To be or not to be? If that is the question, asks ANN McKECHIN, shouldn’t we be told?


Congratulations to Tom and Kezia for setting up this site – I very much welcome this new initiative to stimulate progressive political debate here in Scotland and I’m sure interest will continue to grow.

This week, Michael Moore repeatedly tied himself in knots over the “Referendum Question” by suggesting that his personal view is that this should be a two stage process – a first “advisory “referendum by the Scottish Government which, if successful, would give them a mandate to open negotiations on separation with the UK Government, and then, a second referendum to ratify any deal struck.  No government minister should ever use the phrase “in my personal view” in an official interview, and hours later he was promptly knocked back by his own Prime Minister, and party leader, who both refused to back his assertions.

Let’s be clear: Labour doesn’t believe that separating Scotland from the rest of the UK is in Scotland’s best interests – we believe there is a positive and compelling argument to remain in a successful partnership that has served us well for many generations and provides us with the best opportunity to meet the challenges of an increasingly volatile world.

However, you do have to wonder why the SNP, which was established for the sole purpose of achieving separation regardless of circumstances, has so much trouble in telling its fellow Scots what the question will be and when they would get to answer the question. Mr Salmond has hinted that the referendum would consist of three questions, while his colleagues Nicola Sturgeon and Stewart Maxwell seemed to be reading from a slightly different script earlier this week. stating on Newsnight that there would be “one referendum with a clear question and people will get the opportunity to vote yes or no”. If it’s a clear simple question, why not let the Scottish people know now and exactly when they will get the opportunity to answer it?

Does Alex Salmond seriously think it is credible to state he doesn’t know the question about the subject that dominates his every waking hour? And if you sincerely do believe that separation is always best – why wait?

This is from a government that has already spent four years on the “National Conversation” – a grand scheme to promote the nationalist dream that no one can remember what was said or how it would improve their daily lives.

Now the SNP have the majority at Holyrood, what  could possibly be the problem? Surely it couldn’t be that they don’t trust the people of Scotland to answer the question correctly?

Ann McKechin is the Shadow Scottish Secretary and Labour MP for Glasgow North. She is a former Scotland Office minister.