The wish of the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on Scottish independence must be respected, writes Mark Lazarowicz, Westminster MP for Edinburgh North and Leith.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the SNP should force through a referendum on its terms only. The SNP did indeed win 45% of the vote in the 2011 Scottish election – but that of course means 55% didn’t vote for the SNP. And in the 2010 elections in Scotland, where the respective parties’ positions on independence were the same, the SNP won only 20% of the vote, compared with Labour’s 42% – even the UK coalition parties between them won 35% of the vote in Scotland. (As a long-term supporter of proportional representation for many years, I can fairly make that point!)
But it’s not just a question of arithmetical mandates that is important. What these results remind us is that whatever happens in the referendum, the morning after there are going to be lots of disappointed and disgruntled people on whichever is the ‘losing’ side. At that point, the duty for everyone in Scotland should be to come together and to make the best of the result, whatever it might be.
The atmosphere after the referendum will in great part be decided by the tone in which the debate in the years running up to the referendum is conducted. Scotland’s politicians on all sides of the independence debate need to have the maturity to decide the terms of the referendum debate (including of course the question) in as consensual a manner as possible, even though they will of course disagree fiercely on the desired outcome.
See also the opinions of Malcolm Chisholm, MSP and Margo MacDonald, MSP.
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