There is widespread confusion among some politicians and media pundits regarding the independence referendum planned for Autumn 2014 and the Scottish general election scheduled for May 2016. Many pundits are treating the two events as if they are the same thing. They are not.
This cannot be stressed, underlined, or shouted from the rooftops loud enough. 2014 is a referendum on relocating power, relocating the tools of democratic governance, from London to Scotland. 2016 is about the people of Scotland picking up these tools and using them in any damned way we choose. I’ll say it again: 2014 is about DEMOCRACY. 2016 is about POLICY.
A timeline to 2014 was included in the Your Scotland, Your Referendum consultation document but there is also a need to spell out the four main stages of the Independence process from now until May 2016. To summarise:
STAGE 1. 2012-2014: PARLIAMENTARY ASSENT
Referendum Bill presented to the Scottish parliament, debated, amended voted on and passed. White Paper published. The Westminster parliament will also decide its position on Scotland’s referendum.
STAGE 2. AUTUMN 2014: THE REFERENDUM
The citizens of Scotland make a YES or NO decision on whether they agree/want Scotland to be an independent country.
STAGE 3. 2014-2016: INDEPENDENCE NEGOTIATIONS
If Yes wins the current SNP Scottish government has a popular mandate to negotiate a settlement with the London government, based on the terms set out in the White Paper.
STAGE 4. MAY 2016: SCOTTISH GENERAL ELECTION
After negotiations are concluded with London the people of Scotland go to the polling booths in May 2016 to elect the first ever government of an Independent Scottish state.
If Yes wins in 2014, an exciting but unprecedented factor comes into play for the first time in Scottish history. From May 2016 onwards ALL government policy will be decided by the people of Scotland as expressed though elections – rather than deferring back to London.
This is normalisation. It is why we’re involved in the Yes campaign.