Recalling rigged referendum

In the 1979 rigged Scottish devolution referendum, the Yes vote won by a small, but reasonable, majority – but got nothing for it.

This was because the Westminster Parliament had passed a bill that 40 per cent of the electoral register of voters had to vote Yes before action was taken. As a further barrier, all non-voters and those who were on the register, but had died before polling day, were to be counted as No voters. The result was predictable and nothing happened.

This cunning plan meant that the increasingly-valuable North Sea oil bonanza was fed directly into the Westminster coffers. Another twist to the plan was to move the internationally-acknowledged delineation of sea border between Scottish and English waters to the north, thus gaining many hundreds of square miles of potentially-valuable North Sea.

That plan is unlikely to work in this year’s referendum.

At the present time there are three voting blocks open. The Yes campaign is based on conviction and hope, the No campaign on conviction and fear, and the third block on apathy and the conviction that the money would be better spent on repairing the roads.

By the end of September – when the tumult and shouting has died down, and the promises, threats and fears have departed – the results will be picked over in great detail.

Ignoring the apathetics (who have a point), I cannot see either the Yes or No camps having such a commanding lead as to completely obliterate the other and, reluctantly, they will have to work together as Scotland will still be a stable and relatively prosperous country, whatever the result.

Bargaining will be fierce, but a working relationship can be established. This will probably result in a Devo Max solution – an option which was banned from the voting paper by Prime Minister David Cameron two years ago.

Will this solution prevent the bankers awarding themselves obscene bonuses for colossal failures? Probably not, because human greed is always with us.

As a political old-stager, I remember the good old days when it was possible to respect and even like your political opponents. Politics were fun in those days.

Walter Elliot

Selkirk