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Scotland: In Defence of Democracy

Mike Small

It’s difficult to know where to begin with David Cameron’s intervention in Scottish democracy. After months of prevarication and brow-beating, we’re now being lectured on democratic matters by failed-Tory grandee, the rejected Lord Michael Forsyth, and by David Cameron, who’s own elected MPS north of Carlisle are outnumbered by Pandas. Curious.

Patrick Wintour writing in the Guardian seems to be re-producing Tory press releases: “Salmond has been talking about holding a referendum  to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314)”, a claim which I don’t believe to have any basis whatsover but neatly allows Danny Alexander and Michael Forsyth (Dumb and Dumberer?) to raise the straw man of Bannockburn. I note that the online version of his article is different from the paper version. It states instead: “Tories claim Salmond has been talking about holding a referendum to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn in 2014.”

We are now entering a feeding frenzy of disinformation, misinformation and propaganda.

The Guardian, clearly flailing about, also writes: “The Scots Tory peer Lord Forsyth, who is leading the campaign to preserve the union, said: “The idea that we should decide the fate of the UK on the basis of the date of a medieval battle when we are in the middle of a financial crisis and youth unemployment of one in four would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.””

Is Lord Forsyth leading the campaign? God, let’s hope so.

So what is the basis of Cameron’s intervenion. While today he is claiming he is not interfering, here are the four key areas he is attempting to dicate:

The Date

The eligibility for voter registration, both in terms of Scots who live outside Scotland and the age (the Scottish Govt has suggested that the poll be open to anyone over 16).

That the Electoral Commission oversees the election.

The poll’s legality.

That’s not really interfering is it?

“There is no point in mucking about any longer. As things stand, Alex Salmond cannot be allowed to manipulate this referendum the way he wants. Full stop,” said one senior minister last night.

Cameron said on the Andrew Marr programme yesterday: “Let’s not drift apart. I think he [Alex Salmond] knows the Scottish people at heart do not want a full separation and so he is trying to create a situation where that bubbles up and happens.”

It’s the old ‘independence by the back door trick again’ isn’t it.

Oops I’ve just established a new state!

So what should and will be the independence movement’s response? I suggest it should be succinct and direct and need not contain more than two words. Anything else would ‘create confusion and uncertainty’.

My view is that sooner rather than later would be better too.

This article first appeared in the Scottish Blog Bella Caledonia. To read the original and its many comments, go to here.

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