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Taking a risk

Brian Taylor | 12:53 UK time, Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Herewith the chat from Holyrood today. The topic? Wendy Alexander's support for a referendum on independence, of course.

Labour backbench MSPs veer between apprehension and satisfaction, with the latter emotion probably ultimately uppermost.

Firstly, those concerns. Labour MSPs ask themselves: is this the right agenda?

Shouldn't we stay focused on issues like poverty and skills? They ask, further: Is this the right move? What if we lose the referendum?

Then the satisfaction kicks in. It's visceral. For once, after a miserable year, they think they're in a position to dish it out to the SNP, to put Alex Salmond on the back foot.

It is, potentially, tricky for the SNP. Yes, they say, we want a referendum on independence. Just not now, thanks.

They'd like to wait until 2010. Why? Because they'd have more chance of winning the argument then after a prolonged period in government - and after the next UK general election.

Party woes

In other words, it is a calculation based on their own advantage. Nationalists also argue, however, that it is right to delay the referendum until the National Conversation has been exhausted and the Calman Commission has had a chance to pronounce with its plan for Devolution Max.

That, in essence, will be the case they advance in response to Labour. It would also be the argument they deploy if - when? - Labour tables its own Bill proposing a referendum.

Other goss. Tories are angry. They say Wendy Alexander is seeking a way out of her own and her party's woes - and is prepared to risk the Union in the by-going.

In practice, however, they now have to find a way of living with the prospect of a referendum, given that the two biggest parties at Holyrood are (for very different reasons.)

Annabel Goldie also says that the prospect of a referendum campaign which pitted the currently popular Alex Salmond against Wendy Alexander and Gordon Brown is a "nightmare".

Like the Tories, the Lib Dems are exasperated Ms Alexander has pursued a freelance route while simultaneously joining them in the Calman commission.

'Out there'

However, they also now have to decide their practical strategy in the light of the fact that the referendum is now "out there" as an issue.

And there's more. The Prime Minister's official spokesman has repeatedly refused to endorse the Alexander strategy.

Insiders insist, however, that reflects tactics. The PM does not propose to call a Westminster referendum, therefore the Government has no formal position on the Scottish Parliament discussions.

Further, Wendy Alexander has, of course, discussed the topic with Gordon Brown - and he is said to be "relaxed".

Thirdly, given that this is tactical, it is important for Ms Alexander to be seen taking the lead against Alex Salmond.

What next? Labour MPs meet tonight to consider their views. Labour MSPs are meeting right now.

Expect a new line from Labour this afternoon - quite possibly outline plans for their own Bill in the light of the Scottish Government's refusal to advance their own plans.

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More on the referendum. As forecast earlier, Wendy Alexander is now saying she will consider bringing forward a member's bill to legislate for a plebiscite - if the SNP declines to speed up their plans.

And there's more chat offstage re Gordon Brown's position.

Within a confusing set of circumstances, it seems clear that the PM didn't give his explicit sanction to this initiative by Wendy Alexander.

At that point, interpretations vary. Aides to Ms Alexander insist the PM was consulted - and is "relaxed" about developments.

They stress further that it was her call. Asked at her news conference, Ms Alexander declined to add to speculation.

'Anger and disappointment'

She would only confirm that the decision was one for the party at Holyrood to make.

Here's the alternative version. One Westminster source told me the issue of a referendum had been discussed, sporadically, over a prolonged period.

Further, the same source suggested Ms Alexander had been losing the case for holding a referendum.

By this view, she then opted to "freelance" by confirming her views on BBC Scotland's Politics Show after a report in the Sunday Mail suggesting that Labour was ready to sanction a ballot.

My source said there was both "anger and disappointment" at Wendy Alexander's initiative.


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  • 1. At 1:33pm on 06 May 2008, BillBeattie56 wrote:

    Why should the SNP dance to Wendy's tune.

    They should keep to their own schedule for a genuine multi option referendum. The future of Scotland demands very carefull consideration from the people and all parties. Its so obvious that this political "wheeze" from Wendy is nothing more than a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from her beleaguered boss.

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  • 2. At 1:35pm on 06 May 2008, Stewart wrote:

    Is this Nu Labour playing fast and loose with Scotland ?

    What a disgrace.

    I accept that if there was an independence vote tommorrow the SNP would probally lose but Labour seek to destroy the only credible opposition to themselves in Scotland so they will once again be the3 only party in Scotland. Bendys twisted view is that once independence is off the cards for a generation support for the SNP will wain and people will have no choice to vote for Labour as a protest vote against the tories.

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  • 3. At 1:36pm on 06 May 2008, Nezavisimost wrote:

    Eh hello? Wakey wakey! Wendy’s party LOST the election. Why on earth does she think she can dictate to anyone if and when a referendum might be? She argued against such a plebiscite her entire political life, is she admitting all of the premises for her, and Scottish Labour’s, arguments are now false?

    The SNP was elected on the manifesto of a 2010 referendum and the arrogance of Labour to think that a stropy volte-face from Wendy should result in the Government changing its policy?

    This move also shows she now has no faith whatsoever in her own Commission. Remember the one she argued shouldn’t even pretend independence exists as an option? 10 minutes later she decides, actually no, independence does exist as an option- lets have a in-out referendum!?!?

    Wendy Alexander approach to the constitution reminds me of someone in their first relationship in their early teens.

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  • 4. At 1:40pm on 06 May 2008, northy wrote:

    Wendy Alexander is going to be remembered for nothing else so she may as well gain political infamy as the Labour trickster who gave us Scottish Independence. Thanks Wendy!

    Annabel Goldie on the other hand is obviously a brilliantly clever political mind. I predict that she could achieve great things in an independent Scotland but yet it seems she'll need to be dragged there kicking and screaming! Come on Annabel, are you seriously suggesting that with political brains like yours and the flexibility of independence we couldn't improve our lot? Stop posturing!

    That snappy wee boy who sits in the Lib Dems leader's seat, um, shoosh whilst the adults speak about grown up things.

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  • 5. At 1:49pm on 06 May 2008, minuend wrote:

    The proposed Labour bill will be for a 'non-binding' or a 'consultative' referendum by the Scottish Parliament on the question of Scottish independence.

    If they so wish the results of this 'consultative referendum' produces can be ignored by the Scottish parliament, the UK parliament and the political parties.

    Therin lies the dangers for Labour.

    They have already undermined the Calman Commission.

    They have lost the support of the Tories and the LidDems on this issue.

    This panic-driven move by Wendy Alexander will lead to tactical voting in the Scottish Parliament, and if it comes to come it tactical voting by Scottish voters.

    Wendy Alexander will not be able to gain the support of the Tories and the LibDems on this issue. They will not support a bill that may give an ailing Gordon Brown a victory in 2009 just before the UK general election.

    If a 'consulative referendum' came to pass Tory and LibDem voters will see that a vote for the Union will be a vote for Gordon Brown. They will not do that.

    Finally, and more importantly, a 'consulative referendum' means that Scots can vote with their hearts. Nothing is lost in voting for independence.

    PS Note to Good Morning Scotland editors.

    Having Douglas Alexander's better half, Isabel Fraser, agressively interview Nicola Sturgeon in such a partisan way this morning is not very clever. It just opens the BBC up to accusations of political bias. Don't do it again.

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  • 6. At 1:50pm on 06 May 2008, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    No danger of the SNP dancing to Labour's tune, the Labour Party is currently doing the nationalists' job for them. Its all very interesting ... but Wendy is acting in a "cavalier" fashion, she seems to think Scotland's future is a game of cards.

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  • 7. At 2:04pm on 06 May 2008, allywatt wrote:

    So, let me see if I understand.

    Wendy opposes independence, has said she does not support a referendum, and has set up a commission to look at Scotland's constitutional future which specifically rules out independence?

    Yet, now she is trying to accelerate the moves toward a referendum.

    Word is that Wendy thinks this is a method by which she can hamstring the SNP.

    Interesting that the SNP are advancing a referendum because they believe in independence, while the Labour Party are advancing it to try and get one over on their opponents.

    Says a lot about why they lost power.

