09/01/2012 Newsnight Scotland


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On Newsnight Scotland, we go back to today's developments in the


long-running drama of the Scottish independence referendum. The story


so far... David Cameron tells his Cabinet he


wants to help democracy by legislating on the running of the


referendum. Alex Salmond's team say they do not


really welcome his intervention. Good evening. If you have just


switched on, you will have missed our London colleagues dissecting


the debate over timing and other details of the Scottish referendum.


It is an event in itself, a Scottish story leading the UK


edition of Newsnight. Anyway, regular viewers of


Newsnight Scotland will know a bit more about the arguments marshalled


on the referendum and, in particular, its timing and what


will be printed on the ballot paper. We will discuss more of that


shortly, but first, David Allison brings a bit of history right up to


date. June the 2014 will be the seven hundredth anniversary of the


Battle of Bannockburn, where King Edward was famously sent home to


think again by the Scots. David Cameron wants to accelerate things.


Perhaps he is thinking more of the Battle of Flodden, which will be


500 years ago in September of this year. On that occasion, the Scots


did not do so well. I am getting the questions, is the union going


to stay together, his column going to split apart, should I invest in


the country. These are the sort of questions I am getting from


companies. We would do not want to dictate this, but we want to


resolve it. I do not think Westminster should be getting


themselves involved in this. The Scottish National Party was elected


a few months ago with an overwhelming mandate to half an


independence referendum in this term. For a party with independence


at their core, it may seem rather strange that the timing of the


referendum is what is causing them grief. I believe the legislation


going through Parliament has to be the priority. This is needed to get


economic recovery going and that will push the score when bill into


the second half of the Parliament. George Osborne warned that the lack


of clarity mate damage the Scottish economy, claims rejected by the


First Minister. A I think the uncertainty that hangs over the


Scottish economy because of what the First Minister is seen as


regards this referendum, is damaging investment and there are


major businesses asking me as Chancellor, tell me what is going


on in Scotland? We are worried about investing. I have told want


to go ahead and invest, but I have to say that these questions are


being asked anything get as the direct impact on Scottish jobs and


prosperity. That is stuff and nonsense from George Osborne. He


cannot name one of the companies that he referred to. I can tell you


it lots of major companies who have invested in Scotland and the last


few months. There seems to be some confusion over the legality of who


would be in charge of any referendum. We believe there is a


clear legal position. I will be setting out what the legal view is


in the House of Commons and indicating how we ensure that we


can get the referendum on fair and decisive terms, beginning with the


proper debate about Scotland's future. It is not a legal issue, it


is the political question. Will Alex Salmond come clean about what


he really wants? If he wants complete independence he should


have the guts to go out and make that case to the Scottish people


and not constantly confuse things by singer should maybe be a


multiple choice question. So, the stakes have been written by the UK


government demanding when the referendum will be taken. But for


their part, the Scottish nationalists and to be taking this


in their stride. And I could take a fully relaxed view and say that the


more they Tory-led government tries to interfere in Scottish democracy


the more the case for independence will increase. But there is a case


for democratic principle and the people and Scholl and should have a


referendum within the timescale that they voted for. At want a


referendum that is clear, fair, legally challengeable and offers


the people of Scotland to guide their own future. I believe that


referendum should be brought forward as soon as possible.


Tonight, the SNP say they are sticking to the idea of the


referendum in the second half of the Parliament, but the pressure is


mounting on what questions they intend to ask.


You saw Secretary of State Michael Moore in the film there. He was not


able to join us on the programme tonight, but says he will do


tomorrow, after he has addressed the House of Commons on the subject.


It is expected that he will tell MPs he will transfer the


unambiguous legal powers to Edinburgh to hold the referendum,


without a specific time limit, but specifically only for a simple Yes


or No vote on independence. He will also rule out votes for under-18s


and require supervision by the UK Electoral Commission.


However, we can hear more of the SNP's view of today's developments.


