The Sunday Times today has a new YouGov poll for Scotland. The full voting intention figures, with changes from YouGov’s last Scottish poll, which was conducted right at the end of October and had shown a move back towards Labour, are below.

Westminster voting intention: CON 20%(nc), LAB 37%(-1), LDEM 12%(+1), SNP 27%(-2).
Holyrood constituency: CON 13%(nc), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 12%(nc), SNP 38%(-1).
Holyrood regional: CON 15%(-1), LAB 28%(-1), LDEM 11%(nc), SNP 34%(+2), GRN 6%(nc), SSP 4%(nc).

As you can see, the figures are largely steady, with the shift from the SNP back towards Labour being maintained. Only on the regional vote has there been a slight shift back towards the SNP, thouh arguably this is the most important vote in determining the actual seats won at a Scottish election. It also suggests that the SNP would win an early election if one is indeed held over the current Scottish budget deadlock. The Sunday Times projects that if these levels of support were repeated at a Scottish Parliamentary election the SNP would retain 47 seats, with Labour losing 2 and the Lib Dems 3. The Greens would gain 3 seats, the SSP 2 and the Conservatives 1.

On the specific question of the Scottish budget, 79% of respondents said they thought there should be a fresh election were the budget defeated again.

Alex Salmond remains in the lead as the best first minister by 20 points, and is the only party leader with a positive approval rating (plus 11), followed by Annabelle Goldie (-3), Iain Gray (-17), Tavish Scott (-19) and Patrick Harvie (-25). Where his rating has fallen is on the economy – at least in comparison to Gordon Brown. Back in September 36% trusted Salmond more on the economy than Brown (26%). Now they are even on 33%.

Finally, support for independence has again fallen marginally – 29% would vote YES in a referendum, with 55% voting NO. In October the figures were 31% to 53%.

89 Responses to “SNP ahead as possiblity of early election looms”

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  1. Sorry for the really long post – I can’t access this site at work, so I have to catch up later.


    I’m happy to put you right on the idea that nationalists consider “emotionally based” arguments, without considering the consequences. I joined the SNP ten years ago when the coverage of an OECD report showing that Scotland would be the 7th richest nation in Europe, instead of part of the UK languishing in 17th, caught my eye (for the avoidance of doubt, it was the burying of this figure several pages into an article with a headline that suggested Scotland would sink beneath the waves that prompted me to join, not the thought of rolling in money come independence!)

    I was used to being told that we were too poor, but for once that argument was not available – instead the article dwelt on the costs of independence and ignored the benefits. It was like being told that a business would not be worth investing in, because the start-up would be expensive, while ignoring the returns that investment would earn.

    I’d concede that the article is a decade old now, but I’d still take the OECD over the Taxpayers Alliance, who only seem to pop up when they’ve an axe to grind. A more recent look at Scotland’s finances was conducted by The Herald newspaper in November 2007, which concluded that Scotland was only £200 million in the red: quite respectable for a country our size, and easily made up by not throwing money at, ooh let’s see, WMD on the Clyde or helping to conquer Iraq.

    Of course, to use the family analogy, it can’t have escaped anyone’s attention to that after a couple of decades of selling off the family silver and living on credit, Dad’s in hock up to his oxters, and is going to gamble our survival by remortgaging the house. Why we “need” to be part of a larger state that’s heading towards insolvency is a mystery. Frankly, I “need” my share of the UK’s national debt like a hole in the head. I suppose I’m being cheeky in reminding everyone that it was the UK that ran up the debt. While there seems to be agreement on the UK’s debt being a horrible mess, I don’t agree that Scotland would find it harder to pay off our share. Leaving aside the possibility that we may end up negotiating away some of our share of the debt by agreeing to give up our rights to some of the UK’s assets (those WMD – you can have ’em), I can’t agree that we’d struggle to pay debt because I don’t agree that we struggle to pay our way now.

    We shouldn’t pretend either that Unionists are somehow above “emotionally based” motivations either. How many times have I heard piffle about the Union being “torn apart”, or fears played up about our families in England being “foreigners”. Indeed, I hear more emotive language from British nationalists like the PM than I do from my own side, and it’s been especially noticeable in the last few years as economic arguments against independence have lost ground.

    I can well understand why those who identify with Britain wouldn’t consider any argument in favour of independence for Scotland. Not anything remotely emotive, because they don’t care for the idea of Scotland as much as they do for the idea of Britain (please note I’m NOT saying they don’t care about Scotland). Nor anything economic, because that’s superseded by the identification with the UK and an understanding that some parts of the UK are richer than others.

    What I don’t understand is those who do identify with Scotland to any real extent, but see a self-interest in being part of the UK based on dependency. Our forefathers may have felt it was in Scotland’s interests to join with England for the opportunity afforded by the Empire, but that assumed that we would be proactive in taking advantage of the opportunity, rather than reactive in waiting on our tax subsidy.

