One of the world’s leading authorities on referenda has said that the SNP’s plans for a two question referendum are “untenable”.
Dr Matt Qvortrup of Cranfield University says in today’s Times (£) that:
“Two questions where people can vote ‘yes’ to both is simply not feasible.”
The SNP can’t, as they are trying to, compare this with 1997 – having a parliament and it having tax raising powers are not mutually exclusive options. Independence and Devo Max are – with the first, Scotland becomes an independent country, with the second, we stay part of the union.
This is the second renowned expert to dismiss the SNP’s plans. SNP tweeters and commenters on this blog denounced Professor John Curtice as an evil unionist (not quite in those words, but it’s what they meant), but Dr Qvortrup is someone who’s actually been on their side in the past.
I want to find a way of including a Home Rule option in the referendum, perhaps selfishly, because that’s what I want to put my cross beside. However, we have to find a way of doing it that makes the outcome clear. We already have that in the form of the way we carry out council by-elections – a preferential system. I’d like to see what the experts have to say on that one.
I don’t want independence, so voting no in a straight yes/no ballot would be an authentic choice for me. However, as I said yesterday, I worry that a no vote would give the reactionary forces within Labour and the Tories the excuse to stall on further reform.
The BBC coverage of FMQs stopped just before Murdo Fraser got the chance to press Salmond on the date of the Referendum. As part of the exchange between them, Salmond tried to claim that Dr Qvortrup was supporting his view, only to have to grovellingly apologise later. Woops!
Willie Rennie told the SNP in no uncertain terms that the mandate bestowed them in May did not include carte blanche to manipulate the referendum result:
The First Minister should listen to the SNP’s favourite constitutional expert.
“The SNP won a mandate to hold an independence referendum but they did not win a mandate to manipulate the referendum result.
“Scottish voters will want their views to be represented fairly but the SNP’s plans could make that impossible.
“The First Minister must intervene personally to resolve this critical issue.”