Professor Michael Keating speaks about Scotland’s future

Professor Michael Keating is currently writing a paper for The Constitution Society on the important topic of Scotland’s future after the independence referendum in 2014. We will be launching his piece along with responses from CentreForum, the Fabian Society and ResPublica at the party conferences.

In the meanwhile, Professor Keating was kind enough to join us for a quick talk on the issues facing Scotland and her relationship with the rest of the UK. Click here to watch the video.

Professor Keating is the Chair in Scottish Politics at the University of Aberdeen and a key voice on the topics of devolution and nationalism.

The Constitution Society looks forward to launching this timely piece of research in Glasgow at Liberal Democrat party conference, before taking it to Brighton and Manchester platforming the groundbreaking work before Labour and Conservative party conferences respectively. 

The Coalition’s mid-term constitutional plans

It’s been a furiously busy two years of constitutional news: from the AV referendum and failed Lords reform to elected Police Commissioners and fixed-term parliaments. But now with the Coalition reaching mid-point in this parliament what constitutional issues will be raised in the run-up to 2015?

The downgrading of Chloe Smith’s role from that of her predecessor’s indicates that the Coalition will be placing less priority on parliamentary and constitutional reform, but there still remain huge constitutional matters that will be addressed before the end of this parliament.

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11th January 2013

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Scottish Independence: asking the wrong question?

Following last month’s agreement between David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond,  the Scottish Government has now rubber-stamped the SNP’s proposed question for the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

The proposed question has yet to be approved by the Electoral Commission. The  Commission’s role in determining the intelligibility of proposed referendum questions is, strictly, merely consultative. However it would be at best embarrassing for the SNP to ignore the Commission’s recommendation. 

 Dr Matt Qvortrup, a member of The Constitution Society’s Working party on Scottish Independence and a leading authority on referendums, said last week that in his view the Electoral Commission are unlikely to endorse the proposed question on the grounds that the word ‘agree’ biaised the question towards an affirmative answer.

 Earlier this year a group of academics including Dr Qvortrup proposed an alternative, neutral, phrasing of the question which is broadly supported by the opposition parties: ‘Scotland should become an independent state: I agree/I do not agree

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16th April 2012

A summary of this week’s constitutional affairs: bringing together debates and questions in Parliament, Select Committee activity and online comment.

 

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Would the Conservatives benefit from Scottish independence?

By Michael Everett, Researcher, The Constitution Society

A few weeks ago David Cameron attempted to seize the initiative over the question of Scottish independence by suggesting that the SNP should hold a referendum on this question sooner rather than later. Several reasons have been offered for Cameron’s actions, including the argument that the political and economic uncertainty surrounding Scotland’s place in the Union is bad for business and foreign investment.[1] Perhaps the most intriguing rumour doing the rounds at Westminster, however, is that several senior Tories, including George Osborne, favour an early referendum because they believe it offers the Conservatives a ‘win-win’ situation.

Behind this argument lies a belief that an early referendum is likely to favour the unionists. Polls suggest that support for independence in Scotland is currently low.[2] A referendum held in the near future would therefore probably result in a ‘no’ to Scottish independence. Read more ›

Independence boost for Alex Salmond as new poll shows rise in support

Independence boost for Alex Salmond as new poll shows rise in support

Support for independence has increased but still falls short of a majority, according to a poll today. The Ipsos MORI survey suggests 38% of people would vote to take Scotland out of the UK, up three points from a poll in August. Voters appear to want an early say in the future of the constitution, rather than stick to First Minister Alex Salmond’s preferred timetable.

The SNP leader has said the referendum is likely to take place towards the end of this five-year parliamentary session, meaning it could be held in or after 2014. But 33% of people in the survey want it held as soon as possible, while a further 31% want it within the next two years.

Read it at the Daily Record ›

ARCHIVE: Could Harriett have the Answer to the West Lothian Question?

[First Published on Monday 25th October 2010]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Harriett Baldwin, Conservative MP for West Worcestershire, spoke to ConSoc about her private members’ Bill, scheduled to have its second reading in February 2011, which will seek to find a solution to the issue commonly known as the ‘West Lothian Question’.

“The West Lothian Question” was a term coined in the 1970s when Tam Dalyell, MP for West Lothian drew attention to thefact that MPs in Scotland, N Ireland and Wales were entitled to vote on issues that impacted solely on England,whilst English MPs could be effectively disenfranchised from voting on similar matters if they formed part of the devolved settlements.

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ARCHIVE: Fear and Lothian in Westminster. The English question is not going to go away

[First Published on Monday 7th June 2010]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

The next sentence might offend about 171,000 people. The main ‘claim to fame’ of West Lothian – in spite of its being “the happiest place in Scotland”, in the words of its own tourist authority – is through a much-quoted 1977 speech in Parliament by Tam Dalyell, then MP for the West Lothian constituency.

“For how long will English constituencies and English Honourable Members tolerate [...] Honourable Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on English politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?”

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