The supermajority is a McGuffin. It's the McGuffin in the story being told by Alba Party politicians. It serves no purpose other than to make the story more appealing.
The problem for Stuart Rodger and the rest is that while in their fantasy politics there is no such thing as parliamentary procedure and arithmetic is always accommodating, in the real world what may be possible is constrained by statute and standing orders. And arithmetic can be very inconsiderate indeed.
A clue to the underlying motive for the endlessly repeated effort to resuscitate the dead horse of federalism might be found in the fact that it is not only the LibDems who try to breathe life into the dessicated corpse. British Labour in Scotland have been known to attempt a bit of whip-based CPR from time to time. Which would seem to confirm that the federal solution is not a serious proposal. By which I mean not only that it is a proposal which we needn't take seriously but that it it is not intended as a serious proposal.
Without some way of defining the criteria for the crisis being over the decision as to whether or when the referendum takes place is entirely in Nicola Sturgeon's hands. Entirely in the hands of the person who has spent the last six years finding excuses to delay a referendum. So that's not promising. But then, there is no promise. There is no actual undertaking to do anything - ever!
The British parties do not have to decide their stance on a new referendum. That is decided for them by the fact that they are British. They serve and are served by the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. They can do no other than seek to preserve the Union at whatever cost to Scotland and its people, never mind decency and democracy.
At first glance, the Brits would seem to be inviting the displeasure of the politically aware part of Scotland that isn't so easily manipulated by the British media. But from the British perspective that's a good thing. As with defying the unanimity of the Scottish Parliament, going against popularity with the public in Scotland makes this a better demonstration of power.
The truth is that the Union gives the British state such overwhelming power that the makeup of the Scottish Parliament hardly matters at all. The British parties being ousted in 2007 was a matter of considerable concern to the British establishment. This was not supposed to happen. But the SNP in government has turned out to be far less of a threat to the Union than it was thought it might be.
We are all aware of how that fateful phrase 'once in a generation' has come to haunt Scotland's cause. I don't doubt there are times when both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon wish they'd never offered up that particular hostage to fortune. What makes it truly regrettable is that they could easily have left it out. It wasn't essential. There are other ways of saying the same thing. Not so with the word 'supermajority'. It's not a throwaway remark. It refers to a very specific concept. A concept which is very much part of this election campaign. There isn't really an alternative. There may be other ways of saying the same thing. But none, I suspect, that wouldn't sound painfully contrived. We're stuck with it now.
Nicola Sturgeon has set her sights so low that pretty much any offer Salmond makes is going to look better. And, being the crafty politician that he undoubtedly is, he not-quite-promises no more than he has to. No more than will seem a prize next to the not-quite-promises Sturgeon is putting on the table. Sadly for Scotland, neither of them is offering what we need at this time of our nation's great peril.
"Here is what we know. A majority SNP government will hold a referendum within the term of the next parliament."Richard Walker: This is why Both Votes SNP is best way to ensure independence But we don't know this, Richard. That is a very large part of the problem. In your very next sentence you refer … Continue reading What a mess!