Thursday, September 04, 2014

Headless chickens

The possibility of Scottish independence is finally sinking in, and the establishment is now running around like headless chickens. In addition to a new propaganda line of "dirty violent savage Scots can't be trusted to vote peacefully", they're now talking about delaying elections in the rump-UK if Scotland votes "yes":

David Cameron will face calls to take the unprecedented step in modern peacetime of postponing next year's UK general election by 12 months in the event of a vote for Scottish independence to avoid the prospect of a Labour government that would depend on Scottish MPs.

Amid warnings of a "constitutional meltdown" after a yes vote, which would place severe personal political pressure on the prime minister, a growing number of Tory MPs are saying they will call for legislation to be introduced to postpone the general election. It would be the first time since 1940, a year into the second world war, that a general election would have been postponed.

One member of the government said: "You would see very quickly after the referendum calls for a delay in the election. You simply could not have an election that would produce a Labour government supported by Scottish MPs if the Tories had a majority in the rest of the UK. So you would say: OK Alex Salmond wants to negotiate the break up by March 2016. So we will have a general election on the new Britain in May 2016."

There's a constitutional point here, in that the legitimacy of those Scottish MPs ends the day Scotland leaves the UK. But there's also a huge helping of partisanship, given away by the focus on the prospect of a Labour government, which taints the entire thing. And there are other obvious solutions: the next UK Parliament could dissolve early, rather than the current one sitting long. Or they could legislate so that all Scottish MPs were deprived of their seats when independence came into effect. It doesn't have to be a case of "vote 'no' or English democracy gets it".

Meanwhile, if you're wondering how it has come to this, the BBC's Andrew Little has a fascinating essay on the history of Scottish independence and how the two nations have grown apart. The short version: its not Scotland which has changed, but London, and the Scots want out as a result.