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  • 8. At 2:09pm on 06 May 2008, freedjmac wrote:

    Steady there, No 5!

    You obviously did not listen to the interview the lovely Isabel did with 'onceFM' Henry McLeish on the same programme!!

    She talked over him consistently and gave him a real hard time, so that makes the score even.

    However, the star of the day on Radio Scotland remains the class act that is the Dowager Duchess of Scottish politics - one Annabel who, on the lunchtime news programme just systemically blew both the Bendy and the Calman Commission out of the water.

    Well done Anna, there will be a wee crate of champagne on its way to you from Bute House, I'd imagine!!

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  • 9. At 2:14pm on 06 May 2008, richglasgowprincess wrote:

    Wendy....its not big and its not clever ...sit down and be quiet!!!

    mind you....

    it is a bit like turkeys voting for christmas.

    The SNP set out their stall in there manifesto, no one can blame them for sticking to their promises. Why should the hold a referendum now.

    Wendy knows that is there is any more of this good governing the people might wake up and realise they have been lied too for too long. labour = cronism and corruption

    SNP = the bright light at the end of a very long dark tunnel for Scotland.

    C'mon Scotland, realise that 50 million a day in taxes from oil alone is the reason were being told that we cant survive on our own ...its all spin....from London to keep there noses in the trough.

    I have yet to find a unionist who can give me a tangible reason for staying in the union and what britishness does for me....

    It offers me nothing , it tells me that my country isnt good enough and it works to its own agenda.

    A vote for anyone but the SNP at the next GE, is a wasted vote.

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  • 10. At 2:16pm on 06 May 2008, thebookseller wrote:

    I hate to find myself agreeing with Ms Sturgeon but Ms Alexander simply looks desperate on this issue. Her arguments now look illogical and motivated by the sort of short-termism that politics of any hue can do without.

    If Ms Alexander wanted to look strong on this issue then she should have taken a leaf out of the George W. Bush playbook, told the SNP 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere,' stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the other major parties, and put forward a strong case for the union, whilst ignoring any arguments to the contrary.

    As a voter who did not support the SNP last time, Labour look like they're dithering and insecure. It does not inspire confidence

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  • 11. At 2:31pm on 06 May 2008, invisibleGordon wrote:

    The SNP have done a great job so far in government not just because they have made popular decisions about tolls/perscriptions etc, but because they have managed to gain the agreement of most parties in Hollyrood on an issue by issue basis.

    Actually minority government is working relatively well for Scotland.
    The only exception is that Labour seems to try and block SNP plans even though it would clearly benefit the nation and this is childish and resentful.

    I hate to say it but from viewing what goes on in Hollyrood it seems that the Torries are much more willing to work with SNP on issue by issue basis than what Labour do and are a far better example to them.

    The Torries have been more respectful and representable of their constituents and seem to put themselves over well in parliment.

    Labour on the other hand are just a rabble with little respect whilst in the Hollyrood chamber. They show themselves truely to be a bunch of jobs worths which they really were when in power for last 8 years.(Why on earth did they ever think they had a devine right to rule Scotland)

    Anyway there is so much more important things to sort out before we decide whether to be independent or stay with the status quo.

    All parties at Hollyrood should put aside their unionist/nationalist agenda just now and work harder to deliver for Scottish people.

    Personally i probably will vote for independence after reading through the national conversation white paper on and i found it informative and engaging.

    But for now i would like to see life in general improve for the good people of Scotland. Only then will SNP earn the trust and respect of the people and then perhaps more people will be in position to chose independence.

    Who knows, but if and when we are independant perhaps there will still be a place for a non unionist form of Labour.

    In the mean time can Labour grow up and work with all parties in Hollyrood to deliver for Scotland otherwise perhaps Lib dem or Torries will be the main opposition party to the SNP. Then again by then who knows perhaps there will be independence.

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  • 12. At 2:42pm on 06 May 2008, QuietRonnie wrote:

    Brian, Wendy and her brother should have taken this stance from the begining of the SNP's tenure, when their party still had good poll numbers and there was a clear majority in Scotland against independence. It would have made sense then to 'call Alex Salmond's bluff' and they would have been in a credible position. At that point they really did have nothing to fear from a referendum.

    The thing the Scottish electorate fears most is a Tory goverment in Westminster and that now seems to be a very real possibility, looming larger in the popular conscience as the months pass from now on... The numbers in favour of independence will grow during the period before the next Westminster general election and Wendy's cries to, 'get on with it', will appear more and more risky.

    If this is a tactical move, and everyone knows that it is, then it is appalling no matter how you look at it. Its shallow, ill considered, short-sighted and very badly timed. It also looks as though she is far out on a limb, with no-one willing to go along with it from her own side at the moment.

    She and her brother seem very firmly of a generation of professional politicians who have mastered the art of achieving the very opposite of what they intended.

    As Morse once said, 'Thinking Lewis, whether in or out of the box, is at a premium around here'.

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  • 13. At 2:49pm on 06 May 2008, minuend wrote:

    Sorry No.8 but Henry McLeish is now considered by Scottish Labour to a be turn-coat, a supporter of Alex Salmond. So the hard time Henry got from Isabel Fraser on GMS this morning showed that this BBC journalist was acting in a partisan way. In allowing Ms Fraser to aggressively defend the political interests of her partner (Douglas Alexander) and her partner's sister (Wendy Alexander) the BBC has shown political bias. It is not acceptable.

    PS I understand that Wendy is herself getting a hard-time from Labour MSPs. She is failing to convince them to support this panic move.

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  • 14. At 2:50pm on 06 May 2008, oakrowan wrote:

    Sorry Minuend.

    Douglas Alexander isNOT Isobel Fraser's better/other half/partner/husband.

    He is DOUGLAS FRASER political editor in the Sunday Herald.

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  • 15. At 2:56pm on 06 May 2008, Bangingonabout wrote:

    I'm starting to be in two minds about the referendum.

    One side of me wants it ASAP, because I believe the referendum issue is becoming an increasing diversion from holding the government properly to account. A referendum now would clear the air.

    On the other hand, the SNP tactic of waiting may end up backfiring. They want to be able to show how well they can govern. I believe that there are a few chickens out there that have yet to come home to roost. The freeze on council tax being one of them. As I understand it from TV interviews at the time, the head of COSLA believes they've only agreed to this concordat for 1 year. That is not enough time for the Local Income Tax to be put in place so what's going to happen next April?

    Of course the SNP will end up saying that it's not their chickens but but the Council Tax Freeze/Local Income Tax most definitely is.

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  • 16. At 3:17pm on 06 May 2008, Yevets wrote:

    I don't think that there is anything wrong with a party reassessing a situation and deciding upon a more appropriate course of action. Policies should always change as circumstances change. So long as the core principles of a party stay the same, this isn't a problem. It is a sign of a mature party that it doesn't stick by a policy bloody-mindedly and to its detriment.

    It can only be a good thing that the Scottish Labour Party and Wendy Alexander are exploring all the options for the Scottish people. Which is more than can be said for the SNP, who stick bloody-mindedly to a policy that a slim proportion of the country are actually in favour of.

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  • 17. At 3:31pm on 06 May 2008, Stewart wrote:

    I think before making a judgement on which way to vote
    bendy ,douglas and Broon need to say if they wil go with their english masters or stay in Scotland if Scotland is independent.

    This could be the quickest and cheapest way of getting rid of Comrade Brown , bendy and wee dougie if they say there leaving if we vote independent

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  • 18. At 3:31pm on 06 May 2008, albanach wrote:

    Remember, the SNP Manifesto suggested the 2010 date. Wendy needs to explain why the SNP should break that 2010 commitment upon which they were elected.

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  • 19. At 3:32pm on 06 May 2008, Ziggy_Stardust wrote:

    Independence is a serious subject that deserves careful and strategic thought.

    Wendy's U-Turn to my mind means either;

    1) She has U-turned of her own volition, in which case she is unprincipled and obviously incapable of rational strategic thinking or decision making, playing with Scotland's long term future prosperity due to panic. Not the qualities I would want from a FM


    2) She was ordered to turn by the master U-turner. In which case she is merely unprincipled and weak. Not the qualities I would want from a FM either.

