNP can point to a referendum “made in Scotland”, while the Coalition Government can point to a “single, simple question” within a “legal, fair and decisive” referendum. Today’s meeting at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh will most likely be perfectly amicable. Perhaps surprisingly, Cameron and Salmond – both talented political tacticians – have a mutual regard.

In fact, the whole negotiation process – publicly and privately – has been surprisingly courteous, not least in the usually toxic context of Scottish politics. Bruce Crawford, who handled most of the talks until Nicola Sturgeon took over a few weeks ago, was genuinely liked and respected by his UK Government counterparts. The Deputy First Minister has also impressed London with her constructive attitude.

Ironically, this process demonstrates just how well the Scottish and UK Governments can work together. The constitutional dynamic, meanwhile, is now more evenly balanced. In the immediate wake of last year’s Holyrood elections Alex Salmond looked like an unstoppable force, while after this May’s local government elections the Unionist parties appeared to have recovered some momentum.

But now the dust has settled on the process of the referendum things are on an even keel. The Prime Minister is firefighting on several fronts while the First Minister is discovering that the good old days (pre-2008 economic crash) are not going to return any time soon. Governing for both men is, if anything, about to get a lot more difficult.

In retrospect, too, I think the failure of a second question to gain any traction is actually a good thing for the “yes” camp. It was always clear Alex Salmond was keener on this option than most of his ministers, and indeed the vast majority of grassroots Nationalists. If he had secured a question on so-called (yet still undefined) “devo-max” then Salmond would have had to manage a degree of internal unhappiness.

It would also have left Blair Jenkins at YesScotland campaigning on two – and arguably contradictory – fronts, when it was perfectly clear he too wanted a single question. Last but not least, an insistence on a second question would have meant the Scottish Government eschewing a Section 30 order from Westminster and conducting its own – arguably ultra vires – referendum.

The whole thing, in other words, would have got bogged down in the courts. Those who argued that this was all part of the First Minister’s master plan to wriggle out of holding a referendum at all have been proven wrong. A ballot on Scottish independence – barring an alien invasion – will now take place by the end of 2014.

This is – for several reasons – a good thing. First, referendums have a knack of settling contentious issues for at least a generation; second, today’s agreement should hopefully clear the air and leave room for a more nuanced debate about substance rather than process. This is badly needed, not least because the level of debate (on both sides) has hitherto been depressingly lacklustre.

It’s always worth remembering that not everyone lives and breathes politics in the manner of bloggers, activists and the commentariat. If Scottish voters weren’t bored by the independence referendum at the beginning of this year, they sure will be now. But – as the twitter hashtag puts it – today’s agreement means it is, at last, #gameon.

David Torrance is a writer, journalist and broadcaster.
He is also author of
'Salmond - Against The Odds' a biography of Scotland's First Minister


Newsnet Scotland would like to attract more contributions from respected commentators from across the constitutional spectrum.  If you would like to see more of this kind of content then please make a donation by clicking the button below.


# sneckedagain 2012-10-14 23:51
Why does Mr Torrance spoil a decent article by insisting that the Scottish Government wanted another question?
That assertion is "disingenuous".
A Devo Max option was never in the gift of the SNP who were completley aware of this and I have lost count of the times that Alex Salmond stated publicly and very clearly that the SNP wanted a straight Yes/No vote.
Westiminster has just walked straight into an SNP trap on this by giving the SNP exactly what it wanted while appearing to deliberately frustrate the will of the Scottish people.
I am fully confident that because of this over the next immediate period we will see a stream of prominent Scots making the journey from Devo Max support to the independence option
# oldnat 2012-10-15 01:14
I'm delighted by the constant assertion that Westminster "got one over on Salmond" by dumping the Devo Max option!

Unionists are so obsessed by their hatred of a political opponent that they give generously to our cause.

It could have been hard to persuade Devo-Maxers that the SNP was genuinely willing to provide them with their preferred option in a democratic process (whether that was true or not), but Unionist triumphalism tells all those that wanted something between status quo and independence that it is Westminster that denies them that choice.
# tartanfever 2012-10-15 08:57
Exactly Old Nat. Let's not get bogged down in the 'we beat Westminster in the staging of the referendum deal' - more importantly we can now spend the next two years telling devo maxers that the SNP tried their best for a second question and it's been refused.

Thats bound to be a great recruiting call to the Yes vote we've got, after all, isn't it about trying to persuade the 'undecided'
to our cause ? Well now the choice of more powers has been reduced to a vague promise of 'jam' tomorrow and Lamont has written her suicide note with her new Thatcher policies - a lot more people will realise that actually independence is the only way to go.
# rapid 2012-10-15 09:32
Mr Moore also talked of the devo-max question this morning on Radio 4's "Today" programme without any challenge - when the Today presenters are usually tough on politicians.

Whilst we know that the media are complicit - I can't see that we can expect any the balanced reporting in time for 2014.

NNS is a mere drop in the ocean when it comes to mass media...
# Dundonian West 2012-10-15 10:11
I heard Mr Moore ,and it sounded like a Political Party Broadcast---Moore being asked soft questions and allowed to go on and on without interruption,wh ereas Nicola Stuegeon who was interviewed half an hour later, was interrupted and challenged leaving the distinct impression she was the 'interloper' in the comfortable UK status quo.
A balanced programme from the City State that is London?
# davemsc 2012-10-15 11:00
Torrance also repeated his assertions (and used the word 'disingenuous') on 5 Live this morning, unchallenged by a presenter who clearly had no idea and was provided with no research. The other contributor at the time sounded like Tim Montgomerie from ConservativeHom e, so I decided (for no other reason than I like to) complain to the BBC about the biased piece.
# bodun 2012-10-15 16:58
And apparently the SNP conspired to put one over the PM
# Jake62 2012-10-15 10:46
Quoting sneckedagain:
Why does Mr Torrance spoil a decent article by insisting that the Scottish Government wanted another question?

