Saturday, 7 May 2011

The next referendum must be protected from the last one's failings

So as the AV referendum ends, defeated by the irregular disparity allowed to happen between each campaign's reach to voters, and the media and money power behind No, so from the same day the SNP's majority victory makes the independence referendum a live issue considered certain to happen. Salmond wants to wait a few years for fear he would lose it now, but some Conservatives, including Michael Forsyth in the Scotsman today, have spoken of raising the bill in the British parliament to call the referendum now, in hope of a Unionist win.

All the more reason why public availability of all the info that was submitted to the Scottish govt in its consultation on the referendum, matters for purposes of informing the voters in their coming decision. Why, as is the point of this blog, none of the submissions to that consultation must stand censored, and mine stands made public in the second post made at the beginning of this blog.

The SNP's landslide is also all the more reason why accountability for its actions matters. This is one to keep an eye on, especially for (1) the voters believed to have voted SNP as a presently preferred government without being convinced on independence, or (2) the voters who prefer another party's picture of independence, e.g. Green or SSP, than Salmond's economically conventional picture.

When the new MSPs get sworn in, they should all be asked what safeguards they support for the referendum's fair conduct, in the light of what we have just experienced this week. It is also an issue for MPs, as from today, with the declared possibility of a referendum bill in the British parliament. I have just mailed my Lib Dem MP and asked if he backs the following measures, to be enacted as conditions of any referendum being legitimate. See if they raise a smile:

* That both sides should be required, and fully funded with parity, to send a booklet mailshot on their position to every household in the country that is voting. This surely was established constitutionally as a precedent for a campaign's fair parity, by the referendum in 1975 when the government arranged for these 2 mailshots to happen.

* That any factual claim made by one side's campaign about the other's position, the other campaign should be entitled to an equal scale of distribution to voters, in all ways, of their answer to the claims, as the original claim had.

* That if, either during polling hours or after them, the winning side lets it be known, either voluntarily or by an admission under questioning, that one of the factual claims made in their campaign, against the other side's position, had been false, then the result should not stand as valid.

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