Deputy party leader Nicola Sturgeon came into this studio a short while


ago. I asked her if she'd had a party had any idea of accepting the


UK government proposals? We started the day with them are suggesting a


timescale on by the end of the day, there was news of the retraction


from Matt and a split within the coalition. But if they are going to


offer you legal cover about your ability to hold a referendum, what


is there not to like? I do not think we need legal cover, but if


they think we do then fine. But there is no strings attached - the


Scottish people voted for us to be able to control that. They should


not be interfering in something which has should be decided by the


Scottish people. They are not setting any time limit, so what


strings are you talking about? are still waiting to hear it. I do


not think there should be any strings attached, because I do not


think the Westminster government should be interfering in something


of which we should set the both the timescale and they should stand by


what the outcome is. It is the preferred option of these Scottish


National Party to have a single question on the ballot paper. But


we're not the only ones with an opinion. There are people in


Scotland to want to give the party more devolution powers but not full


independence. It is a democracy, so we have to listen to every side of


the argument. All the other parties, the pro-union parties, say they


will not support a referendum short of independence. They want a


straight question. Does that kill this off? Let us have this debate.


It is for the people of Scotland to decide. It is for the people of


Scotland and the Parliament to decide if it is the single question


ought to have three questions. Our preferred option is one question,


but I do not think we should rule out more than that if that is what


people want. Who would be proposing that option? Let us see how that


transpires. The position of the UK government seems to change every


other day. I think it is preposterous and the Scottish


Labour Party is backing the Conservative option, rather than


backing our case for more power. The people who are wanting the


referendum taken now and wanting a single question are the same people


who have been blocking this at every move in the last few years.


We have the referendum to deliver this in the second half of the


Parliament and that is what we will do. Could it be the Scottish


government that you could be putting forward the proposals for


both independence and other options? He is, egg could be us. It


does not necessarily have to be a It doesn't necessarily need that.


But the position of the other parties changing on a daily basis.


One of your MPs said tonight if it didn't have backing from the other


parties there wouldn't be the need of a second question. It's for the


other parties to determine their view. It changes regularly at the


moment. The principle here is that it's for the Scottish people to


decide. I don't understand why people seem to want to foreclose


the options of the Scottish people. The politicians who are arguing one


way just now have spent the last four years blocking a referendum


all together. The fundamental issue of principle here is that it's for


the Scottish people to decide their own future. If the UK Government


offers you the legal cover, perhaps saying that you can't offer the


vote to under 18s, perhaps saying, that you can't hold the vote


without consulting the Electoral Commission, would these be


conditions you could accept? Let's see what the UK Government says.


It's not for the UK Government to set the terms of the referendum.


It's for the Scottish Government to implement the mandate we got at the


election. Ultimately it's for the Scottish people to decide the


outcome of that referendum. If you say no and they push that through,


what then snfrplgts the UK's Government has changed the position


in the course of today. It might not be the same tomorrow as it is


this evening. The key point is that it's not for the UK Government to


set the terms of this referendum. The SNP won the election,


overwhelmingly. We have an overwhelming mandate to deliver


that referendum and that should be allowed to happen. Nicola Sturgeon,


thanks very much. I'm joined now by Ruth Davidson MSP


leader of the Scottish Conservatives and by Anas Sarwar,


Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Who should hold the


vote on Scotland's constitutional future - Scottish or UK Government?


There has to be a referendum run in Scotland. Which Government? The SNP


are all over the place on this. This morning Nicola Sturgeon saying,


it has to be a yes, No vote. Then saying the opposite. One thing


that's happened today is there's clarity, all four main parties in


Scotland are clear, they support a main yes/no question. That could be


put forward. The other option is we're open to debate in this. We're


in favour of a clear, quick, decisive referendum. Held by a


Scottish Government or UK Government? It's clear, the SNP


have a mandate to hold this referendum. Why not let them get on


with it? Let's get the people what they deserve, which is a mature,


adult debate, not about dates, not about questions... If it's their


mandate, let them get on with it. Give a simple question, yes or no.