Agreed. It's not the first time that David Torrance has written this. He's a good writer, but this is simply tin-hatted nonsense. How much clearer could they be about the fact that they always wanted just one question?
# Iaincraig 2012-10-14 23:51
No compelling reason against the EC having an oversight role. You are kidding right?

I still have the Wendy Alexander affair in my mind where for the first time I can remember ignorance of the Law became a legitimate defense. The EC isn't impartial by any stretch of the imagination. There has been other instances where they have ben found to be less that impartial in my view.

An impartial group of neutral International observors should have had the oversight role. This is a devolopment I view with concern.

I also now feel as if my submission in the Consulatation process has been totally ignored along with the rest of us who expressed concerns about the Brit Electotal Commission. I am not happy about this.

As for the Unionist being able to claim any victory at all, again I think you are having a laugh since they never wanted any kind of Referendum in the first place but now they will use I believe the EC to sabotage it.
# bringiton 2012-10-15 08:52
I think the words used relating to the EC role in the referendum is that the Scottish Government will consult them but leaving the final decision in the SG hands.Michael Moore tried to spin this by saying that should the SG not agree with the EC that they would be in a difficult place politically (not legally) as the EC has a good reputation for even handedness.
We shall see.
# Barontorc 2012-10-15 10:59
Keep your eye on the EC - it seems to be of major interest to the unionists that the EC is involved. It has been raised by Davidson's "Separation" Gaggle and Labour's crass Sarwar at very opportunity. It is not beyond the pale that the dirty tricks brigade is already confident of EC support.

I, too pressed for an international observer body to oversee the process in my consultation return - and like you, am not happy. Unless the SG has absolute confidence in the EC they shouldn't touch it with a bargepole!!
# chicmac 2012-10-14 23:55
The stark choice is now very clear.

Independence versus Devo Minus.

Also think it fair to point out that David Torrance is an unofficial biographer of Alex Salmond.
# Iaincraig 2012-10-15 00:18
I see the choices as starker!

Independence or Oblivion!
# Bambi 2012-10-15 03:15
I realise to keep his career afloat Mr Torrance needs to imply some secret knowledge of Scottish politics and pols, but it would be nice to see some supporting evidence for his assertion that the SNP government wanted a second question (if he could do so it would certainly differentiate him from all other commentators making that claim). In fact he pretty much contradicts himself within a dozen paragraphs:

'The Scottish Government now claims it never wanted a second question in the first place which is – at best – disingenuous.'

'It was always clear Alex Salmond was keener on this option than most of his ministers, and indeed the vast majority of grassroots Nationalists.'
# SolTiger 2012-10-15 03:23
Yeah I've totally failed to see how one question could possibly be a victory for the unionists.

Quite simply it now means if you want more powers for Scotland you MUST vote Yes and polls have regularly shown a majority in favour of more powers.
# WRH2 2012-10-15 03:49
David Torrance is the one being disingenuous. He knows fine weel that the SNP were never going to campaign for Devo Max. Nor was Yes Scotland: the clue, as they say, is in the name.

The Devo question was for those who support Devo +, max, etc, to frame it and campaign for it, but they are now to be denied that opportunity by Westminster. And the unionists are going to claim that denying people the second question is a win for them! Has someone misplaced the unionist brain cell again?

I think the No Campaign are about to discover they have fallen into the big bear trap that was carefully constructed for them. It's now going to be necessary for them to spell out exactly what No will mean in the absence of the second question option. But that presents them with another problem since anything other than the status quo or less will be Devo something. Which kind of begs the question, why refuse to allow it on the ballot paper in the first place?

Talk about painting themselves into a corner. Hardly a victory or even a draw for the unionists!
# colin8652 2012-10-15 04:27
David, you are so so wrong by stating that the SNP wanted a second question. Why wait three hundred years for a bus to come along then choose to walk?
# Christian_Wright 2012-10-15 04:52
David Torrance: "The Scottish Government now claims it never wanted a second question in the first place which is – at best – disingenuous. Westminster pursued this relentlessly, and has undoubtedly won."

Doesn't truth have any currency among the chattering class these days? Is it acceptable to pull nonsense like this directly from that orifice wherein the sun don't shine, and eschew demonstrable fact?

One has to wonder whether David is deliberately lying through his back teeth or whether he is genuinely delusional. The Scottish Government have never, at any time, claimed they wanted a third option (or second question).

Can he produce evidence of a demand by the Scottish Government that a third option be on the referendum ballot? Well, of course he can't. He can't because the Government never made such a demand.

Other than his own previous baseless assertions and those of other Unionist propagandists (because this sort of story telling certainly isn't journalism), does David have documentation to point to that would back his entirely specious claim? Let me answer that for him: NO, you have none.

I challenge him directly to demonstrate he is doing other than deliberately falsifying the record. Show by way of quote and related citation where the Scottish Government or the First Minister demanded a third option.

Seriously David, show us.

The hacks in the press and broadcast media have lied and lied and lied about this for more than a year. It is time that at least one of them was brought to account. This behaviour should not be acceptable. Where is the outrage?

Time to put up or shut up David. Back up your assertion or be exposed as a fraud.
# Christian_Wright 2012-10-15 05:39
David Torrance" "On the wording there was also a compromise. While the Scottish Government will decide what question is asked in 2014, the Electoral Commission (EC) will be fully involved, as it has been in most other elections. The SNP initially resisted this, but backed down when it became clear there was no compelling argument against the EC having an oversight role."

Vacuous nonsense.

The Electoral Commission will NOT dictate the final form of the referendum question. They have no oversight role with respect to the referendum question.

Their job it to test the question and to report back to the Scottish parliament their findings and submit any recommendations they may have on modifications to the question based upon those findings.

It is entirely for the Scottish parliament to decide to accept the all of the EC recommendations , some of their recommendations , or none of their recommendations . The EC's role is purely consultative.

