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The real Scotland debate begins now

The date has been announced, and despite the political intentions behind the timing, the real debate must begin with much more substance required from the 'Yes' campaign.

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Photo credit: Scottish Government
Photo credit: Scottish Government

543 days from now will be the most important decision in British politics in over three hundred years.

On the 18th September 2014, Scots will go to the polls to decide whether or not they want to remain part of the UK, it was announced by First Minister Alex Salmond on Thursday.

Of course the timing of the vote itself is significant. The same year as the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and a summer where Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games, it was chosen for political benefit.

Although the poll will take place before the Ryder Cup - perhaps the First Minister didn't like the idea of having British players in the same team - it will happen before the UK party conferences.

This is clearly a political move, as the SNP leader has managed to avoid three weeks of pro-unionist coverage before the poll.

But the date is set, and despite the fact the SNP hid this fact from the rest of us for some time, the real debate must start.

Blair Jenkins, chief of Yes Scotland said he wanted the quality of the debate to increase over the next year or so. This is true, both sides have been less than impressive, however it is his campaign which need to step up.

A quality campaign involves substance, not just the stereotypical pro-Scotland soundbites we have heard so far, but where is the all important detail?

The Scottish Government are due to release a prospectus for independence later this year but on a debate as important as independence, this information should already be available.

The campaign has already begun but due to a lack of detail no one can present arguments with clarity. Currently the only image of an independent Scotland we have is a hazy one viewed through saltire coated glasses, and lacking any sort of real detail.

It is the SNP who sought the referendum, who seek independence, and who are so obsessed by the idea of breaking up the UK.

Yet when it comes to answering the questions of what an independent Scotland would look like all we get are misleading answers or no response at all.

The referendum may be 18 months but it will come quickly. The campaigns are already underway and although opinion polls are consistently pointing to a 'No' vote the Better Together campaign cannot afford to get complacent.

The 'Yes' campaign have been focusing on individual communities and despite their lack of answers, some support will come through from this, it just hasn't in the polls yet.

This referendum will be a first for the UK, 16 and 17 years olds voting. Not even Alex Salmond knows how campaigning in schools will play out, but these votes could prove crucial in the final outcome and they need the real arguments too.

The 'No' campaign are in the unfortunate position that there is an unpopular government at Westminster. Although the campaign is led by a Labour figure this makes an easy target for Yes Scotland who will argue that an Independent Scotland would not suffer budget cuts.

However anyone who looked carefully at John Swinney's own economic plans would find they are completely flawed, relying heavily on oil, and we have already seen one cover up of the SNP's own gloomy predictions for an independent Scotland.

But the economic arguments will continue and from now on every debate in Scottish politics will relate to the 18th September 2014.

Even the current storm over press regulation can be related. The report commissioned by Salmond which suggested 'draconian' regulation is just the start. Although he has now tried to distance himself it could be seen as an attempt to censor the press, possibly a measure for when the media undoubtedly plant several scandals on the doorstep of Bute House in 2014.

One Labour MSP remarked on Thursday that the 19th September 2014 would be the First Minister's retirement. If the Better Together campaign stay strong, avoid complacency, and keep the the questions coming over misleading policy which is hindering the debate, this prediction could yet come true.

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1 Comment

Phil Posted on Monday 25 Mar 2013

If Scotland becomes independent it will have two choices:
- Turn away from socialism and embrace free markets
- Become the next Greece

Either way I'll be happy, albeit through schadenfreude for the latter.