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Wings Over Scotland

Ian Davidson calls for second question

Posted on August 11, 2012 by

We’re indebted to keen Wings Over Scotland reader “Holebender” for digging out this little nugget. Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, is at the forefront of Labour’s demands for the Scottish Government to hold a single-question referendum on Scottish independence, regardless of whether the Scottish electorate might want a third option. But it turns out Ian hasn’t always been quite so keen on restricting voters to straight yes/no choices.

Back in February 2008, he wrote to Nick Clegg about the Liberal Democrats’ proposed referendum on UK membership of the EU. You can find the full original text of his letter at this page on the Conservative Home website. Just for a bit of fun, though, we’ve reprinted it below with some extremely minor adjustments.

All we’ve done is replace references to the EU with the word “Union”, and references to the “new Constitutional Treaty” Labour wanted to bring forward – to amend the terms of UK membership while keeping the UK in the European Union – with references to “devo-max”. (We hope you’ll agree those are pretty fair analogies for the constitutional situation in Scotland, where Labour profess to want more powers for Holyrood but to keep Scotland in the Union.) Everything else is unchanged.

Here’s how it would have sounded, then, if Mr Davidson’s 2008 letter had been addressed to the First Minister, rather than to Nick Clegg.

“Dear Alex,

I was interested to see that you are now campaigning for a referendum on Scotland’s membership of the Union. My concern is that you are only calling for a referendum on “in or out of the UK” to cover up the fact you are against a referendum on the real issue in hand – increased powers for Scotland within Britain, or “devo-max”.

As you know, there is no chance at all of the “in or out” vote being agreed. Nor is it a good idea. Most people in Britain don’t want to see further centralisation of power in the Union – but at the same time they want to reform the Union, not leave it. Only offering people a polarising “in or out” referendum would be a dishonest attempt to push people into positions they don’t hold.

However, I accept there are some arguments for a referendum going beyond simply devo-max. It’s true the acts passed since 1997 cumulatively amount to a big change in the way we are governed. So, why not have a two-question referendum? One question would ask people whether they supported extra powers, and the other would ask whether they wanted to remain in the Union.

Personally, I would vote ‘no’ to more powers and ‘yes’ to remaining in the Union.

Colleagues and I will be putting down an amendment for such a two-question referendum next week. We hope that you and your parliamentary party will support this. Opposing it would make it clear that your real agenda is not to prompt a referendum on “in or out” – but just to stop a referendum on the Treaty.

Best wishes, Ian Davidson MP.”

We wonder what changed Mr Davidson’s mind and reversed his opinion on the principle of offering the electorate a full range of options, rather than furiously insisting that only a “yes or no” vote would be acceptable? It’s a real puzzler.

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13 to “Ian Davidson calls for second question”

  1. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Holebender hunting down a Truthbender.

  2. Juteman says:

    Nice one chaps. 🙂 

  3. Holebender says:

    I cannot take any credit for the find. I just followed a link from a comment over on Newsnet Scotland… and there it was!

  4. Holebender says:

    Here’s the debate in the House of Commons in which Mr. Davidson calls for a two question referendum: Davidson starts at 4.24pm.
    Here are some selected quotes:
    “It is not only because I have a natural sympathy with beleaguered minorities who find themselves in a hole of their own making—not least because I have often found myself in that position. I am unhappy about the Liberal proposition because it poses the question of in/out against the question of yes/no, as though people could decide on only one of them. I would be inclined to vote for an in/out referendum if the Liberals were prepared to support the idea that I and others could have the opportunity to vote on a yes/no referendum. I would vote yes to remain in, but vote no to the treaty. Under the Liberal proposals, as I understand them, there would be a referendum only on in/out.”

    “I am anxious if I vote for the Liberal proposition that I will be less likely to be successful in a motion that I would like to propose on yes or no. If the Liberals give me an undertaking that they will vote for a yes/no referendum on the treaty, I will vote with them on in/out. If not, I have to assume that they are guilty of hypocrisy.

  5. Juteman says:

    You couldn’t make it up. Hypocrisy?

  6. James T says:

    If the Unionists are going to let us have a 2nd question, I would seriously be asking them what they propose to give us in the future should the Devo-Max be put on the table. It’s one thing for the Unionsits to say ‘Yes, We’ll give you more powers’, but exactly what would these powers be? I would certainly want to know before the Referendum so at least I know exactly what all the options are. 
    I’m voting Independence anyway, but for all those who maybe unsure as to which way to go, I would certainly like it for them, to at least know, what powers Devo-Max would be offered. I don’t want maybe’s, or ‘we’ll see’. I want to know exactly everything that will be given to us in Devo Max. In fact, I would be demanding that the Unionists propose them, and then promise them before the Referendum. Overall, I don’t trust the Unionists. I think it will be like making a deal with the Devil, there will be conditions, and I know they won’t tell us beforehand what we could get, or they will refrain from handing out what they promised.

