The Scotland Office has launched a consultative document and solicited responses from those who are interested. James Kelly at Scot Goes Pop drew this to my attention this morning in this post.
He points out that the consultation is a waste of time (well he actually calls it a "farce"). I largely agree. We all know what they think: they don't want Scotland to leave the UK. But over the few days since Cameron's rather sudden first mention of the UK government's intervention, made in the wake of his deputy apparent assertion that those who wanted either independence or the status quo were extremists, there have been a number of changes in tone.
And as James points out, there is obvious difficulty from a PR point of view, in holding a consultation and then ignoring the results of it.
Who knows if, or how, the UK government will persuade its supporters to complete the consultation giving the Westminster side, but it is certainly important that those of us who feel differently from the way Cameron would wish us to, do our best to balance the exercise by putting our point of view.
In his post James has generously offered first drafts of his responses to the consultation's questions. (They may be "first drafts" to him; they seemed like carefully honed responses to me.) And he has invited comments from readers.
I think that those of us who want independence for Scotland should take the time to take part in this exercise and the one that the Scottish government will launch. I hope that those of you who have blogs will consider linking to the Scotland Office site.
James has definitely come up with good stuff (far better than I'd have done) and my responses will certainly be influenced by his.
In the interview, which, as ever, he handled in the Alex Salmond way, courteously and intelligently, putting his point of view and never being flustered by Naughtie, he pointed out again that the SNP were campaigning for independence, but that he realised (as do we all) that there is a strong level of support for 'devo max' among the Scottish people.
He said that the referendum would contain a yes or no option on independence, as has always been promised and as is demanded by Westminster, but did not rule out the possibility that it might contain another question relating to 'devo-max', if that was shown, by the Scottish Government's consultation, and in parliament, to have strong support.
I'd also like to draw you attention to an article at Lalland's Peat Worrier, and most particularly to a response from Peter Thomson, part of which reads:
".....In international law (which trumps Westminster) the sovereign people of Scotland have the legal right guaranteed by UN Charters, Helsinki Accords and the Treaty of Vienna to hold a referendum on the issue of independence.
Further the UN legislation states the power from which the other is seceding can have no role in the organisation of or campaigning in the said referendum....."
I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on the legal legitimacy of this point of view? I can imagine condition's like these being put in place to protect citizens in a union where dirty tricks could reasonably be expected to be the order of the day. But if they do exist, they must surely be equally binding on a liberal democracy such as the UK...