Monday, October 15, 2012

Cameron barters away the UK Constitution

It appears that a deal has been struck between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, setting out terms for a Scottish independence referendum, to be held in the autumn of 2014.

The whole aggreement may be read HERE. It confirms that Mr Cameron has exchanged a single Yes/No question for extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds: Mr Salmond's 'Devo-Max' demand has evaporated in a tawdry constitutional quid-pro-quo.

Could the Prime Minister please explain why 16-year-olds may be trusted with the entire political future of the United Kingdom, but not with what they do with their own bodies?

Scottish 16-year-olds can’t purchase cigarettes or alcohol; they can’t drive; they can’t give blood; they can’t go on active military service.

They can’t obtain a credit card; they can’t apply for a mortgage, or own houses or land. They can't obtain a street trading licence; they can’t go abroad to act or perform music professionally; they can’t be called for jury service; can’t change their name; and can’t act as an executor of a person's will. They can’t place bets, purchase fireworks or become a local councillor.

What is the rationale for giving 126,000 Scottish 16 and 17-year-olds a vote on the irreversible break-up of the United Kingdom, when they are not deemed competent or sufficiently mature to judge a man's guilt or innocence in a court of law?

What is the rationale for extending the franchise for a constitutional one-off? How does this not amount to quite outrageous gerrymandering? Why should the constituency that elected the current First Minister not be the same as that which votes in his referendum? Surely the age group that determines his success or failure ought to be the same as that which gave him his mandate?

The Prime Minister has no right to barter with the Constitution in this fashion: it is too important a settlement to use for short-term political expediency.

Those who are insisting that no precedent will be set by lowering the voting age in this referendum clearly have no understanding of the word ‘precedent: the groups that campaign for lowering the voting age permanently are in no doubt at all that a clear precedent has now been set. Frankly, the legal age of majority is about to be lowered to 16.


Blogger scottspeig said...

yet if they work, they pay tax and ought therefore on that basis be allowed to vote no?

Or to be exempt from tax (my preference)

So when are you going to do the sensible thing and defect to UKIP? A natural home for ones like you and I.

15 October 2012 at 16:58  
Blogger IanCad said...

Cameron an Salmond are both treasonous wretches.
Our representative form of government should in no wise be party to any form of referenda.
Democracy begins and ends with our privilege to elect our representatives and petition for relief from our grievances.
That's it.
We elect leaders.They should lead, bound only by the restraints of our constitution.
We do not have leadership.
We are running out of options.
Farage is not the solution.
The Conservative Party must change now.

15 October 2012 at 17:04  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Scottspeig,

Having just been savaged and most unjustly misrepresented on Twitter by their head of communications Michael Heaver, His Grace is reassessing the extent to which he will ever again bother with them.

15 October 2012 at 17:20  
Blogger The Boiling Frog said...

The whole 15-21 years are a farce when it comes to rights and responsibilities.

In my view 16 year olds shouldn't have the vote but then also shouldn't pay tax - taxation / representation etc.

Of course the elephant in room is what if Scotland says yes what then happens to our EU membership given that it is under 'UK' which would no longer apply?

15 October 2012 at 17:26  
Blogger non mouse said...

It's not just that we need to change the Conservative Party ... we need to get rid of shameron and his promoters.

And, Your Grace ... those 16-year-olds ... they're part of the demographic who have been deprived of British education and heritage. They are 'creatures' of the euSSR who 'believe' in it. The rest of us are taking too long to die off, so the puppets are weighting the balance in favour of their masters.

15 October 2012 at 17:27  
Blogger Shaun Clarkson said...

Bear in mind that children of any age have to pay tax if they earn enough, so if that is the criterion toddlers can vote.

15 October 2012 at 18:02  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Why assume that every 16/17 year old will vote for separation? This could be their own 21stC Darrien awakening. Besides they'll probably end up having to fund themselves through University and start paying their way in life. In any case, we'd be better off without Scotland's benefit bludgers bleeding away our financial resources.

