Monday, 30 November 2009


First Minister Alex Salmond today published the Scottish Government's White Paper - Your Scotland, Your Voice - which paves the way for the people of Scotland to be given the right to choose their constitutional future in a referendum

The SNP believes that independence delivers a new 21st century partnership of equals between Scotland and England - including giving the Scottish Government Parliament the responsibilities needed to fight recession, support jobs, and maximise the opportunities that will come with recovery.

As well as setting out the case for independence in more depth and detail than ever before, the White Paper also examines the other constitutional options open to Scotland; the status quo, the proposals of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution, and maximum devolution including fiscal autonomy.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"Following a decade of devolution and the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament, there is now a clear and consistent demand for further constitutional progress for Scotland and extending the powers of the Parliament.

"The vast majority of people want to expand the responsibilities of the Parliament, so that we have more powers to do more for Scotland - the economic recovery, the right to speak up for Scotland in Europe, and the ability to remove Trident nuclear weapons from our soil.

"The National Conversation has spearheaded that process, and engaged all those who want to move Scotland forward - both in terms of more responsibilities and a complete extension of powers with independence. It culminates in this White Paper, paving the way for a Referendum Bill early next year to give voice to the democratic demand of Scotland.

"The debate in Scottish politics is no longer between change and no change - it's about the right kind of change we seek, and the right of the people to choose their future in a free and fair referendum.

"The White Paper examines the options open to Scotland: no more powers under the status quo, a few more powers with Calman, a lot more powers through maximum devolution, and the complete extension of the powers of the Scottish Parliament with independence - the policy of the Scottish Government. This historic document sets out the case for Scottish independence with unprecedented depth and clarity.

"Popular opinion in Scotland has moved far beyond the status quo. And Calman has also been shown to fall behind the needs of the people - with the UK Government refusing to make any progress on important issues such as air weapons this side of the election, and substantial doubt as to what if anything will happen afterwards.

"This White Paper charts the route to progress for Scotland - and we are calling on people of all parties and none who want real substantive additions to the powers of the Parliament to rally to the referendum campaign. That is why we are open to including the option of such powers on the referendum ballot paper, alongside independence.

"It's time for the people to have their say on Scotland's future."

For goodness sake, why do the London parties think that they know better than us? Is it for the same reason that they refused us the right of a referendum on Lisbon?


  1. I hope they get it passed, Scotland should have its say on going alone, at least you get the chance to have the debate out in the open.
    One question though, what about Scots elsewhere in the UK? Shouldn't they get a say too?

  2. QM:

    I can't for the life of me see why they are determined to stop people having the opportunity to say what they want.

    I don't know about Scots elsewhere. I really don't think that that would be practicable, and why stop at elsewhere in the UK? What about Scots in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, or in teh EU... well, or anywhere, I guess?

    I'd be interested to see what other people thought, including those Scots who are abroad.... Scunnert?

  3. Tris - as much as I'd like a say I reject the idea. Here's why: Who runs the election? Who has a track record on fake postal ballots? Nuff said.

  4. Fair enough Scunnert! I understand where you're coming from there! You can share my vote if you like :)

  5. To be honest I don't think you can include Scots out of the UK, however those that do reside in the UK (and at this moment Scotland remains part of the UK) should have their voices heard as well. It may be difficult and not all will care, but they should at least have a say if they register for a vote and include a birth certificate. Then again expats can register for a vote in UK elections so long as they retain nationality.

  6. Well, there seems to be a precedent there QM. Seriously though we would have to watch very carefully what was going on with postal votes.

    After all, in the 70s, didn't they run a scam including counting dead people as having voted against.

    People who can do that are capable of anything. We really need to have UN scrutineers in at our elections, I think. :)

  7. To Scunnert, Tris, and Quiet Man:
    Good conversation. I am a Scottish-Canadian living in Edinburgh. I think that all Scots should have a vote, as long as they were born in Scotland, or are the children of people who were, and are British citizens. By the way, 119 countries in the world allow some form or level of voting for expats, a great many including national votes, including referenda, and 19 allow for representation from abroad in the home parliament, including France and Italy!!

  8. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksNovember 30, 2009 10:43 pm

    Interesting that Salmond (as I understand it) is anticipating a referendum that will have options for varying degrees of Scotish autonomy.....not just a simple yea or nay on independence. I wonder what would be the effect of no clear majority among three or more options. And, for that matter, is such a referendum legally binding on the Westminster a part of the devolution process for example?