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  • 20. At 3:33pm on 06 May 2008, D Dortman wrote:

    There's no better way to stop someone threatening you with a "big stick" than by telling them to put up or shut up.

    Shrewd move politically, especially as in this case the big stick is one which is only dangerous when NOT actually used.

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  • 21. At 3:50pm on 06 May 2008, DisgustedDorothy wrote:

    Politically inept?

    A foolish move , from someone who does not hold the kite strings !

    We have waited 300 years, we will wait the another few.

    It is interesting to reflect on the referendum on Lisbon being denied as unnecessary, while granting those in Scotland a referendum on independence ,which every unionist party said was unnecessary until Ms Alexander shouted " bring it on" !
    I think that the reaction to that could be even more damaging to Gordon Brown and Westminster than they realise!

    Still tittering away at the Channel 4 news interview! Classic!

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  • 22. At 3:50pm on 06 May 2008, englishvineyardman wrote:

    I don't want to sound too controversial here but you're not leaving, you are British as I am, just because I was born "South of the Border" it makes me no diffrent to those north of the border. On the plus side you could have back the dullard Gordon Brown, tempting but then again still not worth the price of the collapse of our country. Surely to stop this all Labour and the Liberals need to do is form a coalition and remove the minority government, goodbye Alex Salmond and free up more time to deal with real things like crime, housing, child poverty, transport, education and environmental issues.

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  • 23. At 4:18pm on 06 May 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:


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  • 24. At 4:19pm on 06 May 2008, Nezavisimost wrote:

    Abecketts- That is the most ridiculous thing I think I have ever seen. I really hope it a joke. What century are you living in? ‘Youre not going anywhere’? Excuse me? I think we’ll let the people of Scotland decide that one for ourselves. You sound like some reactionary Soviet communist who still insists Estonia is ‘ours’. Nations have the right to self determination. Scotland will have that right, been denied for so long, and I believe in my lifetime Scotland will make the choice to become a normal country, not one which endures its neighbours warped decision making and war mongering.

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  • 25. At 4:19pm on 06 May 2008, NCA999 wrote:

    I disagree entirely with Independence and recognise holding a referendum to be harmful as well as many of the Unionist parties have pointed out many times in the past.

    I don't know exactly why Wendy Alexander has taken this step but I will say this,

    At the moment we have an SNP government which is dominating Scottish Politics with discussion of Independence, even though opinion polls put independence support at between 15 and 40 percent. Whilst the popular mandate for a referendum comes ONLY when there appears to be some popular mandate for the act, which for as long as I have lived has never actually existed, I think that we are being harmed by a government that is concentrating on this issue rather than the issues that actually effect us. If we had a referendum tomorrow and dealt with the issue then the SNP government would have nothing left to do other than govern Scotland within the context of the Scottish Parliament which is what the Scottish people clearly WANT.

    I think referendums on independence, when there is no chance of a yes vote, are inherently damaging to a country. That said the SNP as a minority party are bogging down Scottish politics by picking pointless fights with the Government whilst trying to push us into Independence. Quickly dealing with this now will let us put the issue behind us. I don't think Wendy Alexanders position is hypocritical or a U-turn. She clearly sees that there is no demand for independence (which there isn't) and the harms of a referendum. She's just fed up with how its dominating discussion, over and above issue which actually matter to them and the scottish people. Just because she doesn't want a referendum, doesn't mean she can't say after time that unfortunately due to the behaviour of a minority administration, its necessary so that we can have an effective parliament.

    Since its actually the national government that has control over referendums and ammendments to the Scotland act, what should happen is Gordon Brown should just call a referendum next month, get it over with and let Scotland get back to making itself more successful within the context of Great Britain, the way the Scottish people want it to do.

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  • 26. At 4:40pm on 06 May 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    English local elections have sent a shockwave through the heart of Labour, Gordon Brown is firmly on course to lose the next general election, as is Wendy Alexander according to all available polls.

    I do not believe she would hold any position within a future Labour opposition party in Westminster, therefore I think, she like others, are simply trying to obtain some kind of credibility in Scotland with her latest proposal, which is of course NOT Labour policy.

    Wendy merely begs the question: Where do the rats go when the ship is sinking?


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  • 27. At 4:41pm on 06 May 2008, Tom wrote:

    Wendy Alexander has shown that the Unionist Parties do not even know their own stance against the SNP.

    First she publically was against the very thought of an Independence option in a referendum but now denies that she even said that (Despite a dozen cameras and possibly a few thousand people) witnessing the very act.

    The SNP Gov has already outlined a plan for a referendum in 2010 and everyone expects the referendum then.

    If the Labour Party think that they can taunt the SNP then they are really in hot water when the SNP will repeat their stance over and over again.

    But least we have their support now and we can be given their votes in 2010. Unless in 2010 they deny ever saying that they supported a referendom with an option for Independence...

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  • 28. At 4:44pm on 06 May 2008, Chris Morrison wrote:


    I'm sorry your right to tell us we aren't leaving would be?

    Yes we are british, we (most of us) hail from the Island of Great Britain. However we are also European but I dont see you harping on about it.
    Many of us however would not say we were British in the Gordon 'Pa' Broon sense of the word. More like someone from Denmark is Scandanavian.

    This Wendy that wants the SNP to break there 2010 manifesto pledge. Is she the same one who keeps complaining that they are breaking election pledges? Theres no pleasing some fools!

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  • 29. At 4:56pm on 06 May 2008, karin wrote:

    And despite Conservative and Liberal Democrat criticism of the move, Ms Alexander added: "I certainly hope that other opposition parties will reflect on the fact as to whether it is in Scotland's interests to vote down the right of the people in Scotland to choose on this issue."

    eh whit did i fall down a rabbit hole and have i landed in a parallel universe somewhere north of reality thats what it feels like?

    Does wendy alexander have any understanding of the damage she has done to the labour party in scotland. Does she realise just how foolish she has made them look?

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  • 30. At 5:08pm on 06 May 2008, northy wrote:

    It's hilarious watching all the Labour supporters who have been arguing against a referendum on these very discussion boards suddenly wanting one immediately.

    If the best strategy that Labour can come up with against the SNP is to try and force a referendum in 2009 instead of 2010 then they should seriously just resign their Hollyrood seats en masse right now and let the SNP have a working majority in the parliament.

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  • 31. At 5:11pm on 06 May 2008, richglasgowprincess wrote:

    Labour are not in power in Scotland .

    It would be arrogance for GB to call a referendum .

    It will happen and it will happen in 2010.

    Wendy has shot herself in the foot, far from being ballsy she has just ballsed it up.

    She looks desperate and sad trying to shore up a ridiculous and ailling party.

    As for the poster who has told us were not going anywhere, Just who do you think you are,...... Edward Longshanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!.....I dont think so mate. But keep up the good work , cause posts like that push more and more towards the light.

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  • 32. At 5:12pm on 06 May 2008, Stewart wrote:

    NCA999 -

    It isnt the SNP that talk about a referendum everyday. They are too busy making the country better. Its the constitutional communist clown show that are bikering within themselves stabbing each other in the back that never shut up about it and now Labour want to gamble the future of scotland now so they dont have to fight it when Labour are kicked out Westminister.

    This is political dasterdly at the very worst and she has shown her self to be a typical west coast labourite that has no vision for Scotland except the wee small nation incapable of doing anything ofr itself

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  • 33. At 5:14pm on 06 May 2008, SteveFury wrote:

    I'm sorry, but Isobel Fraser is NOT Douglas Alexander's partner. She is Herald political editor Douglas Fraser's wife, hence her surname.
    But far be it for me to allow misinformation to get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

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  • 34. At 5:17pm on 06 May 2008, GeneralPowers wrote:

    If it turns out that Ms Alexander has the support of her MSPs for her referendum caper, it will be most interesting to see what detailed proposals she will then bring forward.

    Clearly, they will be designed to minimize the chances of a majority vote in favour of independence. That being so, no one could seriously expect the SNP to support them.