Since the SNP have been granted an absolute majority in Parliament by the electorate, and since Alex Salmond is its leader, it will be the First Minister in consultation with his ministers and others, who decides the final form of the question that will appear on the ballot.
# Christian_Wright 2012-10-15 05:59
". . the issue of campaign finance has been managed so that both sides are relatively content. . . , the disparity won’t be as great as it would have been under existing caps."

Carnival barking flim flam.

The truth is that the Unionists are in receipt of unlimited free advertising from a rabidly pro Union chattering class and media.

One need look no further than this article, and consider that this very day, near identical propaganda is appearing in every newspaper major newspaper and every broadcast media outlet in these islands.

What is the value of that sort of blanket carpet bombing advertising? How many millions of pounds in free media propaganda will the likes of David Torrance and those who publish his fiction, gift to the Unionist cause over the next two years?

Consider the latest BBC daily politics show wherein a pro-union anti-independence hatefest was conducted between the rabidly Unionist Andrew Neil, and three fairly clueless "journalists" wholly hostile to Scottish independence and really beyond vicious towards Scotland's elected First Minister.
# Marian 2012-10-15 07:12
All this anti-independence and get Salmond stuff and nonsense from the UK's MSM, BBC, etc, is clearly orchestrated and has a classic resemblance to dirty tricks campaigns played in the past on behalf of the Westminster government by shady organisations with links to the UK's security services.

I would not be surprised if those at the helm of the independence campaign know exactly who is behind this present dirty tricks campaign and will reveal who it is when the time is appropriate.
# From The Suburbs 2012-10-15 15:15
Quoting Marian:
All this anti-independence and get Salmond stuff and nonsense from the UK's MSM, BBC, etc, is clearly orchestrated and has a classic resemblance to dirty tricks campaigns played in the past on behalf of the Westminster government by shady organisations with links to the UK's security services.

I am sure that the "BBC'll Fix it"
# km 2012-10-15 08:05
Thanks for the link to Andrew Neil's latest "interview".

That tripe is aimed at middle-England. As Neil did point out, "Of course, none of these contributors has a vote, and their knowledge of Scotland is another matter".

So what's the point of broadcasting it, Andrew? Why did you choose these particular contributors? Is it good practice to broadcast discussions with people who know absolutely nothing of what they're talking about?
# gus1940 2012-10-15 09:10
Regarding election expenses while it may have been possible to reach agreement on expenditure by the official YES and NO sides there remains the disgraceful situation whereby for the next 2 years we shall be deluged daily by Pro Unionist bias, lies, distortion and misreporting by The BBC and every single newspaper.

Such coverage will in monetary equivalent terms dwarf whatever actual money is spent by the YES campaign.

The only solution to this, and I think it would be impossible to implement, would be for an external panel from either the UN or EU to be set up to assess on a daily basis all referendum related media output, put a monetary value on same and subtract that amount from the allowable election expenses of whichever side the coverage applies. I know it's a crazy and impractical proposal but without legally enforceable unbiased straight reporting of facts or the closing down of the media there is no other way of guaranteeing a fair contest.
# gus1940 2012-10-15 11:12
Situation normal.

We have just been given a totally inaccurate account of the arguments re the rules for the referendum at the beginning of today's Daily Politics.
# scottish_skier 2012-10-15 06:14
I got to the second paragraph with the claims that the Scottish Government wanted a second question then stopped reading.

It would be good if we could have articles from well known writers who actually know what they are talking about.

So the unionists have 'defeated' the will of a large majority of the Scottish people. Must be pleased with themselves.
# clootie 2012-10-15 12:46

This is why he gets so much air time. He is skilled at appearing neutral when is far from it.He just adds that little tweak to get the unionist message across. I consider him more dangerous than the straight forward unionist as he is very skilled in the art of gentle plausible bending of the facts and after all he is Scottish.
# govanite 2012-10-15 06:45
Hi Alex, its Dave.
Hello Dave.

Alex, I want to grant you a section 30.

Dave, we don't need a section 30.

Alex, please let me grant a section 30, I'll look powerless & uninvolved. I'll do anything to be allowed to pass a section 30.

OK Dave, timing, voting age, question wording - all on my terms.

Right Oh Alex, what about number of questions ?

How many do you want Dave ?

Just one Alex.

OK, you win, just one, pop up to Edinburgh & we'll sort it all out.

Thanks Alex.

Bye Dave.
# scottish_skier 2012-10-15 06:56
You forgot:

'Oh, and sorry about Peter Cruddas Alex; he almost gave the game away!'

'Nae bother Dave; I think most people have forgotten that incident.'
# Diabloandco 2012-10-15 06:52
I had just read the bearded ones drivel on the DT and had come here for a
" mouthwash" as it were but lo! exactly the same lie in print here.
One question from the SNP YES or NO .
I cannot understand the lying media and despair utterly of ever seeing truth in the MSM.
Scotland deserves better.
# Christian_Wright 2012-10-15 06:53
David Torrance: " second, today’s agreement should hopefully clear the air and leave room for a more nuanced debate about substance rather than process. "

Well then David, why don't you get the ball rolling by delineating your substantive positive case for Scotland remaining in the Union in the 21st Century?

You can't can you? Isn't it true that you have no credible vision for Scotland within this moribund Union except more of the same ol' same old?

I would be delighted were you to prove me wrong by articulating your detailed vision for Scotland's economic prosperity and the maintenance and nurturing of Scotland's unique social compact, in our journey through this new century.

The floor is yours, dear boy . . .
# mealer 2012-10-15 07:03
My elderly mother was expecting an option of devo-max.Shes disappointed,in fact angry,that London wouldnt allow it.I'm pretty sure she will now vote YES.It would take cast iron guarantees of far greater powers for her to even consider voting NO.
"Jam tommorrow" wont cut it with her.
# davemsc 2012-10-15 07:16
Mr. Torrance, you point to disingenuousnes s and then make several disingenuous points of your own:

Firstly, the SNP said all along that they prefer a single question. You have fallen into the trap of failing to see this because it was in plain sight. Salmond said a second question was not unreasonable if there was sufficient demand for one from the consultation. Also, it was not in the SNP's power to offer alternative forms of devolution, so why would they seek to ask people about it? Listen to anything which and SNP minister has said on the issue and you'll see that this is the case.

