In 2011 what was supposed never to happen, did. The SNP won a huge overall majority in the Scottish election. One of their promises was to hold an independence referendum. Despite the party’s apparent electoral popularity, the referendum did seem like a bridge too far.
But they pressed on with plans to hold a referendum in the ‘second half of the parliamentary term’. In the Edinburgh Agreement on how the referendum would work, Alex Salmond wanted three possible answers to the question on independence which were Yes, No and Increased Powers. This option became known as Devo Max but was rejected by the Westminster government. It was to be a simple Yes/No option to the question ‘Do you think that Scotland should be an independent country?’
I wonder in his quieter moments if David Cameron now regrets vetoing the third option? In recent days he and Messrs Miliband and Clegg have been falling over themselves to offer de facto Devo Max if Scotland votes No..
And despite the fact that I have decided to vote Yes, I wonder if Devo Max is still the most likely outcome in the event of a close vote either way?
There are only two possible reasons that Alex Salmond could have wanted the third option. One was that he maybe felt that he couldn’t deliver a Yes and the other was that he maybe thought that this was the best option. I suspect that it was a combination of the two.
Whatever their choice I wish my fellow Scots well and understand the difficulty for some people in making a choice. Whatever you do though, please vote and please choose.
I have avoided going into the issues of the referendum here. Suffice to say I am aware of the scare stories, the exaggerations, the doubts and the uncertainties. They have been well rehearsed in recent days, months and years and everyone has had an opportunity to hear them. It’s now down to the judgement of the electorate and who they trust.
I’ll give my thoughts on the outcome on Friday. In the meantime, here is a picture of ‘Independence House’ in Helensburgh adorned with a quote from Nelson Mandela