Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Referendum

I'm not that much of a political animal, although I can get a bit hot under the collar over local issues. Windfarms is one of them. But that's not what this post will be about. It will be on quite a contentious issue: Scottish independence.

At the moment, the devolved government in Edinburgh is run by the Scottish National Party, headed by its leader Alex Salmond. The stated aim and objective of the SNP is to gain full independence for Scotland, and to leave the United Kingdom. During the elections for the Scottish Parliament in 2007, the SNP promised it would organise a referendum on independence within its first term in office. The party scraped into office by the margin of 1 seat, leaving it in a minority government. It needs the cooperation of other political parties to get any major legislation passed. The other main parties at Holyrood (the seat of the Scottish Parliament) are opposed to full independence for Scotland.

As matters stand, the SNP will not be able to organise a referendum, as they do not hold the necessary mandate in parliament. It is therefore necessary for them to persuade other parties to agree to a referendum. And that's where it gets interesting. Independence comes in shapes and sizes, it is not as black and white as it may appear to be on first sight. The Scottish Government could be granted powers to levy its own income tax, in other words, that more powers be devolved to it from the UK Government in London. Full independence would mean that Scotland would organise its own defence, and have its own foreign policy. And there are all sorts of shades of grey in between.

Which brings the focus on the referendum, and the questions to be asked therein. If the SNP wants to get its referendum off the ground, it would appear likely that concessions need to be made at this stage - in terms of how far any increase in devolved powers would go as a result of said referendum. It is, however, not a wholly Scottish affair. It is a United Kingdom matter. Will this referendum, and its outcome, lead to the break-up of the Union?

My perception of this situation is that it could, potentially, lead to the break-up of the UK. The way politicking is going at the moment in Scotland, I cannot see a referendum coming off the ground. If anything, bearing in mind the SNP's stated objective (the break-up of the United Kingdom), I would be opposed to having it.

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