Secondly, you point to the extension of the franchise. The SNP said all through the process that 16 and 17-year olds "who were on the electoral register" (not all 16 and 17-year olds) should be able to have their say. Sturgeon was interviewed about this very point last year by the BBC, so it is a matter of public record.

Thirdly, the SNP did not want the Electoral Commission involved because it was not accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Salmond even said this in parliament in an answer to Iain Gray, so it is a matter of public record. They have accepted that the EC can be involved because it has been made accountable to the parliament on this issue.

Honestly, Mr. Torrance, as a 'writer and commentator' I would have thought that you would at least have some basic grasp of the issues, but clearly not.
# AshleyJHP 2012-10-15 07:29
I often donate to Newsnet Scotland and am proudly drinking a cup of tea from my Newsnet Scotland mug as I type this. Now it transpires that this money is going to encourage the likes of Torrance to keep propagating unionist tosh.....? Newsnet, I think the other comments are saying the same sort of thing - we go to The Scotsman and elsewhere in the MSM for our daily dose of unionist tosh, Newsnet Scotland is the last place we expect, or want, to see the likes of Torrance's stony glare adorning the front page. Not the best ever article with which I've been greeted by Newsnet on a Monday morning!
# GrassyKnollington 2012-10-15 09:43
Can't agree Ashley. I'd like to see more articles from people supporting the union here.
# smckay 2012-10-15 07:45
Ignoring the opening paragraphs as they have been discussed and discounted in many forums - how on earth can you consider franchise, wording of question and finance as draws.

The Scottish government wanted to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds. Westminster was totally against this. The Scottish government won. How many get to vote remains to be seen. I'm sure the Scottish government will do their utmost to ensure as many as possible can vote but even if its just one the Scottish government won the principle argument.

The electoral commission does not have any say on the question to be put to the people. It simply tests the question/s and makes recommendations which can be accepted or ignored. The Scottish government was against EC involvement to begin with - unless they reported directly to the Scottish government not Westminster - and they will.

As for finance - if the Scottish government has managed to restrict the unionist budget significantly then it is a win for them - but realistically anything short of an equal war chest in the regulated period is undemocratic and there are no winners only losers - mainly the voters who lose as the vote may be bought. As far as I know the details of this are not clear yet.

By any measure I think it is impossible to argue that the unionists won any 'prize'. Unless wishful thinking counts. In fact it is really starting to irritate me that nearly every 'journalist' is scrabbling to help Cameron save face. Its a referendum for Scotland made in Scotland remember. Who gives a tuppence what Westminster or Cameron thinks.....they are a side show.

The devolved parliament is clearly not functioning to the satisfaction of the majority of Scots (or the wider UK). Either Westminster or Holyrood ultimately has to go. If you think a no vote will put the independence question to bed for a generation then I think you may be very surprised.
# Breeks 2012-10-15 08:05
Don't lose perspective fellas - Devo max wasn't popular with the parties, but was a popular concept for a large section of the electorate.
Alex Salmond didn't want a second question, but proposed there should be one as an instrument of democracy, - and the Unionists blocked the democratically approriate second question.

So who is being the more democratic? The SNP is working (or trying to) with perceived democratic opinion, while the unionists are working against it - and claiming it a victory.

All of those Devo-maxers amongst us now have to decide between their preferred option of greater autonomy growing up to full Independence, or the Unionist option of no greater autonomy at all, but instead Lamont's vision of austerity and even rolling back devolved powers to Westminster and move towards more political realignment with England.

Every vote for Devo-max would have been one less vote in the Independence tally, and every vote taken from the section of Scottish people who might lack confidence in Independence, but who do want more autonomy for Scotland.

If the Unionists wanted to obstruct Scottish Independence, they have just forfeited one of the more powerful mechanisms in their armoury which might have actually done it. They cannot now spilt the 'pro-autonomy' movement. Now, however they 'spin' it, Alex Salmond has actually played a blinder.

This is a very rare day when we nationalists should be cheering the Unionists too.
# Bambi 2012-10-15 08:16
The conclusive evidence against the silly 'SNP lost the battle of second question' guff is that both sides have said the negotiations towards a referendum have been smooth, constructive and pain free. That suggests that a second question wasn't even on the table, let alone something that the Scottish government fought tooth & nail to have in the referendum.
# Leswil 2012-10-15 08:25
Torrance does what Torrence does!

Here is one thing that shows how he thinks and when he buries his head in the sand.
" First Minister is discovering that the good old days (pre-2008 economic crash) are not going to return any time soon."

Says Who? if it is Mr Torrances soul opinion, then just where does the Unionist control of ALL media in Scotland sit with him?

Don't even suggest that it does not exist, it is rampant throughout the Newspapers and TV, BBC being the worst offender.

These practices were part of Putin's election campaign in Russia, which, strangely was roundly condemned by the very BBC who carry use the same tactics here.

So it is nothing like a fair or equal contest. So what now Mr Torrence? it is anything like a fair fight, nothing to say about that?, thought not.

If the media en masse do not take heed of what they are doing, then folks, we are indeed a banana republic with the UK going further down the drain.

They tell the world how to be democratic yet that cannot be applied to Scotland. They breach the UN charter, no one chides them, and they don't care anyway.

So much for an even fight, so much for UK democracy.

If Scotland does win this referendum it will be in the face of all the dark forces that bare down on us.

It will go down in history as the catalyst for the rise of the fairer and more prosperous Scotland, one we badly need after 300 years of mismanagement.
# Kinghob 2012-10-15 08:37
If Torrance wants to claim the victory of no second question perhaps he could go into more detail as this was never dismissed by the Scottish Government but was obviously never going to be delivered by them either...........unlike the unionist parties they were willing to at least allow discussion of the matter as the unionist parties are (disengenuously ) promising extra powers if we are stupid enough to believe them and vote no.

