Saturday, 3 July 2010

Reason Why the Fifth of May is Wrong Date for Referendum

It is just over 24 hours from when the announcement for a date of a referendum on AV for Westminster was decided to be up against next May's Scottish Election but already we can see how the SNP are going to use it. The SNP are talking about the lack of respect to the Scottish people, Fiona Hyslop going further cutting to the chase when she said:

"It's important that we see action and not just warm words on respect.

"And in terms of what this is saying in terms of how the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government and the Scottish people are being treated, I think this is an example of the British Government just not working for Scotland.

"I think this announcement shows a bit of coalition chaos, where the parties in London seem quite prepared to have a referendum on a voting system that they don't really support but not have a referendum on independence to decide the powers that the Scottish people could have."

That last part is the bit that is going to be concentrated on not respect as that will be shoved out the window by the SNP at the earliest convenient opportunity. No there will be the name calling over why one referendum is good and proper and another is not. There will be no respect for the fact that the Lib Dem MSPs were elected to Holyrood Parliament in 2007 on the promise that they wouldn't hold a referendum on independence in the next four years.

That was a stance I disagreed with on the stand alone principle of it from my stance as a democrat. It has been exasperated now by our own leader the Deputy Prime Minister making two announcements of Westminster to piggy back the next two Scottish elections. In 2015 we already have the concurrent elections of a 5-year fixed term Westminster and the 4-year fixed term Scottish Parliaments, now there are plans to ride over next years Scottish elections too.

For a party that believes in devolution we are being perceived of going a strange way about it, strangling the distinct Scottish message of all parties our own included for the elections for the next eight years of Scottish life with two UK-wide debates simultaneously.


  1. The SNP will be right when they say this makes a mockery of the so called respect agenda. This is grubby politicking of the worst kind by your London leaders. An attempt to hijack the Scottish elections and not once but twice and for what? For a referendum on AV? Something which you own precious Jenkins Commission said was considerably less than the AV+ needed and is in no shape or form PR by any definition. But not only are you ignoring the Jenkins Commission but you are also running roughshod over the findings of the Gould Report without any consultation at all. That is not respect in my book and I think you will find it will not stop your electoral slide. There is so much mileage in this it’s unbelievable. Do the Lib Dems make a hobby out of scoring own goals?

  2. Yes AV+ wsa the minimum suggestion for proportionality. Indeed AV is not a proportional system as I pointed out yesterday it would not difference in West Lothian and Falkirk returning 3 Labour MPs with 48% average first round vote while the 27% SNP vote would not be proportionately represented.

    Of course personally I have been calling for a support to call a referendum on independence for over 4 years. Of course I'd be backin a no campaign like Cameron appears to be doing with AV. Indeed it seems that the no campaign are already spreading lies to win their victory.

  3. I don't expect any inside knowledge, but do you think that it's a deliberate hijacking of the Scottish elections, or just a lack of due care & attention?

    I'd suspect that those picking the date did so without a Scottish Election calendar in front of them - "yes, *that* sounds like a jolly nice date" - and by the time it was pointed out to them, it was too well publicised to be withdrawn without embarrassment damage.

    Although to do it twice does stray into carelessness territory.

  4. Martin I seriously think it was merely a matter of lets do it at the earlier possibly opportunity, possibly to ensure that the Lib Dems knew there would be movement on it.

    The date of the next large scale council elections in England may well have seemed a sensible cost saving exercise, but as you say it may have overlooked the fact that all three devolved Parliaments/Assemblies were going to the polls on that day too. Then again it may not but there appears to have been a lack of consideration as to how this would override a campaign on Scottish issues here.