    Obviously, I don’t agree that such a subsidy exists to any real extent, but even if it did it would suggest to me that the current situation isn’t working for either Scotland or England and that independence might give us the tools to make a better job of running our economy. I’d also add that, while there is no shame in accepting, or offering, help to another country inside or outside of a larger Union to improve it’s economic performance, there is surely some shame in arguing that long-term dependency is a good thing. It’s an abdication of repsonsibility on a huge scale, to expect someone else to carry the can.

    This brings me to Neil’s point about the UK government deciding not to accept a “yes” in a referendum because England hadn’t been consulted. I don’t see the motivation for English voters to insist on Scotland’s remaining in the UK, especially not if they are under the impression that we’re a burden. Just like all the real families that straddle the border, we’ll still be here, and they can come visit anytime. As with yesterday’s arguments, none of the Unionist parties suggest that the English might take such umbrage at not being consulted that they opt to lock us in the attic, so I can’t see it hbeing a problem.

    I’d like to end by saying that it always strikes me that quite often nationalists and unionists do talk slightly at cross purposes, and we’re equally guilty of assuming what the other side believes to be important. I’m sorry if I’ve made that mistake here.

    Steven (fingers worn down to the knuckles!)

  2. Chris C-I hope you soon find work.

    I hope too that you will forgive the irony I see in the lack of work in the Finance Sector in Scotland being a barrier to your independence.

    The Finance Sector in Scotland was -until recently!-the very epitome of the image of a vibrant independent Scottish economy.

    RBS-HBOS and all of that!

    However-the change in that particular torrent of tax revenue will have to be accommodated no less in London .

    I was struck by your :-

    “I’m just not sure I understand exactly what it is you want to be free from.”
    addressed to your Nationalist compatriots. It would be interesting to hear a response from one of them-particularly since your persuasion is in the majority.

    STEVEN F:-perhaps you would like to tell Chris what he needs to be free from-because until you can persuade him it looks like your stuck with the Union.

    Your statement :-“What I don’t understand is those who do identify with Scotland to any real extent, but see a self-interest in being part of the UK based on dependency” -doesn’t seem to provide the answer.

    I’m reasured that you think a bit of “bean counting” is appropriate before taking the plunge though i’m not sure I agree with your conclusion-but then it’s your problem rather than mine.

    With regard to your “family” analogy, could I remind you that “Dad” ran the debt up for all the family-including you.And I believe the family accounts show that you had a greater share of the spend per capita than we did. So I presume “Dad” will want to tot up what you owe him before you trot off with various bits of the family home& belongings. ( That has probably stretched that analogy to breaking point)

    I really think that the sooner Scots of all persuasions are able to raise their own taxes , with which to pay for their own Public Services, the sooner they can all agree on those “hard choices”.

    At the moment they don’t have to make as many as we do-& I’m getting a bit fed up with that.

  3. Peter,

    Bean counting is essential. “What man beginneth to build a house without sitting down first to count the cost, whether he be able to finish it?”

    We do not have our decisions made for us, Scotland is over-represented in Westminster – 9.13% of the MPs for 8.06% of the population.

    The teenager leaving home analogy is hopelessly inadequte, you seem to base this purely on emotion; implying that Scotland is like a child, looking for freedom from her restrictive parents, England and Wales. This is so obviously not the case. Scotland is well represented in the UK, and benefits massively from it – breaking up the union, far from giving us freedom, would bring Scotland down.

    I, for one, would simply jump ship to England.

  4. What i mean by bean counters are those who give far to much importance to the minutiae and miss the bigger picture.

    it’s like the debate between the Tories and the Labour party over massive spending cuts or huge tax increases. we see figures like £20 bn bomb shell but then it turns out to be an exaggeration from one or the other and be over four or five years meaning that the difference between them would be about 1% of total government spending as given that we’ve lent the banks £185 bn this year fighting elections over 2 or 3% of that just misses the point.

    An independent Scotland will be a prosperous country in the same way that Britain and Ireland are prosperous countries. As Donald Dewar said;

    ” Of course Scotland can be an independent country, Albania is an Independent country”

    It was meant as a put down and warning but it was effective because it was fundamentally true. Like the debates over savage Tory cuts and crippling Labour tax rises the relative difference will be marginal and we will diverge in a number of ways but neither of us will be basket cases.

    Scotland is economically viable and as an EU country with a small population and a diverse open economy with more than it’s fair share of resources has excellent prospects especially if it can tailor it’s own domestic and economic policies.

    It won’t collapse if it remains in the UK but it won’t reach it’s full potential because peripheral regions of large countries that have a preponderance of power at the centre rarely do.