    I doubt whether a referendum bill with referendum questions skewed in favour of one particular outcome would be viewed terribly favourably by the electorate. Conversely, SNP rejection of such a bill would probably do them no harm. They would be regarded as idiots if they acted otherwise, and idiots they are not.

    The suggestion that a cross-party conference should be convened to seek agreement on the wording, organization and timing of an independence referendum seems to me to be worthy of consideration.

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  • 35. At 5:23pm on 06 May 2008, freedjmac wrote:

    Well now then Brian, the cat is truly amongst the pigeons!!

    I have just listened to wee Tweedledum (NicolS) telling the world through Radio Scotland that the FibDems would never support the idea put forward by wee Bendy.

    Now given that the Dowager Duchess had said the same thing earlier on Radio Scotland, I reckon that leaves the Bendy up a creek without a paddle (and the crocs are circling!)

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  • 36. At 5:31pm on 06 May 2008, brightNorthernStar wrote:

    This was Wendy's "independence for the Bank of England" moment - 9 months in the planning and no one saw it coming.

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  • 37. At 5:35pm on 06 May 2008, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #25 - If Gordon did that (called a referendum next month) we would be celebrating independence day before St Andrews in November. The Scottish people are precariously balanced on the verge c40% to c40% in the straight referendum Wendy has backed! If they feel for one minute they are being trooped out to save Labour's skins for the next General Election they will react against it.

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  • 38. At 5:48pm on 06 May 2008, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Wouldn't it be hilarious if Salmond went ahead with the referendum and the people of Scotland called Wendy's bluff by voting for independence?

    At the next general election the choice for Scots will be 15 years of Lord Snooty, Wendy Alexander or the highly successful SNP government that has spent the last year putting this country back on its feet after generations of beign shafted by the Labour mafia.

    I know who I'll be voting for!!!

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  • 39. At 6:00pm on 06 May 2008, ForteanJo wrote:

    NCA999 #25 - you're comments really illustrate the warped sense of reality many unionists / nu lab supporters demonstrate.

    If you check your facts, the SNP proposed a referendum for 2010 in their manifesto, they were elected on that manifesto, they accepted they were a minority government that couldn't realise a referendum on independence until at least 2010 so are getting on with governing Scotland. Some would even argue they've achieved more in a year than Labour did in 8.

    It's the Unionists parties and media that keep harping on about a referendum on independence, not the SNP.

    Besides, 40% (a figure you conceded) of the people is quite a large proportion, who are you that their opinion should just be ignored?

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  • 40. At 6:16pm on 06 May 2008, NConway wrote:

    What is New Labour doing ? Iam a supporter of more power for the Scots Parliament and open to debate but come on guys the welfare and future of Scotland is not something to be taken on a whim and taken lightly.
    The behaviour of Wendy Alexander and the Labour party is disgusting

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  • 41. At 6:38pm on 06 May 2008, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    To Nezavisimost # 24 (and and all the others that keep trotting out the same inaccurate bile)

    If you think an independent Scotland will free you from a warmongering neighbour, you may be in for a disappointment. The English marched in their hundreds of thousands against the Iraq war, but it was pushed through by the government at Westminster which is heavily dominated by Scotsmen and women. Who do you think is currently Prime Minister, Defence Secretary, Chancellor? Once you are independent, you can have them all back and England can watch from the sidelines as these same politicans drag Scotland into their next foreign adventure. You won't have much of an army I suspect, but at least you will have all "Sotland's oil" to pay for some mercenaries.

    Please get out more.

    Incidentally, for those who harp on about anti-Scotland bias south of the border, we have elected a good few Scots to parliament for English seats. How many Englishemn would get adopted, let alone elected, for a Scottish seat? I think that just about says it all.

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  • 42. At 7:03pm on 06 May 2008, Tom wrote:


    Just thought I would add a few points to consider against your flawed opinion.

    Scotland has 59 seats out of over 600 seats at West Minsiter.

    40 of those seats are held by Labour.

    Is this the same type of 'domination' you claim Scots have?

    Its clear England have more MP's and why not? England has more to represent then Scotland because Scotland only have one tenth of the English population.

    And the polititions you speak of do they all represent a Scottish Counstinuency? No. Prime Minister Brown was the first Scottish PM who represented a Scottish Counstinuency. You would be left with several Scots if Scotland were Independent.

    Unless you became racist and denied them their seats for being Scots and sent them North of the Border.

    Now you speak as if England had no choice about the Iraq war. Despite The Tory and Labour Party supporting the war to start.

    Are the Tories not incredibly strong in England (Compared to in Scotland). You could say England was just as involved as the other three nations and you can not blame the Labour seat holders up North for their majority since the Tories supported the war. (To start with)

    I did not quite understand your last rant so I will qoute a few bits.

    "Incidentally, for those who harp on about anti-Scotland bias south of the border, we have elected a good few Scots to parliament for English seats." - Scots are good politions since we have been voted to represent seats down south? Thanks I guess?

    "How many Englishemn would get adopted, let alone elected, for a Scottish seat? I think that just about says it all" - Did you not know that there is one main SNP figure born and raised in England? I think their parents were originally Scots and they lived down south for a few years. But I don't know much else.

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  • 43. At 7:08pm on 06 May 2008, kaybraes wrote:

    This all smells of a Gordon Brown initiative attempting to distract attention from his government's untenable position.Maybe he hopes he can have more success sorting out the northern rebels than he has sorting out the vultures gathering behind him. It's hard to believe that someone with the reputed academic achievement of Wendy Alexander could be so stupid.I fear she sadly misjudges the people of Scotland if she thinks her latest posturing will cut any ice.It merely shows her for what she is; an academic with a sad lack of common sense and a considerable lack of political nous. Whether Scotland wants independence or a referendum on independence is irrelevant, her party is not in the position to implement either, indeed with her at the helm it's doubtful if they'll ever again be in a position to influence anything.

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  • 44. At 7:12pm on 06 May 2008, FellowHoodlums wrote:

    MalcolmW2 - Do you mean like Ian McKee MSP, Mike Russell MSP, Nigel Don MSP, Shona Robison MSP? All nationalist MSPs all born in England.

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  • 45. At 7:29pm on 06 May 2008, northy wrote:

    #41 MalcolmW2

    The Northern British (née Scottish) MPs who, now that the Scottish parliament is firmly established, still see Westminster as the be all and end all of politics thankfully aren't going to be compatible with Holyrood. A parliament with a sensibly elected proportion of MSPs and a simple mandate to improve the lives of a mere 5 millions Scots isn't going to be enough for them. Not after years of playing the anachronistic politics of Westminster and sacrificing all domestic progress to keep hold by that last fingernail of international influence. You can keep the lot of them and with any luck Brian Soutar will lay on some free buses for any stragglers left up here when independence day arrives.

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  • 46. At 7:55pm on 06 May 2008, fanofthebeeb wrote:

    as an english person that has been penalised time and time again by the hipocritic scottish mps in westminster who often tip the balance on many controversial issues (such as tuiton fees etc) but then vote against them in holyrood, I wonder isn't scottish independence a question for the whole UK - what if we want independence from Scotland. I really like Scotland but i cannot accept that you have it so bad - you have democracy whereas the english must make do with shoddy imperialism

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  • 47. At 8:24pm on 06 May 2008, NCA999 wrote:

    I just want to post a quick response to the wrong things that two people have said in response to my post,

    Firstly let me clear up that I am not a Nulabor supporter, I have never voted labour before and probably never will, this is on the basis of their policies not on the basis of their unionism/nationalism.


    Actually the SNP are the people who have talked continuously about the referendum, they did this notably by setting up a continuous national "conversation" on it. Ergo, it is a continual issue. But beyond that, the problem that is trying to be addressed is the way the SNP continually do things that are designed to make us want independence, or because that doesn't work, want to seperate from the UK. All polls that have been done recently show 3 things, 1. That its always a minority in support of independence, 2. That people like the current settlement and like Alex Salmond within that, 3. A vast majority blame Alex Salmond for picking fights with the government. If we were to get on and reject independence now the SNP would stop doing things designed to make us want to leave and start doing the things which they think are best for us. In that department most people think they're doing an alright job, if we get the independence stuff out of the way they might actually be a good government.