Let's have the adult discussion whether we are a fairer and more


prosperous country as part of the UK Government or not? What would


happen if the Scottish Government was allowed to get on with


delivering its referendum in its time scale with the questions that


it wants to ask? I think this is about delivering a referendum where


the people of Scotland get to decide. That's what at the nub of


this, it's not about letting the courts decide. If the legal advice


the UK Government is that a referendum where the UK Government


doesn't empower the Scottish Government to be able to hold a


referendum, then this could be held in the courts for years to come.


There could be no legal challenge given the transfer of power that


the UK Government is proposing? Sorry can you clarify? If the UK


Government transfers legal power to the Scottish Government in


Parliament over the constitution, a referendum held by the Scottish


Government wouldn't be open to legal challenge? I believe a


summary of the legal advice will be published. I believe we're having


clarification in the House of Commons tomorrow from Michael Moore.


I believe you referenced it. We have to see what that is. The worst


case scenario after all the work that's gone on to talk out


positions, to get off the subject of process, which is what we're


talking about now and talk about the substance of a referendum on


independence and what it means. The worst thing possible is that there


is a result which is held up for several years in the courts,


because the process itself was a flawed process. Nicola said she's


extremely relaxed about what happens today. She didn't look


relaxed at all. If you look at it, we're only speculating what the


offer is going to be. If the offer is given the Scottish Government


the legal right to hold the referendum, if it is a straight yes


or no question, which Nicola says she supports, if it is to bring in


the Electoral Commission, who everyone respects as an independent


ash traitor to ensure a fair and free election across Scotland, what


are they scared of? They're scared of the decision of the Scottish


people. What's wrong with under 18s voting for instance? We've got,


look there's a debate to be had of votes at 16. I'm happy to have a


debate about what the voting age should be for general elections,


council elections... referendum? We should have the same


franchise for all elections. Thlz a separate debate. Let's in the


confuse the issue. This is about whether Scotland is a more


prosperous place as part of the UK or with separation. Why not a


second question on a more powerful Scottish Parliament, which opinion


polls suggest more people are likely to support. At the moment we


haven't seen a mandate for that to be added to the ballot paper.


Nicola Sturgeon saying her preference for a yes, no question.


It's the Liberal Democrats position, the Labour Party's position and the


Scottish Conservatives position as well. I think you're setting hares


running here which don't need to be running. There's no party backing


this. Before you jump in, if I could say also, if you're talking


about something like deefo Max, a term bandied around a lot, by


commentators and media pundits like yourself, nobody's defined for me


and not for the people of Scotland what that means. The other issue is


the SNP always say we promised it would be in the second half of the


Parliament. Nowhere in the manifesto does it say it will be in


the second half of the Parliament. They said it a few days before the


Holyrood elections. After people had voted by postal ballot. Nowhere


in the manifesto is there the question of devo Max. They're


playing games. Many people in your party support the idea of a much


more powerful Scottish Parliament within the UK. What do you have to


fear from putting that on the ballot paper? Absolutely,


devolution is a completely separate debate from separation. It's about


the powers of the Scottish Parliament, isn't it. That's the


same thing. We are supporting the Scotland bill. Devolution is a


separate concept. The separation is a completely separate argument all


together. The SNP fear the voice of the Scottish people. I don't. I'm


happy for the people of Scotland to make their decision about whether


they think Scotland should be part of the UK or not. You two


presumably will be campaigning together to keep Scotland inside


the UK when the referendum is eventually held? I think you're,


let's say there is no love lost because the Scottish Conservatives


and the Scottish Labour Party, however on issues such as this,


which I think goes beyond party politics, people from across civic


Scotland, political Scotland, business Scotland come together to


promote the idea of Scotland within a stronger United Kingdom. I think


it will encourage people from all parties and from none. Thank you


both very much. Tomorrow's front pages. The Scotsman goes on the


constitution. SNP threatens to block new referendum offer. A


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