In marketing and selling terms it is never a good idea to merely knock your competitors product. The same must be true of political campaigns. The No campaign in the Scottish Referendum Debate has largely tried to tear apart the SNP campaign statements without suggesting better alternatives.
The Guide to an Independent Scotland “Scotland’s Future” out this week sets out in detail what the SNP would do in the light of a Yes vote. However much of it could be achieved without full independence as it is about changes within Scotland. In fact some of it might be possible without any constitutional changes.
I would like to see the No campaign not just knock “Scotland’s Future” but suggest ways in which much of it could be achieved with some extra devolved powers. If the Westminster government were to commit to a package of measures under so-called “Devo Max” to be enacted post the September 2014 vote, this would strengthen their argument enormously. Definite commitments would cut through the miasma of speculation and counter speculation that has characterised the debate so far.
One of the foremost attributes of an independent country is free democratic elections to let the people choose the government they want to run the country. Why should the present SNP “government” presume to plan for the future governance of Scotland? It is not the national government of an independent country. It is the major party in a devolved assembly with limited powers granted by the current UK national government and should not expect to have any prior say in the institutions after a vote for independence. The first national government of Scotland will only have legitimacy after a Yes vote. At most the SNP should be making arrangements in consultation with all existing political factions for the proper conduct of elections post independence.
What should those of a different political persuasion be doing? The other major parties in Scottish politics should be making urgent plans for action. Those plans should be ready immediately after a possible Yes vote in September 2014. To be personal, Alex Salmond is hoping that parties opposing separation will be so disorganised that in the event of a Yes vote he can take the political high ground and create a political scene in his own image. He must know that Scotland being at heart socialist inclined that he could lose power to an effective socialist alliance never to regain it under a Nationalist banner and so independence would for him personally be a Phyric victory.