Press regulation: First Minister opens another UK umbrella for an independent Scotland

As time and debate carry Scotland inexorably towards the independence referendum in October 2014, the First Minister, Alex Salmond appears progressively to see ever more of a the point in the union.

First it was the Queen – with all that implies for the nature, hierarchy, values and constitution of a country.

Then it was the currency – which includes acceptance of fiscal policy being set by the Bank of England.

Then came the Coastguard, with much of the west coast and islands and the south east coast of Scotland to be controlled from Norther Ireland and northern England.

It was mooted that Scotland might retain British driving licences, managed, as currently, through the DVLA.

Today it is reported that the First Minister, eccentrically but predictably wedded to press regulation for Scotland, founded in statute, is indicating that this might reasonably happen under a UK-wide body.

Mr Salmond is said to be mooting this in support of cross-party sign-up to the specific type of press regulation he wishes to see – and which the respected human rights lawyer,  Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty,has declared would actually be illegal.

In terms of priorities, this demonstrates that the pragmatic First Minister is more prepared to see an increase of the enduring linkages to the UK than he is to see a free press.

So the independent Scotland Mr Salmond now envisages would have a UK Queen,  UK currency, UK fiscal poiicy, a UK coastguard service, UK driving licences and UK press regulation.

In what substantial way would what is proposed actually be an independent Scotland?

How is this not confusing?

And we’ve not yet got down to the major business of borders and passports.

It will be interesting to see quite how the distinction might be drawn between the necessity of having a British driving licence and the lack of necessity of having a British passport. Interesting times.

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6 Responses to Press regulation: First Minister opens another UK umbrella for an independent Scotland

  1. “So the independent Scotland Mr Salmond now envisages would have a UK Queen, UK currency, UK fiscal poiicy, a UK coastguard service, UK driving licences and UK press regulation.

    In what substantial way would what is proposed actually be an independent Scotland?”

    That is quite an interesting question, which illustrates that ‘independence’ is not really an extreme destination or a black and white issue. It is more of a point somewhere on a continuum between being almost completely subsumed within the UK (as was the case pre-devolution) and having no ties whatsoever (as some unionists seem to think the SNP’s policy is, or should be).

    In reality, all countries have ties with each other – e.g. the UK itself is subject to a vast body of EU law as well as wider international treaties.

    The ability of the nation to decide for itself how it should be tied to others is the core question – not whether those ties should exist.

    BTW fiscal policy is set by government; the Bank of England sets monetary policy.

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  2. ’50 shades of independence’ maybe, you’ve only got to look at other bits of Europe successfully doing their own thing to different degrees, from Andorra to the Faeroes and the Aland islands. Granted, Scotland’s a good deal bigger than these places, more on a par with Denmark. And Norway used to be part of Denmark, then part of Sweden until relatively recently – as was Finland. So to my mind there’s nothing revolutionary in Scotland seeking full independence, just like Ireland before it, but nothing wrong in examining whether it might not be in the people’s best interest (as opposed perhaps to that of some ambitious politicians) to not go all the way.

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  3. These are all transitional proposals. Once Scotland is independent our Parliament will decide what we shall retain of the Union legacy and what we shall replace.

    DVLA is one example where Scotland may abolish it so why create an Scottish DVLA ?

    A comprehensive taxation and benefit review within the first years of an independent Scotland will provide a new tax regime

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  4. Presumably the leaked EU Commission letter to the Lords committee will have Mr Salmond now wanting to remain in the EU as a “virtual” part of the UK. At some point the SNP are going to have to explain to us what they really mean by “independence”.

    If they’re not careful, the SNP’s current “pick ‘n’ mix” attitude (invariably ignoring the position of other parties to each decision) would result in the country having little more, possibly even less, autonomy than under the present level of devolution.

    There’s little point telling the electorate that these are simply transitional arrangements. This isn’t a vote for the next four or five years but one for the long term future of Scotland.

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    • I agree. We all need to know the factual consequences of independence before we can vote. It’s no use telling us that it will all be worked out after the event: to me that’s a very dangerous plan.

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