    " they accepted they were a minority government that couldn't realise a referendum on independence until at least 2010"
    Firstly, that argument is silly as thats not why they want to postpone it until 2010, but if that were true, then surely now that labour are supporting it sooner and they are able to get a referendum they should do it as soon as.
    The real reason that the SNP want to wait is that they hope in 2010, with a probable change to a tory government, they'll have been able to persuade 50.1% of the population that its bad for us to stay in the UK. Wendy Alexander isn't afraid of them winning an independence referendum, shes afraid of it dominating the debate instead of policies because she knows that she can only beat the SNP if she can get the debate onto policies and come up with better suggestions.

    In your response to the ", who are you that their opinion should just be ignored?" point. I am a participant in a democracy that says that 40% is less than 50, notably i'm the guy that says its fairer to listen to the other 60% that have said they wouldn't vote for independence. Thats who I am. And besides, 40% is the highest that levels of support have ever been at, varying between 15 and 40. I'd say thats a clear mandate that the majority of Scottish people don't want independence, surely thats who a democracy should be listening to?

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  • 48. At 8:29pm on 06 May 2008, Tom wrote:


    If you want your own Independence from the United Kingdom who is stopping you?

    Oh its the English themselves who can not unite and and vote for a party(or start a party) that can argue for English Independence.

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  • 49. At 8:36pm on 06 May 2008, NConway wrote:

    Scotland and England are two seperate soverign countrys that have a political union and either country can decide to call it a day.
    Just look at Norway,Sweden and Denmark they also had a political union which may I add a joint head of state,however these three countrys decided that self government was a better situation than a centralised system.
    Just for record according to the UK Parliament website,Westminster consists of
    England has 529 seats
    Wales has 40 seats
    Scotland has 59 seats
    Nothern Ireland has 18 seats

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  • 50. At 8:45pm on 06 May 2008, tottiscone wrote:

    So 2010 was in the Nat manifesto. So what? They have reneged on all the substantive promises (extra police, school buildings matching the Lab/Lib programme "brick by brick"), so missing out on another one hardly seems worth worrying about.

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  • 51. At 8:47pm on 06 May 2008, karin wrote:

    I have a question what happened to wendys defence of two year olds has she now abondoned them in favour of a referendum or is it ok because she wants to let them vote in it?

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  • 52. At 8:47pm on 06 May 2008, gerry-f wrote:

    Long may Wendy reign!

    Alex Salmond must barely be hiding his delight over the best thing to happen to the SNP in years.

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  • 53. At 8:55pm on 06 May 2008, Tom wrote:


    I didnt hear the SNP talk about a referendum when they were handling the foot and mouth crises and while delivering policies to the people of Scotland...

    How can you say that its been implied by the SNP continuously when they have had other more important matters to discuss (Glasgow Terror Attack) and delivering policies to Scotland?

    They had their times of course when it was relevent but I have heard them mention a referendum just for fun while doing something else.

    The SNP did not postpone the referendum. It was in their manifesto (Reccomended anyway) that it should be held in 2010 when the SNP has shown that they can Govern Scotland successfully.

    Did the SNP see the future problems of Britain today and guessed that Labour would be in such a mess that the Tories would take over, which would bring back bad memories that might push for Independence?

    I am a person who happens to be in the majority of 41% for Independence. Or are you ignoring this poll because it does not argee with you?

    I heard polls arranging from 15% up to 75% for Independence. The only way to be accurate is to hold a referendum when it matters and then we will see a proper turn out.

    Currently by law you only need about 300 people involved in a survey for it to be a proper representation which is terrible and this can be done again and again until for example more people agree for Independence that against.

    I guess no one knew this and well that would make these type of polls pointless because no matter how you word the polls the people they represent can be picked and chosen to match whatever they hope to gain.

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  • 54. At 8:58pm on 06 May 2008, richardcalhoun wrote:

    The Tories should back Wendy Alexander, whatever her motives, because it would call the bluff of the Ken Livingstone of Scotland, namely Alex Salmond.

    The electorate in Scotland will almost certainly vote for the Union and against Independence.

    Gordon Brown hiding underneath the desk again is interesting!!

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  • 55. At 9:00pm on 06 May 2008, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    NCA999 - in the two recent polls you are refering to (with support for independence near 40%) the actual number were:

    1) For 40%, against 43%, undecided 17% and
    2) 41%, against 40% and undecided 19% -

    so that does not definately translate in to a vote either for or against. Undecided cannot be counted as backing the status quo.

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  • 56. At 9:11pm on 06 May 2008, Tom wrote:


    Why should the Tories support Labour?

    Can the Lib Dems not support Labour?

    Or why can Labour not support the Lib Dems or Tories instead?

    Perhaps you all should back the SNP and win Scotland Indepenence.

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  • 57. At 9:33pm on 06 May 2008, MrCynical wrote:

    I think the main reason the SNP want to delay until after the next UK general election (which will probably be in May 2010, since Gordon Brown will probably hold on to the very last second like John Major did) is that they reckon the Conservatives will win.

    Support for independence (and also devolution within the UK) has increased markedly every time there has been a Tory government in London, because they're (rightly or wrongly) seen as being an anti-Scottish party.

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  • 58. At 10:04pm on 06 May 2008, NCA999 wrote:


    "I am a person who happens to be in the majority of 41% for Independence."

    I used to be proud of my Scottish Education, which i think is one of the best education systems around. Its a shame to think that people think 41% (which is the highest support reached not the average which sits around 25%) is a majority. I hate to break it to you but 50% is a majority mate, so you're not in the majority viewpoint.

    When yougov or MORI carry out a poll they don't hunt down people that are going to agree with one side, its not a plot against you as you seem to suggest. The reality is that mathematically if you can successfully get a completely random base of questioned people then your result will actually be quite accurate. These polling organisations that have been doing this for a very long time are quite good at that nowadays. But regardless, whilst one poll does have a fairly large published error, when you combine 10, or 20 poll results that error reduces massively. And what does every poll ever conducted show, that only a minority (where minority is less than half) of the Scottish population support independence. I apologise if this is bad news to you, but its not an opinion, this is fact. The SNPs goal is to try and persuade people to change their minds, they know they don't have majority popular support at the moment, thats why they don't want a referendum now. Thats not cynical chat on my part, it would be stupid for them to agree to a referendum now and if I were Alex Salmond I wouldn't be agreeing to it either. But for the Unionist parties it is an emminently sensible idea right now.

    To #55, whilst I was also referring to the most recent polls that put the yay vote for independence around 15% to respond very quickly to your point about undecideds. Its a well known facotr in such referendums that the number of people who vote for independence for a country will always be lower than the number that say they support it. This is because (regardless of what politicians say to them) some will always be afraid of the consequences. You can see this in most countries that have had independence referendums. The reality is that most undecideds, whilst not desperately wanting to vote No, will definitely not vote Yes.

    The reality is that there has never ever been majority support for Scottish Independence. Discussion about a referendum is fair enough but the people that keep posting up here claiming that its somehow a guaranteed win for Independence are seriously mis-guided.

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  • 59. At 10:04pm on 06 May 2008, siberius1 wrote:

    Political tactics in this situation seem simple enough. Labour want to force the pace on a referendum so that they can wrongfoot the SNP. The SNP won't put anything to a vote unless they are confident of winning. I'd like to see the question that Labour propose to use. "Do you you agree that Scotland should turn itself into a pariah basket case like North Korea?" or "Do you agree that the Scottish Government should begin negotiations with the UK and EU authorities for eventual independence within the EU?" are two different questions. We've waited 300 years, another 2 or 3 more won't hurt.

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  • 60. At 10:21pm on 06 May 2008, Tom wrote:


    The SNP are not delaying a vote.

    They are simplying doing what they said they would do when they made their promises one year ago during the elections.

    If they decided to hold the referendum sooner or after then you can argue there breaking their election promises and/or accuse them of delaying what they want.

