The referendum question is wrong.
Mr Salmond has started using and reusing a phrase that is giving me philosophical angst. It is “the sovereign will of the people of Scotland”. He said:
“The reason we are keeping the pound in a currency union, and the reason we are so unambiguous about it, is because we are appealing to the greatest authority of all, that is the sovereign will of the people of Scotland”
The greatest authority of all? Hmmm….
I’ll try to keep my theism out of it – for me the greatest authority of all, eh, isn’t the sovereign will of the Scottish people – but I will allow the First Minister a bye on that one, given the context.
But even in the context of a post-yes-vote negotiation, why would the Scottish voice in that discussion be the greatest authority of all? What about the Welsh? The Northern Irish? The English?
But that isn’t really my main problem with Mr Salmond’s use of the phrase.
I suspect (I may be wrong) that the “sovereign will of the Scottish people” will be no clearer after the referendum – as the actual will of the Scottish people doesn’t appear on the ballot paper.
I suspect that the Scottish people really want DevoMax.
I suspect that, because of the respectful dialogue phase, that the English too, perhaps less strongly, want their own DevoMax.
I suspect that Alex Salmond really wants DevoMax. I think he thinks he wants independence. I think he really wants DevoMax.
If not, why the currency union as Plan A? – He wants independence, except for the currency. Which isn’t actual independence; it is as Max as a DevoMax could be. What’s best for Scotland is a fiscal union. Apparently.
It seems nuts to jeopardise the fiscal union we already have.
If we really actually want DevoMax, rather than being cast adrift in a sea of transition, I hope people will vote no in the referendum, and then start work towards it.
I can feel the Nationalists bristle and begin to form phrases in their minds about the evils of the untrustworthy Westminster – and yes – Westminster is a problem – not just for Scotland – but moreso for England.
I long for the day when I can watch the news without having to hear about Health and Education in “EnglandandWales”. These matters should be devolved.
But the things that relate to the islands – why not stay banded together for the stuff that is to do with these islands as islands – the stuff that is global?
I think the quality of real debate (not the televised unedifying and embarrassing political squabbling) in the country has been great. I think the “sovereign will” has become clearer on both sides – people have a vision for Scotland – of enterprise and hard work, of equality and care for the most vulnerable – and I think it is healthy that we have had a long time to reflect as a nation about the values we share and the potential that this country has.
I hope people vote no, so we can avoid uncertainty and upheaval, but take what we have learnt and start shaping the future – one policy at a time.
I am thankful that every vote will count in this particular referendum – I am just frustrated that the third option, that I suspect is closest to the “will” of the people of Scotland, is missing.