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Wings Over Scotland

The loaded dice

Posted on August 07, 2012 by

We think it’s quite cute that the Scottish Affairs Committee still imagines it can get away with presenting itself as a neutral arbiter when releasing the findings of an investigation with the pejorative title “The Referendum on Separation for Scotland”.

We also can’t help but admire the determination of the Unionist parties who stood in both Westminster and Holyrood elections on a platform of implacable opposition to any referendum taking place at all, in asserting that they nevertheless have the right to dictate the terms of such a vote after the Scottish electorate overwhelmingly elected the only party promising one.

What we don’t understand is quite what they’re trying to achieve.

Some prominent Labour activists have spent the last few months asserting that there won’t be a referendum at all, because Alex Salmond doesn’t really want one, on the grounds that he’d lose and his party would implode as a result. They argue – if that’s not putting it too strongly – that he’ll do his best to manoeuvre the politics in such a manner that he can call the referendum off while blaming Westminster for “blocking” it, and that that’s his only face-saving escape route from the certainty of defeat.

Strangely, the party and its allies in the Unionist coalition, including many of those same activists, also regularly insist that Salmond wants a devo-max option on the ballot paper, despite near-universal agreement that such a move would annihilate any hope at all of the nationalists securing their greatest prize.

So let’s recap the possibilities as the Unionists claim to see them:

1. A single-question referendum goes ahead, which (they claim) will deliver a crushing defeat for independence and destroy the SNP.

2. A three-option referendum takes place, which will result in a victory for devo-X, delivering a settlement of more powers within the Union – the policy all three Unionist parties currently claim to stand for.

3. No referendum happens at all – the policy all three Unionist parties stood for in 2010 and 2011.

We think it’s fair to say, then, that the official Unionist line is that they can’t lose no matter what. Which raises the question of why they’re bothering to make such an almighty fuss about any and every last aspect of the referendum from the wording of the question down.

Rationally, if they truly believe what they claim to believe, their best strategy would therefore plainly be to give the Scottish Government carte blanche to run the referendum as it sees fit, robbing it of any chance to cry foul over “Westminster interference” and allowing the Scottish public to vote unequivocally for the Union, putting the issue to bed for at least a generation.

Instead, however, the Committee’s report seeks to control every detail of the referendum for itself, in return for the UK Parliament granting Holyrood the “right” to hold the vote via a section 30 order. In doing so, the Unionists seek to block off the policy they all profess to stand for (more powers within the Union). But more to the point, by creating obstacles and conditions in the most uncompromising language, they’re offering Alex Salmond the thing they claim he wants most of all, and which must therefore conversely be the worst possible thing for them – a viable excuse to back out and avoid his party’s destruction.

The choice of Ian Davidson as the Committee’s chairman, in that context, may turn out to be a disastrous error on Labour’s part. Davidson is an unreconstructed old-school thug, a slow-witted dinosaur best known for threatening to assault a female MP and calling the SNP “fascists”. He would be a gift-wrapped Christmas present to the nationalists in the event that they wished to avoid calling the referendum but portray the reason as an arrogant, bullying Westminster government refusing the Scottish people the referendum they voted for.

If we were offered the chance to roll some loaded dice, knowing that every possible result delivered us a win, we wouldn’t be hurling them at the table so violently that they risked ending up on the floor and invalidating the game. But even when it’s making up the rules itself, Westminster is scared it hasn’t stacked the odds enough, and risks making its cheating so obvious that its “mark” will turn round and walk away with its money still in its pocket. An impartial observer might be forgiven for wondering if it was quite as certain of the outcome as it claims to be.

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    9 to “The loaded dice”

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      It’s amusing, isn’t it? Independence is Alex Salmond’s personal obsession. However, he also secretly wants devo max rather than independence. But he also secretly doesn’t want to hold a referendum at all. And these folk wonder why people have become totally turned off of politics?

