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It is the comment from the Scots Tories that indicates knee-jerk panic.

Lance the boil

Three-way choice:
# Independence
# Continuation of devolution, as now or enhanced (i.e. federation, because you cannot deny reviving the English parliament if continuing with the Scottish one)
# revert to Union (i.e. abolish Scottish Parliament)

Those who say that England must suppress its nationhood but allow it for Scotland are denying democracy to the UK's majority population.

The USA has coalesced into a successful union over a shorter timescale than we have patently failed to do so. Perhaps we should import an American constitutional consultant to advise on how such a union manages to reconcile the interests of a populous state such as California and those of the few residents of Wisconsin.

I've changed my mind on this one and now agree with Sir Malcolm rather than Richard Cook. Having seen the SNP in action I'm now absolutely convinced Sir Malcolm is right to believe a unionist "win" won't put an end to this destructive debate but rather will lead to more endless spats on a strengthened Nationalist agenda. The SNP leadership is simply interested in power under any circumstances, not the interests of Scotland (of course in their mind set its synonymous and you won't change their minds). However, the way PR works here is the SNP need to win 70% of the popular vote in Holyrood to get a working majority. This will never happen, so there is absolutely no need to go down this track unless the Consevatives are 100% sure it will put an end to this toxic debate.

Having said don't go there, please consider 2 points if the Conservatives do.

1. There are many Scots who live in England, are citizens of the same country(the UK) and would qualify for Scottish nationality if Scotland were to seperate. It is totally unacceptable that they are disenfranchised in having a say in the future of their own country, and have their families effectively seperated by nationality, EU rules etc.

2. There is talk of "more powers" for Holyrood as a compromise. At some point surely "transfer of power" as opposed to full seperation must have implications for other parts of the UK. It's not resonable surely that whatever Calman asks for Calman gets without the other parts of the UK having some say? Its bound to cause (justifiable?) resentment.

So please enough of this. Let the SNP follow the correct constitutional procedure and try and win a majority of the Scottsih Westminster seats. If (and in the unlikely) until then, enough of this. Once more than 40% of Scots voted Consevative, and 20% still do. It's the job of the Conservative party to represent this part of the Scottish community in a clear and unambiguous way - there are plenty of "outer London suburbs" in Scotland too who don't want more taxes or politicians.

I agree that a referendum might look like the argument being lost, but putting this into a Conservative manifesto in the absence of any prior media hype will put national interest above party politics.

Needless to say, the referendum will be lost.

A Tory spokesman :…"The Calman Commission should be left to get on with its health check on devolution."

‘The Scotsman’26 April 2008:

SIR Kenneth Calman …. said he did not believe there was a case for powers to be transferred back to Westminster from Holyrood.

…He also said he believed that a transfer of control over areas such as broadcasting, control of Scotland's seas, firearms legislation and drug abuse laws, as well as economic powers, to Holyrood should be considered.

… "We have a clear remit … That is that we secure the position of Scotland within the United Kingdom.”

These comments were made before the first meeting of the commission. I think we can guess that the outcome will be a recommendation for more devolved powers. Not exactly an independent, impartial healthcheck and further distancing is hardly likely to secure the position of Scotland within the UK.

Have cake & eat it plus prospect of more cherries on top!!!

Would the Chairman of the English Conservative Party please care to comment on the situation? Oh, there isn't one.

Sir Malcolm is, as always, over-cautious.

Give the Scots a referendum - four options
1)Continue as now
2)A federal Parliamentary structure with the Scottish parliament having more, including tax raising, powers
4)Restore the Union
Then put a twenty year ban on further referendums into the legislation, so that people realise the decision is definitive. That will prevent the neverendums that worry Sir Malcolm

Then offer the same referendum to the English, Irish and Welsh.

Divide and rule is certainly working, just like the proverbial ferrets in a sack.

And the source is the European Union. I am mystified that some people just don’t seem to understand that the Scottish Parliament was created exactly to cause this effect.

