Cameron got it wrong on Scotland, and he probably knows it

Ed Jacobs covers the continuing fallout from Cameron's mistaken sabre-rattling over the Scottish independence referendum.

 

The hapless Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will today address MPs to outline the government’s views on a referendum on Scottish independence.

It is believed that Moore, who had been expected to make the statement at a later date, will outline plans to provide Holyrood with the powers needed to hold a legally binding referendum in order to ensure clarity.

However, on the question of timing which so dominated the headlines yesterday, following the spin from Number 10 which indicated that such powers would only be available to the SNP government for 18 months: Moore is not expected to place a time-limit on when the new powers to hold a binding referendum would need to be used.

Moore’s statement comes after David Cameron opened the latest can of worms on the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday when he quite clearly called for an early vote. It was followed yesterday by 24 hours of absurd politicking, the result of which is that Alex Salmond and the SNP will have been both emboldened and strengthened.

On top of the u-turn that the UK government today looks set to make on the 18 month time frame, onlookers were treated to the sight of the Scottish Secretary being side-lined at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting at the Olympic Park, with the London born George Osborne having led the debate and strategy outlined to fellow Ministers.

One wonders how Michael Moore must have felt, the Secretary of State for Scotland relegated to a bit part in the spat between Westminster and Edinburgh.

Then came the sight, and sound, of Lord Forsyth, Scottish Secretary under John Major, and someone dubbed by one Labour source in the Guardian as “a hate figure in Scotland”.

You really have to wonder what was going through Conservative Party heads when they considered it right to give him such free reign to stand up for the union.

If, as the SNP argue, Cameron’s clumsy and misjudged efforts to provide for an early vote serve only to increase support for greater autonomy for Scotland at the very least, it has to be wondered how many extra votes Salmond and co. can rely on every time The Lord Forsyth of Drumlean makes his case for Scotland to stick with the UK.

And to top things off, writing in the Guardian, Nick Watt has reported that Labour were not consulted by David Cameron over any of what was briefed and leaked yesterday. This despite Labour being by far the largest pro-union party north of the border, and being the party that will ultimately need to be in the driving seat of the campaign to take on the SNP’s plans.

If it wasn’t so serious you’d have to laugh at what was yesterday unravelling as something akin to a Monty Python sketch.

As Cameron’s arch political strategist, George Osborne was meant to regain the initiative in the increasingly bitter dispute with Edinburgh. What this failed to recognise is that in Scotland, Salmond remains the strategist par-excellence; far more than a match for Cameron and Osborne.

Cameron handled things badly yesterday and Alex Salmond will have slept much more comfortably last night as a result.

However, as the anger and heat over process and timing reached fever pitch yesterday, the people of Scotland, as alluded to by Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont on Left Foot Forward yesterday, remain like the proverbial piggy, caught in the middle of the Salm-Cam spat.

As an editorial in the Daily Record has said of Cameron’s strategy:

This is risky game-playing with Scotland. Going for the nuclear option of staging a Westminster referendum invites an inevitable backlash against Tory interference. But Salmond faces risks, too.

The longer he toys with a date and a question, the more he looks like he’s taking the nation for granted and turns people off with his “wheneverendum”.

Meanwhile, the big decisions in Scotland – like education, the economy, the nation’s health – are parked in a political railway siding.

The SNP will do nothing to upset any one group in order to maximise support for the day we decide on separation. That means instead of shaping the future, Salmond is in danger of putting Scotland’s future on hold for even longer than it already is.

Stop the games, the two of you, and give us a vote.

See also:

Scottish Labour leader: “I want the referendum to be held as quickly as possible” Johann Lamont MSP, January 9th 2012

It’s time to get real over threat to the unionEd Jacobs, January 9th 2012

Now the hard work for Lamont begins – Scottish Labour needs a full redesignEd Jacobs, December 19th 2011

Scots support “devo-max” as new Tory leader distances herself from CameronEd Jacobs, November 7th 2011

Scottish Labour needs to wake up to the threat of independenceEd Jacobs, October 17th 2011

13 Responses to “Cameron got it wrong on Scotland, and he probably knows it”

  1. Ed Jacobs

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron got it wrong on Scotland, and he probably knows it //t.co/rWHTkWim

  2. Celticgirl58

    I think you’ll find the unionist parties were hell bent to prevent any vote or any talk of it when the SNP was in the minority. Why not let them do what they promised and were delivered with a democratic mandate to do – provide a vote in the second half of their term? Why is this so hard for everyone to understand? Cameron stepped in it and now gets to enjoy the odour. The SNP could not have done better if they had scripted this gaffe of Cameron’s themselves.