Aye, we will get these extra powers "sometime".

I believe them.

It isn't about "victory" the so called issues that are still being touted by our.mainly crap media about Independence are to do with the pound suddenly becoming English when Scotland is Independent even though Scotland and England are partner countries to the union agreement.

If he thinks that ordinary types who don't pay attention to politics too often are "bored" perhaps people like David Torrance could improve the image of journalism by reporting a realistic interpretation of the issues involving the status quo and Independence.

The debate is not boring, the tired British media is boring, with a few notable exceptions.
# X_Sticks 2012-10-15 08:44
Slightly O/T:

"Scots will reject independence in referendum, says Scotland Secretary"

There is also a vote on whether Scotland should be "granted" independence. Currently voting at:
No 47.54% (483 votes)
Yes 52.46% (533 votes)

Whilst you (as I did) may may take issue with the "granted" part, it is the Torygraph. They still think they are part of a great empire!
# Taysider 2012-10-15 09:45
It's at 943 YES 53.9% and 806 NO 46.08% just now.

As if independence was theirs to give!
# Jim Johnston 2012-10-15 09:24
So it will be a single question with two options YES / NO.

Good, it beats the average opinion poll which can easily have 50+ options where you can enter a dozen or more ticks,( to allow "expert analysis" of opinions, generating a real danger to the rainforest caused by newspapers).

A simple question deserves a simple answer, YES ?.
Of course you could spin that to be Aye, Naw, maybes aye, maybes naw, can I answer black or white, is that the same as black or white,can you repeat the question ??? etc., etc, etc.
# GrassyKnollington 2012-10-15 09:27
Now chaps and chapesses you're being hard on David Torrance.

If you were a unionist journalist who had completely failed to understand the SNP's stance on a second question due to operating in a bubble where Torcuils, Kenny's, Brian's, Alans and sundry others daily reinforced each others wilful misunderstandin gs and never bothered to look outside that lazy bubble for the truth of the matter you're hardly going to admit it now.

With their abject failure to understand the Devo Max position many in the unionist media exposed their own shortcomings as political commentators.

The meme that Salmond wanted a second question was put out there early and often and even now they can't quite believe they didn't understand what was going on.

If David Torrance is honest in his assertion that Salmond really wanted it perhaps he will explain in his next article how he would have ensured it's passage through Westminster in the face of hostile Tory and Labour MP's who intended to block it.

Over to you David.
# Breeks 2012-10-15 09:53
For those who are still confused, Alex Salmond pronounced his preferred question for the referendum in January.

To quote the BBC article - "Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she was glad that Mr Salmond had set out his preference for a single question on independence.

But she added: "I notice that the first minister has left wriggle room for a second question in there. We believe that the question should be fair and decisive."

Eastasia subtly becomes Euroasia, but shhh! Say nothing! The proles won't notice.
# Kurokami 2012-10-15 09:57
Would persuading pro independent supporters to boycott broadsheet comments help?
Would posting on the Daily record and The Sun articles help?
Would trying to encourage STV to have more unbiased political debates help?
These may not be good ideas but we have to do something or before you know it we will be complaining how the bias media cost us the referendum
# Corm 2012-10-15 10:02
As a good few of you are aware DT has been told time and again on Twitter for months that the SNP and AS only ever wanted a single question. He is aware of that and was before he wrote that article, unless he doesnt read any of the tweets he is sent.
# GrassyKnollington 2012-10-15 10:43
I think being told you're wrong is bad enough but being told you're wrong by a group of people which you and your colleagues have already categorised and therefore dismissed as "cybernats" will carry no weight whatsoever.

Gary Gibbon of Channel 4 News wrote a woefully misinformed blog on Devo Max and the second question recently. He was inundated with angry responses explaining why he had got his facts wrong.

It gave him no pause whatsoever and his very next blog showed that he took none of the information provided on board. I suspect all it did was cause him to confide to colleagues that he too had been attacked by the dreaded "cybernats".

It's a big bubble.
# proudscot 2012-10-15 10:16
"Scots will reject in dependence in referendum, says Scotland Secretary."

This will be the same guy, Michael Moore, who accepted a position he said should be abolished after the devolved Scottish Parliament was re-established in 1999? This self-seeking apologist for the union, and human shield for his Tory masters in Westminster, certainly does not speak for this Scot, nor for any of my family and most of my friends. We will all be voting YES in 2014.
# Training Day 2012-10-15 10:16
You can just imagine Dave here sitting in a room with Magnus, Cockers, Torcuil et al as they eagerly wait to receive the latest Unionist line from Tory Central. "Now, we've won chaps, that's the position, that blighter Salmond has undoubtedly lost. Undoubtedly, I say. Any questions? Nope, didn't think so. Now off you go.."

Care to direct us to one example - just one will do Dave - where any SNP spokesperson anywhere , at any time, has said they wanted a second question? Your assertion that 'referendums have a knack of settling contentious issues for at least a generation' rather implies you're looking for a No vote (or maybe you think that a generation after a Yes vote we'll be begging for re-admission to the UK). A bit partial there Dave. Oh, and one more thing - care to share with us what you tweeted the other day about Cameron's abhorrent plans to celebrate the start of the biggest industrial slaughter in history? In your own time..
# Leader of the Pack 2012-10-15 10:17
Is Dave Torrance telling us that the 2 question option was the official SNP position from an insider perspective? I was always under the impression that the 2 question option was a consultation option and not official until it had been ratified by a broad based agreement through the consultation process?
He says that the question of the 16 and 17 year olds being allowed to vote only applies to those who are registered today but there will be no 16 or 17 year old registered today as its illegal for them to vote! How can there be 90,000 registered underaged voters? As for the wording of the question it has already been decided and the electoral commission is not being authorised to change it! The reality is the Scottish Government has everything it planned for and the No campaign has had to capitulate on every issue they strongly objected to! That is a fact! The opposite is being spun outrageously by the MSM and now it seems by Mr Torrance!
I think Mr Torrance has a bit of the unionist in him.
# snowthistle 2012-10-15 12:41
Of course he has a bit of the unionist in him, he has never pretended otherwise.
I don't agree with his points but I think it quite brave of him to write for NNS and also quite brave of NNS to publish his views.

