Scottish independence: David Cameron intervenes again over Scots referendum

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Westminster has intervened again over Scotland’s independence referendum

Scottish independence: David Cameron intervenes again over Scots referendum

by Aya Kawanishi

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday infuriated the Scottish government by attempting to pressure Scottish ministers into a ‘deal’ on Scotland's independence referendum by September and with an emphasis on a single-question referendum.

Speaking while on a visit to Glasgow, the Prime Minister further pushed for a single-question referendum and offered to sign off the powers he argues the Scottish parliament needs to hold a legally binding referendum, namely a Section 30 order, if the second question is dropped as an option.

Mr Cameron said: "Frankly, the Scottish people deserve a fair, decisive and legal referendum. We've made an offer to let that happen.

"All of the Scottish political parties from both campaigns want a one-question referendum. That's what the Scottish people deserve. Let's not let process get in the way of the outcome that the Scottish people deserve."

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Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said he hopes "this further nudge" by the Prime Minister will compel Mr Salmond to get the process sorted out by September.

The Prime Minister’s attempt to pressurise the Scottish government comes after former Chancellor Alistair Darling, head of the pro-Union campaign Better Together, criticised the First Minister on Monday for delaying proceedings while seeking to rule out a second question on the ballot paper.

In an interview with The Times, the former Chancellor said that Alex Salmond is ‘running away’ from Scottish independence and if the SNP leader opts for a two-question referendum, the issue could become bogged down in the courts, delaying the poll still further.

Whilst the UK government is using the so-called enabling power to gain influence over the referendum proceedings, the Scottish government reaffirmed yesterday that it would have no objection to a Section 30 order.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "As we have always said, we have absolutely no objection to a Section 30 Order in regard to the referendum, with no Westminster strings attached – which could be agreed very shortly.

"The terms and timing of the referendum must be decided in Scotland, by the Scottish Parliament – not dictated by a Tory-led Government at Westminster – and the Prime Minister has already conceded the autumn 2014 timescale.

"As the First Minister said in his letter to the Scottish Secretary last month, Bruce Crawford for the Scottish Government and Scotland Office Minister David Mundell have already had two meetings to help clarify the procedural issues which need to be considered in any wider discussions on the referendum. They are due to meet again in August to see what further progress can be made."

Scottish ministers can press ahead with a referendum in 2014 although under Westminster rules, London argues, this would have no legal standing as it would only be a ‘consultative’ referendum.

Mr Salmond argued this does not matter as all referendums are consultative.

A recent attempt to interfere in the Scottish government’s right to hold the referendum unimpeded ended in a fiasco as the Electoral Commission - an independent regulatory body set up by the UK government - refused to assess a question unless proposed by the ‘relevant government’.

Electoral Commissioner John McCormick said: “As we said in our consultation response it’s for the relevant government to propose a question. This should be independently and transparently assessed before it is put to parliament for approval as part of a clear, statutory process. We would not expect to undertake any question assessment that was not part of this process.

“The Commission’s process for assessing questions includes asking voters, experts, campaigners and politicians for their views” he added.

Prime Minister David Cameron runs the risk of angering Scots voters who expect the Holyrood parliament to be allowed to conduct the referendum free from pressure. Further intervention into the matter of Scotland’s referendum may begin to be perceived as manipulation.

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Showing 4 reactions


commented 2012-08-02 09:57:52 +0100 · Flag
I still favour one question but I also realise that if there is a majority for two questions,but we wont know if there is a majority until we hold the referendum. We do pay MP,s and MSP,s to do what is best for all of us that is what we pay them for. So far its the publicity that is for two questions,I have not met one person who is for two questions yet!
commented 2012-08-02 06:33:57 +0100 · Flag
I find it an odd remark to make in relation to D.Cameron. Population of Scotland and political groups have clearly shown that Devo-Max would be the most favoured option on the ballot paper and yet,the prime minister says
“All of the Scottish political parties from both campaigns want a one-question referendum. That’s what the Scottish people deserve. Let’s not let process get in the way of the outcome that the Scottish people deserve.”
It doesnt matter what the political parties want! It does matter what the Scottish people want and if Devo-Max is as favoured as has been shown by the results of the Scottish Gov. Consultation and various ‘polls’ then so be it!
The people of Scotland ’’deserve’’ far better than what Scottish Politics and Westminster Politics has yet offered. Place the question of Devo-Max on the referendum ballot paper along side a ‘kind of independence’ and the status quo.These are the three options that the Scottish People deserve.
commented 2012-08-01 20:46:56 +0100 · Flag
Its what we expect from Westminster,cheating and conniving,We need some international body to step up to the mark and tell them that the laws that they helped to forge must be obeyed by them.I do hope it backfires and we have a huge surge forward for independence and its a high percentage for Scotland to become independent although for me 50% plus one vote would be enough for me as that would be FIRST PAST THE POST,as favoured by Westminster.He (Cameron) knows interference is against international law,we need this to be publicised more.
published this page in News 2012-08-01 17:29:00 +0100