Friday, 12 October 2012

Hobson's Choice

So, the politicians have spoken apparently - Scotland will have its 'lawful' referendum on independence, but voters will be restricted to a 'Hobson's Choice' - of voting either for independence or the status quo.

Like most other Scots, I wanted a second question on the ballot paper - one which asked voters if they supported more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Because I believe that Scotland should have economic independence - the ability to pursue different economic policies to the Westminster Parliament - whereas at the moment much of what the Holyrood Parliament can do is constrained by politicians in London.

If I am denied that choice, I will now have to think carefully about how to cast my vote - but I think people will be angry at the politicians responsible for manipulating events in this way.

I am very disappointed in the SNP Government for not putting up more of a fight to have a second question on the ballot paper - since that's what people want - but I'm especially annoyed with the leaders of the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem parties.

Because the Labour Party, the Tories and the Lib Dems all say they all agree on extra powers for the Scottish Parliament - yet when push comes to shove they gang up to deny the people of Scotland a proper vote which would identify where public sentiments lies.

I am certainly smart enough to cope with two questions on a ballot paper - and I would say that anyone else interested enough to vote must be able to cope as well.

How insulting that so many of our politicians - appear to think otherwise.    

The Big Questions (11 March 2012)

I was watching some politics programme on the BBC the other day which featured a brainy professor - Professor John Curtice - who was waxing eloquently about the supposed problems of having two questions on the ballot paper - in Scotland's 2014 referendum.

And do you know what - I think he might be reading the Action 4 Equality Scotland blog site?

Because he came up with exactly the same solution to the problem as me - which is to have a second 'conditional' question that comes into play - only if the answer to the first question is NO.

So if the good professor is not reading the blog site - then perhaps I'm even brainier than I think - or the problem's not that difficult after all.

I suspect the latter, but just for the record - here's what I had to say on the subject back in January.

Yes, a whole two months before the BBC and its best political brains got involved.

The Big Questions (12 January 2012)

The news coverage for the past few days has been dominated by the question of a future referendum - on Scottish independence.

All of a sudden Westminster has woken up and with hardly a moment's hesitation - Labour and the Tories are suddenly standing shoulder to shoulder with each other - making common cause after years of indifference.


I think it's all good fun and puts Scotland on the world map - which must be good for business in these tough economic times.

But on the question of what question should be asked - I'm definitely a two question kind of guy.

Why would anyone want to ask only one question - unless they're trying to limit the scale of the debate and the implications of any future decision.

To my mind we Scots are smart enough to cope with more than just one question on the ballot paper - even 16 and 17-year olds for goodness sake.

So here's what I would ask whenever the referendum takes place:

Question 1

Are you in favour of Scotland becoming an independent country in its own right?


Question 2

Are you in favour of the Holyrood Parliament having full revenue raising powers or 'fiscal autonomy' and passing on to the Westminster Parliament - Scotland's share of UK wide costs on defence and foreign affairs?


The result of the second question would of course only come into play - if the answer to the first question is NO.

But it seems crazy to me not to take the opportunity to ask the Scottish people - whether the Holyrood Parliament should have more power over the economy - for example.

Because that's the thing that affects most people's lives - even if a future referendum voted No to independence.

To my mind the one question only campaigners - are trying to restrict our choices and narrow the options - for their own narrow political ends.

Scotland could easily vote to increase the powers for the Holyrood Parliament - while agreeing to share the cost of issues that are better and more effectively dealt with at a UK level - notably defence and foreign affairs.

Sometimes politicians have a habit of making these seem difficult - when they are in fact 'easy peasy' - just a matter of common sense.

So I say two questions are definitely much better than one.