Labour peer bids to prevent devo-max being placed on independence ballot


By Martin Kelly
A Labour peer has called for legislation to prevent Scots from being given the opportunity to opt for devo-max in the independence referendum.
George Foulkes, former MP and MSP and now lord, has become the latest Unionist politician to try to amend the Scotland Bill in order to hijack control of the ballot.

The bid would see it become unlawful for devo-max to be included in any ballot paper alongside independence and no-change.

It would also prevent any question on devo-max to be put to the Scottish people for at least 35 days after the independence vote.

The Labour peer defended his move by claiming that both votes were separate and that Scots would need more time to consider the extra powers option.

He said some people were confused by too many questions and added: “We need a clear decision and my amendment would allow for the independence question to be decided and, in the case of a vote to stay in the United Kingdom, would allow time for a different campaign on more powers for Scotland.”

This week saw the launch of a campaign by Civic Scotland in order to argue for a third option to be included on the ballot.  The campaign, backed by former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish along with Church and Union leaders, has called for devo-max to be presented as an option alongside independence and the status quo.

The campaign was launched days after the Scottish government published its referendum consultation document aimed at allowing all of Scotland to have their say on matters relating to the 2014 referendum.  First Minister Alex Salmond has already indicated his willingness to allow the third option, saying that to disallow it would be undemocratic.

The attempt by Lord Foulkes is the latest by London based politicians to seize control of the referendum and comes barely a week after a Tory peer, Lord Caithness suggested that Orkney and Shetland be excluded from any Yes vote, leaving Westminster with the valuable oil and gas reserves.

Lord Caithness also attached an amendment that would render a Scotland only vote powerless unless a further UK wide ballot backed the Scottish result.