    Like it or not UK policy is and will continue to be dominate by London as that is where the bulk of the population and the power is. That’s good for London and the South east and it’s probably good for most of England, but it’s not especially good the South west or the North of England and it’s certainly not great for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

    The argument about over representation is if I may say so flawed. What matters is what the representatives do not where they come from. In the Thatcher years the Scottish Labour MP’s who dominated the opposition benches had over representation but no power.

    In the Blair years they had a share of power but followed the same policies as the Tories because that’s what nationally they felt their party had to do.

    It matters not if we are proportionally 10% over represented, what matters is that we make up less than 10% and that most of them support the metropolitan policies that see the agenda set in London for London because all the main UK parties think it’s best.

    As to jumping ship, like everyone else you are free to come and go as you please as often as you like.

    You can even go south and make a life in England and then when you retire come home and enjoy free personal care.


  5. I’m going to be late for work…

    It’s not a desire to be free from anything, rather free to do things, to choose a path that best suits Scotland. I don’t think we get the chance to do that, even with a devolved parliament, because it’s London that has the final say. And, as Peter has pointed out, and Neil has tacitly acknowledged in his belief that England could simply ignore a “yes” vote, if Scotland disagrees with something that England wants, it’s more than likely that England will get its way. 8 or 9% makes no difference if the 85% nation disagrees.

    We’ve already seen that in the elections from 83 to 92. it didn’t matter how Scotland voted, because England picked the government. That’s fine, if you believe only in an indivisible UK, but I don’t think that’s how most Scots felt at the time.

    I didn’t start the family analogy, but I do think it works here. Who make the decisions in a family? The parents, or the kids? When push comes to shove, who has the final say in the UK? London, or Edinburgh? I don’t want Scotland to be denied control over it’s own resources or it’s own policies. It might not be clever to compare this to being treated like a child. I simply don’t want us to be denied responsibility.

    As for who ran up the bills…! Jubilee line? London Crossrail? Olympics? How many smaller items of expenditure are there which have directly benefited London and the South East of England but which are labelled as having a “national benefit”?

    Should Scotland take any of the blame for spending on Trident, when public opinion here is against it, as reflected in the Scottish Parliament? It’s not been Edinburgh pushing for Britain to try and keep pretending it’s “Great” by keeping a nuclear arsenal to try and stay at the top table.

    Imagine if Edinburgh called the shots, through some quirk of history, and lavished expenditure on itself in this way. Imagine if England rejected the governing party time and again only to see it returned to office. Imagine England being told it could run its schools and health service, but having to leave the serious stuff to the big boys in Edinburgh? Ridiculous, isn’t it?

  6. Steven F – the UK does not need to pretend that we are Great. You are very unpatriotic and yes I believe in the UNITED Kingdom, that covers all the constitutent parts. The union has worked for hundreds of years and will continue to work.
    I notice SNP people nop longer mention Iceland as a role model – small country based on finance and fishing. Umm how did that work out?

    Also if you don`t like the opression of England since you have “only 9-10%” of the representation then why do you want to be part of the EU where you will be 1-2%? I have always found that contradiction interesting – dislike England but love the EU where power is in Brussels rather than London.

  7. Also, Steven, to mention just one of your points since I simply cannot be bothered to address them all, you say London runs up all the bills, and lavishes expenditure on itself. You may be aware that about 13% of the population actually live in London, (much more if you count the Greater London metropolitan area) it is not unreasonable for there to be higher expenditure on London than anywhere else. Who raises all that money that is spent in London? Not the Scottish taxpayer – guess who – the London taxpayer and the City. It is absolutely fatuous to say that we in Scotland are funding extravegance in London.

    Furthermore, on the point of the 2012 Olympics (which I agree are a complete waste of money by the way), is it not a tad hypocritical to say that the UK government should not be spending money on that, while at the same time fully supporting the 2014 Glasgow Games (another waste of money) which will also largely be funded by the English taxpayer?

  8. Mike,

    The fact that something worked in the past is no guarantee that it is appropriate or the best option now or in the future. Most people used to get about on horses and did so for thousands of years, but you don’t see many on the M25.

    Personally I was never that comfortable with those in the SNP who looked at the arc of prosperity from Ireland to Denmark and went beyond saying “Small nations can be successful and wealthy” to “small nations are always successful and wealthy”.

    What we have learned from the difference in effects of the credit crunch from Ireland through Scandinavia is that the governments of small nations can make a pigs ear of it if they ignore sound financial discipline.

    What we have learned from the US to China is that big nations can make the same mistakes.

    The issue then becomes should Scotland make it’s own choices and yes at times mistakes or should we live with Britain’s choices and mistakes. No points for guessing which one I prefer.

    As to the EU, Scotland will have far more control of it’s own affairs as an independent member of the EU than it does now.

    The EU won’t dictate our defence policy or as much of our foreign policy and we will be a full voting member when it comes to EU decisions. Realistically there is little chance of an enhanced EU having as much power over Scotland as Westminster does now so I’d happily swap 59 MP’s for an extra 6 or so MEP’s.

