Why Cameron should change tack and abide by the spirit of Edinburgh

In Blog by Ian Fraser0 Comments

September 16th, 2014

IMG_5488In an interview broadcast on BBC1 earlier this evening, David Dimbleby asked Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, for his views on possible currency and financial market turmoil in the event of a “Yes” vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

Dimbleby was implying that, in the event of a “Yes” vote this Thursday, markets will turn against both Scotland and Britain, causing a crash in sterling and a slide in the shares of Scottish-based PLCs.

However, Salmond seemed to floor Dimbleby by saying: “You’ll be familiar with clause 30 of the Edinburgh Agreement?” The trouble was, Dimbleby didn’t seem to have heard of this particular clause. But rather then being floundered, the old pro swiftly moved on to related topics.

And I have to admit, I didn’t know what’s in clause 30 of the Edinburgh Agreement — an historic agreement signed by the governments of the UK and Scotland on 15 October 2012 — either. So I had a look at the website of the Scottish government and established what Clause 30 is. It is pivotal to whole independence debate, not least because it seems to have been broken on numerous occasions in recent weeks, with “Better Together” seemingly being more culpable than “Yes Scotland”. The clause reads as follows:-

Co-operation

30. The United Kingdom and Scottish Governments are committed, through the Memorandum of Understanding between them and others, to working together on matters of mutual interest and to the principles of good communication and mutual respect. The two governments have reached this agreement in that spirit. They look forward to a referendum that is legal and fair producing a decisive and respected outcome. The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.

The critical sentence in the last one: “The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.

I’d love to know how David Cameron reconciles the apocalyptic rhetoric and over-the-top scare stories he and “Better Together” have been promulgating in recent days — the ones about effectively removing all our money, our currency, our banks, our pensions, our goods, our chattels etc etc, etc which have been so gleefully lapped up by the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and the BBC, if we have the temerity to vote “Yes” — with the spirit of this agreement. How do Cameron and his cronies square this shocking “post-Yes scorched earth” policy with Clause 30?

I sincerely hope, as the campaign enters its final furlong, Cameron grows up a little, and remembers that he did sign this agreement with Salmond in New St Andrews House on 15 October 2012.  I also hope that, for the sake of what’s left of his increasingly shredded credibility, he remembers to stick to the spirit of this particular clause once the result if known.

Well in response to Wright, I would argue politicians can. Especially if they are willing to enter possible post “Yes” vote negotiations in a spirit of cooperation (“working together constructively”, as clause 30 states, rather than in a spirit of antagonism, wounded pride and recrimination.

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