15 October 2012 at 18:03  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

A new socialist state is born (…almost…) by giving children the vote, and curiously denying expat Scots living outside the bonnie place the chance to vote. Sage move, King Salmon, the former more likely to vote Yes in a splurge of understandable infantile ignorance and jingoism, the latter most likely to vote to stay in. But och aye, Scots no more since they moved south. Lead on MacDuff and put that chain link fence up, we don’t want them sneaking back in demanding their rightful say, what !

It is with some relief that the King has no heir of his own blood. And that with his one day passing, cast adrift Scotland may one day seek to restore the union or ‘normality’ as everyone living up there will be calling it then. Rather like Cuba when Castro dies. (…Haven’t seen that fellow for years now, perhaps he has joined Che Guevara in hell…)

15 October 2012 at 18:06  
Blogger Chris said...

You write "Could the Prime Minister please explain why 16-year-olds may be trusted with the entire political future of the United Kingdom, but not with what they do with their own bodies?"

The rationale for permitting those who have reached the age of 16 to vote is that, in Scotland, they a person of that age may marry without parental consent.

15 October 2012 at 18:06  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

IanCad. One must oppose you on referenda. It is the purest form of government when the people tell the government what they must do.

One looks wistfully back and wonders how a referendum on say, mass alien immigration would have gone. And of course, homosexual faux marriage !

15 October 2012 at 18:10  
Blogger IanCad said...

OIG @ 18:10,

"One must oppose you on referenda. It is the purest form of government--"

It's the purest form of tyranny.
I do not want to be ruled by the average voter.
By electing representatives to act on our behalf within a constitutional system some sort of rectitude and sobriety can generally be expected.
Present times excluded.

We only have to see the relish which Mr Average displays in suppoorting the odious decision to deprive Abu Hamza of his hooks prior to his conviction in a court of law to realize that government by the transient emotions of the masses is not something to wish for.

15 October 2012 at 18:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The responsibilities of citizenship do not necessarly track with the privileges of citizenship. Performing a task is not the same thing as having a say in which tasks must be performed. The former requires capability. The latter requires wisdom and maturity. People develop capability much quicker than they develop wisdom. That's why the voting age should be raised to (say) 25. It gives the population time to get a clue before it has a say.

Now, the counter-argument is ususally something along the line of "If I am old enough to fight, then I am old enough to vote." Well, fine. If you join the military, then you can vote as soon as you take the oath. The argument doesn't impress me however when it is made by a 19-year old literature student who would micturate in his pants if he was ever handed a rifle. He can wait.


15 October 2012 at 18:57  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

IanCad. glad you threw in ‘Present times excepted’. Best add ‘and future’ as this is how our parliamentary democracy now works.

I don’t think you have the idea of referenda. We are talking about issues of great import, and that gaps of at least 15 years occur before an issue is re-visited.

It’s rather disappointing you have so little faith in Joe and Jane Public. Are you yourself in politics by any chance ?

15 October 2012 at 19:09  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Can we in England, Wales, and NI vote to separate from Scotland at the same time?

15 October 2012 at 19:39  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

^I suspect you'd end up with stronger support south of the border than north of it...

15 October 2012 at 19:56  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Ian Cad,

How exactly is Salmond "treasonous"? To me, he seems perfectly loyal to his country - Scotland.

And Dreadnaught,

What "financial resources"?

15 October 2012 at 20:03  
Blogger Tommy said...

Folks, Scotland is allowed a voice, England is not. We must encourage our Scottish friends to vote yes because once they go the chances of us English getting our own parliament becomes a reality and then its our independence next ont he agenda.

15 October 2012 at 20:07  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

I agree Tommy - and if England does get its independence, then Cranmer will actually be correct when he refers to the English constitution, as he did in this post.

15 October 2012 at 20:22  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

hear hear Tommy. Throw out those placemen, retired and failed politicians from the Lords and use their building. We can beat the former inmates with sticks on their way out...

