Cameron’s ‘most colossal misjudgment’ on Scotland

Even before we know the results of Thursday’s referendum on Scottish independence, the knives are being sharpened,  in particular for the prime minister, says Linda Colley in The Guardian.

David Cameron is being blamed for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum in the first place; for refusing to include a third, ‘devo max’ option, and for erroneously believing that a protracted referendum campaign would be “cathartic” rather than “inflammatory”.

Three years ago, when negotiations about the referendum were beginning, ministers found the idea of independence laughable, says Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer. This view has turned out to be “terribly complacent”, but it was understandable given what the opinion polls said at the time.

This certainly led Cameron to insist on a straight yes/no question on the ballot paper; a decision that will be seen as “the most colossal misjudgment of his premiership” should Scotland vote Yes.

Cameron cannot be held solely responsible, says Andrew Grice in The Independent. Some blame Margaret Thatcher for creating “fertile territory” for nationalists by allowing Scotland’s industries to die and using Scotland as a testbed for the poll tax.

Others blame Tony Blair’s government for creating the Scottish parliament in 1999 – even though Blair inherited a pledge to do so from John Smith, his predecessor.

Regardless of the vote, “the Union as we currently know it is over”, says Dan Hodges in The Daily Telegraph. Devo max, as cooked up by the “recently self-appointed president of the United States of Britain, Gordon Brown”, would give Scotland much greater powers than it currently enjoys.

The No campaign’s “final throw of the dice” has been a pledge, by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, to retain the Barnett Formula “in perpetuity”. This constitutional anomaly means each Scottish resident now receives £1,623 more in annual state spending than their English neighbours.

Well, the party leaders can promise “whatever takes their fancy”, but if Scotland wants further devolution, the people of England are not going to be paying for it – at least not “without some serious discussions first”.

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