9 November 2011

Devo Max: Losing "Sod it" nationalists?

These are difficult questions; questions many (N/n)ationalists will be pondering. Given current levels of support for independence, even factoring in considerations such as turnout in any referendum, convincing a majority of the Scottish public to support independence looks decidedly challenging.  That being the case, you might well begin to wonder: why not supplement your secessionary question with a second, milder, more modest option? If you were convinced that independence was unwinnable, using the occasion of your defeat to secure further powers short of independence seems self-evidently the cunning thing for a calculating nationalist to do. And yet, and yet. What if optimism and strategy suggested that independence was winnable? For a nationalist unresigned to defeat, a second question takes on a much more problematic tactical aspect. Might a straight yes-or-no referendum be winnable, while offering a multi-limbed plebiscite, and a safe median alternative, would actually attenuate the nationalist argument, potentially blowing the historical opportunity for independence because of an excess of caution?

It is easy to envisage the situation of a voter going into the polling station, disgruntled with the coalition, buggered by the economy, whose passions are generally not constitutional passions, but in the instant thinking 'I don't know what everybody else is doing, don't expect to be in the majority, but sod it. I'm voting "yes"'.  Although highly impressionistic, my sense is that the Holyrood election of 2011 - and the surprising scale of the SNP's victory - was partly generated by just this sort of voter, and just such apprehensions. My mother had a curious vignette on point from one of her colleagues. Staunchly Labour-supporting from a historically Labour-supporting family from West Central Scotland, she arrived at her polling station roiling with indecision. Having eyed the blank ballot for a good while, pencil indecisively hand, at last she drew the heavy x against the name of the SNP candidate. Contemplating what she had done, quivering, qualms overwhelmed her. She spoiled her ballot, unable decisively to act against the commanding forces of her biography. Sod it, she thought, but couldn't quite bring herself practically to follow where that notion lead her. Others abandoned their concerns and the Sod it voters carried the day.

And when one thinks about it, the independence campaign is likely to present arguably similar issues. Despite a commanding array of endorsements, potent campaign structure and strategy (very neatly summarised, might I add, in the new edition of David Torrance's Alex Salmond biography), because of the long run of polls showing a Labour lead, the SNP had at least something of the underdog about them in May. At the time, I was drawing on a little biography to write about Labour's susceptibility to the terrible vengeance of political schadenfreude as unworthy and incapable favourites.  It is vital for us to remember, despite the result, that it was impossible to discern what would happen, as we stepped out into the dreich atmosphere of May's miserably wet polling day.  A Labour government, or at least a Labour plurality in Holyrood, was not unthinkable. Given the weighty trend of polling in their favour, and the prospect of a dyspeptic, ramshackle and confused pro-Union campaign, the referendum campaign at least starts to take on a similar complexion, with bungling favourites facing down a much better lubricated nationalist machine. In quiet moments, one might fondly begin to admit the possibility of a Sod it majority for Scottish independence. These are the circumstances, after all, which produced May's accidental landslide.

Whatever you make of these idle speculations, do we have any evidence to back up our suspicions? Might having some sort of "devo-max" option on the ballot paper - even one which is not in direct competition with independence in some sort of three way preference game - diminish support for independence overall? At the moment, we don't have a great deal to go on, but here's something. Supplementing last week's poll from YouGov on Scottish independence, last Sunday saw results from a Poll conducted for the BBC's Politics Show by TNS-BMRB. The poll aimed to determine public attitudes to the constitutional question when options are set against one another. Given three options, the BBC wanted to discern which is the popular preference. Sampling 1,020 people in Scotland, and some 1,763 in England and Wales, the pollsters asked: "Thinking about the future of Scotland, which of these three options would you support the most...?" giving respondents their choice of...

(1) Keep the current arrangement of a Scottish Parliament with its existing powers.
(2) Transfer more powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament, including tax and welfare but excluding defence and foreign affairs.
(3) Full independence for Scotland.
(4) Don't know.

It is interesting to read these results alongside TNS-BMRB's September poll on independence, albeit conducted with a rather different orientation, and without the option of supporting a transfer of additional powers shy of independence. The pollster's early Autumn findings on the topic were (with the change from a June poll on the same topic in brackets)...

