How a Scottish Independence referendum could play out:
David Cameron calls an In/Out referendum in Scotland. ahead of Salmond’s 2014 date. Alex Salmond says that he does not regard it as legitimate, and that the Scottish Government will call their own referendum offering the options of In, Out, and Devo Max, that is, Scotland running everything save for defence, the currency and foreign policy.
Following Salmond’s call for a boycott of the “Tory” referendum, there is an 80% In vote, on a turnout of 32%. Salmond then calls a referendum in 2014, which will be run by the Scottish government, and invites the EU, UN, Commonwealth and NGOs to send observers to ensure fairness. Cameron vetoes UN observers, and warns EU and Commonwealth member states that the British Government will regard observers as interfering with the internal affairs of the UK. The Conservative Party in Scotland refuses to participate in the referendum campaign.
The SNP runs ads showing Cameron and Robert Mugabe making the same arguments about “interference”. Salmond announces that any Scottish citizen aged 16 or older, who lives or has lived in Scotland in the last 10 years, shall be eligible to vote, as can any UK or EU citizen who has lived in Scotland for at least seven years. By doing so, with the widest possible franchise, he neutralises the arguments about vote rigging. He then assembles a panel of retired former US, EU and Commonwealth leaders to inspect, observe and verify the results.
Scottish Labour announces that it will not campaign in an illegal referendum. The Scottish Liberal Democrats announce that, provided it is a fair referendum, they will accept the result and call for people to vote Devo Max 1, Status Quo 2.
Alex Salmond asks for a vote for independence, or failing that, a vote for Devo Max. He counters the argument of independence by the back door by promising to campaign AGAINST any Scottish Government that attempted to move from Devo Max to full independence without a referendum. He also states that he does not believe there should be another referendum for five years, regardless of the result.
On a turnout of 76%, Scottish voters vote for Devo max by 61%. Full independence gets 20%. The status quo gets 19%. The panel of observers and various NGOs report that the referendum was conducted in a free and fair manner.
Cameron calls the referendum a “mickey mouse toytown referendum with no legal basis in British law.”
Scottish Labour MPs, after a week of consultations in Scotland, announce that, regardless of the legal status, the result must be respected. The headquarters of the Scottish Conservatives is firebombed. Scottish Tory MSPs are given police protection.
400,000 people demonstrate outside Holyrood Palace, where they’re addressed by Salmond who calls on the Queen, who will remain monarch of an independent Scotland, to intervene with her prime minister and respect the wishes of her Scottish subjects. Buckingham Palace makes Downing Street well aware that her majesty is not happy at being put in such a position, and hopes for a speedy conclusion.
The Chinese Government announces its full support for Cameron, pointing out similarities between Scotland and its “rogue province” Taiwan. London does not welcome the support.
Most Scottish Labour MPs announce that they are breaking with the Labour whip, and will engage in a parliamentary guerilla war against the government, refusing pairs with government MPs and forcing the government to keep MPs in parliament for long periods. Some English Tory MPs start querying why Scotland should be forced to remain in the UK?
Cameron announces that he will need a mandate to negotiate the disengagement of Scotland, and calls a general election. During the campaign, Labour struggles to define its position, squeezed between Tory candidates playing an “England First” card and trying to appeal to working class voters in England without alienating its Scottish base. In Scotland the Tories struggle to find suitable candidates. As the votes are counted, Labour loses most Scottish seats to the SNP and also loses seats in England. Despite five years of cutbacks, the Tories gain seats in England, although they fail to win an overall majority. The Liberal Democrats lose a small number of seats in England, but gain some in Scotland.
The new batch of Tory MPs are openly asking why Scotland is being forced to remain in the UK, and take their English constituents taxes? They also point out that without Scottish MPs, the party would have a majority. Cameron forms a new Con/Lib Dem coalition, and opens negotiations with Salmond to transfer power, taxes and Scotland’s share of the national debt. Cameron subtly changes his position, warning that Scotland’s refusal to share the costs of the Trident submarine missile system means that Scotland can not share defence with the rest of the UK, and that Scotland would be better off leaving the UK altogether if it is not willing to compromise. He then suggests that the question should be put to English voters, a position that is well received in the Commons, at least, on the Tory benches.