There is little point in us talking among ourselves, we have to be able to answer the Unionist points no matter how tiresome they seem. I'm impressed by the fact that the majority of comments deal with the substance of his article and not the author.
# .Scot 2012-10-15 10:43
How odd that the author pretends there is no contradiction in the Unionist position.

Denying the middle ground (third option) in the Scot's plebiscite at the same time as they (Mr Cameron et al) are insisting on a 3rd option, (Renegotiating the UK's European Union agreements) for a referendum on "SMASHING" the European Union?

In/Out/renegotiate! Precisely what he & Mr Torrance are happy to see Scots being denied in the referendum. Well done. The Unionists held a three question ballot on the last Scottish constitutional change.

The whole Unionist stance has more than a whiff of sleaze about it. I hope postal ballots will be 100% checked in the light of Labour's Glasgow east by-election problems?

I should include a link supporting my claim that vacillating Unionists, Cameron & Westminster are insisting on a 3rd option on their Union smashing referendum proposals so here it is:
# km 2012-10-15 10:43
Just found a site managed by Peter A Bell that scoops up and manages press stories related to Scottish Independence, saves having to go and search individual sources:

It highlighted Cochrane's article today in the Telegraph, and I made the mistake of reading it. The article and comments, pure bile.
# Arraniki 2012-10-15 10:45
Borrowing from history here.
First Minister to Prime Minister:

" Gotchya!"
# Leswil 2012-10-15 11:03
I read today this time from A.Darling that we have stood shoulder to shoulder through wars etc etc.

Forgive me if I am wrong, just what wars were actually Scotland's wars? What wars or occupations did Scotland start?

For sure we paid a high price for standing shoulder to shoulder.

It makes me ask the question, just when did the English ( or call then British ) ever stand shoulder to shoulder with Scots, in any crisis of Scots making?

Aye well, I guess that will be NEVER then. ( do not mention the Darrian Project, as that was engineered to fail by our "friends" and that is what lead to 1707.)
Maybe it is just our time, to do what WE want to do, have the country WE want to have, and not have to listen to statements like this from Darling and all the rest with their fake sobs.

Politicians to who, having their gravy train is more important than their country, and there is many, many of them.

Do not fool yourself by saying we have had a good and long lasting "partnership" an equal partnership there has never been, and never will be. Time to go our own way.
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-10-15 11:15
The level of denial on Scottish related articles in the Westminster media is now reaching hysterical proportions with poster's who are attacking the idea of Scottish Independence in denial that they are basing their information on 'too wee, too stupid, too poor' Westminster generated propaganda. When asked where their information is coming from, the sources, they are left in even greater denial relying on 'everyone knows' as the basis for their contention.

We are two years out and even now the 'No' campaign is building their campaign on a tissue of lies, incorrectly used statistical evidence (Ruthies 86% of Scots are Scroungers) and defending a right wing orthodoxy at Westminster which wants to destroy the inherent conservative socialism / social democrat views of the average Scot and what Scots consider to be a fair society created in law and practice over the last 500 years.

That emptiness of the 'No' campaign's Tabard is evident in their attempts to bend being totally out manouvered as a victory. On the other hand, this weekend in Perth, I will join with a mass of very happy SNP members who know Westminster has blinked at a party conference that is what it says a 'conference' and not a stage managed media show. We will squabble about NATO and other issues, some may take the huff but one thing that unites the SNP is doing the best for Scotland and gaining independence this time around no matter what the ever more desperate UK / Westminster media throw at us.

The latest 'spin' I saw was that Nicola Sturgeon is on the 'Yes' campaign board to hide Wee Eck's blushes if they loose ... two years out and they are reduced to this.

Older posters will remember the song, 'Three Wheels on my Waggon' - in my estimation the No campaign is down to two. The first to come off was with the SNP's outright majority in 2011, the second to come off is the referendum bill will be exactly as the SNP wants it. The third to come off will be a successful 'Yes' vote in 2011. The fourth will come off when the Scottish Parliament passes a bill to withdraw from the Treaty of Union then the 'No' campaign will watch those 'cybernats go galloping bye'.
# Leader of the Pack 2012-10-15 11:23
I was also like to correct Mr Torrances spin on the local elections. There was NO Labour come back from a Scottish perspective! They in fact lost MORE ground to the SNP and only gained ground from the Lib Dems and Tories! As it is the SNP who are in power and the only threat to Labours dominance his decleration of a Labour fight back is in fact false from a Scottish perspective! What is it with UK journalist? Have none of them a shred of reality objectivity or honesty in them at all?
# Willow 2012-10-15 11:23
The BBC article is now open to comments
# gus1940 2012-10-15 11:51
The BBC are at it again with one of their favourite dodges.

First of all they have Derek McKay of The SNP interviewed remotely and then 10 minutes later they have in the studio representatives of Tory Labour and Liberals having a nice friendly debate about Independence where all of them voice their opposition thereto without any opportunity for The SNP to contribute to the debate - DISGUSTING.
# Marga B 2012-10-15 11:55
Can you not bring together some independence supporters, academics and public figures, to write and send rebuttals of wrong information to the press?

There must be some public figures with enough commitment to independence.

Alternatively, arrange talk(s)/debates on "steps to independence", by suitably media-important types?

If someone explains the situation properly surely some figures will respond. Hammering away will eventually gather some impetus.

If you look at the Financial Times, the Independent and even the Telegraph, also strangely the American media in particular, there are journalists with great sympathy for Catalonia. Could not these same people be approached to explain Scotland to the Scots?

Just a thought.

