Tagged: Scottish independence debate

North Labour leader says Scotland should go it alone

A former Labour mayor and trade union figure from the north of England has urged people in Scotland to vote for independence.

Craig Johnston, the former mayor of Carlisle, says a Yes vote will “energise the debate about devolution” across the UK.

Mr Johnston, a regional organiser for the RMT union, also hopes a new constitution in an independent Scotland will implement workers’ rights and “instil a bit of fairness in the workplace”.

Criticising the Labour Party, he said:

“I don’t want the Labour Party to be like it is.

“I can’t support a Labour Party that introduced the private finance initiative and let the moneylenders into the NHS – Nye Bevan’s temple.

“This is the party that oversaw the crisis, bailed out the bankers and started selling off the NHS. These are the people who are trying to scare us now.”

Dennis Canavan, chair of Yes Scotland’s advisory board, said:

“This is yet more evidence of the breadth and sheer energy of the Yes campaign.

“Craig Johnston is a highly-respected civic and political figure in Carlisle, which of course sits very close to the border and for centuries has had strong links with Scotland.”

Steve Bowditch, current Labour mayor of the city disagreed and said a Yes vote would be “extremely damaging for Carlisle”.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 17 Sept 2014

Poll suggests people are relaxed about Scottish Independence…but want more power for the regions

A vote will take place later this month that will affect everyone in the UK – but only a tenth of us will actually get the chance to go to the polls.

Whether the Scottish Independence referendum results in a yes or a no vote – and the latest reports are that the vote could still go either way – the decision taken by 5.2m Scots will have implications for the other 58m people who live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

After trailing for most of the concern, the SNP appears to be gaining momentum ahead of the vote on September 18. A yes vote would make the North East a border region for the first time in hundreds of years, and even a vote to retain the union is likely to be so close that it will be followed by calls for greater devolution to the nations of the UK.

Any move in that direction would inevitably result in new calls to consider the essential contradiction of the devolution agenda followed by the Labour Government of the late 1990s: giving the Scottish and Welsh, and later the Northern Irish, the power to run their own affairs, but still having English matters decided by MPs from the UK as a whole.

The Scottish independence debate has also revived calls for greater power to be devolved from Whitehall to the regions. The North East decisively voted against a regional assembly in a referendum held in 2004 but all the main political parties will go into the next election promising to give more powers to the different corners of England.

In the latest poll run by Other Lines of Enquiry North, using their in-house Panelbase service, they asked people both in the North East and nationally for their thoughts on Scottish independence, whether England needs the same devolved powers as the other home nations and whether the regions should have more say over their affairs.

When asked whether people were worried about the impact of a yes vote in the Scottish Independence referendum, our respondents seem fairly relaxed:

57% of people nationally and 54% in the North East were not worried and only 33% both nationally and locally were concerned.

(Interestingly, the 18-24 age group – those thought to be most in favour of independence in Scotland – were the most concerned, while the next age group up (25-34) were the most relaxed.)

The strongest vote of the three questions in our poll came when people were asked: “Do you think England should be given the same devolved powers as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?”

Here 60% of people nationally and 58% of people in the North East voted yes, compared to only 14% nationally and 13% locally voting no.

Such strength of feeling suggests a problem for the Government after the Scottish referendum. Even a no vote is likely to result in more devolved powers going to Edinburgh, but that would increase the calls from English activists for Scottish MPs to lose the power they currently have to pass legislation affecting England.

Finally, we asked people whether the regions of Britain should be given more devolved powers from Whitehall. Both Labour and the Conservatives have made great play in recent months of boosting the North, though cynics have suggested that all political parties are good at promising more to the regions when elections approach and less keen when the people in Whitehall is them.

Nationally 46% of people want more devolution to the regions, beating the 26% who don’t.

But this final question is the one where a significant gap emerges between our national and local respondents: in the North East the call for more local powers was much stronger, with 55% in favour of greater local accountability and only 17% against.

The  poll also showed a big divergence in different age groups, with younger people in the North East almost exclusively in favour of the region getting more power from Whitehall while opposition grew among older people from the North East who responded to the poll.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 04 Sept 2014

Campaigner calls for Scottish border to reach the south bank of the Tyne

Scots are heading to the polls later this month to decide on the possibility of independence.

But one Newcastle man thinks the borders of any new country should be redrawn – south of the Tyne.

Andrew Gray, a member of the Green Party, has launched a petition that he hopes could lead to a referendum which could see Newcastle vote to leave England.

While the eyes of the nation have been on Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, Mr Gray, who lives in Heaton, believes the independence debate should extend beyond the Scottish borders.

Distance from London, tuition fees, the rising cost of social care and the privatisation of the NHS are among a hat-trick of reasons Mr Gray believes Newcastle should join Scotland.

He said:

“Many people in the North East feel distant from our government in Westminster, both economically and politically.

“The Scottish Parliament has proved that different ways of running public services are possible, including an NHS without the internal market, higher education without tuition fees, and, if there’s a yes vote in the referendum, defence without the threat of Trident.

“We therefore call on the UK Government to grant a referendum to all who live north of Hadrian’s Wall, or in Newcastle and North Tyneside council areas.

“We would choose whether to remain in England or to join Scotland.

“We call on the Government to arrange and fund this referendum, and to be bound by the result.”

Dr Alistair Clark, a senior politics lecturer at Newcastle University, said the idea was “interesting” but that Scotland is unlikely to expand.

He said feelings of neglect by Westminster have helped lead to the Scottish independence debate as well as devolved power for Northern Ireland and Wales, and those are shared by the region.

He said:

It’s an interesting idea and obviously there’s a lot of sympathy and shared feeling and a lot of links between Scotland and the North of England.

“The issue that it points to is that the north has not been well-governed from Westminster.”

But he added:

“I do not think anyone has interest in moving the border. I don’t really think Scotland wants to add stacks of territory and I don’t really think England would want to give it up.

“There is no political will behind this and you would need considerable political will to make this move.”

The referendum on Scottish independence is due to take place on September 18.

> Why stop at the north bank of the Tyne ? Extend the Scottish border to the north bank of the Tees !

Source – Newcastle Journal,  01 Sept 2014