The commentators 18-09-14
...on the Scottish referendum
Gordon Brown is famously flawed, but too many assessments of politics since 1992 have failed to appreciate the multi-layered, nerve-shredding constraints on him as he made his moves. With his opposition to the euro, vote-winning economic policies that gave the space for investment in public services, his understanding of the complexities of public service reform, and his prime ministerial response to the global crash in 2008, he is one of the most significant and misunderstood figures in postwar British politics. There are far more important issues at stake in the referendum vote but perhaps afterwards he will be understood a little more.
- Steve Richards, The Guardian
Scotland these past few weeks has been watching a politician reborn. Gordon Brown had become Britain’s forgotten prime minister, lost since his 2010 general election defeat in self-imposed exile. That was until he took centre stage to energise the unionist campaign fighting Scottish separation
- Philip Stephens, Financial Times
Even if Gordon Brown manages to add saving the Union to his previous boast of saving the world economy (and, fair do’s, the former prime minister’s speech yesterday was spine-tinglingly good), Mr Cameron won’t be out of the woods. Conservative MPs are angry at the last-minute concessions that have been made to Holyrood — all without consulting parliament.
- Tim Montgomerie, The Times
The reality is that, as an independent country, Scotland would be far more likely to revert to its pre-1707 bad habits than to morph magically into “Scandland”. For this debate on independence has opened some old rifts and created some new ones, too.
- Niall Ferguson, Daily Telegraph
If Scotland votes for independence today, it will have been British democracy’s last great show. I put it in these terms because the development of democracy in Britain has been a joint English and Scottish venture since the Act of Union in 1707.
- Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent
Surely if this “political reformation”, as John Harris described it, happened anywhere else, we would be calling it a velvet revolution and marvelling at democracy in action. It may well be fierce, shouty and messy, but these are undeniably voices from below and we should listen. The SNP, once conservative and narrow-mindedly nationalist, has turned itself into something that can harness progressive forces. It is Labour’s loss and shame that they have been unable to do this. Until now.
- Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
The rest of Britain will no longer stand for being excluded from decisions about our future. We must demand a referendum on whether an independent Scotland can keep the pound – our pound, which uses our Bank of England as guarantor. Good luck to Scotland if it wants to be Salmond’s Socialist Republic of Sozzled Softies, but it’s not having our capitalist safety net to rescue its banks and pay its debts. Nor, if they remain within the Union, are Scots getting special devolved privileges and extra cash denied to everyone else in the country.
- Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
The easiest way to rebalance the UK would be to grant an English parliament identical powers to those granted to Scotland. We could either have an English parliament at Westminster, formed from the MPs elected from English constituencies, or work towards an entirely new parliament with additional politicians.
- John Redwood, Financial Times
The venom that has been unleashed by the independence campaign is astounding. It has erupted among the people of a single nationality and ethnic group, all believers in parliamentary democracy, who have coexisted, intermarried and flourished alongside their neighbours for more than 300 years.
- Jenni Russell, The Times
Apart from the twelve referendum splashes of the past two days, the subject has made a front-page lead on only five occasions this year:Yes, it's been busy with Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine, the rise of Ukip, sex scandals, the hacking trial, Mr Cameron's holidays, floods and heatwaves. But one would still expect the potential break-up of the UK - or the liberation of Scotland, depending on your point of view - to be able to put up a better fight against the 30 house price splashes, the 25 on migrants and the 26 on Madeleine McCann. I stopped counting when I got to 60 soap opera and "reality TV" offerings.
- Wake us up before they go-go
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