Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What's Wendy playing at.

Leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament, Wendy Alexander, has today called on the Scottish Government to hold an early referendum on Scottish Independence. Now, it turns out that this is not some dramatic conversion to the cause of 'Independence', but a blatant tactic to disrupt the intended timetable of Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, who intends to hold such a referendum in 2010. Generally speaking, its not a sensible idea to play political games with constitutional issues. It makes a politician look shallow and irresponsible. Today's statement by Wendy Alexander is clearly a stunt, which may well backfire. I would be surprised if any of the other opposition parties in Scotland will support this call. I suspect that the SNP leader and Prime Minister, who is one of the craftiest operators in British politics, will find a way of turning this to his benefit.

An interesting aspect of this is whether Gordon Brown knew about the announcement before he heard in on the News. I suspect he did not, which would be the most graphic illustration of his waning influence in the Labour Party. This announcement, which looks a bit like a 'back of the fag packet' idea could really do some damage to Labour in Scotland, where the local council elections were not as bad as they could have been.

I really don't believe this. As writing this post I've put Newsnight on, and Hazel Blears has just told Jeremy Paxman that Gordon Brown's cabinet, not having known about this announcement before it was made, now agrees with Wendy Alexander that there should be an immediate referendum on the break-up of the United Kingdom. Words fail me. The Labour Party is falling apart.


Anonymous said...

"...Scotland, where the local council elections were not as bad as they could have been"

Er, there weren't any, Glyn! No election is ever as bad as it could have been if it isn't held...

Frank H Little said...

An interesting aspect of this is whether Gordon Brown knew about the announcement before he heard in on the News. I suspect he did not
It's a splendid example of devolution in action. ;-) Of course, Alexander daren't actually say that, given the control mania of the Labour leadership.

BTW, are the Cameroonies happy every time Nick Bourne makes a statement without reference to Notting Hill?

Metternich said...

Glyn There were no local elections in Scotland this year. They were held last year under a new PR system at the same time as elections to the Scottish Parliament. As for Wendy Alexander why is it cynical to allow the Scottish people the chance to vote on the issue of independence. Michael Forsyth supports the same policy. If independence has the support of the Scottish people as the SNP claim then as wee Wendy puts it 'bring it on'. For Scotland wishes to become independetn then who cares.Historically they have more rights to independence than many of the newly created countries in Eastern Europe who have never existed before.It might turn out to be an economic diaster for the Scots but it will have very little effect on the reat of the UK. scottish soldiers, for example, could perform the same role as the Gurkhas or be given the same rights as irish citizens who wish to join the UK army. There will be no border posts and it could creat work for all those Scots as the country develops adiplomatic corps and opens an embassies throughout the world.It even strat a tend with Berlusconis wife suggesting that Italy should break up. Exactly the same principle applies in Wales where those in favour of more powers claim that it has the support of the Welsh people. Why wait until 2011 and for Jones Parry and his 16 volunteers who have nothing better to do for one day a month. Let the people decide and be done with it.It's called democracy. The only problem of course is that the political elite are frightened that the werin might give all of them a bloody nose. Then where will that leave the devolution project?

Glyn Davies said...

anon - sorry. Bad error. Not sure where I got this from. I think I must have half-read an article that opinion polls were not as bad for Labour in Scotland - and extrapolated wrongly.

frank - Technically correct, but I cannot imagine this happening before last October. And it is a matter for the Prime Minister. The Labour Party supporting a referendum on ending the United Kingdom is a matter of legitimate interest for the Prime Minister.

And I don't know what mechanisms are in place for discussions between Nick Bourne and David Cameron (or Cheryl Gillan) but I cannot imagine anything like this happening in the Conservative Party.

metternich - I accept that if the Scots want 'Independence' then so be it. The reason Wendy's stunt is so disreputable is that she is not interested in the issue at all, but using a massively important constitutional issue as a gimmick.

As far as Wales is concerned, I want to see a referendum as soon as I think there can be an informed debate, and I do not think this can be arranged before 2011. I also think that any referendum should not be combined with an election which will distort the genuine opinion of the people.