by a Newsnet reporter
Since the announcement that Scotland’s independence referendum will be held in autumn 2014, the Scottish public has been subjected to a barrage of negative campaigning from the anti-independence parties and have witnessed Westminster attempts to sieze control of the referendum and bounce the Scottish Parliament into an earlier date. Now a leading academic has warned that such an approach is counter-productive, and may have the unforeseen consequence of “annoying” Scots into voting for independence.
Dr Paul Cairney, Head of the Politics Department at Edinburgh University, airs the warning in a new book, The Scottish Political System Since Devolution. Dr Cairney argues that more Scots want greater devolution than want independence, but warns that Conservative led attempts to force an earlier referendum could anger “a huge population of docile people [who may] suddenly get annoyed enough to vote Yes.”
He added: “We make different decisions when we are annoyed. We make different decisions when we feel that we are being pressured or told what to do … That is why David Cameron’s recent strategy seems so off the mark.”
Linda Fabiani, SNP MSP and convener of the Scotland Bill Committee, backed Dr Paul Cairney’s analysis, but said that positive arguments and aspiration will be the deciding factors for the people of Scotland when they vote on Scotland’s future in the referendum in 2014.
Ms Fabiani, MSP for East Kilbride, said:
“The anti-independence parties and their taskmasters in London must realise that their attempts to dictate the terms and timing of the referendum on the constitutional future of Scotland are hugely unpopular with the people of Scotland.
“The SNP government is consulting with the people of Scotland about what they want from their referendum. Meanwhile the anti-independence parties are the ones creating constitutional uncertainty with their constant attempts to force the issue on everything from the date to the question, and by offering vague promises of ‘jam tomorrow’ on powers, without even bothering to wait until the Scottish people have had their say.
“David Cameron, Michael Moore, Lord Wallace or Margaret Curran can try to distract from the real issue of what is the best future for the people of Scotland, but the reality is that their efforts to play games with the right of the Scottish people to decide their own future will only drive more away from the No camp.
“The positive case for independence will be made by the Yes campaign. It will match the aspirations of the voters and their families and it will be for those reasons that that the people of Scotland will vote Yes in the referendum.”