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Independence for Scotland. Yes or no? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Gordon Prentice   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 00:21

The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, tells us to expect a referendum on independence in 2014. Cameron wants one too but insists it is held a year earlier, in 2013, thereby avoiding a nasty clash with the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn.

Interestingly, the official Clan Cameron website claims “young Camerons” were instrumental in defeating the English in that legendary battle.

Whatever the date, I am left wondering how much information will be available before the vote on the consequences on any decision to split from the rest of the UK?

What happens to the billions of pounds of assets that need to be divided up? There will be a million practical questions that need convincing answers.

Holding a referendum before these details are thrashed out is a tad premature.

What about social security payments? Pensions? The national debt?

Personally, I am dead against unpicking the fabric of the UK that has been woven over centuries. And, if truth be told, I am also slightly miffed at the prospect of not having a vote. True. I don’t live in Scotland though my roots there go back to 1613.

And what about people who live elsewhere but have second homes in Scotland and are, therefore, on the electoral register?

And will non-UK citizens living in Scotland have a vote? If so, why?

As it happens, I live in Canada but, as a UK citizen, I can’t vote in elections or referendums here.

So why should an ex-pat Canadian living in Scotland have a vote and so help determine the future of the UK?

Talking of which (Canada) constitutional experts here have been thinking for years about the consequences of Quebec leaving the Canadian Federation. One, Tom Flanagan, puts it this way

Canada can’t be broken up by a one-vote majority in a provincial referendum. The most that such a referendum can do, regardless of the size of the majority, is to trigger negotiations with the federal government and the other provinces about the terms of a possible separation agreement.

Seems to me this is a bit back to front.

Much better for the terms of any separation to be settled before the referendum – fat chance! - allowing voters to form a considered view.

The alternative is a Braveheart referendum, set to the music of Flower of Scotland, where all that matters is giving the English another poke in the eye.

Crossing the floor

If there is one thing that seriously upsets me it is the sight of an MP switching sides to save their political skin.

Enter Lise St.-Denis, an NDP member of Parliament for the Quebec riding of Saint-Maurice—Champlain who is crossing the floor of the House of Commons to join the Liberals.

Lise St.-Denis was part of the great orange wave that swept the Bloc away in last year’s federal election. Her constituency was once held by former Liberal Prime Minister, Jean Chretien.

The NDP wants to see MPs who change allegiance resign and trigger a by election. They are, of course, free to stand again under their new colours and explain their change of heart to the voters.

Alas, it rarely happens.

Instead they are welcomed into the fold with open arms and – in the UK – often rewarded with Ministerial posts.

Time to dump that convention too.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2012 09:51
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