    From an historical American perspective, independence from King and Parliament was a hard idea to sell. Many members of the Continental Congress favored some sort of a petition to the King for a redress of grievances. A vote for full independence was at the first a minority position favored by the radicals.....Adams, Jefferson, Washington, etc. (And it had been decided that a declaration of full independence would require a unanimous vote of the colonies in the Congress.) At the last, it came down to the vote of Delaware, which was evenly split between its two attending delegates. Caesar Rodney famously rode 80 miles in a thunderstorm and arrived at Philadelphia "in his boots and spurs" in time to cast the deciding vote for independence. But it had been a hard sell.

  9. Lord Ozarks:

    It is interesting. I'm not sure how it would work, but of coure it does make for a more comprehensive inquiry into the aspirations of the Scottish people than a simple status quo/independence referendum.

    Of course the likelyhood is that the referendum bill will not pass through parliament, the opposition parties having formed an unholy, London-inspired alliance to ensure that it does not, but if perchance it does, it would be a very brave Westminster that would ignore the will of the Scots as shown in a referendum, passed by the country's parliament. it might not be legally binding, but it would be morally binding. That said, morality and Westminster might as well live on different planets!

    Good old Delaware, and I have to say Mr Rodney and his riding skills. 80 miles is a long way on horseback in a thunderstorm.

    I wonder if you think it was worth the effort? LOL.

  10. Hey MacKay:

    Welcome to Munguin's Republic. I'm glad you are enjoying the thread and thank you for your contribution.

    It is certainly worth thinking about including Scots living in other places. My worry is that the organisation of such a huge task would be beyond the abilities of the current Westminster lot to get right. I understand that all elections are (and I imagine a referendum would be) their responsibility. Wee Dougie Alexander or Jim Murphy. Now I know we have to be very careful what we say about them, but.... let's just say, I'd not leave either of them in charge of the office tea fund!!!

    It will be interesting to see what ideas people come up with.

  11. I as a unionist also calls for a referendum on the issue, lets have the vote. And a clean campaign as well, and I will campaign for a positive vision for a [non-labour] UK!

    A good article as usual!

  12. Hey thanks Dean. Nice to see you again.

    Yeah, I'll second that. A clean campaign and let's have a good set of arguments on all sides. Where do you stand though... Devolution Max, or Calman, or status quo (not the band)?

    What do you think about voters from outside Scotland, but who are Scottish having a vote?

    I think that I was posting on your article as you were posting on

  13. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksDecember 01, 2009 1:00 am

    Tris....was independence worth it you ask....LOL. Oh yea, Her Majesty seems a sweet old lady....but I wouldn't want to be her subject.

    But in 1776, I might have been one of hold outs. The thirteen little colonies mounting a revolution....against Great Britain. Madness!!!!

    As Franklin said, we must hang together or we shall surely hang separately. And a few years later, the radical Adams had to learn court etiquette so that he could present his credentials to King George as the first American ambassador to the Court of St. James. Life and history is full of irony.

  14. Yoohoo Tris. The London parties don't know better than us, they just think they do.

    Independence is going to be a tough fight, it's been that way for many a year but we must not give up. Too many have given too much for us down tools.

    Maybe now that we're all Europeans then Brussels will be kinder and allow us to just go ahead with independence. After all, from today we're all part of the North Atlantic Tranche.

  15. Tris,

    I personally am a strong proponent of fiscal autonomy for Scotland. To me it makes sense to not only have a parliament with tax raising powers, but also borrowing powers as well.

    The only issue is the oil funds, but there is scope for devolving oil funds to Holyrood as part of fiscal autonomy too, such an arrangement is hardly without precident.

    A word of caution as well however, we do not want to end up like Yugoslavia in the sense of Scotland massively borrowing foriegn loans all gauranteed by HM UK govt...fiscal autonomy must breed better Scots fiscal competence.
    I cant help but wonder how the previous Lib-Lab pact would have faired if their incompetence was also coupled with the need to spend what they raise...perhaps the 2007 change of regime might have come sooner? And perhaps Goldie could have started her fight for a tory come-back sooner too.

    Oh, nearly forgot; ex-pat voting: no. If they do not wish to live and contribute through taxation to this country I do not see why they should be able to vote. And yes I include Sir Sean here, once he leaves his tax haven and returns to pay taxes here, thereby making a contribution to our schools, hospitals and general good then I shall approve of these ex-pat types being able to vote. To me it isnt so much a party political issue so much a philosphy of political values [I understand that when you read this you might think me channelling Rousseau, it wouldnt be the first time!]