Independence? All respondents...
  • Agree  ~ 39% (+2%)
  • Disagree ~ 38% (7%)
  • Don't know ~ 23% (+5%)

This Sunday, support for independence in the context of and in competition with a "devo max" type option broke down...

All respondents...
  • Independence ~ 28%
  • Status quo, or enhanced powers ~ 62%
  • Don't know ~ 10%

Even taking the TNS-BMRB's polling data from June, which recorded lower support for independence than September (37%), this weekend's poll shows a decrease of 9% in first-preference support for independence when increased powers is also an option. Taking September's figures, support for independence haemorrhages by 11%  There a number of caveats to bear in mind, reading this. As anyone who has made an effort to follow polling on attitudes towards independence over the last few years will know, the general outlines of opinion are familiar, but the detail is very tricky and persistently volatile between pollsters and polls.

However, here's the character this latest TNS-BMRB poll allows us to begin to think about, and to gnaw Nats with worry. She is pro-devolution, and not inveterately opposed to independence, but minded to stay within the UK if possible. In short, she is a potential Sod it voter in favour of independence.  These findings might suggest that by including any sort of alternative shy of independence, in a trice, (N/n)ationalists have lost a substantial segment of the Sod it vote.  To test this thesis, it would have been fascinating if TNS-BMRB's three-way question had been supplemented by another, asking how the same folk would vote when asked a simple question, independence, yes or no? In the absence of such a question, we can but speculate with the material available to us, and consider the assumptions which appear to be steering nationalist thinking on this.

They look problematic, to say the least. Assume (a) we think independence is winnable but the outcome remains contingent and (b) we quite fancy using the referendum as a mechanism to ensure some increase in Holyrood's power.  Unlike the skeptic who has already written off all possibility of independence, who advances nationalism for devolutionary aims, folk sharing these assumptions hope for a win-win scenario.  Their strategy relies on the idea that if a persuasive case can be made for independence, voters will cast "yes/yes" ballots, and that the inclusion of some sort of second question with a devolutionary logic is autonomous from the core SNP case for independence, neither contributing to nor detracting from that case. The autonomy of the two propositions, it is imagined, is reinforced by breaking the options down into two discrete questions, rather than setting them against one another in a single ranking of preferences.

Realistically, however, is it not much more likely that voters will do precisely this, reading their ballots as a whole, and understanding that they are effectively being invited to choose between more devolution and independence, and vote accordingly? One reading of the TNS-BMRB data strongly suggests that to countenance the presence of "devolution max" on the paper is to invite voters to strategise about their preferences, to the manifest disadvantage of independence, and its appeal to that most foundational of political principles: "Sod it."

Those full TNS-BMRB tables.


  1. It depends.

    As a "nat", my default position is independence. It's a fluid position, but always at the other extreme of the "unionist". Im not quite sure what I want when I say independence, or what Ill settle for, but I support it none the less in the hope we secure a significant shift of power in the right direction.

    The DevoMax dilemma is tough. Im a card-carrying member of the SNP, but I could be persuaded by it. So Im not overly concerned about it's presence on the ballot. I doubt Id be willing to risk not getting it, to chase something more, especially when I consider that DevoMax would be a platform that's sufficiently independent from the UK that we could debate and make decisions more freely without the over-bearing and bullying influence that Westminster currently has. DevoMax wouldnt be independence in the fundamentalist dictionary, but it's a much easier journey from DevoMax should Scotland want it. For example, I would take or leave defence right now to get full fiscal responsibility - all taxes and revenues raised and spent in Scotland is the critical mass IMO. Id be happy to fight for defence and against Trident another day.

    But as always, the definition of DevoMax is key. Someone has to support it and someone has to define it. If we can get as close to Home Rule as possible, Id be happy with it and wont lose too much sleep if we lose independence for it.

    This referendum is historic and the certain powers that be would love for it to be the only chance we get. If we gamble it all on independence and lose, even narrowly, who knows what damage it could cause. As much as Im not his biggest fan, Alex Salmond is a born leader of men. I do not like the worst case scenario of losing referendum and Salmond for I doubt we would return to this place soon.

