“Should Scotland be an independent country?” At last we know the question that will adorn the ballot paper for the biggest question the nation has ever considered. This week, the Electoral Commission presented its conclusions to the Scottish Government and the issues of the question and campaign funding of the independence referendum were settled. The Scottish Government accepted all of the recommendations of the Electoral Commission without hesitation and I think everyone on the “Yes” side are happy with the arrangements for the referendum.
In accepting the recommendations of the Electoral Commission it does make the almost incessant whingeing of the “No” campaign look a bit stupid. For the last few months they’ve done nothing but lecture us on how we “must” accept all of the Electoral Commissions recommendations when we never said that we wouldn’t. They’ve organised petitions and have told us we can’t be the “player and the referee”, etc, etc.
Well, in this metaphorical football game the “No” side has received the yellow card and the boot is now securely on the other foot. Part of the Electoral Commission’s recommendations was that the UK and Scottish Government get round the table to discuss the way forward for the referendum. They also said that the public should have a clear impression of what the “Yes” and “No” sides are offering. Well, from the “Yes” side, there will be a prospectus delivered in the autumn that will offer the most comprehensive glimpse of what an independent nation will look like that has ever been delivered to a nation considering its own sovereignty. The challenge is for the “No” side to tell the Scottish people what they will secure for their future if they remain within the UK. So far all they’ve been prepared to do is to try and frighten the Scottish people away from independence with fanciful and invented scare stories. That will no longer do. The referee has blown his whistle and the “No” side better get on to the training ground.
But where do they start? How about with ten more years of UK austerity? Maybe further depriving our poorest and most vulnerable of more of their financial support? Maybe they could endear themselves with a multi-billion refit of weapons of mass destruction.
No wonder they don’t want to spell out a future with a UK that is almost relaxed about its continual decline. But the big game is coming and the crowd are expectant. So come on “No”, what do we get when the whistle’s blown?