Sir Kenneth Calman takes the biscuit: he wants to transfer control over such things as Scotland’s seas to Edinburgh. Has no one told him the European Union controls the waves?

Why, oh god why were we so stupid as to go into the charade with the libdems and Labour? Anyway one who has dealt with these two parties in Scotland knows that you can not trust them at all. Wendy has a strop and has made us look like idiots.

The worst thing was that on the day of this Commission vote in parliament, it was at the height of the Wendy's donation crisis. We effectively gave her good headlines at a time when Labour's head should have been rolling.

The problem is independence will not score any less that 35% if it a yes/no straight ballot. 3 way is trickier. But i would say 35%+ of the population is more than enough to keep the issue more than alive. It would be worse because it wouldn't be some Herald poll you were dismissing but a reflection of opinion.

Wendy has put us all is deep water. Now she is saying she wants a poll before the commission reports. You know the commission that wasn’t supposed to discuss independence? the one we are up to our neck in? no coherance or rationality.....

..quite frustrated.

"Would the Chairman of the English Conservative Party please care to comment on the situation? Oh, there isn't one."

Yes this all has constitutional, financial, and resource implications for England, yet who in the British establishment are fighting (well just asking the most timid question would be a result) for English peoples interests ? NOBODY! What a useless bunch of representatives!

Wendy Alexander stole the march on us here.

We have been missing a great opportunity by not calling Alex Salmond's bluff and supporting him in his proposed referendum on Independence or the Union.

Let's realise the mistake and support Scottish Labour on this one

"Then offer the same referendum to the English, Irish and Welsh."

Why should the rest of us wait until the Scots have decided what they want, surely we should all have a say in the cinstitutional make up of the country?


I fully support your proposal for a Union wide referendum on independence or the Union but fear that is one step to far for the political establishment.

However Wendy Alexander has given us the opportunity to support her and force through a referendum in Scotland and I think we would be foolish not to.

Posted by: Jonathan | May 06, 2008 at 10:30

Fully support your proposal but not much chance, let's take the Scottish opportunity with Wendy Alexander

I wonder why the English Democrats on here aren't crowing about their results in the London Mayoral election, and about the hundreds of councillors they had elected on Thursday night.

Oh, right...

Seems opinion is divided. OK, but if you really believe in "consult the people" (I do too actually), then surely we must insist on a consultative referendum on Lisbon as part of the package. (Remember Labour was briefing last year that it was difficult to support a constitutional referendum in Scotland while oppsoing a Lisbon one.)

Its absolutely impossible to make a rational decision on Scottish independence one way or the other if you don't know the EU part of the deal. The SNP are inclined to Eurofederalism and new EU members are obliged to sign up to Schengen and the Euro - i.e. border controls with England and a different currency. So logically Scots should also be given the opportunity to conside the EU side of the deal at the same time?

Mark R

Think you are complicating a simple issue.

The Scottish Tories should back Wendy Alexander by the end of this week at the latest.

I am sure Independence will receive a large raspberry from the Electorate.

'Oh, right...'

Posted by: wtf | May 06, 2008 at 11:31

So how many Conservative MPs do we have in Scotland, again?

Oh, right...

Being a lifelong tooth and claw Tory I don't do the English Democrats but I am confused as to why 10,000 Londoners voted for a non-existent candidate.

Devolution was the start of a process that can only be resolved by the deconstruction of the Union. Many of us south of the Border are sick and tired of being governed by incompetent Scots who want to have their constitutional cake and eat it. There is no satisfactory way to resolve the West Lothian Question other than independence for England. In that context why is it that Scotland only is being consulted on the future of the Union? The fact that they appear to be addicted to socialism is their problem not ours.

If there were to be a referendum on Scottish Independence it would be a win win for the Tories. Let's face it Conservatives are never going to even get one seat in Scotland again and focus on Brown and some of the cabinet's Scottishness is like a ticking time bomb for this government. Cameron should throw his full weight behind the Wendy Alexander position.