  16. Danny:

    I remember seeing a video of Adams (well, obviously not Adams, but a dramatisation of him) dressed in a good suit to present his credentials at the Court of St James. Very uncomfortable, but in the end harmonious, the film makers seemed to indicate.

  17. Subrosa. Always a pleasure to see you here.

    Tranche. Interesting word. Who else is in this slice? Well, anyway, we must hope it does us some good, although I doubt that it will.

    No, I know they don't know better than us. They just like to think that they do. I can't see why we can't be allowed to express our desires. It's not like a referendum would cost a prohibitive amount of public money, although the parties themselves would have to raise money for campaigning. In that we may see the reason for their dislike.

    The parties don’t have a lot of money. There is an English parliament election next year and a Scottish one the year after. I suppose there just isn’t enough money for all the campaigning.

  18. Fair comment Dean. There is a wide range of opinion then as to who should get a vote. Any more takers?

    I see no reason why the oil money wouldn't go to a Scottish exchequer. It exists in what an internationally recognised Scottish waters subject to Scots Law. To deny its revenue to Scotland would be like saying, you can have financial autonomy, well, apart from the good bits that we depend on to fight Anglo-American wars....

    Of course I agree that the Scottish government couldn’t be in a situation where its borrowing was underpinned by England’s or the UK’s treasury... no more than I would expect it to be by Portugal’s of Germany’s. Fiscal autonomy must mean that.

    Right... all that seems reasonable. Let’s get on with it, shall we? :-)

  19. MacKay to Tris:

    Thanks for your thanks! Just another wee comment - if Calman is adopted, all parties would seem to agree that the Scottish parliament would conduct ALL future elections, not Westminster. I say, bring it on!

  20. MacKay,

    Seems to me that that should have been one of the first provisions onf the Scotland Act. If nothing else we should be in charge of our own democracy.

    Bring it on indeed.

  21. I would love to think I would get a vote. Born in Scotland to Scottish parents, but living in and registered (to vote) in England for more years than I care to remember, i think it unlikely.

    I would be amazed if the electorate for a Referendum was anything more or less than the current electoral roll at the time of the vote. i.e. those permanently resident in Scotland.

    Anyway, (unless Tavish Scott has a change of heart) the vote may not be for a couple of years yet, so maybe there's still time for me to make my long planned move Northwards?

  22. Well, you never know with Tavish. I don't really think Tavish kinows with Tavish actually. but I suspect you are right. The vote will come. It has to, but I think it is more likely to be in a few years' time rather than a few months.

    But it sounds like a good idea to come home all the same. :¬)

  23. Tris and Cruachan:
    Lots could change depending on whether there is a hung parliament down in Wesminster! The Lib-Dums could change their position on an early vote - 2010 - or by 2011 we could have Calman's recommendation in place. For tactical reasons, all three Unionist parties could change their position on holding a referendum.
    Cruachan (great name), don't give up on your right to vote. ALL British citizens born in Scotland, or to those who were, should be able to vote, just as ALL residents in Scotland should. By the way, there are approximately 750,000 English in Scotland, and approximately 1.5 million Scots in England. Remember, too, that most Scots left due to poverty.

    Och aye, MacKay

  24. Indeed Och Aye Mackay:

    Lots of things could happen to change the situation. Labour have made a habit of changing their stance on a referndum, and we all remember Mr Gray as one of her shadow cabinet trying to explain how Wendy Alexander was right about this without explaining that that necessarily meant that Gordon Brown, who took the opposite view, was wrong..... Oh dear.

    The Liberals of course haven't a notion what they believe or think or want or... well, or anything really.

    Hey.... Tris is a great name too you know ;-)

  25. MacKay errata on December 1 post. I got the relative percentages right but the numbers wrong on the English in Scotland and the Scots in England, if anybody noticed - official figures from end of 2006, now low and out-of-date, show 794,577 Scottish-born in England, and 409,905 English-born in Scotland. In addition, about 2.5 million out of 5.5 million BRITISH CITIZENS abroad are presently able to vote in Westminster elections under the 15-year rule. I don't know how many of them were born in Scotland, or how many of their children, such as myself, have acquired British citizenship but the number is not inconsiderable, and might well decide a close referendum vote!!!

  26. Thanks Mr Mackay: I didn't notice of course. Interesting figures though. Thanks, we're all allowed the odd mistake. :)