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  • 61. At 10:32pm on 06 May 2008, HughEdinburgh wrote:


    The issue of a referndum has no doubt been on peoples minds for some if not all of the past 300 years.

    It became an issue when the Scottish people started talking about, and when the SNP Government offered it in their manifesto.

    Wendy's rantings and ravings are not an issue for Scotland - they are something that the Labour party, either Scottish, English or both, will have to deal with. She could always go to Jersey - she has friends there afterall.

    It's understandable why Gordon Browns ratings are falling so fast - just look at the crazy friends he has (i.e. the Alexander twins). He has no friends south of the border, and I suspect he has even fewer friends north of the border (well, he has two anyway).

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  • 62. At 10:52pm on 06 May 2008, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #58, NCA999 - you are mixing up two very different types of polling: multi-option ones with various wordings that produce various results and simple yes/no binary referendums which have consistantly produced results of roughly 40% for, 40% against, 20% undecided this year - up from roughly 30/40/30 split following the election of last year.

    The two types should not be confused. Either you don't know the difference - which I doubt - or, worse, you deliberately conflate the various types despite knowing better.

    Those posting that securing independence is more or less guaranteed are misguided; as are you for suggesting that support for the union is solid and can be relied upon in any future referendum. There is little evidence to suggest that undecided voters will jump one way en masse - and who knows what a genuine campaign on the subject (for the first time) would do to the percentages?

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  • 63. At 10:53pm on 06 May 2008, Tom wrote:


    41% For Independence
    40% Agianst
    19% Dont know

    I guess Scottish Education was rather simple back in your day unless you purposely missed out the 'I dont know yet' lot.

    And if you go by those polls that a clear majority since you are unable to count the 'I dont know' members of public as For or Against, so that group is ignored.

    And I never said that the polls went against me. I said they were deeply flawed and all though you can get a nice rough guess you should never go on them alone. The polls that I saw that show signs of a majoirty who want Independence and growing confidence for Independence etc etc Should be proven in a referendum. (Same goes to prove that more Scots want the Union rather then Independence)

    The reality is that the SNP are growing in power and Indepenence is coming closer after each night.

    I can not wait till 2010 when SNP finalise a bill for a referendum on Independence after what will be a successful term.

    If you can be so cocky that Independence has no chance then why can we (Nationalists) not be cocky like you and declare all these theories that Independence will happen in the near future?

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  • 64. At 11:10pm on 06 May 2008, MajorStishie wrote:

    The spectacle of an embarrassingly incompetent Scottish Labour leader leading her MSPs boldly on to SNP territory to focus the attention of the Scottish people for an indefinite period on the issue that the SNP are principally interested in focusing their attention on beggars belief.

    So the unionist bloc is now split so far as independence is concerned. Do the words divide and rule not ring a bell with Ms Alexander? No wonder Ms Goldie is hopping mad. She at least appreciates the enormity of what has happened here.

    In succeeding in goading this hopelessly clueless politician into ending the tabou status of the concept of an independence referendum, the SNP has made a truly historic breakthrough. We are in a new ball game now. Nothing will ever be quite the same again.

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  • 65. At 11:30pm on 06 May 2008, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Have you ever seen such political incompetence as Wendy Alexander displayed on newsnight?! "I have long been in favour of an independence referendum, despite the footage you just played showing me contradicting myself horribly." And "it is simply unacceptable that the SNP assume they will be able to secure a referendum in 2010 ... in short, due to time constraints, we want a referendum in early 2010" Which she could only secure via support from the SNP presumably.

    That showed them Wendy!

    I must say I had previous disregarded claims that Wendy was a nat agent operating in deep-cover, as ridiculous ... now I am not so sure.

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  • 66. At 11:33pm on 06 May 2008, dubbieside wrote:


    I have just watched Newsnight Scotland tonight, and the program was a disgraceful dereliction of the BBC charter.

    I always thought that the BBC charter was to be even handed and fair to all sides.

    To have a discussion on a referendum on devolution, and deliberately block the party of government from the discussions was nothing short of a disgrace.

    Just what were the BBC frightened off?

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  • 67. At 11:43pm on 06 May 2008, nicktye wrote:

    Wendy Alexander,

    Don't play politics with the Union. It has been in existance for 300 years - it has served us very well - and it's future is a matter for Westminster. You are showing incredible naivity if you think this gesture to try and outwit the SNP is in the interests of the Labour Party or Britain. Concentrate on the issues that really matter to Scotland - rather than an issue which is at best a distraction.

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  • 68. At 00:16am on 07 May 2008, englishvineyardman wrote:

    Nezavisimost, come on, i'm no commie or stuck in the eastern part of europe. The british isles has been together too long, trying to share a monarch would be confusing to say the least. The reality is Westminster still calls the shots, it is our national parliament, true europe messes it up for all of us but we are too late to escape their clutches. Further fragmentation only leads to poorer public service and right now politically we are severely short of statesmen/stateswomen, Alexander is not one, neither is Salmond, come to think of it apart from Blair and Thatcher (makes me ill to think of either positively) when did we last have a statesperson in charge, the rest seem middle management by comparison. I would rather bring more of the scottish system to england, property transactions would be far simpler, the legal process is also better thought out a far better way for scottish influence to postively influence the british isles. Free up time to do something positive politically and drag Westminster into the 21st century.

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  • 69. At 00:17am on 07 May 2008, Sheneval wrote:

    If I was Alex Salmond I would say to Wendy - we will bring forward out proposed referendum bill when it suits us, not you, and that is my final answer on this subject.

    Now Wendy there are many other aspects of Government that require our full attention between now and then and as I have heard you say many, many, many, many ......... times before - 'It's time to move on'

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  • 70. At 06:18am on 07 May 2008, tony333 wrote:

    looks and sounds as if wendy has lost the plot..she said not so long ago,that she dident enter politics,to break up the uk..maybe she needs medical attention,and the guys in the white coats will show up at her house-------looks as if labour,will try anyting to get a headline--even the 10p tax they stole..

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  • 71. At 07:16am on 07 May 2008, U11655018 wrote:

    Independence? Bring it on, sometime, maybe.

    FMQ's Thursday:

    FM Salmond should ask her to present her bill to parliament as a private bill, then suggest an amendment that it includes the findings of the National Conversation and teeny weeny Sir Ken Calman's Commission.

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  • 72. At 07:29am on 07 May 2008, inmykip wrote:

    Wendy wouldn't do very well in the judicial system, she wants the jury (us) to make a guilty or not guilty decision (yes or no to independence) without hearing all the evidence........that will only lead to a mis-trial and the question WILL have be asked again.

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  • 73. At 08:48am on 07 May 2008, glassbenmhor wrote:


    Do you really think the Scots electorate, now they are enlightened will pass up 50 million a day from the North Sea, or at the least 84% min. of it. You are dafter than I thought.

    Oh and expect all lot more enlightening upon the tacit facts in the next couple of years.

    I just cannot understand the media bias towards New Labour, I really cannot, it is everywhere, television interviews newspaper articles and editorials, you know a primary school kid can pick up on it, so don't deny.

    Really though, what is the deal supporting Labour?

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  • 74. At 08:49am on 07 May 2008, Wicked_Witch_of_the_West_Coast wrote:

    How amusing to see the SNP's clique on these boards howling that there will be no referendum on independence! At least, not till it suits them! ROFLMAO! You're showing your true colours now - you don't give a toss for 'the people of Scotland' - you're only concerned with your own party's fortunes, just like everyone else! Still, once you have reduced us to living in some Brigadoon-like shortbread tin Scotland, no doubt other people will also see you for what you are!

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  • 75. At 08:52am on 07 May 2008, glassbenmhor wrote:

    Is that GlasgowGonner

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  • 76. At 08:55am on 07 May 2008, glassbenmhor wrote:

    The New/Labour experiment come to an end fifteen years after its start,

    over a plate of Spaghetti in an Islington restaurant!!!

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  • 77. At 08:58am on 07 May 2008, glassbenmhor wrote:

    Brian, I really thought you would have cut your teeth at last into Wendy over the latest, being a union BBC man and all,

    but no,

    just couldn't happen, could it?

