10/01/2012 Newsnight Scotland


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be the biggest one of our political lives. It is important we get it


Tonight on Newsnight Scotland, more on the independence referendum.


The provisional date is set for autumn 2014, but will the UK


government get its way on the single question and who can vote?


We'll hear from the First Minister and more from the Secretary of


State for Scotland. Good evening. After years of debate,


we finally have a date, or a season, at least. The Scottish Government


revealed they want to hold their independence referendum in the


autumn of 2014. The First minister, Alex Salmond, made the announcement


just as the Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, was telling the


House of Commons any such ballot would be illegal. Perhaps it was


coincidence. Either way, get used to the constitutional brinkmanship.


There's going to be a lot more of it over the next 30 months or so.


Our own David Allison watched the power politics unfold.


Today was the date at Westminster was to wrestle back control events


from the SNP. UK government accepts the referendum could come pick when


the referendum takes place but they wanted to make it clear it could


only happen legally if they allow it. This is not about the mandates


of Scotland's two governments or hoof calls the shots. It is about


our ability to take part in a legal referendum. If that means


Westminster has to give Scotland a powers to hold a referendum which


they are otherwise cannot do legally. But as well as being


illegal, a referendum must be fair and decisive. For those reasons,


the roles of the referendum must be them off -- demonstrably above


board. The referendum should be overseen by those who have


neutrality and the proven expertise to inspire confidence in the


fairness of the process, such as the Electoral Commission. Despite


still licking its wounds and picking itself up after two


election defeats, Labour remains Scotland's largest Unionist party.


It also still has two conflicting also a mores to ride. -- horses.


must not turn into Red Paddy fight between the two things Scott


lumberjacks. Separation and the Tories. -- into a petty fight two


things Scotland rejects. We must now move as quickly as possible on


to a debate of substance that puts Scotland's people and interests


first. No -- never before has the SNP been so close to in depend --


establishing Scotland as an independent country. Why it is it


that this Westminster government is trying to dictate terms about the


referendum to the democratically elected Scottish government which


has a mandate on this issue? Specifically, why is the


Westminster government seeking to dictate the date of the referendum?


Why is that they are seeking to dictate the questions on the ballot


paper? And why is it that the Westminster government is seeking


to exclude 16 and 17-year-olds from this important and historic


referendum? Meanwhile, in Edinburgh at the Scottish cabinet meeting,


they came up with an announcement a role for the UK Government. They


had a date for the referendum. Autumn 2014. The year of the


Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and not to mention, the Ryder Cup at


Gleneagles. As well as the anniversary of the Battle of


Bannockburn. It is the most important decision we have ever


taken for 300 years. We have just passed out consultation papers and


that goes out to the people of Scotland and has looked at every


scenario. We know the right time for this referendum is autumn 2014.


That way, we can have the preparations properly laid and


everything tested and the arguments put forward so that the people can


have the fullest opportunity to make this great decision for


Scotland and that is the bit we are proposing for consultation with the


people of Scotland. That is the right way to do things because this


is an issue for the people of Scotland to be decided and debated


by the people of Scotland. The date of the referendum was discovered by


a question by a Labour MP. understand that he has made an


announcement that there is to be a referendum in order and 2014. Would


he give us reaction to that if it is true or not? The debate over


timing of this referendum was one I anticipate will take place for a


long time to come. Today was a battle for the initiative. Now at


last, we have a date for winning the hearts and minds of voters.


Earlier, I spoke to the First Minister, Alex Salmond, from his


official residence in Edinburgh. I asked him why he'd decided to go


for 2014, which just happens to be the year the Ryder Cup is at


Gleneagles and Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games. I think autumn


2014 is the right of way to look at it. We cannot have the summer. Not


because of anything to do with the Battle of Bannockburn. But we're


not going to have a campaign period that gets underway of either the


Commonwealth Games or the Ryder Cup, which John major events. That


leaves the opening of 2014. -- which are both major events. Would


you say there is no elect or mandate for his second choice on


the ballot paper? We will offer people the chance for economic


powers through the referendum. We have decided that while we were


committed to the question on Scottish independence, that is our


preference, that we were open to arguments about having a question


on devo max. That remains an opposition. When you look at the


discussion paper will release, you will see it is perfectly consistent


with what we have said before. I know it is that our Unionist


opponents, even in the Commons today, they'll be going to


acknowledge their historic result of the Scottish elections and the


remarkable achievement of winning an overall majority in Parliament.


That indisputable mandate. Then, unfortunately, they do not do


anything about it. Whether it is about putting things forward for


Scotland Bill, it should be a referendum made and built in


Scotland, produced by the Scottish Parliament and then decided on by


the wisdom of the Scottish people. The acknowledgement of the man they


should be more than words. The respect agenda should be more than


words. -- the acknowledgement of the mandate. Perhaps things will


improve as they begin to accept the realities of Scottish democracy.


But you could tidy this up by accepting the transfer of power


from Westminster to Holyrood. Because all the UK Government is


trying to do is to make sure the referendum is fair and decisive?


Yes. And we have a different legal interpretation. And it is not just


us, it is part of constitutional law separating the powers of the


Parliament. I have got no objector whatsoever to section 30 of the


Scotland Act and indeed, we suggested it. -- no of objections.


