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Thread: Cameron Throws Scots Gauntlet of Independence

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    Cameron Throws Scots Gauntlet of Independence

    The UK prime minister has challenged Scotland’s first minister to hold a referendum on independence, paving the way for a vote that could trigger the collapse of the United Kingdom.

    David Cameron will on Tuesday offer Alex Salmond the power to hold a legally binding vote on whether Scotland should remain a part of the 300-year-old union with England.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0fbc2d24-3...#ixzz1izuPvdCD

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    It's hard to tell from outside how serious they really are about this. Any comments?

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    Difficult to say but I'm not sure how serious this really is. It seems to be more of a game of political brinkmanship to cut Salmond down to size a little bit.

    The reasoning seems to be that Scotland will trade one Union or Alliance (UK) for another (the EU) and as we all know the EU gravy train has slid to a halt somewhat.

    This is quite unlike the UK gravy train which currently serves Scotland very very well. So....... a referendum now on joining the European Union and the Euro may not go down too well in Salmond's favour but who knows.....

    A real referendum wouldn't be a bad idea though. They should hold one in Scotland to settle the issue once and for all and they should give the UK (including Scotland for the time being) a referendum on the EU.

    I guess pigs will fly before that will happen.........
    ~ **** Democracy! It's 2 wolves and 1 sheep deciding what's for dinner.

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    Q&A: Scottish independence row

    Here's more on the referendum.

    The Scottish National Party, which took power at Holyrood last year, has promised to hold a vote during the current parliament.

    But it had been reported that David Cameron was in favour of holding a referendum earlier than the SNP would like - something government sources later denied - and of restricting the question that can be asked.

    The Scottish government has accused him of trying to "interfere with Scottish democracy".

    Here are some of the key questions about the row - for more on the background of the quest for Scottish independence click here.

    What has the UK government said?

    Very little concrete so far - Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has said he will be setting out the government's position in a statement to Parliament. It is thought he will do that sometime this week.

    What ministers have said is that the legal position regarding a referendum is unclear and they're just trying to get a "fair" and "decisive" vote.

    The three biggest Westminster parties, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour, are opposed to the break-up of the United Kingdom.

    What have SNP pledged?

    In its 2011 manifesto the party did not suggest a date for a referendum, stating simply that it would bring forward its Referendum Bill "in this next Parliament" - before 2016.

    But Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says her boss Alex Salmond made it "abundantly clear that our position was to have a referendum in the second half of the parliamentary term".

    First Minister Mr Salmond announced that time frame shortly before the May 2011 elections. The SNP say they made their timetable clear before the election and it is right to stick to that now - but their opponents suggest the party does not want a referendum any sooner because it fears it might lose.

    What is the legal position?

    Constitutional matters are not devolved so any referendum held without Westminster's backing would not be legally binding on the UK government.

    David Cameron's official spokesman has said that "a number of independent commentators and legal experts have highlighted the fact that a Referendum Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament could be open to legal challenge".

    Westminster could effectively lend Holyrood the power - through new legislation - to hold a binding referendum, but that could have certain conditions attached.

    Does Scotland need Westminster's permission to hold a referendum?

    No - it can go ahead with a non-binding referendum on its own - although Westminster says this could be subject to legal challenge.

    However, the Scottish government says even a decisive vote for independence in an advisory referendum would have huge "moral and political force" and would be impossible for the UK government to ignore.

    What might the sticking points be?

    It had been thought the UK would ask for the referendum to be held earlier than Mr Salmond wanted. But government sources later denied that a "sunset clause" requiring it to take place within a specified time frame would be attached if powers were granted for a binding vote.

    Westminster is thought to favour a straight yes/no vote - do you want to stay in the UK or leave it? It reportedly wants to rule out a third option - so-called "devolution max" - which would offer more powers for Scotland, short of full independence.