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  • 78. At 09:04am on 07 May 2008, glassbenmhor wrote:

    I have never supported or voted for Labour, that being said they will have a very relevant part to play in that brave new future that Brian and the BBC have their eyes tight shut upon.


    " its coming yet for a' that "

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  • 79. At 09:05am on 07 May 2008, Young-Mr-Grace wrote:

    I'm confused.... in Scotland Labour is now in favour of holding a referendum it has no manifesto commitment to, for a constitutional change it opposes i.e. Scottish independence. Meanwhile in the UK Labour is not in favour of holding a referendum it does have a manifesto commitment to, for a constitutional change it supports i.e. the Lisbon treaty…

    Labour will only have itself to blame if the UK opposition parties pick up on this incongruity and beat them up with it.

    You're all doing very well !!

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  • 80. At 09:13am on 07 May 2008, Kluseau wrote:

    This shows clearly where Wendy stands on the issue of "principle" vs "expediency". Only time will tell whether it also ends up among the great political miscalculations of all time. But it's off to a promising start...

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  • 81. At 09:15am on 07 May 2008, glassbenmhor wrote:

    If I know the "Kingdom" at all, Gordon the Newsreader Brown had better start saving to pay the Chairman back, on his deposit.


    'Bring it on'

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  • 82. At 09:28am on 07 May 2008, glassbenmhor wrote:

    How we here the Union message-

    Wee small minded Nation struggling,


    struggling, with 50 million a day stuffed in its back pocket!

    Oh, whats that, cries of "It will run out"


    but not so quick with only 6-7 million people to share, as opposed to the Union Dividend of divide by 70-80 million people.

    or put another way,

    2/3rds of all needs UK, supplied by North Sea,

    would become,well errr,

    Total need covered, with millions of barrels to flog.

    Anyway a wee thought for political parties,


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  • 83. At 09:38am on 07 May 2008, sid the sceptic wrote:

    u bendy has been working on this for ages. well at least a couple of days!!the question : do you support independance yes / no ? ALL THE RULES.- there must be a 100% turnout and there must be at least 80% support for independance failure to hit these will make it null and void. we will use the electronic counting machines (just to make sure ) and i will put my brother in charge of it all. the question will not be allowed to be asked again for 20 years. no other question or political stance will be entertained.
    you may laugh at some of the above but labour are so desperate.
    just remember where you saw them first .
    nicol stephen - get of your butt and start fighting your corner now!! sid.

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  • 84. At 09:39am on 07 May 2008, inmykip wrote:

    As an aside from the Wendy debate, I'd like to ask the question as to why the Labour Home Secretary is refusing to attend the firearms conventions at Bute House?

    Even if firearms are a Westminster only concern she could have attended the meeting to provide her contribution from a national perspective and at the same time learn from those who have to deal with the problems airguns present to communities in Scotland.

    This is a sad example for a Home Secretary to set.

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  • 85. At 09:45am on 07 May 2008, Darkisland wrote:

    Not known as 'Bendy Wendy' for nothing!

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  • 86. At 10:29am on 07 May 2008, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    I think Wendy Alexander is showing all the signs that a compulsive gambler has when they are constantly loosing money hand over fist, or votes in the case of the Labour party. At some point they realise they are in serious difficulty and think that by putting all their money on one bet will recover the situation.

    That is all very well if your number comes up, but as most well balanced people know that is very risky strategy with the outcome almost certainly not favourable to the deranged individual.

    From a physiological point of view the Labour party is in deep trouble from which they may not recover.

    Putting politics aside and from a human point of view, I think Wendy would benefit from some form of counselling.

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  • 87. At 10:33am on 07 May 2008, barrybatman wrote:

    The truth is that Wendy Alexander is using her new comments as a poor scare tactic on the SNP and the Scottish public because at the moment they are not prepared for a referendum.

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  • 88. At 11:05am on 07 May 2008, tamO wrote:

    I can't stand those who have no faith, we can win a vote on Independence.
    Plus i am confused, this is not about sticking it to any one Labour or SNP.
    If some in the SNP are Seduced by the trapings of power and let this chance go well hell mend them.
    And if Labour think this is a means to regain there place well hell mend them.
    Labour confuse support for Independence as Anti Labour but it only is because they make it so. I would love the chance to vote Labour for the first time in my life in a Independent Scotland.
    Free Scotland Now

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  • 89. At 11:05am on 07 May 2008, peoplepowerparty wrote:

    Whilst it might be 'fascinating' to observe the manoueverings of political parties, I cannot help but feel an element of disgust at it all.

    Wendy Alexander is a joke! How can anyone within a matter of weeks go from outright opposition to a referendum to suddenly supporting it? It has absolutely nothing to do with what is best for Scotland and the electorate. It is another example of a political party shamelessly and somewhat desperately adopting a policy to try to undermine the elected government of Scotland.

    I read in The Times that senior sources in Westminster are claiming that this is Brown's idea and that his aim is to undermine Salmond and to curtail his power in Scotland. Brown being the selfish, self obsessed control freak monster that he is, cannot stand to see Scotland doing ok under a Nationalist administration. So he is trying to wreck it!

    Is this the type of behaviour that you would expect from a Prime Minister? Is it OK for him to be spending time and effort trying to undermine the elected government of Scotland? For me the answer is no, regardless of whom you vote for.

    It is time for Brown, the Alexanders et al, to be shown the exit doors. And it is time for some serious political commentary on their behaviour and how it does not befit a supposedly democratic country.

    This has got absolutely nothing to do with halting the independence movement/debate in its track. It won't! It is about Brown and Alexander trying to damage Scotland's Prime Minister for their own personal gain.

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  • 90. At 11:20am on 07 May 2008, edinchris wrote:

    Alex Salmond is, I have to admit very clever. By portraying Labour as undemocratic for not wanting a referendum, he has backed them into a corner, so they feel they have to call his bluff on a referendum.

    What worries me is that the referendum may turn into a personality contest between Wendy and Alex, when the issues are far bigger than that. Yes, it is right that the people of Scotland should have a say on this as otherwise the "independence issue" will never go away, but what worries me is the timing.

    There is a danger that the referendum would become a protest vote and people will vote over short term issues:

    Gordon Brown/The Iraq War/The Economy/The SNP "honeymoon."

    However, the longer term issues of independence v union are far more important. Independence would be a colossal mistake. All we would be doing is handing over control of our government and economy to Brussels.

    As part of the UK, we are a major player in the EU with the power to influence decisions and a veto over key issues, we are in the G8, we have a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, and we are one of the big countries in the Commonwealth. We also have the resources to help countries like Sierra Leone with their problems.

    Within Scotland, we have our own Parliament that has control of issues affecting Scotland: education, health, justice etc. I have yet to hear a single convincing argument why "independence" would be a good idea!

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  • 91. At 11:47am on 07 May 2008, billiousbrown wrote:

    and so it came to pass that on the road to Damascus,to smite the evil Salmond and his followers, Wendy the Dreadful experienced a vision of being banished to the political wilderness. So it was written that from hence forth it would be expedient to support a referendum. Details of which will be drawn up by Douglas Alexander the not so Great.
    But the Salmondites rumbled this ruse and verily rose up against Wendy the terrible and did justly drive her from the Kingdom of Holyrood

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  • 92. At 11:52am on 07 May 2008, Nezavisimost wrote:

    I have a really funny feeling that if the Executive intends proposing a peice of legislation an opposition party can’t lodge a bill on that subject untill the Government has been through the motions?

    Some expert or bod want to clarify?

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  • 93. At 12:18pm on 07 May 2008, GaryMcLean wrote:

    #90 edinchris

    You write that you've yet to hear a single argument why 'independence' would be a good idea. What about single word arguments like... oh, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Austria, New Zealand...

    Scotland's a great place but it has huge problems socially including shocking poverty and housing. Quality of life for many here isn't good enough.

    Independence would unleash the power to put Scotland first and solve some of our issues before Scotland is corroded further.

    We would also have a voice in Europe, unlike just now. The UN will be changed in the years ahead. And we would be at the G8 as part of the EU.

