As I was about to say yesterday when Nick Clegg’s transatlantic ego pushed me off course, there are a number of people in Scotland to whom the motives—let alone the aims—of the SNP are suspect. There has been (as Mr Deltoid of Clockwork Orange fame might have framed it) “some extreme nastiness, yes?” across the blogosphere implying that no debate can be had while ravenous packs of cybernats roam the net looking for a Labour Red Riding Hood to molest. What say we cool our jets, squad?
My basic premise: there will be an independence referendum in the life of this parliament and, whoever wins, the other side better feel they made their best pitch (or they will torture themselves over it for the next decade). Playground abuse is not going to achieve that so let’s move on/grow up, eh? There are five basic steps to be taken:
- Outline of the country that would become independent. For avoidance of doubt this would be Scotland and its seabed out to agreed boundaries. It would include all civic institutions within Scotland and would require either the creation of those missing or an understanding with another country, probably the Rest of the UK (RoUK), to provide them. Some of the most important among those are: a) Treasury; b) Armed forces; c) Welfare system; d) Tax system; e) Embassy/foreign/diplomatic service
- Agree all-new relationships to be forged with neighbours in particular and the world in general. This will involve a series of bilateral talks starting with, but not confined to, RoUK. Among the most important will be our long-term links to: a) RoUK; b) pound/euro; c) EU; d) NATO; e) Nordic Union
- Once concrete proposals and provisional agreement on the key points above are available, that form of independence needs to be debated while the formulation and timing of the referendum on that basis are planned. This, more than anything, explains why several years are required to pose the question to an informed populace. The format of the question(s) must be agreed but I argue that a multiple-choice under STV should be the format.
- If any result other than status quo is chosen, the Scottish Government will form multiple task groups to negotiate the details and timing of dismantling civic structures of the British state and, where appropriate, allocating them between the two countries. Mutual, peaceful examples like Norway/Sweden (1905), Eire/UK (1922) and Czech/Slovakia (1993) should be studied for lessons and suggestions.
- Break out the bubbly (or the 18-year-old malt). Although independence will be more of a process than an event (c.f. how Eire relied on many aspects of the British state continuing while they worked to replace them with ‘local’ civic ability) we should pick a day and celebrate it. 24th June would be good (Bannockburn), 1st May almost as good (Workers’ Day and also Act of Union which would be hereby dissolved) but something in the summer so we can (unlike St Andrew’s or Burns’ Days) get the barbie out.
Now, that’s not too difficult to grasp, is it? Good—we have 60 months; get debating!