    I'm happy to hedge my bets as long as the hedge is proper Home Rule and all fiscal powers transferring to Holyrood.

  2. Groundskeeper Willie9 November 2011 at 17:15

    The basic minimum democratic requirement for Scotland leaving the UK is that the Scottish people get the chance to vote on the issue once the actual terms of any proposed independence settlement are known.

    At the moment the SNP are asking us to buy a pig in a poke. Vote for the principle and give them carte blanche to negotiate the terms.

    Even something as basic as EU membership is uncertain, though the smart money seems to be on a separate Scotland having to apply for membership.

    I get the feeling the SNP would rather talk about the idea of a referendum than the idea of independence.

  3. We are only going to have a Devo Max question if there is political support for it.

    So the question is whether the other parties will say sod it we are going to go for Devo Max because otherwise independence might win or whether they go sod it independence can't win so we don't need to offer Devo Max (which they would see as a further step on the slippery slope). At present it looks like the latter camp are in the ascendency.

    From our (SNP) point of view I can see ways to play a simple yes/no ballot and a ballot that includes Devo Max. But I think it is important politically that we are not the ones to close the door on a "third way" option. Let them be the ones to do that.

  4. Hesitant as I am to ruin my reputation, I may be forced to try and answer Willie's question without recourse to a snappy one-liner.

    If there is a majority of SNP MPs elected at the next general election, a referendum is needless, as the people have already voted.

    Answer this question Willie; would the EU welcome Norway to the EU with open arms?

    The SNP policy is simple; just wait until the Tories reveal themselves...


    I feel faint with all this typing.

    I've no fucking Merlot, but I have fornicating Leffe.


  5. It's clear that the peoples of Scotland want more power. Salmond has dangled the carrot of devo max in the full knowledge it's not his to offer.

    However, such is the hatred of Salmond, almost every single Unionist MP/MSP has allowed themselves to fall into the trap of ruling it out. As we hurtle towards a referendum, the polls are all pointing in the right direction. Faced with the status quo or independence, how many Scots are going to choose the status quo? And which Unionist MP/MSP will have any credibility now calling for a third option to be included in the referendum?

  6. Assuming the referendum precedes a UK general election (and I can't see the Liberals forcing otherwise) then Conan's point, whilst good, is moot?
    The inclusion of (and consequences of) Devo Max will depend on what the polls say - difficult though they are to read accurately as LPW's 'Sod It' principle suggests.The Unionists will resist including it as long as they think there is a chance of a simple Independence vote being lost.
    Salmond knows this and wants to leave it 'dangling' and in the Unionist court but if he has to include it come the day I think it will be seen as weakness? Certainly weakness inasmuch as it will be an invitation not to 'go all the way'. The current andc likely short to medium term economic circumstances are likely to affect the Scottish voters courage but the Scottish government can certainly continue to play the hand which says it is mainly Westminster's fault as we don't have the levers to do better. And in the order of who comes off worst if the economy is bad Westminster are favourite?
    I hate to admit this but we have waited so long to get where we are I would hate to blow it on a one question ballot! I'd rather see us reject Calman and have the powers of the Isle of Man before 'I shed my mortal coil' But I hope it doesn't come to that

  7. There seems to be a lot debate at present on whether there is independence or devo max as a choice on my referendum paper. Are we not missing out on the debate about the status quo position? What does status quo mean on my ballot paper?

    The new Tory leader is speaking about Calman and that giving more powers, but this to my mind is not the status quo as it does not yet exist.

    One of the new Labour leader hopefuls is advocating a committee to keep a check on devolved parliaments which may give more power or take power away, but again, it is not there yet so is not the status quo.

    The Lib Dems are looking at home rule (meaning as yet unknown - to me home rule equals independence but they seem to mean something different when they speak about it) but it will be a rather large waste of time if it is not in place prior to the referendum as it will not qualify as the status quo.

    The Scotland Bill committee hoping to implement that bit of legislation must surely be under some form of time limit to get it implemented before the deadline as again, it cannot be considered to be the status quo.

