“Oh look, don’t start with the fucking semantics shit again. You know what I call ‘semantics’? Wank!”
Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It
I often find a lot of the discussion about Independence-Lite or Devolution-Max to be rather disingenuous. Usually it comes from media sources who have repeatedly shown that they are hostile to the idea of independence and who may have an interest in trying to create some kind of schism in the independence movement. Take this story from May as an example. For the record, when Salmond talked about it with Andrew Marr, here is what was said…
ANDREW MARR – When you present the country with your referendum proposals, are you going to give people a choice of two options – the status quo or independence – or is there a possibility of a third option, which is being called either ‘independence lite’ or ‘devolution plus’ whereby Scotland gets effective I suppose home rule but inside elements of the United Kingdom? Is that possibility going to be on offer?
ALEX SALMOND – Well the terminology I’m not sure, but I’ve heard it described as ‘devolution max’. Perhaps that would mean ‘independence minimum’ or something like that. But our position, Andrew, is this. We prefer a straight question and we’ve set out what that question might be. However, I’ve also indicated that if it was necessary to obtain the parliamentary majority in the Scots Parliament to have a third defined option on the ballot paper, which could be done with a couple of questions or by preference voting, then I would be prepared to discuss that and probably prepared to concede it as long as independence for Scotland is on the ballot paper, which is our sine qua non. That’s the thing we must have. People must have the opportunity to exercise a right of self-determination. But I’m not frightened of another option on the ballot paper as long as that option is defined and meaningful, as long as it’s something that people can understand and not some you know vague proposition.
This interview was in 2009 before the SNP’s huge victory in the Scottish elections so it is no longer necessary to do what Salmond suggested they might have to do, however they might still do this anyway.
The strategy seems clear enough to me and has been the same for some time and it is this…work toward full independence and between now and when we get it, take every power we can back from Westminster and up to Edinburgh. That isn’t too hard to grasp, is it?
This strategy is not a new thing. In the 104 years of the Scottish Office (1885-1999) some small powers were constantly being taken back for Scotland. This was partly due to the tendency all governments, legislatures and bureaucracies have which to increase the range of their powers and partly due to ideas about bureacratic efficiency[sic].
Current reasons and motivations for the transfer of powers from London to Edinburgh are maybe different from those in yesteryear but (as a non-member of the SNP) hopefully more power of self-determination and full independence are on the way. A bit at a time or all at once, however we get it, the important thing is that we get it.