    In addition we are in the EU anyway only we need to go through the UK to get things so I think we can speed things up and get better results for Scotland from Brussels if we cut out the middle man.


    I have no problem with London with 13% of the expenditure getting that amount of money and indeed more than that if it provides a wide range of national functions as the capital, but that doesn’t mean that that arrangement is best for Scotland or us both in the long run.

    I have some sympathy for the likes of Ken Livingstone when he asked for more cash for London on the basis of it’s problems, some of the worst deprivation in the UK, way above average English unemployment, pockets of terrible housing many in poor wages.

    But rather than focus on who gets what share of the cash as the main issue the SNP emphasis is on people having the powers to make the changes to tackle their problems and that doesn’t mean Scotland blaming London or London blaming Scotland but London and Scotland being free to do what they want.

    I don’t think that even those who have put London at the centre of UK economic and political power have served Britain or London that well, but rather they have served thir own interests.

    The UK over the last 20 years seems to have been run for the benefit of those at the top, the city, the establishment and the MP’s, Lords and Civil service. I don’t think it has done that well by the people whether they be in Scotland, England or London.

    Our solution is for Scotland to go it’s own way and to make it’s own solutions and develop a different style and type of politics and ultimately a society. I am not really one for broken Britain, but I don’t have much faith in the ability of any likely UK government to fundamentally reform the Uk for the better.

    We might not do that great either but I want us to be able to try.

    Take a look at the news over the next day or two from Scotland and compare the way we are dealing with our budget in our parliament and then try to remember that in a month or so when darling gets to his feet with his. I am not going to go as far as to claim our system is developing in to something better, but I and I think most Scots prefer it.

    Oh and as far as I am aware the Glasgow games in 2014 are being paid for by either the Scottish government and Glasgow city council, this from wiki;

    “The Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council have agreed to underwrite the Organising Committee’s net running costs of staging the Games, which is currently budgeted at £288m.

    This will be on the basis of an 80/20 split. It is expected that the majority of the 80% of costs to be covered by the Scottish Government will be new money committed to the sports and major events budget.

    A further £50m is expected to be raised through merchandising, broadcasting, sponsorship and ticket sales.

    Current major corporate sponsors include; Clydesdale Bank, Highland Spring, O2, FirstGroup, BBC Scotland and Diageo.

    Other capital expenditure is taking place in addition to the Organising Committee’s budget, principally on venue infrastructure. Only three entirely new venues are required to stage the games, which are budgeted at a combined total of £200 million and additions to existing venues will cost an additional £70 million, although most of this investment had been planned to take place regardless of the bid result.

    The Games Village is projected to cost some £229 million and will be developed through a Public Private Partnership scheme[33].”


  9. The for or against independence figures only have significant relevance if we have the information about the political allegiances of those asked and what the actual question was.
    Does anybody know?
    A 30% rating for Independence can very easily become 40% when the SNP initiates a campaign in favour which it hasn’t done to date. The certain routing of Gordon Brown’s Labour Government will change the political landscape completely from a Scottish perspective.

  10. I’ll keep this brief, in case Neil loses the will to live. Peter has done a grand job of answering some of the points anyway.

    Mike – I am patriotic, but the country for which I am so is Scotland, and I make no apology for that!

    I can see that the Union worked well in many respects for a while, but that was largely based on the shared opportunity from Empire, and a common front against external threats. Since both of these have gone, the benefits are gone. Instead, we’re left with the contraints of not being able to tailor policy to the consituent parts of the UK. That may sound abstract, but I can’t consider the Union a success when parts of my country – your country – have a life expectancy of just 55.

    And let’s see where Iceland is relative to us in a decade. Will they still have a higher standard of living, or will they be in real trouble?

    Neil – my issue with expenditure in London is that it benefits that city disproportionately per capita. And my issue with the Olympics is that it has clearly drawn funds away from elsewhere in the UK, which the Commonwealth Games has not. If you can point me to a charity in London, or anywhere in England, that will suffer as a result of the Commonwealth Games, I’ll accept your charge of being a hypocrite.

    It struck me that us nationalists have been on the defensive. None of the unionists have put forward what the benefits of membership are to Scotland today. That speaks volumes in itself.

  11. Steven F – you are not patriotic and you are disrepectful to Her Majesty the Queen.

    I feel very sorry for you.

  12. Mike,

    The definition of patriotic i found was;

    “Showing devotion or vigourous support for ones country”.

    If Steven wants his country to be Scotland that’s up to him.

    I could make the point that the UK isn’t actually a country like Scotland or England at all it’s a state, but what is more important is that if you want to be British and call that your country that’s fine we me and most Scots. That’s your choice and you should be free to make it.

    What’s at issue is whether you are right to call someone else unpatriotic because they make a different choice to you.

