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Scottish Independence Referendum: David Cameron Ratchets up the Pressure on Alex Salmond

Posted on the 09 January 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost


Scottish independence referendum: David Cameron ratchets up the pressure on Alex Salmond

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Photo credit: Saul Gordillo

David Cameron has called for a “legal, fair and decisive” vote on Scottish independence, and is reportedly planning to amend the law to allow a legally binding Scottish referendum, so long as it’s within a fixed time period (18 months) and only on the basis of a simple yes or no question. Cameron has never concealed his support for maintaining the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The move has been widely interpreted as a tactical political move by Cameron to force Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond’s to play his hand sooner rather than later.


Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, has promised a referendum in Scotland on full independence within his present term of office, with 2014 thought to be the preferred date. According to the latest poll, conducted by Ipsos Mori last month, 38 percent of Scots now favour independence – three points up since the summer, reported The Daily Mail.

“I don’t want to be Prime Minister of England, I want to be Prime Minister of the whole United Kingdom”, requested David Cameron.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused Cameron of “a blatant attempt to interfere” in a decision that should be for the Scottish government and Scottish people. “It’s the attachment of conditions that gives the game away – this is Westminster trying to interfere”, she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

Conservative peer Lord Forsyth, a former Scottish secretary, said the SNP had not set a firm date for a referendum because they knew the majority of people were currently opposed to full independence and “they are afraid they will lose it.” “They want to spend the next two or three years creating resentment on both sides of the border”, he told BBC Radio 4′s World At One. “It is quite extraordinary that the party which stands for independence for Scotland won’t take yes for an answer from David Cameron when he says the Scottish people can decide.”

Cameron’s great gamble. James Chapman of The Daily Mail said the Cameron’s “great Scottish gamble” is to try and force an early vote on independence. “The move is a huge gamble, which some fear may backfire if Mr Salmond is able to claim Westminster is trying to dictate to Holyrood.” Chapman said Salmond is “plotting” to hold a referendum in 2014, “to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, Scotland’s most famous military victory over England, and the country’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games, when he hopes nationalist sentiment will be at its peak.”

Union benefits us all. “All Britons will lose if the union is broken apart”, declared a leader in The Daily Telegraph, which insisted that, “Cameron is right to seize the initiative over a Scottish referendum.” The newspaper backed Cameron’s view that “uncertainty might do immense damage, especially in these grim economic times, when potential investors want to be sure that their businesses will not be subjected to the confusion and risks associated with major political change. Mr Cameron is eager both for the complex legal issues to be cleared up, and for a referendum, in Scotland, on Scotland’s future to be called quickly: these are welcome signs.” The Telegraph reckoned that “once the arguments are debated openly, it will become clear to all but the narrowest of Scottish nationalists that the Union should be preserved, not destroyed, and that the peoples of Britain are stronger when they are together.”

Referendum is win-win for the Tories. Writing at The Staggers, The News Statesman rolling blog, George Eaton insisted the Scottish referendum is “win-win for the Tories.” Eaton noted that both Cameron and Osborne are unionist but also noted that Scottish independence “wouldn’t be an entirely negative outcome for the Tories. The break-up of the Union and the removal of Scottish MPs for Westminster would dramatically reduce the chances of Labour returning to government.” Eaton said that to many Tories, “an independent England – economically liberal, fiscally conservative, Eurosceptic, Atlanticist – is an attractive prospect.”

There are now more giant pandas in Scotland than Conservative MPs (one).

The fiscal autonomy option. James Forsyth of Coffee House, The Spectator’s blog, threw out the idea that Osborne, the Tories chief election strategist, would like to engineer Scottish independence so as to win the next election. “What those around Osborne have long been interested in is the option that the coalition seems to be ruling out: fiscal autonomy. The circle around Osborne have long believed that it is only when Scottish politics is about how to raise money as well as how to spend it that the Tories will revive north of the border”, said Forsyth.

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