    Why is there no debate about this?

    If the referendum is a once in a generation choice and independence looses the vote then we have been told quite clearly, and Alex Salmond seems to be in agreement with this, you are not allowed to try again at least for another 25 years or so.

    Surely the other side also have to abide by the same rules. If the vote goes for the status quo side, surely for the next generation (25 years) it is the status quo we get.

    If Cameron and his new colleague in Scotland want to force the vote forward this gives then even less time to organise the status quo into the status quo position of their liking.

    I think there needs to be many more questions along the lines of 'what actually is the status quo position'? If one side needs to answer the blatently obvious question of what independence is, surely the others need to define exactly which goal posts they are guarding.

  8. Groundskeeper Willie9 November 2011 at 20:01

    Conan the Librarian

    Would France and Spain be falling over themselves to welcome a secessionist Scotland into the EU?

    Probably not.(Corsica, Basque country, Catalonia)

    When do we get answers to questions like: do we have to apply to join the EU, what currency would we have, who would fix interest rates, the Bank of England or the ECB? Before or after a referendum?

    What happens if the SNP's answers/promises about these matters made before a referendum turn out to be wrong? Do we have another referendum? Or do we just suck it up?

  9. In the event of a straight yes/no? question on independence in the referendum, I believe alot of people in favour of devo max may end up voting yes anyway.

    There will surely be a fear in the back of their minds that a strong 'no' vote could put the breaks on the more/powers or devo max causes themselves aswell as independence. Also if the polls continue to show that independence does not look like getting a majority, they may think "sod it!" ill weaken the no vote by voting yes as independence is not going to happen anyway. It may not take that high a percentage of them to do this and add to the 100% turnout of 'yes' voters to swing the vote in favour of independence.

    In short I think a straight yes/no question gives the more powers/devo max enthusiasts a real dilemma come polling day. Especially given that the unionist parties are stopping well short of supporting the devo max option or even indicating how much further powers they would support.


  10. Good article.

    A simple YES or NO referendum question to independence.

    A second referendum for FFA if necessary.

  11. Anyone who wants absolute certainty about what they're voting for in a referendum should probably stay at home in bed with the covers over their head. Would an independent Scotland be cast out of EU? Unlikely, but not impossible. But it's not impossible that the UK could leave the EU. The future, whether inside or outside the UK, is always going to be unknowable.

  12. Groundskeeper Willie9 November 2011 at 22:54

    Angus McLellan

    Right, so we're not to be told whether Scotland will be a member of the EU, what currency we'll have and who'll fix interest rates?

    And you think the Scottish people will vote yes?

  13. Come on, think it through, what's the point to challenging the opposition to come up with a devmax stance?

  14. This seems an incredibly long article to state the bleeding obvious. Of course a devo max option makes independence more likely. The way the situation has panned out so far is to me the absolute zenith (to date) of Alex Salmond's political career.

    The three Unionist parties all actively signed up to greater powers via the Calman Commission. Two of them ostensibly want very greatly increased powers. The public, there can be little doubt, would pick devo max in a three-way choice.

    And yet somehow, Salmond has managed to manouevre the Unionist parties into a position where they're bitterly opposing the very thing they all want, and which the electorate would happily give them.

    The SNP can't lose here. Either there'll a two-option poll, where the most popular choice isn't available due to being blocked not by the SNP but by the Unionists. The electorate are unlikely to look favourably on them for this, increasing the chances of a Yes majority.

    Or, there will be a three-choice poll and the SNP will definitely get 80% of what they want, and possibly 100%.

    It is a truly awesome piece of Machiavellian politics, and Salmond ought to win some sort of prize for it. Who knows, in 2015 or so, maybe he will.

  15. "Right, so we're not to be told whether Scotland will be a member of the EU, what currency we'll have and who'll fix interest rates?"

    The problem with angrily demanding answers to questions that have already been answered is that you look a bit daft.

    Salmond has stated explicitly and repeatedly that we will retain Sterling until such times as joining the Euro or having our own currency is deemed viable and backed by a referendum. This means that the BoE will fix interest rates in the meantime.

