Alex Salmond is under pressure from within the yes camp for his promotion
of a two question strategy IMAGE: STOCKPIX.EU
Scottish independence: Pressure on Salmond as second question draws criticism
by Cameron Ings-hodgson, Aya Kawanishi and Delphine Tomes
Alex Salmond is facing mounting pressure over the issue of his promotion of the inclusion of a second question in the Scottish independence referendum.
The issue of the second question in the referendum has come under heavy fire from key figures on the pro-independence side of the argument who question Mr Salmond’s motives for its inclusion. Former leader of the SNP, Gordon Wilson said that “there is only one reason why they would do so – defeatism. This stems from a belief that they can’t deliver a yes vote for independence”. Mr Wilson, a critic of Mr Salmond’s leadership went further saying a “cop-out on extra powers is only for naive dummies.”
The second question offering the Scottish population maximum devolved powers for the Scottish Parliament ‘devo plus’ would give Scots the option to vote for financial responsibility for Scottish taxation and put spending budgets into the hands of Holyrood as an alternative to total independence.
The SNP supporting actress Elaine C Smith, who fronts The Scottish Independence Convention, also recently hit out at the proposed second question calling it “meaningless” and stating that it would obscure a “clear result”.
Perhaps most damaging of all to the option of a second question was the recent statement produced by Mr Stephen Tierney, Edinburgh University academic and the SNP’s own appointed referendum expert, who stated that the second question in the referendum could lead to the second question being interpreted as a ploy to “deliver a particular result”.
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This view runs counter to MP George Galloway’s statements in May where he called for a second question offering "full economic powers short of secession” and also to statements made by Alex Salmond in a recent Q & A session at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco where he stated that:
“There’s a view abroad in Scotland that perhaps it would be better from where we are now … that rather than become an independent country, at least in the first stage, that the fiscal base should increase to something near 100 percent. And it’s a very attractive argument,” he told the audience.
“It has a major problem, and that is that the UK Government, while they respect the right and ability of Scots to decide on independence, are not prepared to accept the right of the Scottish people to decide on devo max.”
It has also been revealed in a poll for Reform Scotland conducted by Ipsos MORI that 61 percent of Scots believe that the Scottish Parliament “should be responsible for raising most of the money” that it spends, a central plank of their pitch.
The poll also revealed that 30% of Scots could change how they vote in the referendum if it was clear in advance that a “No” vote would still result in the devo max proposals being implemented. However, Scottish Minister Michael Moore has not set out exactly what extra responsibilities will be included in the devo max option.
With overwhelming support for increased powers for the Scottish parliament, the issue of whether a question supporting maximum devolved powers should be included in the referendum or not is proving to be a contentious one. With strategists trying to plot political advantage for their parties it is the ordinary Scot who is losing faith in the referendum debate.
May 2010 – David Cameron announces a ‘respect agenda’ with plans to give the Scottish parliament greater tax-raising and law-making powers. Cameron refuses to set out what those extra responsibilities might be, saying it is a question for Scottish politicians to decide.
May 2011 – The SNP wins an overall majority in the devolved parliament elections in May 2011, allowing it to stage an independence referendum.
January 2012 – The Scottish Government’s ‘Your Scotland, Your Referendum’ consultation asks for public opinion on the possibility of a second question.
January 2012 – Ipsos-MORI asks voters to choose based on the question, chosen by First Minister Alex Salmond: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" The results show 37% in favour, with 50% choosing no.
March 2012 – The UK government's independence referendum consultation attracts 3,000 responses
May 2012 – The SNP government’s independence referendum consultation receives 26,000 responses – 5,000 more than originally thought
May 2012 – Former Labour MP George Galloway says the Scottish independence referendum should include a second question calling for more devolved powers instead of secession.
June 2012 – Yes Scotland campaign, whose board members include actress Elaine C Smith, split over second question
July 2012 – The First Minister declares having all financial matters devolved to Holyrood instead of independence – an alternative option known as devo max – to be “a very attractive argument.”
Autumn 2014 – The independence referendum is expected
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