My objection is that from David Cameron, and to a lesser extent,


Michael Moore, they would conduct a referendum by proxy. I think that


given the disastrous reaction it is having on the streets and in the


communities of Scotland, I think both the Conservative and Liberal


parties will think twice about the wisdom of trying to gazump a


highjack of the Scotland referendum. So it is three by 2016? I don't do


slogans like that anymore. I am saying that the Scottish people


will be asked to make a historic decision in the autumn of 2014, and


that will be a period that allows all the information and arguments


to be deployed, and I have faith in the wisdom and judgment of the


people of Scotland. Earlier, I asked Michael Moore about whether


he preferred -- accepted the preferred date of autumn 2014?


think it is very important we have a referendum where everybody can


participate and we have to be confident of the result it holds.


What I was setting out in the Commons today was my view and that


of my colleagues that as things stand, the Scottish Parliament does


not have the legal power to hold a referendum. With the youth call it


a visor read or legally bound in. - - whether you call it. -- advisory.


I think it is right we get the legal basis sorted so I hope now to


be able to work with our colleagues in the Scottish government to


devolve the power to the Scottish Parliament so we can have a


referendum that is properly made in Scotland, that is legal, that the


rules of fair, and then when we get the outcome, it is clear cut and


decisive. Then we can live with the result. I am confident that we have


that referendum and then people will decide to remain part of the


United Kingdom. But the data autumn There is a danger about prolonging


the period before we make this decision that will affect jobs and


investment plans. It is not good for anybody as we plan our future.


We have got the opinion of the First Minister today. I welcome


that contribution to the debate, which I hope he also accepts will


involve all people in Scotland. Over the next couple of months, we


will be asking people when they want to have this referendum. We


need to hear the voices of people across the country. Wigan have


illegal, fair and decisive referendum. It seems as if Alex


Salmond needs to ask your permission before who holds a


referendum? That -- the people expect everyone to work together.


We have very strongly acknowledged that the SNP's victory, and their


desire to have a referendum on independence. We need to make sure


that by working with them, we can have a referendum that will not


mean that this decision is decided in the courts rather than by people


in a ballot box. I am hopeful we can work together, and the First


Minister and others can see the reasonable suggestion we are making,


and then we can get on with that. We need to have a debate about our


future inside the most successful partnership of nations in history,


or out doing their own thing. proud of the way the UK government


has handled this issue? -- are you proud. People in Scotland will want


to see all the politicians are working together, the two


government. We need to make sure we have a properly conducted


referendum campaign that people can be confident that they are fair


rules, and that when we get the result, it is decisive and pledge


card, and nobody can argue about what it means. -- and clear cut. We


have the chance to make that to happen. And one way to see that


happening is transferring powers to Holyrood. I am keen to work with


the Scottish government to make sure they have that power, and also,


I want people across the country to enter a debate about how that a


referendum should be conducted. When you have the electoral


commission, overseeing all elections across the UK, who had


supervised the referendums in all parts of the UK, they have got a


track record and are neutral and are beyond approach. That can give


confidence to people in Scotland that we will have a fair referendum.


It is entirely sensible that people consider that idea. Might view is


that we are looking at getting a legal referendum that was a fair


set of rules, and that will, in the end, provide an outcome we can all


accept, and not end up deciding this in the courts.


I'm joined now form Westminster by the Shadow Scottish Secretary,


Margaret Curran. How would you react to this campaign, which is


underway? We have made it clear that we think of the referendum


should be sooner rather than later. The New Labour leader said she


hoped that the referendum would to be in 2013. It is a coincident in


but we have this announcement from Alex Salmond. That is not what SNP


members were saying yesterday. But, I think the debate is on. Let us


have this debate. I think this is a clear expectation. This is a


momentous decision. Let us get on with it. Unlike the UK government,


they do not seem clear about whether they support the timetable.


Are you relaxed about it? I would much prefer us to have the


referendum now. I cannot understand the reason why it's a separatist


party, whose lifetime caused his separation, why they are hesitating


at all about it. They say it is a solution to every challenge


Scotland faces. Why do not want to delay that. What is Labour's


offering going to be in this campaign? Are you going to take


your traditional devolutionary point of view, which is that


Holyrood it needs more powers? I tell you the authoring that


Scottish Labour will bring to the debate? An argument about this


future of Scotland. We have a new leader, and we have regrouped


significantly. The best way to show faith to the Scottish people is up


to give them the debate they expect a need. Opinion polls suggest that


Scottish people would like to see these Scottish Parliament given a


greater economic powers in particular. If you are consistent


with what you have said, Labour would advocate of greater economic


powers? No, that is not logical. There may be a case for greater


powers for Scottish Power's. -- Scottish Parliament. I have to say,


and I think that the vast majority of people concurred, that is a


different debate about whether it Scotland separates funded UK. That


is a fundamental, momentous decision, that we know. There is


consensus against all main political parties in Scotland but a


simple yes, no answer is the preferred answer. We need that


clarity with the Scottish people. That does not prohibit any


discussion we would want to have when the time is right about powers


for Scotland, and how we take Scotland into the future. And there


you are, standing with your allies want either side, the Liberal


Democrats and the Conservatives. do not think that is their. I am


not the type of person to dismiss arguments. -- that is fair. Michael


Moore said there is a legal argument that needs to be dealt


with here. The SNP needs to take that on. They need to publish legal


advice. They need to give us evidence and their side of the


argument. Michael mauled should give us the substance of the


argument in bolt. -- Michael more. -- at the substance of the argument


in full. I think we will hear many voices and see many figures


involved, and it is time for Scotland to have a debate, made the


decision, and Scottish Labour will play a big part of that.


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