Edit - name of journalist at the Telegraph: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, head of international economic information. Always an interesting read and specialist in Catalonia.
# X_Sticks 2012-10-15 11:59
"Scottish independence: Cameron and Salmond to strike referendum deal"

Comment allowed, usual vitreol fromk the brits (also as usual open to the whole uk and well advertised by our state broadcaster!)
# Dundonian West 2012-10-15 12:13
Even the 21st Earl of Suffolk,of the 4th Creation,an English hereditary peer,has been moved to make a comment!
"I think it woud be very sad if Scotland were to leave the UK. I think we're stronger together and weaker apart.

I'm very interested to know what would happen with; banks, defence, EU, NATO membership, currency, economy, north sea oil, taxes, public sector, pensions, NHS etc etc etc!

Please note the use of the verb 'Think'.
He only 'thinks'---- really must try harder.
# Clarinda 2012-10-15 12:05
I'm curious to know why the rest of the UK isn't alarmed by the insult of their MPs being unable to come up with patently obvious and attractive qualities that makes remaining attached to the UK irresistable for those living in Scotland that the rest of the UK can take full advantage on a daily basis?

A comment I saw the other day - apologies for not recalling the author's name - suggested the scenario of Scotland being already Independent and requesting reasons that would without hesitation entice us back to the UK fold. Well?
# Marga B 2012-10-15 12:43
OT but have just read this comment on a CNN comments board, on an article about Catalonia (factual and balanced report) - from a Spanish reader, it seems:.

"English media loves hurting Spain. For some reason, every time you hear about Scotland independence, British/English media barely says a word about it. But when it's about Cataluña independence they spread the word with a smile in their faces. I can understand that Spain is not the best country in the world and things here are not in the best moment. But I've got the feeling this is orchestrated from someone else to just to hurt."
# Onwards 2012-10-15 12:50
The BBC comments right now show the type of bias the YES campaign is up against, now it's 'Game On'

Naturally, there is no Scottish only discussion in the Scotland section.
# Breeks 2012-10-15 13:05
I don't mind the comments Onwards, it's the BBC itself which I find more objectionable.

I'll be very curious to learn what the Electoral Commission has to say about bias in the media and the bearing that might be having on a 'free' election/referendum.
# southernscot 2012-10-15 12:55
O/T RUSI think tank Independent Scotland defence costs £1.8 Billion.
# moujick11 2012-10-15 16:27
This report is a real boon to the yes campaign....make sure it gets the circulation it deserves!
# Leader of the Pack 2012-10-15 12:57
There will be no debate on Scottish Independence. There will be claim and counterclaim sleaze deception misinformation disinformation spin and avoidance. This will be the pattern in the MSM for the next 2 years and it will get frantic the closer it gets to the referendum. We will get repetition upon repitition of the same disinformation misinformation sleaze spin and avoidance. And all of it will come from the No campaign. They have a willing and cooperative media in which to conduct their campaign. There will be no positive case or argument regarding Scotlands place within the union as frankly there isnt one or we would be reading about it instead repetatively daily adnauseum. Ive tried counter arguments on the Hootsdross but continually get moderated and blocked on the flimsiest of excuses. We've all seen the BBCs reaction to pro Scottish Independence argument. No dont expect any kind or level of debate. It is going to be a very dirty frustrating and bitter 2 years. The interesting thing to note however is the complete and utter disregard by the MSM for their catastrophic fall in sales and profits! They simply do not care which makes me wonder just how "Official" is their remit to publish if they are not acting in the best interests of their shareholders?
# Barontorc 2012-10-15 17:14
Who's taken over the MSM? This is a question I posed several weeks ago. What business sees its income and profits disappear like snow off a dyke and does not reverse policy to stem the damage.

The point was made earlier today that the very deliberate process to set limits on expenditure by political parties, is no more than farcical, when the No campaign is backed up to the hilt by every newspaper in the country and the BBC for free (or so it would seem - everything has its cost!).

Who are these shareholders who idly watch their investment fritter away - in some cases, with no hope of recovery, such as the suicidal Hootsman?

Was there a silent takeover of MSM interests in the past five or so years in preparation for this backs-to-wall rearguard action?

It can't all be related to knighthoods and such other baubles - serious money is going down the pan, so who's behind it?
# Leader of the Pack 2012-10-15 13:24
There is going to be a referendum on Scottish Independence! A unionist victory?
It will happen in the latter part of 2014! A unionist victory?
It will be voted on by voters registered to vote only in Scotland! A unionist victory?
16 to 17 year olds will get to vote for the first time? A unionist victory?
The single question will be determined and worded by the Scottish Government! A unionist victory?
Westminster has had to not only endorse these conditions theyve been forced to legally bind themselves to the result! A unionist victory?
Perhaps Torrance you can explain where the Westminster Government won a consession on an event they never wanted to happen on an event they cant determine the timing on an event they cant input on in any way shape or form on an event they cant open up to the UK on an event their legally binded to honour.
# gus1940 2012-10-15 13:59
RE the Press Conference with Alex Salmond which is currently running on the BBC News Channel would I be right in thinking that it is in The Unionist's and The BBC's interests that it is almost impossible to hear any of the questions being asked? Or am I just being paranoid?

It would appear that Eck is confidently answering all questions without any trace of the sort of evasion normally displayed by Unionist apparatchiks. Of course, if we can't hear the questions it makes it more difficult to judge his performance which suits the Guys In The Black Hats perfectly.
# Bill C 2012-10-15 14:24
X_Sticks just voted in the Telegraph poll, thanks for the link. Also added "Your poll question illustrates why many people in Scotland feel that the time has come to dissolve the union. " Should Scotland be granted independence?" Such arrogance is beyond belief! Scotland will not be "granted" independence, Scotland will VOTE YES to independence. Really must get your facts right old chap!" Bloody cheek!
# Leswil 2012-10-15 14:59
Here is another one from the BBC, next Thursday Question Time is coming from Glasgow.
With, M.Curran (yup, her!), R.Davidson, and N. Sturgeon.

