Video: Alex Salmond on the Referendum Timing
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond gives his reasons for aiming for a referendum vote in 2014 on whether Scotland should become independent, although in the autumn rather than on the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn on 24th June.
The referendum question suddenly appeared on the political agenda this week after UK Prime Minister David Cameron demanded that the Scottish government table a simple yes/no referendum on Scottish independence "sooner rather than later". Cameron has said that Scotland requires the approval of Westminster for a referendum vote, something Salmond does not accept (as you can see in the video).
There's been a great deal of commentary on the political manoeuverings of the last few days.
Here's some further comment:
Martin Kettle in The Guardian is relishing the "new year breath of federal fresh air reflecting some of the authentic layers and complexities of British political life".
He suggests that Salmond no longer seems such an "irresistable force":
"The large change this week is that the UK government, and the other political parties, have broken out from the corner into which Salmond had pinned them."
He goes on to say that Salmond may wear out his "cocky brinkmanship" if he's not careful.
Bill Jamieson at The Scotsman suggests that Scots need a much clearer picture of what we would be voting for and suggests that a third option of "devo-max" might be the most palatable: "Scotland would stand in relation to the rest of the UK rather like the Channel Islands. And this would seem to be the option of preference for many. "
Harry Wilson in The Telegraph suggests that Scots will be the poorer for independence, pointing out that equitable distribution of current assets and liabilities after independence would include £80bn of Britain's £940bn debt pile. He suggests Scotland wont benefit for long from its oil as it has already peaked and is slowing down, but the article doesn't seem to acknowledge the rapid expansion of alternative energy, such as tidal and wind, that the nationalists have been championing.
The Herald's Crossfire has Harry Reid pitted against Ian Smart.
Harry Reid suggests that Salmond will have the upper hand on the constituional issues surrounding the referendum because he has a significant majority while Cameron commands a minority government (although the unified front that all Westminister parties are showing on this question may upend this line of reasoning).
Meanwhile, Ian Smart talks more about allowing those who can vote in a general election to vote in the referendum. "Once you start interfering with that (voting eligibility) then everything is back on the table." He says that Salmond may have made a "fatal error" by naming the date for the referendum.