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Wings Over Scotland

Unionists ponder suicide pact

Posted on November 08, 2011 by

David Maddox in the Scotsman livens up a previously-slow news day with a report that Labour are preparing to team up with the Conservatives in the UK Parliament to force a Westminster-led referendum on Scottish independence. The article is short on solid quotes to contradict David Cameron's repeatedly-stated position that the referendum is a matter for the Scottish Parliament, relying instead on unnamed "sources", but if true it would be an astonishing development. None of the UK parties stood on a platform of holding a referendum – indeed, all three explicitly opposed the idea – so where they'd be conjuring a mandate to do such a thing from would be anyone's guess, whereas the SNP have an extremely clear one from the Scottish people to conduct the vote in the second half of the Holyrood parliamentary term.

Most observers on both sides of the debate agree that a Westminster-imposed referendum would be an enormously risky gamble for the Unionists, as Scottish voters are unlikely to take kindly to such a democratic trampling. But it may be that the three London-based parties sense a growing trend of support for a Yes vote – reflected in recent polls – and consider it less of a risk than waiting for three more years of brutal cuts to take effect and persuade Scots that they're better off away from Tory-led UK governments. Labour especially, though, would be dicing with death were they to collude in such a scheme. We shall see.

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