    And there seems little sensible doubt that we will be a member of the EU, but since that decision isn't Scotland's to make you can't really go demanding a definitive answer to it.

    Any more?

  16. "Of course a devo max option makes independence more likely"

    Well, now I'm embarrassed. That should clearly read "LESS likely".

  17. Groundskeeper Willie10 November 2011 at 10:25

    RevStu said...

    At the risk of appearing to be 'a bit daft' I'm not sure that the EU would permit Scotland to retain the pound.

    I know that it's only a minor and pedantic quibble but I think you'll find that when it comes to a referendum the majority of the Scottish people will want answers to such questions.

  18. On the day, it will come down to how well or how badly the various camps play the hands they've been dealt with.

    It's clear from the polls that there is appetite for change, not necessarly for Independence as yet, but definitely for more powers. The SNP are refusing to be rushed or bullied and are keeping their powder dry - the Unionist camp is driving itself to utter distraction. They veer from outrage to belligerent imbicility. You only have to look at most newspapers with their almost daily and relentless attacks on the Scottish Government, or the increasingly personal attacks on Salmond himself - Salmond being called a Nazi or the ill thought out attack on Salmond recently by the LibDems spring to mind. There was also the recent interview of him on the politics show, were he was questioned by two young tories from the spectator - one challenged him on who would be allowed to vote in the poll, the other on if Salmond thought the barnett formula would go if Scotland became independent.
    The way the press and the other parties portray him, you'd think he was a tartan Blofeld, sitting in a highbacked chair stroking a tartan cat.

    On the day of the poll - the "sod it" camp may well carry the day - appalled by the tactics of the Unionist camp - who are still unable to articulate one positive reason for the union to remain.

    So on one side we have Salmond who knows he is playing texas hold'em while the others think its Liar liar.

  19. Groundskeeper Willie10 November 2011 at 15:08

    Looks like Christine Grahame is getting a bit of a doing on the old t'internet over offensive and sectarian remarks she is alleged to have made.

    It's a funny old world.

  20. "At the risk of appearing to be 'a bit daft' I'm not sure that the EU would permit Scotland to retain the pound."

    Nobody is SURE of that, and there are plenty of opinions backing both sides. But since it's not in Alex Salmond's power to decide, it's a bit silly of you to be demanding that he gives a definitive answer, wouldn't you say? You might as well demand that he makes it sunny tomorrow, or parts the North Sea so we can get a bus to Helsinki.

  21. Groundskeeper Willie10 November 2011 at 15:34

    The problem for the SNP is that the Scottish people won't just accept their assertions that everything will be OK.

    If there's doubt about EU membership, currency, interest rates and other such inconsequential trivia people will vote no.

  22. There are questions about EU membership, deficit and debt, interest rates and inflation, the possibility of war with Iran and other such inconsequentual trivia today and tomorrow. If you want certainty as regards the future you're always going to be disappointed.

  23. "The problem for the SNP is that the Scottish people won't just accept their assertions that everything will be OK."

    We'll see, won't we? Eight months ago everyone said Labour were going to have a majority at Holyrood and there wouldn't be a referendum at all...

  24. Groundskeeper Willie.10 November 2011 at 17:17

    I still have my doubts that there will be a referendum.

    Salmond won't want to waste his once in a generation chance when he knows the answer is going to be no.

  25. I looked you up in Wiki Willie cos your name was familiar but I couldn't quite remember who you are. This is what it said:

    Groundskeeper Willie is the groundskeeper at Springfield Elementary School and is an angry Scotsman. Groundskeeper Willie is an uncouth and unpleasant, though essentially harmless, character.

    I am not sure if you would see the SNP represented in the figure of Principal Skinner or Bart (or possibly a combination of the two) but you do know that the way the show is written they are ALWAYS going to run rings round you.

    Maybe you need a new moniker cos this one is turning into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  26. LPW

    why would you want the "sod it" nationalists at all?

    Surely a "new" country has to be founded on the enthusiastic acceptance of, atleast, a majority of the population.