    And as part of a new 'United Kingoms' we'd still be twinned in many respects with England.

    It's an opportunity.

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  • 94. At 12:44pm on 07 May 2008, MarkfromEngland wrote:

    Brian, seen from here in England - where the substance is of less immediate significance than the way the matter is handled - this looks like one almighty disaster for Gordon Brown (how often have we said that over the last few months by the way?)

    If Wendy Alexander consulted him and he said 'I'm relaxed either way; your call, Wendy', he looks about as politically astute as a wall. If she didn't consult him he looks pretty much redundant, as is the case if he objected and she ignored him.

    What many English voters want to know is not whether there will be a referendum, but how quickly Scotland can leave the Union, AND how quickly England can choose its own destiny. They may be wrong and may be improperly disillusioned, but stoking the fires of nationalism in England or Scotland looks like a bad move for Labour just now.

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  • 95. At 12:57pm on 07 May 2008, peoplepowerparty wrote:

    Just read on this site that Wendy has been rumbled again. Apparently she has not bothered to read the rule book! Sounds familiar?

    She has not got the authority to table her own bill. So her bravado at the press conference was the usual Wendy stuff - badly researched hot air that had more to do with her own sense of self imortance than anything else.

    Surely, before deciding to declare 'bring it on' she should have got her facts right and found out if there was a basis for her to go off on her rant.

    Are there any Labour supporters out there who have the good sense to be cringing at this woman's performance? What a leader she is - surely the worst out of the 5 in the Parliament?

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  • 96. At 1:05pm on 07 May 2008, dear_wendy wrote:

    What is with this lassie?

    Plays right into SNP hands every time!

    The SNP will bring forward the Referendum Bill in a time and fashion it sees fit. Wendy cannot speed that up! She's not allowed to launch a members bill on something already covered on the agenda for the current parliamentary term.

    So - marks for bouncing the SNP into an ill-timed referendum? 0/10

    However, as opposed to last week, when any SNP proposed referendum would have failed to gain a parliamentary majority, it is now likely to achieve this. What's more, Alex will get his dearest wish of a 2 option referendum and not even require the compromise 3 question variety he was previously prepared to bargain with. Unless another spectacularly embarrassing U-Turn is to occur

    Marks for giving the SNP the referendum they want at the time they want? 10/10

    She has also rendered her Wendy, sorry Calman, Commission rather pointless. She's supporting a 2 question referendum. Whatever devolution max option is proposed by the commission will be ignored, and usurped by the referendum. In doing so she has made new enemies out of her former pals Annabelle and Nicol.

    Marks for complete self destruction - 10/10

    Oh Dear!

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  • 97. At 1:10pm on 07 May 2008, NCA999 wrote:

    I don't see why people are dodging the facts. The simple reality is that if a referendum were called tomorrow the SNP are convinced they would lose and the Labour Party are convinced they would win. Someones rabbiting on about a single 41-40 poll up there without having read a single point i've made, pointing out that current polls are around 15% and that there has never once been majority support (which says something about our overall feeling on the matter)

    Labour want to try and get this issue dealt with so that they can focus on attacking the SNP for policies not independence, which is fair enough. The SNP would be daft to get in the way of such a bill though, because if they do then labour can refuse to vote for their one in 2010, and the SNP lose their election credibility of claiming labour are a roadblock to a referendum.

    Everyone knows fine well that the above reasons are why the two parties are taking their stances, why people are pretending otherwise on this discussion I have no idea. There's an argument to be made that since the SNP will never get more seats than the three unionist parties combined they should just keep blocking a referendum as they'll never get it through, but I would personally like to see this issue dealt with quickly so that we can get on with the real issues which people actually care about.

    As I said earlier, G.Brown should just tell the two of them where to go and call a referendum next month.

    On some of the silly points raised above like "oh the unionists will put clauses in preventing another for 20 years" and "they will say that a certain percentage has to turn out and vote" to right. I would hope that if any referendum bill were passed that such ammendments would be in it. Obviously thats not in the interests of the SNP so they won't propose them themselves, but its definitely in the interests of the Scottish people. If we have a referendum now and say no that should be it, for 20 years as an absolute minimum. Independence referendums are incredibly damaging to a country because of the economic uncertainty they cause, lots of them is a terrible thing. Thats why they've stopped having regular referendums in Quebec. As for a turnout clause, I think that for an issue as important as this saying something sensible like "50% of the population have to say they want it" or, "we have to have a 2/3 turnout", something reasonably achievable but equally reflective in its result of the populations views on what is an issue that would, like it or not, have very serious short term harms to us.

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  • 98. At 1:45pm on 07 May 2008, Bangingonabout wrote:

    I seem to remember that Alex Salmond himself ruled out another referendum for "a generation" if they lost it.

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  • 99. At 3:06pm on 07 May 2008, edinchris wrote:

    #93 Gary McLean

    Scotland has done very well out of being part of the UK. Yes, there are problems, but I can't see how independence will solve any of them. Scotland will have an independent voice in the EU, but it won't be able to influence anything. The big decisions in the EU will still be made by the major players: Germany, Italy, France. Our only hope to have a say in those decisions is through our Scottish Prime Minister as part of the UK.

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  • 100. At 4:50pm on 07 May 2008, Hollywoodharris wrote:

    I presume this referendum will include options for independance for the Orkneys and Shetland Islands (who consider themselves Scottish second... or is it third?)

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  • 101. At 5:32pm on 07 May 2008, Tom wrote:


    That is rubbish.

    Those territories were given to Scotland.

    There ours. ;)

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  • 102. At 10:27pm on 07 May 2008, ForteanJo wrote:

    NCA999 #47

    Eh, just because polls show 40% are in favour of independence, doesn't mean 60% are against it. There are a lot of floating and undecided voters. In fact, polls show those in favour and those against are roughly the same, percentage wise.

    So, I ask again. Why should the opinion of the 40% against independence have more weight than that of the 40% in favour?

    As to your frankly laughable comments about the SNP holding off to 2010 before holding a referendum, they have postponed nothing. Their manifesto commitment was to hold it within the life time of the parliament, with the commitment of 2010 being confirmed shortly after the election.

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  • 103. At 10:33pm on 07 May 2008, ForteanJo wrote:

    tottiscone #50, you really need to stop relying on Bendy Wendy for your facts.

    The extra police commitment has been confirmed - Auntie Annabel saw to that.

    School buildings programme - since SLP did not commit to further building (despite how Bendy tried to spin it), that commitment has been kept - and without relying on PFI and mortgaging our kids future to line the pockets of NuLab friends.

    Of course, some commitments had to be dropped but that was because SLP thought spending half a billion on Edinburgh trams was more important that student debt, more police, helping first time buyers on to the property ladder, etc. (Well actualy, they just thought these things were less important than sticking 2 fingers up at the electorate to try to damage the SNP).

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  • 104. At 10:50pm on 07 May 2008, ForteanJo wrote:

    #99 edinchris - if our only hope to have a say in EU decisions is through Gordon "I'm British, not Scottish" Brown, we're in big trouble.

    UK fishing affects Scotland more than the rest of the UK. Yet Westminster took gross humbrage at the suggestion that Scottish MPs should represent the UK on this subject.

    The new oil fields opening up. Again, Scotland has more interest in this than the rest of the UK but does Scotland get to send representatives. No, according to Westminster, we're not good enough and only someone from London can ensure the best deal for London (regardless of how poorly Scotland does out of it).

    An independent Scotland would have far more say in EU decisions than we do now (because at the moment we have none).

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  • 105. At 1:52pm on 08 May 2008, D Dortman wrote:

    In all honesty a UK wide referendum on whether to kick Scotland out of the UK might well get a "positive" vote from non-Scots, simply because everyone is pretty sick of hearing about it.

    Whilst the psychological politicking is pretty interesting, the actual base issue has managed to get even more boring than the usual EU in and out "debate".

    I get the feeling though that this "debate" will still be going on, largely unchanged, in another 300 years time.

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  • 106. At 11:08pm on 28 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    talking a risk? sometimes, it is worth it to do it...

    ~Dennis Junior~

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