The present devolution settlement is unsustainable. The SNP are even better than Labour on the politics of grievance.Even if they lose a referendum they will go on complaining about English unfairness in the hope they eventually undermine the Union or England walks away and leaves them to it. The return of a Tory Government suits their agenda and they will use the opportunity to complain even more.

Its time for a new constitutional settlement. Offer Federalism to Scotland and N Ireland on a take it or go basis. With a bit of luck the republic might give up its love affair with Europe and join in.

England can only win from the end of the nationalist illusion that England will continue to pay them a dole no matter how stupidly they behave.

A small Federal Parliament with responsibility for Defence and External Affairs will leave the constituent parts of the federation to rule and tax themselves as they choose.

Posted by: Mack | May 06, 2008 at 11:57

'There is no satisfactory way to resolve the West Lothian Question other than independence for England.'

Yes there is, have a referendum, Independence or the Union, win that referendum and and we revert to the original Union, lose it and we are down to 3 Countries who would then need to have the same referendum.

The Scots are smart people, they will vote for the Union.


Richard C.

point taken.

However I would find it helpful to understand why you are so sure it would kill the issue?

Also do you disagree with putting down at least some conditions/markers? Keeping it simple I feel very strongly that all UK citizens who would qualify for Scots nationality should be entitled to vote. (as per UK nationality rules, born in Scotland or with a Scottish parent) The SNP and Labour would be on very weak and unpopular ground arguing against this. Independennce is not the same as the Holyrood referendum which was technically classified as a "local government" issue. Putting it another way, inter alia, I think Liam Fox and Sir Malcolm are both Scottish and so should get a vote.

Mark R

I believe that the only strain on the Union is a very clever politician, a Scottish Ken Livingstone by the name of Alex Salmond, call his bluff and win a referendum and I believe very strongly the issue will die because the Union makes sense and people will support it.

I agree that conditions and wording of the referendum are most important.

I believe only residents in Scotland should have the vote on this one.

"I fully support your proposal for a Union wide referendum on independence or the Union but fear that is one step to far for the political establishment."

That's the disgrace of it, where all the British political parties are sold on giving Scotland a say in what ever they want, while English people get denied any say what so ever, and the British political parties, to a man, refuse to even admit there is a place or country called England, which is why our young, sick and old get such a raw deal from the British state.

England is being miserably failed by the British establishment, and while they worry about Scotland, Ireland, Africa, Kosovo, EU, any where but England, and as such England is allowed to drift, as a sort of 'non' country, a place that no longer exists, a sort of global transit lounge, a place for the CBI to turn into a dormitory country for their migrant workforce. For example the telegraph today reports that England is soon to be the most populous country in Europe, this I feel is a disaster for us, our living environment, or any notion of being sustainable, yet what do our so called representatives have to say about it? Nothing! For England has no Government!

Was Wendy Alexander's statement a planned move by Labour from London or just herself striking out? A diversionary tactic by Labour or Wendy as loose-cannon? Labour don't seem to be thinking too clearly at present so perhaps the latter.

Whatever the real story,this continual emphasis only on what Scotland wants is becoming tedious. There are two(main) parties to this marriage and the other one is getting restive. How about consulting England on what she wants at the same time.
The British Union is now, to anyone who is not in a state of utter denial, obviously unbalanced and democratically unsatisfactory.

We are in state of massive flux re things constitutional. It would be a good idea if the Conservative party were to seize the reins rather than retreat into the old mantra of England-to-be-ruled-forever-by-a- British-parliamentary-subcommittee-of-some-kind-or-other.

So how many Conservative MPs do we have in Scotland, again?

Oh, right...

Posted by: englandism | May 06, 2008 at 11:57

More than the English Democrats are ever likely to have in England, I can tell you that.

Ken Stevens: On the button as ever. We should aspire to the sort of federal democratic structure that the US has developed.


As ever Rifkind (like Clarke) shows he is an out of touch centralist. The similarities with Gordon Brown grow greater by the day, He sounds like King Canute trying to hold back the tide.

Rather than being fearful (and weak)about these issues, the Conservative party should be taking the initiative on this in line with their localist ethos.