    As to insulting the Queen, I can’t see any reference to royalty at all and can only assume that you feel that anyone in the UK that doesn’t support the monarchy or the Union is somehow disloyal.

    I for one aren’t comfortable with the notion that those who question the status quo or argue for change are doing anything wrong, or that we should all adhere to some set of standard values.

    We can all adopt values and beliefs and argue for or against them but it be a free choice and as choices change so will society. I don’t particularly think it is right or health to try to maintain a certain set of values particularly if it involves denouncing the views of others.

    Those values and institutions that survive the test of time will be those that are tested over time, not those that are protected from challenge. Part of the reason I blog is to present my arguments not to prevent my views being argued against.

    Oh and there is no need to feel sorry for me, I am tucked up in a warm house with a coffee while my kids watch the telly, totally at ease with my lack of patriotism.

    I remember a friend saying some Mormons came to his door and asked;

    “Do you not feel lost and alone without God”

    to which he replied;

    “Not particularly”,

    I am the same about patriotism, which is why even if you pity me like the Mormons probably pitied my friend, I think I’ll manage to get over it.


  13. If you are not patriotic and loyal to your country then that does show disrespect to the Head of Stae who is The Queen. That is how The Queen and the monarchy got mentioned. I notice lots of small nordic countries (which the SNP would love to emulate) have a monarchy.

    Some people may arbitarily choose to be “loyal” to Scotland rather than the United Kingdom but that doesn`t make it right. Just like I could choose to be Loyal to Derbyshire first, or Derby or even my suburb.

    Also if Scotland is a country in its own right and the UK isn`t let me know where Scottish embassies are or which team(s) we have in the Olympics, or at the UN, or in the EU.

  14. Peter – I am sure you will get over it. I just feel sorry for you that you have some “allegience” to a country that has been part of a great country for hundreds of years and cling to that.
    You have admitted you are not patriotic or loyal to your head of state. Fine, I am just stating the fact.

  15. Stuart Gregory

    You are right about one thing: the number of seats changing hands in Scotland will be very small.

    I also agree that Cons could win in Berwickshire Roxbrough and Selkirk or in Dumfries and Galloway but it would be a lucky night for them if they managed to pull off both at the same time.

    I vote in Argyll and Bute and the Conservatives will come second. If the LibDem loses enough votes to take his vote below the Conservative’s, enough of them will go to the SNP ( together with nearly all the votes lost by Labour) for the SNP to win.

    The seat was once a four way marginal, and is still very much three way. I’m not certain that the LibDem will lose, but if he doesn’t it will be the hardest fought seat in the country next time round with only a handful of votes between the first and the third. Whichever these are, the Conservative will be in the middle.

    Everything depends not just on how many votes the LibDem loses, but how they break.

    ochill and south perthshire SNP FROM LAB

  16. The Greens had a setback in the last SP election regional vote which was best explained by “Alex Salmond for First Minister.” That won’t be allowed again.

    A vote for the Greens was a vote for Alex Salmond for First Minister anyway, but nontheless they lost badly as a result. Next time round there should be Green gains at the expense of the SNP, though that will be compensated for by gains from Labour and LibDems.

    Peter is right to be interested in the regional LibDem vote in th ehighlands as that is where their existing seats are concentrated and all but two look fairly safe to me. One of these has local issues.

  17. Peter Cairns

    “Regardless of what acts of parliament, no matter how sovereign you think it is, hold the Uk together once one part of it decided it wants to go, no amount of legal wrangling will change the outcome.”

    Donald Dewar

    “Scotland will be independent when people vote for it.”

    Anything elsw would be a negation of any claim that Britain is a democracy but could Paxman and Humphries get that statement out of Tony Blair or Michael Howard? Rack and thunbscrews? Waterboarding?

  18. I’m surprised that the SNP have not addressed the pro-independence argument which has persuaded me to vote for independence when the time comes.

    The parliament of an independent Scotland would be very similar to the Home Rule parliament.

    Half a century ago, in over 100 conversations with a schoolboy a year ahead of me, I argued that the Westminster Parliament was a failed, sclerotic outdated, inefficient, undemocratic and corrupt institution that no honest intelligent person could be a part of without ethical compromise or recurrent sense of failure.

    I now know they were saying much the same thing in Eastern Europe at the same time. “You can be honest, clever and a member of the Communist Party, but not all three”

    The answers I got could nowadays fit into a telephone help line:

    Press 1 for “It’s not as bad as you say”
    Press 2 for “There are historical reasons why it is so”
    Press 3 for “There a number of possible solutions”
    Press 4 for “A Home Rule Parliament would be an opportunity to try out one or more of them.”

    I got that four part answer on some questions, and parts on all but potentially it was all there for all of them if I has asked.

    There is nothing that I now know about the Scottish Parliament that I did not hear about then other than the digital technology.

    That’s Principles, PR, Petitions, Presiding Officer, Party Lists, Seating, Minor Parties, alternation of coalitons and minority government …..

