Salmond's secret plan to win Scottish independence - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

Salmond's secret plan to win Scottish independence

SNP leader wants a referendum to consider three options, including 'devolution max'

Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) activists convening in Inverness for their annual conference are aware they are closer to their goal of Scottish independence than ever before – what they don't know is what sort of independence it is.

Ever since the SNP won this year's Scottish Parliament elections, opinion polls have shown the gap narrowing between independence and support for the union. Some have even put independence ahead.

However, there is another aspect to this agenda which is emerging as a new – and potentially more likely – route forward: "independence lite". Alex Salmond wants to put three options to the Scottish people in the referendum: independence, the status quo and independence lite.

This has been seen by many as a calculating move, designed to ensure the SNP leadership achieves something substantial from the referendum if it fails to get outright independence. It is expected to appeal to the many Scots who want more autonomy and have sympathy with the SNP, but baulk at full independence.

It is also attracting support across the political spectrum. Henry McLeish, the former Labour First Minister, has urged Labour to consider endorsing independence lite – or "devolution max" as unionists like to call it.

Mr McLeish said: "We have to look at the referendum and that doesn't mean just opposing it but putting forward our own positive vision, and for me that could be 'devolution max'."

The policy would mean the complete handover of all financial powers from Westminster to Holyrood. Scotland would raise all of its taxes and then pass a portion of them to the UK Treasury to pay for Scotland's share of diplomatic missions, the Royal Family and defence. Everything else would be run by Scotland in Scotland, giving the country independence in all but name.

This "third way" would change the nature of UK politics dramatically – if only because it would remove all Scottish MPs from the House of Commons, leaving some sitting in a confederate second chamber. Labour leaders in London are well aware of the damage that the loss of Scotland's battalion of 41 Labour MPs would do to their chances of regaining overall power, which is one of the reasons why the party has not taken a definitive position on the issue.

However, the idea of endorsing something positive – rather than just resisting Mr Salmond's vision for Scotland with negative messages – does appeal to some Scottish Labour MPs.

Eric Joyce, the Labour MP for Falkirk, said: "Campaigning for devolution max would make eminent sense and I like to think Labour would be behind it."

The main difficulty for Labour and the other unionist parties is that no-one knows exactly what an "independence lite" Scotland would look like.

Mr Salmond published detailed plans for independence in the last parliament so there is a clear plan for that option, but not for the other routes.

Going it alone: What could happen?

Taxation Whether it is called 'independence lite' or 'devolution max', achieving full control of how and how much Scotland's population is taxed is key to the concept. This week, the SNP has called for Air Passenger Duty to be immediately handed to the Scottish government at Holyrood.

Parliament The balance of governance for the rest of the UK would be dramatically affected, with all Scottish MPs removed from the Commons, benefitting England's high number of Tory MPs. The House of Lords would make way for a revised, confederate second chamber.

Diplomacy Overseas representation would stay a joint matter, funded by the Treasury in London with Scottish contributions.

Defence The armed forces would stay the preserve of UK-wide politics, but the first sight of war could challenge Britain's last vestiges of unity if the Scottish parliament and Westminster were at odds.

The Royal Family The Queen would remain head of state north of the border, which should not be problematic given that many now-independent countries have kept Elizabeth II as their figurehead.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week