Wednesday, June 11, 2014

If You Read Charlie Stross's Post, You'll Know More About the Scottish Independence Situation Than I Did After Living Here 10 Months

Charlie Stross:

We have an SNP government. They promised, and got, a referendum that, this September 18th, will ask people like me (anyone who lives here, basically) to vote on the question "should Scotland be an independent nation?" It's a straight yes/no question. The third option, Devo Max, was ruled off the ballot by David Cameron (probably because he knew it would win by a mile—over 60% of the Scottish voting public supported it as of the last poll I saw that asked about it). Devo Max was a last mile marker for a devolved parliament short of full independence: Scotland would acquire control over all internal affairs, including taxation, but would delegate defence and foreign affairs to Westminster. It's my preferred option. Such a shame we're not allowed to vote for it ...

Anyway. A vote will be held on the 18th of September. If there is a majority for independence, then the constitutional shit will hit the fan because Westminster will be required to negotiate and enact the enabling legislation for Scottish independence ... with a UK-wide General Election coming up in June 2015. The enabling legislation can't be rushed through before the next election (it's too big and complex), so it's going to trail into the next Westminster parliament, probably completing in 2016 with independence in 2017. But the next Westminster parliament cannot be bound by the decisions of the current one—basics of the British constitutional system here—and so can't automatically be held to handle the consequences of the independence vote. It's anybody's guess what the government in Westminster will look like in July 2015. It might be a renewed Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition (unlikely), a Conservative majority or minority government (less unlikely), a Labour majority (not unlikely), a Labour/Lib-Dem coalition (possibly most likely, but still not something to bet on), a Conservative/UKIP coalition (unlikely but not impossible), or a Martian invasion. Nobody knows. Add to this, 70 Scottish MPs elected on a mandate to sit for 12-18 months while they negotiate independence, then pack their bags and go home. It'll be chaos.

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