Cameron and Salmond Wrangle Over Referendum Timing and Terms
Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, and British Prime Minister David Cameron are locked in a political chess match over the Scottish independence referendum.
The Prime Minister and his Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne are trying to upstage the canny Scot by offering Edinburgh temporary powers to carry out its independence referendum.
The cabinet wants the referendum to be held by 2013 and offer Scottish voters a take it or leave it decision on remaining within the United Kingdom. David Cameron argues that the continued uncertainty over Scotland's future is damaging to business and the issue should be resolved one way or another.
Alex Salmond for his part would like the referendum to be held in 2014 when historically Scotland will be commemorating 700 years to the battle of Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the English thus cementing Scotland's independence. Economically, the continued austerity policy of London will by then have created massive resentment. The Scottish Nationalists would like to give the voters a choice between outright independence and further devolution of powers to Scotland a sort of heads I win tails you lose type of choice.
The Scottish Nationalists jumped on the Cameron proposal as an attempt by the Englishman to dictate terms to Scotland forcing Cameron to backtrack a bit. Cameron has the support of the Labour opposition in his attempt to keep the United Kingdom intact. In addition to patriotic reasons, if the Labour Party is deprived of its cushion of Scottish seats it could find itself out of power for a generation. Some in Labor are claiming that the Conservatives will not be too despondent if Scotland would opt for independence and that is why they are forcing the issue.
Alex Salmond claims that Scotland is putting its final touches on the referendum proposal but there are still open points. Will 15 and 16-year-olds be allowed to vote? The Scots are in favor; the British government is opposed. Will those born in Scotland and residing in England be eligible to vote?
The Telegraph noted a number of thorny issues that will have to be settled should Scotland vote for outright independence.
What would happen to the British Armed Forces? Would there be a division of ground regiments, ships and aircraft and the nuclear arsenal. Who would get the British embassies abroad and what would happen to the UK's seat at the UN Security Council? The Scottish Nationalists originally proposed to adopt the euro as their currency but given the current problems have now claimed that they would stick to the pound sterling. In that case will the Bank of England continue to set policy. How will the oil resources be divided between the two countries while both sides agree that Scotland would be entitled to the majority of the revenues there is a difference between the Scottish claim of 95% and London's claim of 66-75%.