    The last time I listed these I had nearly 30 differences from Westminster.

    We do not need independence to produce good government, we just need a parliament designed for the purpose, instead of an Oxbridge debating society where they sit two sword’s lengths apart in a building designed like a monastic chapel.

    Maybe the Scottish Parliament will in the end be the model for the reform of Westminster, as Donald Dewar intended, but it will come two generations after independence.

    The Scottish Parliament provides better government for Scotland by design: the design I was privileged to have explained to me by the Father of the Nation in every important detail.

    I very much doubt whether Donald saw that (at least at that time) as its main purpose.

    I do not suggest that he was a closet nationalist but I wonder what his answer would have been if he had accepted that after a decade of the model, no cognisance had been taken of the opportunity to make Westminster fit for purpose, and I do know what he didn’t say when I first heard the “slippery slope” argument put to him by a Nationalist.

  19. Creative typo:

    alternation of coalit[i]ons.

    Could we have a spelchecquer pleas.

  20. Mike,

    I choose my own loyalties as i see fit, and although i have a great deal of admiration for the queen both as an individual and in the way she has done her job, I am not willing to give my allegience to someone who inherited the post by birth and who I have no legal right to challenge.

    I like parliamentary democracy and if Scotland decided to have a monarch as head of state and like Canada and Australia retain the queen i wouldn’t care if that was the popular choice.

    Regardless of that republic or monarchy I am a nationalist and my loyalty and obligation will always be to the people of Scotland rather than the head of state.

    There is an extract from the declaration of Arbroath that sets out the principle;

    “Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King”

    It’s a bit rhetorical and anti English (we were effectively at war at the time) but it sets out the limits of our loyalty to the head of state. We follow only as long as it is in the nation and peoples interest to do so and never blindly because of who they are.

    That notion may be different from yours and it might even be distinctively Scots but it is widely held to be the right approach by many Scots not just the SNP.


  21. Mike,

    I can’t produce a better reply then anything Peter has come up with, except to say that, in my case, there’s no choice involved. I am Scottish. I didn’t sit down and conciously choose one identity over another. I don’t think anyone does, do they? Does a Swede agonise over how Sedish he is, or an American choose to be so? Of course not. I’m sure you didn’t either.

    Please don’t compare your county, no matter how beautiful it is, to a country. Intentional or not, it’s patronising. That consonant makes a difference!

    As to the head of state, I am a republican. I think it’s a great and noble thing to elect the head of state, and I envy the countries that do so, even if they don’t always seem to choose the best candidate. Our monarch is of little practical consequence, except as a cipher for a system that still places too much emphasis on birthright over merit. As such, I could accept an independent Scotland retaining a Union of the Crowns without losing too much sleep.

    I asked for positive arguments for the Union, and answer came there none. Ach weel!


  22. Peter – thanks for your reply. First of it is Queen with a capital Q and second since you are a Cllr (why you need that in your title I don`t know) you swore an oath to OUR head of state.

    She is very deserving of respect since she has devoted her efforts to our country for over 50 years.

    Steven F – you wanted a positive reason for union. Strength through numbers. That is why we are in the EU and the UN. You wanted a reason.

  23. Mike,

    I didn’t mean any offense not using capital Q, no more than I do with my regular spelling mistakes. As for Cllr, I use that and the link so that anyone reading my posts can check with the .GOV web site that I am who I say.

    I am a supporter of free open debate and think that it works best when we are open and honest about who we are. There are good reasons for anonymity in some cases and I respect people privacy, but when I am talking about politics on an open forum I think people have a right to know who I am and what my politics are.

    As to strength through numbers, does that mean you believe we should have a United Europe with one army and one currency and one head of state, Ideally there by right of birth not election.


  24. Peter – I personally do not agree with a fully United Europe because there is a lot of diversity in the component countries in the EU.
    The component countries in the UK have much more cultural alignment and similarity than we do with say Finland or Greece.

    You asked the question of me, let me ask it of you – do you agree with Scotland being in the EU and UN. I assume yes, so the question is why do you want Scotland to be in a grouping of 500 million people plus but complain when Scotland is 7-9% of the UK population. Does seem a mismatch. I could intellectually understand a Scotman who wants independence and does not want Scotland in the EU (UN is different because there is very little soverneignty loss).

  25. On an early Holyrood election –

    This could come from not having a First Minister for a month. But when it came to it I’m sure we’d get one from somewhere rather than have an early election.

    The only other way to trigger one requires a two-thirds vote in the parliament. That makes the magic number 86 – or 43 to stop it. Given that Labour and the SNP each have more than that, they each have a veto on new elections.

    On an independence referendum – worth bearing in mind that only one side knows where the votes are and only one side could operate a get-out-the-vote.

    The legality issues are a total red herring and for anoraks only. Everyone knows that a yes vote in a referendum would certainly mean independence. Anyone who says otherwise is playing games.

