I find myself in a position were I’m neither full pro-yes or indeed for that matter pro-no at present. My political instincts have always believed that a federal path would be the best option for Scotland, however it is not actually going to be an option that this referendum will serve.
I don’t intend on blogging about the pros and cons of independence at present, but merely the way the arguments and facts should be presented to allow the public to make a genuinely informed decision… and to learn the lessons of the AV referendum – both the positives and the negatives.
I personally will face a similar dilemma at the independence referendum as I did at the AV referendum – in that I in that my preferred option is not one that the Government will allow me to have in front of me. Even if I viewed my party being defeated in a contest using the Single Transferable Vote system during the recent council elections, it is my preference of voting system in that it gives a fair and legitimately proportional result without detracting the direct link between constituents.
At the last election I did in many ways grudgingly vote for AV given that it was better than the status quo – however it was not proportional. The reason I voted for it was that there was a logical route and debate that could then occur afterwards.
However, the lessons I learned was that the argument presented to the electorate was either “all politicians are scummy” (Yes to AV) or that “Your going to kill the children” (No to AV). .. Ultimately the scarier and most negative of the two campaigns won it due to negativity.
Sadly the independence referendum so far is shaping out to be, whilst drastically more feeble thus far, the same negative drivel - The yes to independence mob (Yes Scotland) camp seems to be portraying the fear factor argument “All politicians south of the border are scummy and are going to make you all jobless” and the no camp portraying the argument of “you can’t do maths”.
It has not really got into full spin yet, but there is a very different way of handling the referendum – whilst taking the positives of the AV referendum to fight the battle.
Both the No AV and Yes AV managed to become a clear and distinctive campaign force distinctive from political party, however did manage to utilise talent wings from most mainstream political parties and independent minded individuals to a yes (and indeed no) campaign. A clear example of this was the differentiation between “Labour Yes” and “Labour No”.
I would like to hope this kind of interlinking a sharing of skills and ideas does come around in this referendum – as I know for a fact there are a few individuals within the Scottish Liberal Democrats, such as my friend who is ex-Scottish Parliamentary candidate and self confessed “Pro-indy” Lib Dem, who, whilst I don’t agree fully with him on a number of topics, could most certainly provide a few sensible suggestions to the pro-indy lobby. If there are some lib dem members for independence Im certain there will be a few labour and conservative members who will also be for it.
There are some serious concerns so far that the “Yes Scotland campaign” seems to be alienating the Pro-independence green lobby by putting key SNP personnel in charge of strategy and logistics – and whether the interlinking and co-operation aspect comes into force or not remains to be seen. Patrick Harvie’s Scottish Greens and ex-SNP member and current independent MSP Margo McDonald are most certainly people that the pro-indy lobby should be getting around the table if they are going to get their sales pitch right.
If the SNP are going to push non-snp members to the side it will most certainly be used by the no-campaign. The headlines will be all along the lines of “El-presidente’ in power-mad struggle for separation”.
I have a lot of respect so far in this debate for Green MSP Patrick Harvie who seems to be suggesting the argument for and against should be taken to the backbone of the argument – as to avoid confusion on policy decisions.
How the argument yes-no arguement should be presented
I don’t know if anybody actually watched the BBC big debate, or whether you foolishly left the TV on channel (like I did) to watch Nicola Sturgeon MSP (SNP) and Ruth Davidson MSP (Conservative) ramble at and over each other like two children squabbling in a playground.
If you did keep it on the channel, I hope you agree that both failed to achieve anything other than utter confusion about what independence would mean for Scotland.
The SNP and Torys tried to utilise the show as a Policy Hustings to promote their own parties – please keep in mind that there is a separate election process for defining the policy position which will occur at the next Scottish Parliamentary elections
The independence referendum is about what will happen if we are declared independent, what is the process of becoming independent and whether constitutionally it is better than the status quo.
It is not a referendum on whether you think David Cameron is a knob (definition - A rounded lump or ball, esp. at the end or on the surface of something) or whether you prefer SNP to the Labour party, Lib Dems, Greens, Tories, Scottish Socialists etc. If it was a referendum on whether you thought Cameron was a knob – I think most of Scotland, myself included would probably vote yes. If it was a Scottish parliament election id probably vote for my party – unless the candidate was not the best.
The Yes independence Scotland group need to be able to present costings on re-establishing Scottish versions of organisations like HMRC, Home Office, DVLA etc. Ironically the UK Labour party previous quite liked centralising things to save money so a lot of this and the skills required for some of the functionality might well need to be imported from England, Northern Ireland and Wales. They also need to clearly define income and clarify legal wrangles surrounding income.
The No campaigns, and there will most certainly be campaigns, need to similarly provide costings and get details to clarify legal wrangles.
The campaign should be fought on the backbone of what happens if Scotland was to become independent – Alex Salmond needs to avoid being the figure head in the same way Nick Clegg should have avoided being the figure head for AV to attack.
In the mean time whilst this car crash is going on I hope that Devo-Plus present a positive alternative so that if there is a NO vote there is not an end point to this argument in the same way the electoral reform argument has faded after the last election.
My issue is whether I believe that voting NO will kill off the progressive devolution argument and whether the costs and arguments for independence outweigh the risk of waiting and hoping for my preferred choice. As there is no option for further devolution – I like many others have to decide – which option is the second best thing?
Separation, which could apparently lead to chaos, uncertainty and financial repercussions or waiting in hope that there will be another chance to see a sensible transfer of powers whilst maintaining a position and say on NATO, UN etc.
Although there is probably a logical argument for abstinence in the process, the group that most positively provides me of their credentials that I can verify or see logic may get my vote.
I am undecided but if I had to vote at present id probably be very slightly more inclined to vote no.