Give all the Home Nations the choice. Give the electorate the democratic self determination over their democracy that should be their right!

Not to do so, is inconsistent with the expressed ideology of the Conservative party and will undermine and damage their success. We are supposed to be a localist party aren't we?

The fact is if this is not dealt with to the electorates' satisfaction it will fester just as British self-determination (the EU) has done over the last 30 years, WLQ over the last ten years and the devolution issue did prior to the 1998 Devolution act.

The Conservative party lost support in Scotland and Wales over such issues, the John Major premiership was plagued by such issues. How long does it take for the party to realise that dragging their heals over these issues is toxic!

Give ALL the Home Nations the chance to re-determine their future. Give us referendums to decide our relationship with Europe and the relationship between the four Home Nations.

I think the only way forward for the tories is a piece Iain Dale written on his blog, referring to a conservative-SNP 'relationship'. Yes SNP! Conservatives would then be free to agressively persue the England and Wales electorate as it does not seem likely that they will ever even win a seat in Scotland again, this will leave Labour fighting political wars on two fronts and hopefully marginalise the Lib Dems. I know this scenario goes against the whole conservative and unionist tradition but we on the centre right need to do some radical thinking if we are really serious about getting into power again and the fact is England is traditionally a centre right country but Scotland and to a large extent Wales are left wing. The Conservatives power base is in England and they need to be able to motivate and galvanise this without thinking about how its playing in Scotland.

Posted by: wtf | May 06, 2008 at 12:56

'More than the English Democrats are ever likely to have in England, I can tell you that.'

Thank you for 'telling me that' but as a Conservative I am a winsy bit more interested in the most powerful Conservative politician in the UK being supportive of the English perspective:


'You can have two systems for two countries, but you cannot allow one set of politicians to vote on the arrangements in the other country when their interests are so plainly engaged, and when there is no reciprocity.'

Boris Johnson. A Conservative the last time I looked.

Mark R | May 06, 12:19

"..all UK citizens who would qualify for Scots nationality should be entitled to vote. (as per UK nationality rules, born in Scotland or with a Scottish parent)..."

-- but not English, Welsh, N. Irish, or anywhere else born who have chosen to settle in Scotland and therefore have a stake in the outcome one way or the other?. Yet those Scots-born who have chosen to settle in England should get a say, in addition to voting rights in their English constituency of residence.

Sounds like two bites at the cherry again.

-- Although I could get my three ever-so-English kiddies (Scots Mum)to vote, I suppose.

I do think people's concerns about England not having a referendum at the same time overdone.

What Wendy Alexander has done is to give the Scottish Conservatives the opportunity to call the SNP's bluff.

We should take it with both hands, Salmond will be blown away.

We can then concentrate on the Union pre-devolution but at the same time look at a federal solution for the regions/counties/countries of this great union.

'look at a federal solution for the regions/counties/countries of this great union.'

Federal solution, yes, but when people mention the word 'regions' I reach for the safety catch on my water pistol.

Try dividing Scotland into regions along the lines of North (Highlands and Islands), South (Lowlands) and Midlands (Central belt).

Then Scotland can stop calling itself a nation and adopt the name Scottish Regions with separate regional assemblies under Westminster.

That would be 'Scottish' administratively terminated as a national identity.

Just like England.

Do you see now why:

'I do think people's concerns about England not having a referendum at the same time overdone.'

Might be a wee bit patronising?

Where's Dr Lilico today?

I need to be infuriated on this topic a little bit more.

Ken S.

No you misunderstand me, everybody on the Scottish electoral register who is a British citizen would also be considered Scottish - i.e. resident. (A Scottish resident British citizen would automatically be Scottish in the event of independence.)

I was simply talking about the need for voting rights for non-residents, call it "overseas voters" if you like. These seem to include your wife and kids. I would limit it to resident in the UK. This is because the current status quo is that we are one country and so you are not entitled to say a Scot is not Scottish just because he/she is resident elsewhere in the UK. However the likes of "Sir Sean" are non UK residents, so he would/should be disbarred.