  26. Mike:

    Is it not a case of “large and diverse” versus “small and monolithic”?

  27. ZX – Scotland has more say within the UK (maybe there is room for more autonomy as provinces get in Spain and Canada) than it would in the EU.

  28. Mike,

    As an equal full voting member in a lose alliance like the EU Scotland would have more freedom, influence and power than it currently does within the UK.


  29. Mike

    Just to back up what Cllr Cairns says, I am an SNP voter and member and while I have no particular view one way or another on the monarchy. What I want is the optimal governance arrangements that reflect my sense of identity, as a Scot and that present the best future for my son, his peers and the nation as a whole. Those interests are best served by Scotland becoming an Independent state with its own membership of the EU.

    So long as the Queen or her successors do right by Scotland, I am happy enough to have an apolitical head of state rather than a republic with a political head of state. However, I will accept the majority view among the voters of Scotland. Another subtle difference in the status of the Scottish monarchy is that the Queen (or future King) is Queen/King of Scots and not the Queen/King of Scotland. By Scots, I mean all who live here and/or choose to regard themselves as Scots.

    Like Peter says, I have much admiration for HM Queen’s hard work over the years. I see no reason why we can’t have a similar relationship with her and her successors as do other Commonwealth States such as Canada, New Zealand or Australia.

    Best regards.

  30. As always, Peter has got in there first, and I’ve little to add. I don’t see any small European countries queueing up to join, or rejoin, their larger neighbours, even where there are strong cultural similarities. The freedom they have to run their own finances, even as part of the EU, is greater than they would have as part of a unified state formed with a neighbour.

    I dpn’t see whatever strength we have as being worth the resultant loss of flexibility, for all the nations in the UK, but I can acknowledge that there’s room for disagreement on that. To my mind, the strength through numbers might have applied when the main concerns of our establishment were to defend the realm against the threat of French invasion, or maintain the Protestant ascendancy after the Glorious Revolution, but (almost) no-one worries about that anymore.

    Oh, and I’d watch out for Gordon (the seat) as a good prospect for a flip. The “Salmond-effect” might not apply, but the campaign machine will still be there. The Lib Dems in Aberdeenshire are at 6’s and 7’s after Trump.

  31. I understand where you are all coming from but as you well know the range and depth of EU central powers are increasing. For example on economic issues. Therefore Scotland would not become a member of a loose alliance. If Scotland wanted that (which would make intellectual sense if being 9% of the UK is bad) then you would want European Economic Area (EEA) status which the Swiss amongst others have.

    Otherwise within the EU you would I assume accept the Euro – hence you still would not have your own currency or control interest rates. You would not have control over your own fishing industry and other areas. Yes you could vote as you see fit but a Labour government full of Scots probably votes as most Scots want. You would go to having a 1% share of the vote in the European Parliament and very little say on majority votes. If the UK can get out voted often then Scotland being 90% smaller will surely be out voted.

  32. Mike,

    I don’t have a problem with the Euro and particularly the perceived “loss” in not setting your interest rates, because the reality has been for at least a quarter century that markets set interest rates.

    Governments might like to think or pretend that they are in control but they aren’t.

    Brown or Darling say they are taking action and doing what is needed for the British economy but it’s more like someone walking the plank saying that they have made a choice to jump into the sea.

    All my life I’ve watched UK ministers call reaction action, giving the impression that they are shaping events rather than following them.

    Raising rates has rarely been anything but a belated attempt to slow an economy that they had, mostly for party political purposes, allowed to over heat, and a consequence of the failure to address pressure until the markets lost confidence.

    I think there is good reason to believe that if the UK hadn’t had a bank of England focused on narrow inflation that excluded mortgages during a housing boom, we would have had to use other measures than interest rates to control inflation and that might well have meant we could have avoided some of the worst excesses of the Banks.

    Most Euro zone countries have with lower interest rates avoided as much damage as the Uk through better regulation and economic policy. the exception was ireland who had the power to regulate and limit but didn’t.

    that shows that the warnings about the loss of control in Euro membership are bogus, different nations within the EU decided to and had the power to take different approaches, Scotland doesn’t.

    What happened to the Banks in Dublin and London wasn’t an EU or Euro problem, it was an Irish and UK regulation and governance problem.


  33. There are two reasons for retaining the Monarchy:

    President Thatcher.

    President Blair.

    If we have to have a president let it be someone chosen from a shortlist of those who have served a term as Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

    That said, it’s no accident that we have as the current head of state someone who does the job well, if you are trained for the job from infancy and are inculcated with a sense of duty there is a good chance that you might have got the hang of it by the age of 84.

  34. “Scotland will be independent when people vote for it.”

    Donald Dewar.

  35. The original issue on this page was budget deadlock and the prospect of an early election.

    There was never the slightest prospect of an election.

