The latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the British Constitution was honoured to have as its main speaker, Sir John Elvidge, former Permanent Secretary to the Scottish government 2003 – 2010.
Sir John opened the discussion of the issues surrounding the upcoming independence vote by: firstly laying out what he believed were three misjudgments about the nature of constitutional change relating to it, secondly stating what he believed were the two most interesting judgments the UK government has made in its wrangling with the independence movement, and finally outlining the most difficult decision the Scottish government has to consider and get right in this process. Following his introduction, the distinguished guest fielded questions from a room full of parliamentarians and interested observers on the nature of the upcoming referendum, its most important developments so far, and where it might go in the future.
Topics discussed included:
- The calculated risks taken by both governments in framing how the referendum will take place.
- The extent to which voters’ decisions will be driven by emotional and idealistic notions tied to culture or hard-headed economic reasoning.
- How the SNP plans to deal with fiscal issues of social security spending and its investment in renewable energy.
- How important the UK’s continuing EU membership is to Scottish voters.
And perhaps most intriguingly…
- The continuing future of ‘DevoMax’ as an alternative option to a Yes/No decision.
- What a close-margin outcome to the vote could mean for the future of Scotland, independent or not.
- The possible future of the Orkney, Shetland, and Western Isles if the rest of the country decides to vote Yes.
The full audio recording of this meeting can be found here to listen to or download along with a host of other APPG podcasts.