Of course the thoughts of anybody from the Glasgow area are with the victims of the Clutha helicopter crash today.
However, there’s another story in the news today that needs commenting on, namely Angus Robertson’s call for a delay to the 2015 General Election:
That is actually an issue for the UK Government to consider. I think there is a very good case for putting the UK general election back by a year.
The reason why I say that is because of course a Yes result in Scotland will lead to a very, very intense period of negotiation between the UK Government and the Scottish Government — transitioning Scotland from a position within the UK into the EU, Nato, the United Nations and agreeing a whole series of other important measures.
I think it is going to be very important for decision makers at Westminster to wake up to the consequences of the Yes vote and why it will be in their interests to have a grown-up relationship with the government and the people of Scotland.
And perhaps being diverted by a general election in the middle of that process is certainly something one should be thinking about.
Predictably, the Unionists are trying to portray this as an evil Nationalist ploy:
Margaret Curran, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “The SNP want another year of the Tories. Another year of the bedroom tax, austerity and David Cameron and if they win they’d rather negotiate with David Cameron than Ed Miliband. […]”
A UK Government spokesman said: “Parliament has legislated for fixed-term parliaments and the next general election will be in May 2015. The Scottish Government knew this when they chose the referendum date.”
It’s important to reiterate that this isn’t a Scottish problem. Angus Robertson is just pointing out what the rUK politicians should already be thinking about for their own sake.
Does any rUK politician really want to conduct a general election campaign six months after a Scottish Yes vote (which would have to take place in Scotland, too)? Will Labour want to write a manifesto while the Scottish politicians are still an integral part of their party structure? Would they not all prefer to get the Scottish independence issue dealt with first, and only then elect a new rUK parliament without any interference from Scottish politicians?
To be honest, it might be in Scotland’s interest for the 2015 election to go ahead, simply because the Scottish negotiation team will find it much easier to run circles round the newly elected rUK government than to deal with one negotiation partner throughout.
However, it’s definitely not in the rUK’s interest, and I think Angus Robertson should be praised for pointing this out to them, not abused as if he was trying to score party-political points.