Sunday, 10 August 2014

A Friend Asks Me: "Who Should I Vote For After a Yes Vote?"

On Facebook, my mate and political belligerent Alex wrote the following on my timeline.

"My dear friend - as the only person I know active for a political party (there is one other but since he stood by while his mother embezzled thousands from his grandparents and he's with the SNP.... ) - we have known each other a few years and are probably on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum - we may agree on certain aspects but not on the implementation or the resolution but I do like to see your posts on here.
"I have a question that only you can really answer.
"Scotland gets the YES vote, what happens with all the no parties including yours?
"What plans have they kept from the public that will put them into a winning position against Salmond and the SNP?
"Now there must be something in the pipeline because to have ignored the possibility only strengthens my concerns of staying with the UK.
"This is quite serious as at the moment he has no opposition for a landslide victory and a chance to make himself president of Scotland.
"Convince me who should I vote for after YES"

This is the rest of the exchange:

Alex, thank you for your question. It deserves more than just a couple of lines answer, so I'll take 
a bit of time to reply.
The answer will be based upon my own understand, and not any "official" policies. Cheers!

Martin I would expect no more from you bud - looking forward to a good read - and debate?

 Hi Alex,

I had a wee think about this and here is my best guess.

As you are aware, the Better Together parties are working hard to ensure a No vote next month so as far as I am aware, have no plans to change their constitutional remit at this time. Following a No vote, there would be no need for any such change.

Following a Yes vote, the SNP have called for all interested parties to be involved in talks on a new constitution. You may recall Nicola Sturgeon called for consultations to start several months ago. This can and should be written off as campaigning, for if the Better Together parties had accepted the invitation, this would have been tantamount to accepting defeat.

What is clear that, following a Yes vote but prior to new elections for Holyrood, the SNP have plans to challenge the legal and constitutional remit of all parties whose registration lies outside Scotland. In other words, Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green (as far as I know) and many smaller parties may cease to exist in a legal sense.

I am not used to doing this but for now let’s give the SNP the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are acting in good faith. The reality on the ground is that all the existing party structures, networks and activists will remain in place. Part of the constitutional talks would have to involve the formation of legally-recognised parties prior to any new elections. I have read of nationalists dreaming up completely new parties, based upon continental models. As I pointed out though, the existing party structures and networks are already in existence, so what I would expect to happen is that Scottish versions of current UK-wide parties would spring up to contest the 2016 elections.

Beyond that date, doubtless there would be a state of evolution both within parties and for the Scottish constitution in general. For instance, I would be concerned that Holyrood remains a single chamber parliament, without the balancing effect of a second house such as a senate. Supporters claim that there is no need, as the Storting in Oslo only has a single chamber. Norway has strong regional representation however, with overview of the police for example: systems currently lacking in Scotland. Constitutionally, I would be deeply unhappy if the current structures were to remain effectively unchanged, as this would concentrate far too much power with the executive in Edinburgh.

The question has also arisen as whether the SNP would disband after completing it’s stated purpose: to bring about independence. I would stake the farm that that would not happen. It is certain that the current party would seek to exploit the glory of a successful referendum campaign.

To attempt to answer your question: following a Yes vote, who should you vote for Alex? The quick answer is I don’t know because the chances are the party you would ending up voting for does not legally exist yet. 

Obviously I will be seeking a No vote next month. If it is a Yes vote though, what is clear is that Scotland will have a greater-than-ever need for Liberal representation.

Alex kindly consented to having our exchange posted as a blog.