25 February 2010

First thoughts

Look, I know it's tedious but do try to concentrate. And I accept that there is little chance that it will ever happen. But there is one little point of interest: it's all to do with the fact that the proposed two questions are not mutually exclusive.

As far as I understand what is proposed, the Scottish Government's new proposals involve a two-question referendum. The first question would ask for a yes or no to increased devolution (either of the Calman variety or of devolution max, but not both - the choice of option has yet to be determined); the second question would ask for a yes or no to full independence.

There's a sneaky little sentence on the ballot paper for the second question. It is this:
The Scottish Government proposes that, in addition to the extension of the powers and responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament set out in proposal 1, the Parliament's powers should also be extended to enable independence to be achieved.
I interpret this to mean that, regardless of how many voters opt for increased devolution, a simple majority on the second question (independence) would be seen as empowering the authorities to proceed towards independence. If 95% of the voters were to opt for increased devolution and 51% for independence, it is the latter which would take precedence. In other words, the option of increased devolution would only come into play if the independence option were turned down.

Does that seem fair? The Scottish Government would feel entitled to ignore the option favoured by most of the voters and proceed on a less popular course of action (assuming always that the latter option exceeded 50%)?

None of this is made clear in the associated papers, so perhaps I have it wrong. But I don't think so. No doubt those of my interlocutors who take a different view will correct me.


Indy said...

If 51 % of voters vote for independence then that's a majority.

Seems fair enough to me.

If on the other hand 51% of people vote against independence then it falls. But the first proposal still goes through.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the "independence" question doesn;'t actually ask the voter whether he or she favours independence but merely whether it should be one of the options in the Parliament's locker. While I understand the reasons for the wording, it would be better to have a straight question asking the voters to vote for or against independence