    "Sod it", doesn't hack it, IMO.

    Get 60% enthusiasts and you'll win.
    Anything less and you'll lose, and if the "sod its" bring "independence", we all lose.

  27. "I still have my doubts that there will be a referendum."

    Are you John McTernan?

    "Salmond won't want to waste his once in a generation chance when he knows the answer is going to be no."

    Yawn. None of us knows that. Even now the polls are basically 50/50. But even if it were true, what would he possibly gain by not trying? Trying and losing is honourable. If he didn't hold the referendum at all his legacy would be that of a coward who bottled it when everything was going his way, and if you think that's Alex Salmond you must have a screw loose.

  28. @ RevStu

    "We'll see, won't we? Eight months ago everyone said Labour were going to have a majority at Holyrood and there wouldn't be a referendum at all..."

    Surely the perfect argument against a refrendum... in eight months time everyon will have changed their minds....

  29. "Surely a "new" country has to be founded on the enthusiastic acceptance of, atleast, a majority of the population."

    Scotland isn't a "new" country. It wouldn't be *becoming* independent, it would be *reverting* to independence, its original and natural state.

    If three people vote in the referendum and two of them vote Yes, I'll take it without the slightest hesitation.

  30. Groundskeeper Willie10 November 2011 at 19:10

    RevStu said...
    'Yawn. None of us knows that. Even now the polls are basically 50/50. But even if it were true, what would he possibly gain by not trying?'

    Well at the risk of appearing rather stupid, Salmond might wish to delay matters further until circumstances appear more propitious.

    I suspect he'll use the possibility of a legal challenge/ legal uncertainty as an excuse for the delay.



    I believe my namesake is the character most widely identified as a Scotsman across the globe.To see ourselves as others see us?

  31. Apologies for I must feed the troll;

    >>Get 60% enthusiasts and you'll win.
    Anything less and you'll lose, and if the "sod its" bring "independence", we all lose.<<


    All we need is 50% + 1, and would you care to articulate why we would all lose on Scotland being independent?

    >>Surely the perfect argument against a refrendum... in eight months time everyon will have changed their minds....<<

    Weren't you just trolling in the previous thread taunting the SNP to bring it on etc. Not being an expert on trolling but I'd reckon your consistancy is questionable along with your views on democracy.

  32. @RevStu

    "Scotland isn't a "new" country. It wouldn't be *becoming* independent, it would be *reverting* to independence, its original and natural state."

    Wordplay Stu. A sure sign of avoiding the argument.

    BTW, Scotland's "original and natural state" is, like all other countries, an empty land with no people in it at all.

    If you mean its state in 1603 or 1707, then that's hardy original, is it?

    What about 1503? or 1103? or 0003? BC?

    Why not go back to Dalriada or Pictland? ... if "original" and "natural" is what

  33. Groundskeeper Willie11 November 2011 at 10:10

    “Do you wish Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom?”

    Succinct and to the point.

  34. Willie I rather think more people will know who Sean Connery is than Groundsman Willie.

    Not rubbing it in but you know, he's like James Bond, not a cartoon character.

    I'd say you are more on a par with Scottie from Star Trek.

  35. Groundskeeper Willie11 November 2011 at 11:46


    You're showing your age.

    There won't be many in the critical 16-18 demographic who've heard of Sean Connery.

    And I'm not sure that a tax exiled apologist for wife beating is a particularly positive image for modern day Scotland to be projecting.

    Still, I suppose beggars can't be chosers.

    To more important issues.

    Salmond's not going to hold a referendum, is he?

    And what's all this about Christine Grahame?

    She sounds like the SNP's version of Edwina Currie, but with an added eleemt of sectarian bigotry.

    I sometime's feel sorry for Alex Salmond being surrounded by such a ragbag of weirdos and incompetents.

  36. I feel I may be mad to ask this but what is so important about the fact that you believe 16 - 18 yr olds around the world identify a cartoon character as the most identifiable Scot?

  37. LPW -you're right about the apathetic sod-it factor having a major influence.

    Were the waters calm, tasty and plentiful that same factor could be a negative. However, it is my belief that by the time the question is posed the 'waters' will be a toxic sludge offering nothing but drought and the sod-it will swing to the positive.

