Category Archives: referendum

After the referendum

The Scottish Government today launched its consultation on the Independence referendendum. (The Westminster crowd have also started one [PDF], but I have a feeling the former will be more important to participate in.) You don’t need to live in Scotland to participate, so do tell them what you think!

The consultation document has this to say about what happens after a Yes vote:

4.1 Following a vote for independence, the Scottish Parliament and Government would carry forward the people’s will. This would involve negotiations with the UK Government. These negotiations would deal with the terms of independence as well as with the arrangements for the transition. The terms of independence would include agreement on the scope and arrangements for future cross-border bodies and cross-border co-operation, both transitional and ongoing.

4.2 Formal negotiations would also be opened on Scotland’s international responsibilities, in the European Union and more widely. Other bodies such as relevant international partners would be involved in such discussions as needed.

4.3 Agreement on the arrangements for transition would allow Scotland to move forward to independence. There would be a transitional period to allow for necessary legal and practical preparations. These preparations would ensure that systems and arrangements were in place to allow an independent Scottish Parliament and Government to fulfil the full range of their responsibilities from the moment of independence.

4.4 The final requirement for independence to have effect would be for both the Scottish and UK Parliaments to pass and bring into force independence legislation which would enact the negotiated settlement. In particular, the legislation would effect the transfer of the power to legislate for Scotland from the UK Parliament to the Scottish Parliament and would define the effective date of Scotland’s re-establishment as an independent, sovereign state.

4.5 May 2016 will see the election of the next Scottish Parliament which would become the Parliament of an independent Scotland. This election will give the people of Scotland the chance to decide the future policy direction of Scotland.

Frustratingly, but predictably, there are no time scales. I guess such negotiations can’t be rushed too much, and some of them will be hard.

However, to provide some kind of idea about the timescale we’re talking about here, I’ve tried to find some information on the dissolution of Czechoslovakia:

The Slovak parliament adopts the Declaration of independence of the Slovak nation.
The Federal Assembly passes an act that dissolves Czechoslovakia on 31 December 1992.
Czechoslovakia is dissolved.
The Czech and Slovak Republics are admitted to the UN as new and separate states.
Separate currencies are introduced, at first at par.
.cz and .sk are introduced to replace .cs. (I’m not sure this was the exact date, as various sources disagree; however, it definitely happened in early 1993.)

The telephone country code +42 is replaced by two separate codes: +420 for the Czech Republic and +421 for Slovakia.

It should be clear from the above that the process can be quite fast if both sides work together constructively on the task.

Autumn 2014

Today the Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, was making an announcement in the UK Parliament about giving the Scottish Parliament the right to call a referendum on independence, so long as they do it the way Westminster wanted and do it soon, when Salmond went on Sky News to announce that the referendum will take place in the autumn of 2014.

Salmond usually wins in situations like this, so I’m 99% certain that the referendum will indeed take place then.

Here are a couple of interesting blog postings from today, one about Salmond running rings around Cameron, and another about why the SNP are outgunning the Coalition.

It will be interesting to see what will happen to the remaining UK after Scotland leaves. I wouldn’t be surprised if Northern Ireland will find it hard to cope without Scotland, so it’s entirely possible that Scottish independence will be followed by Irish unification. However, I’m very happy to be corrected by somebody with better knowledge of the politics of Northern Ireland.

However, if I’m right, perhaps Wikipedia will contain the following chart in twenty years’ time (based on this):

I might be getting ahead of myself, however. There’s a referendum to be won in the autumn of 2014, and I intend to do as much as I can to make it a resounding YES!

When to hold a referendum

Yes No
Originally uploaded by jepoirrier

The LibDems said at some point that one should only hold a referendum on a topic that one is in favour of. And so they supported a referendum on the European Constitution (which they’re in favour of), but oppose one on Scottish independence (which they are against). A bit strange that they abstained on the question of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, though, given that they were in favour of that, too. Makes you wonder whether the principle is fully set in stone.

Labour seems to be of the opposite opinion: They were against a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (which they supoorted), but they now seem to be in favour of a refendum on Scottish independence (which they’re against).

I actually tend to agree with Labour here: A party is voted into power to implement their policies. It therefore doesn’t need a referendum to get a mandate to do so. However, if there is something the party doesn’t want to do, but that is very popular in the wider population, it can make sense to hold a referendum to defuse the issue. It’s a bit masochistic, though, and most parties would prefer to delay the issue instead.

I’m not very fond of referendums anyway. They tend to be about everything else, and they often get quite emotional. And in many cases, the major parties can only really live with one result, which tends to provoke the electorate to vote for the other option in spite.

I tend only to support referendums on topics that transcend political parties, such as Scottish independence. I am looking forward to that one, just like Bendy Wendy! 😉