    The SNP say they also favour a simple yes or no, but they accept there is "a significant body of opinion" in Scotland which wants more powers - for example over the economy and fiscal policy - but not a complete split.

    There is a fear at Westminster is that "devolution max" will be harder to defeat because it will split the unionist vote and win over those who otherwise would have said no to full independence.

    Why is David Cameron saying this now?

    The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson says the PM and his ministers are infuriated that Mr Salmond is riding high in the opinion polls despite refusing so far to reveal any specifics on such a major issue.

    The UK government also says uncertainty over a referendum is damaging the Scottish economy - they say major business leaders have warned them it is deterring inward investment. They won't reveal the companies involved - on the grounds of commercial confidentiality - but say the business organisation CBI Scotland is unhappy with the idea of independence.

    However, the BBC's Scotland correspondent James Cook says the SNP would point to a list of major companies which have been happy to invest in recent months - including Dell, Amazon and Michelin.

    Just how much support is there for independence in Scotland?

    Polling expert John Curtice says support for independence is somewhere between 32 and 38% - actually down from where it was at the start of the SNP's last term in office as a minority government.

    A YouGov poll conducted in April 2011 put support lower than that - at 28% - with 57% opposed.

    It is hard to predict how it might play out. As the coalition's spending cuts continue to bite, there may be more appetite in Scotland for independence. Alternatively, as the SNP becomes burdened by the responsibilities of incumbency, its popularity could fall - threatening the prospects of its constitutional goal.

    Can Cameron force the issue?

    David Cameron has told the BBC he believes it is "very unfair on the Scottish people" not to set a date for the referendum soon. But he has also insisted Westminster is "not going to dictate this" and has said he will work with the Scottish government to resolve the legal position.

    The PM has a fine line to tread. He may believe that the earlier a referendum is held, the better the chances are of Scotland staying in the Union. But if he pushes too hard he runs the risk of making it look like a "London/Tory fix" and actually increasing support for a split.

    What do Labour say?

    Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has said her party wants the referendum to be held "as quickly as possible" in Scotland. If the prime minister's proposals "help there to be a quick, clear and decisive referendum result, we would welcome them", she added.

    She also said her party is in favour of a yes/no vote only on independence.

    But Labour's former First Minister Henry McLeish says he is "concerned" at Mr Cameron's intervention, accusing the PM of failing to understand the real issues involved. He says the choice for Scotland should not be simply between full independence and the status quo, but instead there should be a debate about increasing devolved powers for Scotland - within the United Kingdom.

    Mr McLeish also says the unionist campaign in Scotland should be led by Labour, given the much lower level of support for the Conservatives north of the border.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16473265

    As far as my opinion goes, I honestly have no idea how this will turn out. This happened much sooner than I had thought, it could go either way.

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    I guess the question is how genuine the likelihood of this poll will be.

    My guess would be that voters would vote in favour of what appears to be the best deal for them and since the EU is currently in a twist, one can't help but wonder whether this referendum issue isn't being pushed now in order to capitalise on EU financial and political uncertainty.

    The gamble is thus that the majority in Scotland would not vote for "Independence" (which is an illusion anyway since they'd simply trade the UK for the EU which is arguably an even worse alternative) and that they would stay in the UK.

    If for example the EU economy and political situation improved at a later stage and Scottish Independence enthusiasm were revived, the UK Authorities (who aren't necessarily only English) would simply state that "the matter was settled before by referendum and it's now closed".

    Imo the Bosses have calculated that now would be a good time to hold the referendum since the chances of "Independence" being rejected would be high for the time being due to EU and Euro uncertainty.

    That would take the sails out of Salmond and his movement since, for the time being, they are riding high on an enthusiastic tide of feelgood rhetoric but don't have a whole lot with which to back it up.

    Should the referendum be held we'll soon find out whose bluff will be called. Interesting times ahead.
    ~ **** Democracy! It's 2 wolves and 1 sheep deciding what's for dinner.

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