So the format they prefer, 2-1. The SNP will be under represented as they usually are, probably making the excuse that it is one each from other parties.

The fact that they are joined at the hip, matters not.

This is fair discussion by BBC standards, when two can try and bully one and hope it works out!
If Nicola is in form she still can whupp them, that is if she can get a word in, or avoids being constantly talked over by the hysterical Curran and her new found equally big mouthed Davidson. ( naw, Curran still has a big edge!)

However, I suspect she will be talked over, they will attempt to bully her, and the BBC will relish in it.

So BBC, why not risk doing the right thing, and allow the sides to be even, so we can actually have a balanced debate?
# cuckooshoe 2012-10-15 15:37
According to John Pienaar on BBC 5 Live Scotland will be voting against the break up of the United Kingdom.. ho hum..
# call me dave 2012-10-15 15:50
Prof Curtis on BBC radio Scotland a few minutes ago.

Neither the UK parliament nor the House of Lords nor The Prime Minister will have any say in the wording of the question.

The SG will bring the question to the Scottish Parliament and it will be voted on there.

I think that's just fine,

Call me Dave coming to Scotland twice in the one year, somethings up!



BBC Scotland blog open for comments but I gave up on page 30 the pages were mounting up quicker than I could read.

There is soooooo much ill informed comment from people out there mainly down South but also in Scotland too. Many rehearsing long dead arguments and far too much hatred and invective.

Missed AS on the telly but lots of extended programmes tonight to tune into.

# From The Suburbs 2012-10-15 16:23
BBC Radio Scotland continually interrupting and questioning Nicola Sturgeon which is fine but claims about the benefits of the Union are going unchallenged whether its Cameron Darling or Moore.

For example what about Bankrupt Britain is broken with former world respected institutions such as Westminster MPs, Metropolitan Police and BBC tarnished beyond repair.
# James01 2012-10-15 18:46
Just watched an interview on Sky News, with SNP spokesman Stewart Hosie and Alistair Darling, it was exactly the same thing as you described, the interviewer and Darling basically ganged up on Hosie who was vigorously questioned and interrupted, while Darling went unchallenged. This is happening again and again and it's quiet shocking, the British media seem entirely unable to remain impartial on this subject.
# Leswil 2012-10-15 16:33
I think it should be considered to bring in an independent body(poss no nonsense American ) to investigate and report on the utter bias of the British media towards the referendum.

In order to inform those people who believe all they read, of what is really going on.

Who will continue to undermine the Scottish government with their lies and spin in order to control the outcome, we must thwart then from that path by shaming them at the very least.
# chicmac 2012-10-15 17:24
Just heard DT on STV. Immediately after a claim that support for independence was only 28% (new dodgy poll). He claimed that everybody had already made up their minds and that polls on independence have not shifted for years which gave the impression that this has been the level for years. That is completely untrue.

For example. look at this collection of polls which show opinion on single Yes/No type questions over the years.

Here is another graphic which shows the
trend graph for the Agree or Disagree to the Scottish Government negotiating for independence with Westminster, not quite the same as independence and some hard-line support was alienated by it but still showing both running neck and neck.

What the U's do love to promote is polls where there are more than one option to dilute apparent support for independence or where there are other questions designed to presage opinion before the indy question is asked.

But now to go as far as to suggest anomalous low support polls are the level at which support for independence has been for years is another new low for the Dependency Tendency.

There is no level below which the Us or their media lapdogs will not descend to defend their careers.
# Iaincraig 2012-10-15 18:44
I think the word invertebrate is the one you are looking for? Because that is exactly how he came across on STV news tonight.

That is STV off my viewing schedule as well as the BBC now.

No TV I can watch and no newspapers I can read. Oh well, I guess it is old fashioned talking to people then. I guess I should appluad him for that, in that he rid me of any lingering notions that any in the Brit MSM were going to be balanced in thier approach to Scottish Independence. U's poodles the lot of them.
# isleofskye 2012-10-15 17:38
Satellite dish down, BBC Reporting Scotland displays message 'The content doesn't appear to be working. Try again later'. BBC London, no problem. Guess I'll need to stay up late to watch replays instead. So not good enough. YES, YES, YES.
# Marga B 2012-10-15 19:22
OT, but does anyone have any hints about getting behind paywalls? I'd love to see this article "Spain, Britain and the forbidden fruits of independence" but I've used up all my free views. Stuck with a Spanish summary.

It's a shame that all the best articles about Catalonia are in this paper!

Nice cartoons!
# cynicalHighlander 2012-10-15 21:03
Try going to 'File' and depending on your OS look for 'New Private Window' or similar might get round the free view limits which I use for Herald articles.
# wee folding bike 2012-10-17 09:49
Sometimes you can get round that by deleting cookies. How you do that varies with your OS/browser. You don't need to delete them all, just the ones for the site in question.
# ScotFree1320 2012-10-15 19:53
No, Mr Salmond did NOT say he wanted a second question. This is what was said:

"My concern as First Minister of Scotland is to make sure the independence question is on the ballot paper and fairly asked - But I'm open to persuasion that there should be a second question, as it's called, so people should be asked, 'Do you want independence?' And if it's not answered Yes, 'Would you like fiscal autonomy, or devo max, or fiscal responsibility?'"

Warning: Links to The Herald
# rhymer 2012-10-16 12:54
Got really annoyed at the constant flow of propaganda yesterday that was disguised as a Q&A session between two BBC reporters. Why do we waste time listening to BBC staff pretend to interview each other by swapping lies, spin and propaganda.
Then today, another unnecessary dose of poison from Brian Taylor to try and spoil what was a positive news day for Scotland.
I realise that B.Taylor will lose his cushy job when the YES vote dominates but it will be a relief to all of us when his so called spin
(spin = lies) is finally banished from these pages. I look forward to Scottish independence when the BBC starts broadcasting news again instead of Westminster propaganda.

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