      The fact that unionists think all Alex Salmond cares about is hanging onto power tells you a lot more about them than it does of him. These are people who abandoned any semblance of ideology for political expediency years ago, except in the cases of those who never had any ideological motives in the first place. It’s simply unthinkable for these people that someone might actually just want the thing they claim to have campaigned for their entire political lives, because deep down, they know they would do anything for a whiff of power, and wrongly assume everyone else must be the same.

    2. Peter A Bell says:

      The evident confusion in the ranks of the Tory/Labour/LibDem anti-independence coalition which you so succinctly describe may be explained by the intellect-crippling effects of mindless, visceral hatred.

      The appointment of Ian Davidson, meanwhile, makes more sense when one recognises that his is an intellect which had little to lose.

    3. Holebender says:

      Even the Scotsman has published a leader article defending the sole right of Scotland’s people to call and run the referendum. That’s how much of a mess Davidson’s committee has made of this.

    4. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      Its shows a true paucity of arguments that the Unionists felt the need to re-run this scare story (and the Shetland and Orkney scare story too).

      These were both so comprehensively rubbished last time round that it made the Unionists look incompetent…

      …and then they bring them out again and even the Scotsman goes WTF???

    5. John Lyons says:

      “The fact that unionists think all Alex Salmond cares about is hanging onto power tells you a lot more about them than it does of him.”

      Here here Doug!

      It is beyond the ken of a Westminster MP to understand that an elected official may Serve the people, not himself. You only have to look at the expenses claims to see that, but it’s also backed up with the Trust polls. Salmonds trust goes up and up in Scotland whilst the other leader keep digging thier way down. (I was going to say down to Thatcher levels, but I think some are already past her!)

      There are only two challenges ahead of us. Patience is the first one. Every day I long to be rid of these Westminster leeches, sooner rather than later, but we cannot rush this. (And if you need any evidence of that just look at how many Unionists are trying to get us to hurry up!)
      The other challenge is complacency. Sometimes I think independence is a certainty and want to put my feet up, but we have to keep going every day. I read on one of the other posts someone saying they could hardly be bothered countering the arguement that Shetland and Orkney will stay in the UK, but we MUST be bothered, otherwise they win! Even if you’re saying it for the nine undredth time, you have to say it again.

    6. Colin Dunn says:

      @ Scott Minto
      “Its shows a true paucity of arguments that the Unionists felt the need to re-run this scare story (and the Shetland and Orkney scare story too).”

      Interesting too, that the Grauniad, which has been really pushing the unionist scaremongering, hasn’t published anything new on its Scottish Politics page for ages.

    7. stevenluby says:

      I suspect that the unionists still believe if you lie often and hard enough it becomes the truth,hence the re-introduction of old scare stories. As for the referendum options the unionists continue in their attempts to confuse the general public.Its a tactic thats worked for generations but unfortuanately for them,sites like these are pinning them to the wall and yelling WTF ?!?!?!?

      U.K Politicians don’t and can’t handle being spotted as the liars that they clearly are,they have reached the stage of narrowing their blinkers even further and striding on the same spot as they have always done,hurtling down the road of progress and the wind swept speed of zero mph. 

      I even suspect that with the recent claim from the Electoral Commission the Supreme High Courts would struggle to support the unionist stand on all things regarding Scots Law and Scottish Politics!    


    8. Macart says:

      @ Colin Dunn

      I’ve been pondering on that one myself. Maybe they’re getting tired of Scott giving them what for? 😀 

    9. Siôn Eurfyl Jones says:

      The YES campaign are doing well by keeping their powder dry, and letting the unionists bollix things up!  The YES vote, while not being brilliant in the mid 30s%, is holding up well in the face of relentless Union Jackery, from the wedding to the jamboree, to the games.  No doubt they have a royal baby planned for 2014, and there could well be a state funeral – anything to sell the UK ‘brand’!  But it won’t work. Overkill always has a negative reaction. 

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