    We have a system which is designed to produce – nearly every time – either a coalition or a minority government. Working out the deal in one of the several possible coalition arrangements, or bill by bill if there is a minority government with no coalition, is something that does not happen at Westminster.

    We have only had three elections for the Scottish Parliament, and two of them have produced a coalition with the same two partners. Now we have the other option. In either case a majority of the Scottish people voting in the election will have supported MSP’s who form any majority which passes legislation in parliament.

    The Westminster political and media establishment have not yet grasped the point that this is the normal situation in Scotland. The finance bill, like any other, can only be passed by building a broad enough consensus in support.

    Delivering that consensus was the task of the finance minister. It’s a job that has to be worked through to a solution. He did it. That’s his job and he gets well enough paid for it.

    Talk of crisis, U-turns and broken promises is misssing the point and makes a drama out of a routine process either out of ignorance or to sell newspapers.

    So too the “broken promise” of LIT.

    That’s the way it is because that’s the way it was meant to be. As I said above, it was also meant to be a model for the reform of Westminster.

    That’s what Donald Dewar told me half a century ago.

    That model has brought better governance in devolved matters for the last decade than we have ever had before. Sooner or later it will bring better governance on reserved matters.

    Whether that is in the UK or an independent Scotland, doesn’t matter to me, but there is no sign of the former happening, and the latter is increasingly likely.

    I don’t want independence for itself, but I do want better government, and if I’m offered that with independence, I’ll take them both.

  36. John,

    “We have a system which is designed to produce – nearly every time – either a coalition or a minority government.”

    I don’t think that’s the case. We have a system designed to try to make sure that as near as possible the system balances regional difference and popular vote so that the number of seats each party holds reflects their national share of the vote and it’s regional distribution.

    The fact that it currently produces either coalition or minority government is through accident as opposed to design. The SNP isn’t a minority government because of the system, it’s a minority government because it got a minority of the vote.

    It is true that it was designed to avoid what we see in Westminster a party with almost absolute power but only a minority of the vote, but not to deliberately create coalitions but rather to create fairness of representation.

  37. Peter: You are correct of course.

    I should have said “We have a system which by its design will produce – nearly every time – either a coalition or a minority government.”

    That it does so is because we have five and more parties.

    Making it possible for regional parties or independents to be elected was a subsidiary objective but also part of the solution as it helps to mitigate the “almost absolute power” you refer to.

    The Home Rule parliament also offers a solution to every aspect of “what we see in Westminister” that I complained about over 50 years ago, or that I and many others complain about now.

    A nationalist opposed Donald’s solution on the grounds that the good is the enemy of the best, but acknowledged that the half measure of devolution would inevitably lead to independence.

    Donald didn’t deny that such an outcome was possible, and he certainly didn’t claim then or later that it would “See off the Nationalists”

    Had his ultimate objective of reform of Westminster on the model of the Scottish Parliament been achieved, especially if combined with the Bavarianisation of the Unionist parties, the SNP would not be where it is to-day.

    Robin Cook tried some very modest proposals for reform and the rest of the House of Commons treated him like a bad smell.

    My SNP MSP drew my attention to the ambivalence and future-proofing of Donald’s last speech at Westminster. If independence followed, he had predicted it. If it didn’t, nobody would think that he had suggested any such thing.

    Only when the London media and politicians see the Scottish Parliament not as a provincial assembly but as the parliament of a better governed neighbouring independent state might they consider its example.

    As Mrs Boothroyd said after a visit to Edinburgh, the one is new, the other is old.

    What Donald wanted, what I want and what you want is better government. If we had had better government for the last 30 years, there would be no need for devolution or the SNP.

    Forget Scotland’s oil and Braveheart. We’ve got better government in the Home Rule parliament and those of us in Scotland have an option to get more of it..

    If we get better government with independence, that invalidates the basis of the economic arguments anyway, doesn’t it? Better government is bound to effect the economy but who can put a value on that?

  38. “There are two reasons for retaining the Monarchy:
    President Thatcher.
    President Blair.”

    Have to ask, in what way was the existence of the monarchy a limitation of the powers of either prime minister?

  39. The best case for Scottish independence is the simple designations used by the posters on this site. The constant reference to “you” and “they” instead of the “we” confirms the inevitable.

    I find it interesting the constant reference to Scottish independence without the obvious result of “English independence” etc.

    Arguing over the semantics and details of a millenium long debate seems to me to be a complete waste of time. Scots will decide their future as it should be. If the resutl is independence so be it. Do any of us really want to see the continuance of a union that has been rejected by one of the founding partners? Is this how we see the future?

    To put it simply to those who argue for “Britain”. For you to have the country of “Great Britain”, you must take away my country of “Scotland” and also “England”, “Wales” and “Northern Ireland”. The constant whining of pols who scream “English Votes for English issues” confirm that hypothesis.

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