    It is a 'given' of humanity that they must writhe in the pain before rising to the gain.

  38. Groundskeeper Willie11 November 2011 at 13:15

    Well according to Wikipedia, the fount of all wisdom, Groundskeeper Willie's recognition factor extends across the entire age range, it's not confined to 16-18 year olds, though I know that is a section of society the SNP regard as particularly important. Hence why I mentioned it.

    And I'm not sure that any of Salmond's, nor ideed Connery's bon mots have entered the political lexicon the way that 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' has.

    'The Times reported in late 2005 that "he (GW) is the most instantly recognisable Scot in the world: better known than Billy Connolly or Ewan McGregor, even Sean Connery.'

  39. "Scotland's "original and natural state" is, like all other countries, an empty land with no people in it at all. "

    Er, no. When there were no people in it it wasn't called anything. We're not talking about the Pictish Parliament or the Dalriadan Parliament, we're talking about the Parliament of the clearly-defined entity of Scotland.

  40. RevStu

    if you don't accept that Scotland's original and natural state was empty of people, you must accept that when there were people it was called Dalriada, Strahclyde etc.

    Why don't you want to go back to those names and those borders? They are more original and natural than the 1707 borders, surely?

  41. "if you don't accept that Scotland's original and natural state was empty of people, you must accept that when there were people it was called Dalriada, Strahclyde etc."

    Clearly I accept that. Do you even have any idea what you're arguing about?

  42. Every time my resistance weakens in relation to the SNP something happens, this week it was Alex walking through the Amazon with a big grin surrounded by the Union Bashers and the news that Hugh Kerr had joined and was asking all his Solidarity mates along. Awa back to sleep till the next election.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  43. "It is a truly awesome piece of Machiavellian politics, and Salmond ought to win some sort of prize for it"

    Is there a Nobel prize in the offing?

    Seriously, the referendum is going to great fun. Seeing the great and the not-so-good Unionist establishment tying themselves in even greater knots as the day approaches is worthy of a Pulitzer prize.

    As a "nat" I have given the wording of the dreaded question some thought, I seem to be a distinct minority?, possibly because I am a bit of an impatient soul.

    So here is my outline for the question, but firstly two stonking great reasons for discussion, as to why it should take the form I am suggesting.

    1) The Treaty of Union should not under any circumstances remain a reserved matter for Westminster. To allow this to remain just invites Westminster to ignor the referendum result. So the question should reaffirm the sovereignty of the Scottish electorate,

    2)Secondly we, and by that should set out to achieve a win, what ever the outcome. So designing a win:win situation in the referendum wording should be relatively easy.

    So here it is:

    Do you agree that the Scottish Government shall enter into negotiations with Westminster to revise and update the 1707 Treaty of Union for the 21st Century?

    No: Independance
    Yes: Revised 21st Century Treaty of Union.

    And before someone goes and mentions the status quo, I hope we are all agreed that it is untenable in its current form?

  44. We are not electing a government here. We are deciding the forever future of our nation.

    The question should a be simple Yes/No and phrased only on the locus of sovereignty based on the Claim of Right:

    Do you agree that Scotland's sovereignty rests in her people, and is executed solely in their elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament?


    Any other policies such as EU membership, currency etc that future Scottish Governments can - and no doubt will - change over the lifetime of the nation are very clearly out of bounds.

    As I've said elsewhere: what may be very, very politically astute is to propose that in the event of YES vote, the Scottish Parliament will - in full ownership of a nation's rights and ability to form treaties with other nations - reverse grant (effectively: outsource) certain powers to rUK. Such as defence. Or currency. Or the monarchy. But that's only a temporary grant, which a future Scottish government will have the complete authority to rescind, responding to the sovereign people's wishes expressed in electoral mandates.

    There will of course need to be negotiation over the splitting of assets and liabilities that each party inherits, but no more than that. And that's the kind of negotiation the diplomatic service - with each side negotiating to maximise its advantage - was born to do. But that should not change the principle set in motion by a successful referendum.