Scottish independence White Paper a “waste of time and money”

by Stephen Tall on July 27, 2007

Scotland’s First Minister, SNP leader Alex Salmond, has committed to publishing a White Paper proposing a referendum on Scottish independence.

The move has been dismissed by the Scottish Lib Dems leader, Nicol Stephen:

“Everyone knows the work on this White Paper is a waste of civil service time and the public’s money. There is nowhere near a majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament. Every minute spent on this document is a distraction from more important priorities, such as health, education and crime.”

There’s more coverage in the Daily Record and Scotsman.

(I would direct you to the Scottish Lib Dems news website, but it seems to have a few, er, technical issues at the moment.)

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8 comments

Nicholl Stephen is quoted as saying “Everyone knows the work on this White Paper is a waste of civil service time and the public’s money” – well, no that’s not true “everyone” does NOT know that. Not only do I personally not “know” it, there are strong indications (from properly conducted opinion polls on this specific question) that, REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY WOULD VOTE in a referendum on independence, a large majority of the electorate think that being asked about independence in a referendum is their democratic right. In my experience, people use phrases like “everyone knows” when their case is actually very weak and they don’t want to have to bother with trying to prove it. After all, at one time, “everyone knew” that the Earth was flat.

by Dave Coull on July 27, 2007 at 6:23 pm. Reply #

Nicholl Stephen is quoted as saying “There is nowhere near a majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament” – that is IRRELEVANT. The parliament is not being asked to unilaterally declare independence. All the parliament is being asked to do is to allow the people of Scotland a democratic “yes” or “no” vote on the question “Should Scotland become independent?”. That question can NOT be settled by a party political election. Opinion polls have suggested that perhaps as much as thirty five percent of Liberal Democrat voters in Scotland are in favour of independence, around forty percent of Labour voters in Scotland are in favour of independence, and around twenty percent of Tory voters in Scotland are in favour of independence. Of course, on the other hand, a minority of SNP voters might actually vote _against_ independence in a referendum. The point is, ONLY a referendum can establish the true will of the people in this matter. So there is no requirement for a majority of MSPs to be in favour of independence. The only requirement is that a majority of MSPs should be in favour of democracy.

by Dave Coull on July 27, 2007 at 6:42 pm. Reply #

Government by opinion poll (which is all Mr Coull has to justify his demand for a referendum) isn’t democracy in any form that I’d recognise it. A Citizens’ Initiative, on the other hand, would be a different matter.

by Paul Griffiths on July 28, 2007 at 10:48 am. Reply #

Paul Griffiths rejects opinion polls as a justification for a referendum on independence for Scotland, but says “A Citizens’ Initiative, on the other hand, would be a different matter”. One problem with this idea is that such a petition would require names and addresses as well as signatures, and nowadays, in the era of spam and identity fraud, people can, understandably, be reluctant to put such information on a public document. But yes, this is a possibility. The proposed Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE) included a limited indirect initiative right (Article I-46(4)). The proposal was that 1,000,000 citizens, from a minimal number of different member states, could invite the executive body of the European Union, the European Commission, to consider any proposal “on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Constitution.” If one million signatures was considered enough for all of Europe, then one hundred thousand would be more than enough for Scotland. Such an initiative, organised on a non-party-political basis (I’m not a member of any party myself), is almost certainly going to happen in the next few months. What Liberal Democrats have to ask themselves is – WHEN that initiative happens, do they support democracy or not?

by Dave Coull on July 28, 2007 at 5:25 pm. Reply #

Mr Coull’s final question is a good one. Party policy has mentioned CIs in the past, but (if I recall correctly) never in much detail. It’s possible that they will feature in the “For The People, By The People” Policy Paper promised for Federal Conference. (I’d be interested to know if the Scottish Liberal Democrats have ever passed any motions relating to CIs at their Conferences.) In the Scottish case, would a 100,000 name petition have the legitimacy of a CI, even in the absence of specific CI-enabling legislation? On the face of it, it would be hard to argue otherwise …

by Paul Griffiths on July 28, 2007 at 8:17 pm. Reply #

It doesn’t say much for the ‘Scottish’ Lib Dems that they think the idea of asking the people of scotland their opinion on independence is waste of money!

The fact is the Lib Dems are a London controlled party who don’t put Scotland first, that’s no doubt why they were defeated in the elections by the SNP.

The Lib Dems supposedly support more powers for Scotland yet while in power with Labour they did nothing about it.

If they still support ‘the claim of right for Scotland’ they should also logically support asking our people whether or not they want to move towards independence.

Polls have suggested that 60-80% of the Scottish people want a referendum on independence so why do the Lib Dems want to deny those people their democratic choice?

I think the reason Labour, Lib Dems and Tories all don’t want a referendum is because they know they won’t like the answer they get!

by Joe Middleton on August 10, 2007 at 4:32 pm. Reply #

See comment 3.

by Paul Griffiths on August 10, 2007 at 8:47 pm. Reply #

“The fact is the Lib Dems are a London controlled party who don’t put Scotland first, that’s no doubt why they were defeated in the elections by the SNP.”

Patently untrue. Take a look at our Constitution, and you will see that the Scottish Liberal Democrats have autonomous status.

I think we have to have an agreed “trigger” for a referendum on independence, otherwise the SNP will carry on demanding one until they can persuade the Scottish people to give them the result they want. All parties should be able to agree on this.

The reason the SNP did so well in the recent SP elections is not because Scottish people want separation but because (1) many people were fed up with Labour, and (2) Brian Souter poured egregious amounts of boodle into the SNP campaign. Also, the decline in class loyalty and Roman Catholic solidarity weakened Labour’s base.

A knotty one for the SNP: if Scotland is given independence, will Shetland be allowed to opt out?

by Angus Huck on August 10, 2007 at 9:11 pm. Reply #

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