  7. RandomScot says:

    I think the actions of Davidson and Foulkes areintended to stop the SNP having a voice.

    Hammer the media if the look even slightly even handed so they react in Labour’s favour

    Foulkes and others’ CyberNat'” jibe is to class all who point out the failings and fibs from the Unionists as some sort ofnutter who can be disregarded, allowing the Unionists a free hand.

    You can see that when Foulkes exchanges tweets with Alyn Smith “I don’t mean you Alyn, no, it’s everyone else” the oleaginous waste of oxygen

  8. Alexander McIntyre says:

    O/T sorry, but after all the recent goings on in scottish football, and all the comments about what’s wrong with the game, I fell I must get my tuppence worth after an incident today. I would say I’m a rangers man, but today I travelled back to my home town to take in the greatest derby on this earth. Arthurlie v Pollock.
    After racing in to a 3-0 lead, the mighty Lie got sloppy and casual defending caused them to fall to a 5-3 defeat to the better team on the day.
    Well anyone who follows junior football knows how hard it is to get a crowd when competing with TV football and the hours of sacrifice from the folk who give time gladly to just make sure they survive.
    Now bearing in mind Arthurlie FC who came in to existence in 1874 and are among the oldest clubs in the world, and who once turned Celtic over in the Scottish cup at the old ground named the humph. Today in the middle of the cup tie strathclydes finest turned up and made the announcer put out a message over the tannoy, informing everyone, that anyone parked in carlibar rd, Muriel st, glen st, basically any one at the game, that due to complaints about the cars parked outside the ground. If they were not moved everyone would be getting ticketed for parking on a single yellow. 
    You can imagine the protests when everyone had to leave to take the cars away. The crowd halved in minutes, but when it was pointed out to the constabulary , that quite a lot of the cars were players of both side, and there was no chance of getting them off the park to move the offending vehicles, which I might add have never caused a problem in the last 50 years, even at the famous all ticket match in the quarters of the Scottish against Auchincleck talbot. ( not a spelling mistake, check out the tickets the SJFA made us spend a fortune on, you couldn’t make it up).
    So the police proceded to start ticketing all the players cars and anyone who had not moved. Now bearing in mind most of these fines will come out the clubs coffers it’s no wonder our games going down the pan. When there I was glad to see a SNP banner from sponsorship, although the Jim Murphy supports Arthurlie one nearly made me sick, given that east Renfrewshire council are doing their best to get our ground off us for wallies. They can’t seem to get the fact Arthurlie own the title deeds lock stock and barrel. And unless they get us a, suitable site to play our games we will not sell for their regeneration project. Call me a cynic but this incident along with the fact that our social club has had a astronomical rent hike on our 99 year lease this term says someone’s at it and if no one does something about it our games down the stank. Sorry for the rant but I’m fuming.

  9. douglas clark says:

    Random Scot @ 7:41pm
    Davidson and Foulkes are only interested in themselves and the money they pull.
    They need to be hunted out of any discussion about independence.
    It does not seem to me to be difficult to point out that they have ‘issues’ with an independence vote.
    We should all get stuck into their pecuniary interests in a ‘no’ vote. They are pretty vulnerable on that tack.
    Least, that’s how I see it.

  10. Appleby says:

    By putting devo-max seriously on the table as an option they fall into their own trap of having to pre-define every single detail of what it will be like in that situation (as otherwise it always comes down to “what powers then?”), worse than what they’ve demanded into absurdity with the post-indie Scotland.

  11. baycitytroller says:

    Davidson is not the only one with form here. Jacob Rees-Mogg (he who conducted his Parliamentary campaign in Fife from his Bentley accompanied by his nanny) said the following in the HoC in a debate on a National Referendum on the European Union (24 Oct 2011) at 8:06pm;

    “…The other two points do not add up to much were, first, that a three-way referendum is confusing. However, that is not a problem because the motion calls for a Bill in the next Session, which can deal with any confusion. We can, in our wisdom, work out how to phrase a referendum – or series of referendums, if necessary – that will be understandable.”

    Seems that when there is a will, there is a way. 

  12. heraldnomore says:

    Alexander McIntyre says:

    Never mind the polis Alex.  It was but a brilliant second half and all it lacked was a third goal for Carlo’s hat-trick.  A better start to the season I cannot imagine, other than say a third Peterhead goal, than to hump the mighty ‘Lie on their own midden after being three down.

    But the polis and the cooncil in cahoots, that’s a conspiracy theory beyond even that involving Davidson and the state-funded broadcaster.

    ‘Mon the ‘Lok now.

  13. I know just the place to post the letter!

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