  3. Celticgirl58

    I think you’ll find the unionist parties were hell bent to prevent any vote or any talk of it when the SNP was in the minority. Why not let them do what they promised and were delivered with a democratic mandate to do – provide a vote in the second half of their term? Why is this so hard for everyone to understand? Cameron stepped in it and now gets to enjoy the odour. The SNP could not have done better if they had scripted this gaffe of Cameron’s themselves.

  4. Ed

    The mandate was for a referendum. Nothing in the SNP’s manifesto mentioned a time frame. So the mandate is for the holding of a vote and not the timing. Also, if I recall, Wendy Alexander told Alex Salmond to bring a vote on. Why didn’t he?

  5. Ed

    The mandate was for a referendum. Nothing in the SNP’s manifesto mentioned a time frame. So the mandate is for the holding of a vote and not the timing. Also, if I recall, Wendy Alexander told Alex Salmond to bring a vote on. Why didn’t he?

  6. Selohesra

    Will the Scots get to keep a fair proportion of the National debt if they go for independence? – presumably allocated via the oh so fair Barnett formula

  7. Shug the Profound

    Wendy Alexander was slapped down VERY quickly by Gordon Brown after telling Alec Salmond to “bring it on”. The referendum will be held when it is in the the best interests of the SNP to hold it. Exactly in the same way as a General Election is held when the incumbent PM thinks he has the best chance of winning. Its simple common sense, let alone politics. Witness Gordon Browns swithering of a few years back. Mind you he got it wrong, but then there wasn’t an awful lot he got right.
    Don’t waste your breath fretting over 2014, either. Fairly shortly after the Tories are re-elected in a UK GE is the best guess for the date of the referendum. Just long enough for it to sink into the heads of Scots Labour voters that they are stuck with yet another Tory administration they didn’t vote for.
    Just exactly what has changed since last year when we were told we could not have a referendum under any circumstances and now when we have to have it NOW?

  8. Shug the Profound

    Wendy Alexander was slapped down VERY quickly by Gordon Brown after telling Alec Salmond to “bring it on”. The referendum will be held when it is in the the best interests of the SNP to hold it. Exactly in the same way as a General Election is held when the incumbent PM thinks he has the best chance of winning. Its simple common sense, let alone politics. Witness Gordon Browns swithering of a few years back. Mind you he got it wrong, but then there wasn’t an awful lot he got right.
    Don’t waste your breath fretting over 2014, either. Fairly shortly after the Tories are re-elected in a UK GE is the best guess for the date of the referendum. Just long enough for it to sink into the heads of Scots Labour voters that they are stuck with yet another Tory administration they didn’t vote for.
    Just exactly what has changed since last year when we were told we could not have a referendum under any circumstances and now when we have to have it NOW?

  9. TheCreativeCrip

    Wales next; please! RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron got it wrong on Scotland, and he probably knows it, writes @edjacobs1985: //t.co/kJfJxhL1

  10. uglyfatbloke

    A share of the national debt? Presumably, but also with a relevant share of the national assets.
    Barnett….Scoltand gets a greater per capita share of certain areas of spending under the formula, but very little indeed of the other 48% or thereby.
    The gnats manifesto did not say anything about timing of a referendum, but they were, admittedly, pretty clear about it throughout the election campaign.
    Constitutional issues are reserved under the Scotland Act, but that is not the whole story. Westminster acts depend on the unlimited sovereignty of parliament, but that soevereignty does not extend across the Tweed since it has no comparable concept in Scottish constituional law; in Scotland sovereignty rests with the people.
    Will Forsyth or Darling be the ‘face’ of the ‘No’ campaign? Either is a bad choice – they are both very unpopular and neither stands a chance against Salmon in a debate, so what about Chisholm? Well-respected, popular, has integrity.
    Finally…in the past Unionist parties said the gnats needed a majority in parliament, not a referendum, to get independence. Then they said ‘no’ to a referendum at all, now they want one ASAP. The referendum has to be a matter for Holyrood – it’s the nearest thing we have to a democratic insitution and that was the big issue at the election. If Unionist parties disagree then they should have said so at the time, but one suspects that they did not for fear of alienating the electorate.

  11. Shamik Das

    .@EdJacobs1985 explains how Cameron got it wrong on Scotland on @leftfootfwd: //t.co/AJBP8J7h #bbcqt

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