The Yes to Independence campaign has called for neither campaign to accept donations over £500 from outside of Scotland.
Are the SNP now already seeing England as a foreign country?
That’s the question we should be asking, following calls from the Yes to Independence Campaign that neither they nor the pro-union camp should accept donations of more than £500 from outside of Scotland.
“There is evidence to suggest that most people in Scotland do feel quite strongly that the referendum campaign should be determined by the people who live in Scotland and who are going to make this decision.
“So what we said was we will not accept donations above £500 from anyone who was not a voter, who is not on the electoral register in Scotland, and I think that is a very important thing in terms of making sure that it is the people who are taking the decision in Scotland who are contributing to the campaign.
“I hope the No campaign will be as transparent about their funding, and who is backing them, as we intend to be.”
In his response however, Labour MSP Richard Baker, a Director of the Better Together campaign, told the same programme:
“We will not accept foreign donations but we do not regard the rest of the UK as foreign donations. We are fighting to keep the UK together and 800,000 Scots live and work in the rest of the UK.”
Jenkins’ remarks were somewhat ill timed though. As he went on about avoiding money from outside Scotland seeking to influence the outcome of the referendum, the SNP found a politician from outside the country doing the very same thing.
Using a guest article in the Scotsman, Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood has called for a new Britain based on the idea of a “neighbourhood of nations”.
“The truth is that the current political union has passed its expiry date. It’s time for a 21st century redraft, as the SNP has argued, a new social union that marks a new era where differences are respected but collaboration can flourish on the basis of equality and partnership.
“Scotland and Wales, Celtic nations both, border a single country, a millennium and a half of interaction which has shaped our respective cultures like no other. England is not just a neighbour to us. She is our sister nation too.
“Feeling Welsh or Scottish has never been dependent on the existence of a Welsh or of a Scottish state. In precisely the same way, people’s sense of Britishness does not need a British state to sustain it.
“The concept of Britain has proven itself to be as adaptable in the past as it should be in the future. With independence, a new Britain can begin to emerge.
“My nation’s journey on the constitutional path may not immediately mirror the Scottish experience, but within these islands, different countries enjoying differing forms of self-government are not unusual.
“The British-Irish Council – our version of the Nordic countries’ collaborative forum – is already acting as a laboratory of innovation, from plastic-bag taxes to minimum alcohol pricing. In a new age of equality, this co-operation can be extended to more issues, from climate change to broadcasting.
“Instead of clinging to the straitjacket of the single state, it’s time we embraced this future Britain, a neighbourhood of nations, sovereign, democratic and free.”
Alex Salmond meanwhile appears to be on collision course with Westminster over the question of a second option on the ballot paper in the 2014 referendum.
With Westminster and all of the UK’s main political parties set against any idea of “devo-max” being an option at the vote, the Sunday Herald as got hold of material suggesting Salmond is hardening his position in favour of a second option.
Referring to the transcript of an as yet unpublished Q and A session with the first minister at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco a fortnight ago, the paper quotes Salmond as saying:
“There’s a view abroad in Scotland that perhaps it would be better from where we are now – where we now control about 16% of Scotland’s revenue base, that rather than become an independent country, at least in the first stage, that that fiscal base should increase to something near 100%, and that’s often called devo max or fiscal autonomy. And it’s a very attractive argument, incidentally.
“It has a major problem and that is that the UK government, while they respect the right and the ability of Scots to decide on independence, are not prepared to accept the right of the Scottish people to decide on devo max. They say that devo max should not be on the ballot paper. My position is a bit different from that.
“My concern as first minister of Scotland is to make sure the independence question is on the ballot paper and fairly asked – But I’m open to persuasion that there should be a second question, as it’s called, so people should be asked, ‘Do you want independence?’ And if it’s not answered Yes, ‘Would you like fiscal autonomy, or devo max, or fiscal responsibility?”
Whilst opponents have argued that this suggests the SNP are frightened that they will lose a straight yes or no to independence question and see devo-max as a face saving option, recent polling by Ipsos Mori has shown that while 27% of people supported Scotland becoming an independent nation with 29% supporting it staying in the Union, 41% said that they preferred the idea of devo-plus or max.
For the Better Together campaign, it might be political expedient to argue that the SNP advocating a second option on the ballot paper is political face saving, but with public feelings so strongly in favour of the devo-plus style idea, a positive vision for the future development of Scottish devolution is now vital to embracing the positive campaign called for by Alistair Darling just last week.
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