Regarding residents I assume it would not be the Holyrood qualification. Holyrood is classified by the EU as "local" which gives non-British citizens the right to vote for MSPs. Instead it should be like Westminster - i.e. British citizens only. This also needs clarifying and a firm line drawn. Otherwise you have the doubly ridiculous situation of Poles and Irish Republic citizens voting to break up the UK while Scots living elsewhere in the UK (same country when the vote is held) have no say so.

Posted by: Mark R | May 06, 14:10

OK. Thank you for the courtesy of clarification.

.. Though perhaps a special rule would have to be introduced to exclude citizens of RoI and Commonwealth resident in UK for this specific purpose

"You can vote in UK parliamentary elections once you are on the electoral register and provided that you are also:
* a British citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Irish Republic (and resident in the United Kingdom)"

I guess Sir Malc would consider those who demand a democratic vote on the issue just as "silly and wrong" as those who would like a post-ratification referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

I sense he fears the, cough, "wrong result" so to speak. So much easier to deny the people a chance to vote than risk them making the wrong decision...

"I do think people's concerns about England not having a referendum at the same time overdone."

Well perhaps English people having watched being constitutionally beggared the first time have reason enough to kick up as fuss this time. Especially when the British political parties have shown no desire to sort out the constitutional mess created by the first referendum for a Scottish Parliament, are now all in favour of another Scottish referendum , yet have never bothered to represent English public opinion, in fact gone out of their way to racially abuse us.

Iain @ 1443
'Especially when the British political parties have shown no desire to sort out the constitutional mess created by the first referendum for a Scottish Parliament, are now all in favour of another Scottish referendum , yet have never bothered to represent English public opinion, in fact gone out of their way to racially abuse us.'

It is precisely for this reason that we should grasp this particular nettle whilst we have the opportunity, otherwise who knows when the next opportunity will be???

I don't know what took Wendy Alexander six months to think the matter through, I came up with the idea last November as you can see

A prophet is not without honour save in his own country, as someone once remarked.

It is stupid to oppose the call for a referendum.

It is obviously Labour panic but if the tories deny the Scots the choice then they deservedly will probably disappear north of the border.

I've just heard Wendy on PM, Radio 4. It's clear she didn't clear this with Brown. His authority is being eroded quite fast.

The unionists should not dance to the SNP's tune. If they want a referendum, give them one, and when the result is in, shut the hell up about it. By denying a referendum we appear anti-democratic. The referendum should be held - I would hope it would reaffirm the union - and the wind would be knocked well and truly out of the nationalists' sails. The longer we leave this, the more opportunity Salmond and Co have to play party politics with a matter that is far more important than that.

Anybody who watched Wendy Alexander on Newsnight Scotland tonight will have seen somebody who has lost it. She was semi incoherent and obviously has bounced the Labour Party into a position the complete opposite of what it was last week. She has now painted Labour into a corner and I would be prepared to bet she will not see the summer out.

The next scheduled elections in Scotland are the European elections of 2009. These will add further momentum to the SNP because it is in EU elections that the SNP poll their highest % of votes cast. Does anyone think I am wrong in suggesting that the SNP will record their best ever % vote by campaigning on inter alia the following, that:

*Bearing in mind that the Irish Republic (population 3.5 million) has 13 MEPS and Scotland (population 5 million) has 7 MEPs, probably reducing to 6 next time, would not Scotland be better represented by up to 18 MEPs as an independent state.

*Scotland would have a seat at the "top table" of the EU, and would have a wonderful bargaining chip with the North Sea Oil-which is always about to plummet in value and come to an end just before each election in Scotland :-). (The oil is up from $65 a barrel to $120, and Dana have just struck a new major oilfield, both since the Holyrood election of 2007.)

How on earth do people in England fall for the line that in these circumstances there is the slightest possibility that England is subsidising Scotland????

"I've just heard Wendy on PM, Radio 4. It's clear she didn't clear this with Brown. His authority is being eroded quite fast."

LoL. The hilarious Daily Mash has a great satire article on Wendy's new found independence...

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