Monday, 8 September 2014
Westminster panics as pro independence campaign gains ground
With little over 2 weeks until the referendum in Scotland which could be one of the biggest referendum yet in terms of its potential impact will take place. Scotland will vote on whether it is to go it alone or stay with the UK. Of course it isn’t as simple as that for much the pro independence campaign has won significant concessions and although devolution max was not on the ballot paper it’s highly likely that will pretty much be what they get even if a No vote wins I suspect. For me who doesn’t live in Scotland watching this from afar hasn’t been easy to grasp the issues but if I had a vote to ditch the Tories forever that would tempt me too. The polls make interesting reading for sure with the pro independence campaign pulling an ahead 51 to 48 in one of the polls that is least favorable to them so something is afoot. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times over the weekend was the first mainstream study to put Yes Scotland narrowly ahead. The poll of 1,084 people, carried out between 2 and 5 September, suggested that, of those who have made up their mind, 51% planned to back independence, while 49% intended to vote no. The cross-party Better Together campaign had previously retained a lead in polls, often reaching double digits. The fact that many who the polls have missed those who don’t normally vote are messing with the polling figures is making for some very worried politicians. Even the Queen today who isn’t known for making political statements has come out today in the papers in support of Britain remaining a union of nations. Better Together campaign has denied plans to set out a timetable for giving more powers to Scotland were a sign of panic. Alistair Darling was speaking after a poll suggested the pro-UK campaign had lost its lead. Chancellor George Osborne has promised to unveil a timetable for further devolution if voters in Scotland reject independence. The SNP has dismissed the proposal as a last-minute "bribe". Mr. Osborne said on Sunday that a "plan of action" would be set out in the next few days to give "more powers to Scotland; more tax powers, more spending powers, more powers over the welfare state". BBC Scotland's political correspondent Glenn Campbell has reported that a new body will also be set up to hammer out more powers for Holyrood if there is a "No" vote on 18 September. 'Already announced' Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr. Darling acknowledged that the referendum race was "clearly very tight" but said there was no panic. He added: "We are in a position now where every voter in Scotland could potentially tip the balance in the referendum. "But I am confident we will win because we do have a very strong, positive vision of what Scotland can be, both in terms of the opportunities and the security that come from being part of the UK, a strengthened Scottish Parliament, with more powers which is what people want and you can do that without having to break up the country to do it." FPRIVATE "TYPE=PICT; ALT=line" Analysis: Glenn Campbell, BBC Scotland political correspondent Whether it's a committee, a commission or a conference - the pro-union parties plan to create a new body to agree extra powers in the event of a 'No' vote. It would be expected to report before the 2015 general election. The chancellor promised more detail in the next few days. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, will tell the TUC today that the process should begin right after the referendum. It's understood a prominent person has already been identified to convene the group. It would consider the blueprints for the further devolution of income tax and some welfare measures produced by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats and be open to ideas from wider Scottish society. The SNP would also be asked to contribute. The first minister, Alex Salmond, said the proposal was a "panicky" attempt to "bribe" Scots as opinion polls tighten, with one suggesting the Yes campaign may have edged ahead. Whatever the result on 18 September there has been a political earthquake people in Scotland are talking about their country their future and the type of society they want. This feeling is not going away anytime soon. It’s hilarious to watch the Westminster clowns running around like headless chickens worried about their own legacy if Scotland does indeed decide to go it alone. The ramifications are huge. I'm not saying the Yes campaign will win but the better together campaign has failed hugely and has ran a negative fear mongering campaign from the start. Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney told the BBC that it was a fair assessment of the polls to say the Yes campaign remained behind in general, but said his experience was that undecided voters were moving to yes by a factor of two to one. He added: "The movement is in our favor and the campaign is exciting an enormous amount of interest and activity and participation on the ground across Scotland. I think it is the formidable strength of the 'Yes' campaign that is motivating that." Referring to Mr. Osborne's announcement, Mr. Swinney said: "There is nothing new being offered this week. We may well get a timetable but the substance, the actual powers, the things that matter, Alistair Darling made absolutely crystal clear yesterday in contradicting George Osborne, that on the substance there will be absolutely nothing new. "The second point is that in 1979 Scotland was told vote 'No' in the referendum and you'll get a stronger parliament and what we got was a Conservative government for 18 years that we never voted for, industrial devastation and no parliament. "So I think the moral of the story of recent history in Scotland is if you want a guarantee of strong powers for the Scottish Parliament you have to vote 'Yes' in the referendum a week on Thursday." BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said the outcome of the referendum now looked "utterly uncertain". All to play for then chaps. The next week and a bit will be very interesting indeed.