15 October 2012 at 20:23  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

It's just occurred to me - when's the next election due at the abosolute latest? 2015?

A year after potential independence for Scotland? A neutered LibDem party, a damaged Labour party. Never mind the border review.

We'll end up with Cameron resurgent. God help us all.

15 October 2012 at 20:30  
Blogger IanCad said...

OIG, wrote:

"It’s rather disappointing you have so little faith in Joe and Jane Public. Are you yourself in politics by any chance ?"

Well, with my jaundiced view I'm in stellar company.

"The public Sir, is a great beast." -- Alexander Hamiton.

"Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance" -- H. L. Mencken.

The closest I was involved in politcs was when, as a young boy, I would help my father peddle Soviet Weekly and Tribune. While resident in the US. I had no voting privileges. I am now all signed up to vote here.


It is in violation of the 1707 "Union with England Act".
Our culture, strength and economy is the result of it.
To throw away with scarcely a thought this union upon which our security and well-being depend, does, by my definition warrant the use of the word "treasonous".

15 October 2012 at 20:45  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...


Since the 1707 Union with England Act was itself the product of bribery, intimidation and corruption, and in any event, passed by a priviliged minority and resulted in street violence when the people realized they'd been sold out, it doesn't really count now, does it?

15 October 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

IanCad, you had the Inspector laughing out loud. A combination of your post and single malt to be sure.

The BBC informs us that only one third of Scots would vote for independence. Of course, they did not ask the toddlers in pushchairs on whose probable vote the whole issue could hinge...

15 October 2012 at 20:53  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


Were you rejected by the Literary Society or something?

So the guy that signed up to fly drones in his safe bunker (Or sort the pay) should get a vote......?

Hmm...time for a wind up?

I often wonder why we keep expensive armies. Surely this is something best sorted out by the private sector. (like it used to be). Great saving there, the US did well using the private sector in 1776-79. (Not so good in 1812.) Mind you had Paul Revere so we had no chance....

Still give the vote to anyone with a gun? Sounds like Zimbabwe politics.


15 October 2012 at 21:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Republic of Scotland would find itself in the same mess as the Republic of Ireland- two massively bust banks without the state having the capacity to bail out and therefore reliant on IMF/EU bailout funds, in a currency lock totally inappropriate for that country.

In respect of the franchise, this rather misses the point-look at the stats and you will find that most 18 to 25 year old people do not bother to vote in droves as it is.

15 October 2012 at 21:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"The argument doesn't impress me however when it is made by a 19-year old literature student who would micturate in his pants if he was ever handed a rifle. He can wait".

I knew a few literature students in my army days - give them a rifle and show them that the enemy is charging at them and they'll soon become either dead or crack sharp shooting soldiers in no time!

15 October 2012 at 21:24  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Corrigan1 said...

"I agree Tommy - and if England does get its independence, then Cranmer will actually be correct when he refers to the English constitution, as he did in this post."

Where, exactly?

15 October 2012 at 21:26  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"I knew a few literature students in my army days - give them a rifle and show them that the enemy is charging at them and they'll soon become either dead or crack sharp shooting soldiers in no time!"


15 October 2012 at 21:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Ian and Carl,

The best way would be to have a fully functioning House of Lords, without the party placemen and life peers. An elected house of Lords, with the power of veto over the Commons - the electorate being fellow Lords (in the way that Ireland used to). Let's say 120 Peers and a handful of Bishops and Rabbis is all we need.

15 October 2012 at 21:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Mr Belfast,

Did I really mean Craic?

Joviality and punning aside, you see the British Empire was fighting for her right to exist - with whole towns and cities being turned into dust by the might of the German war machine and with the Japanese moving in on our Eastern Colonies and the Raj. It was either them or us. Fight or die. That moves the mind of man in a way perhaps this generation cannot understand.

15 October 2012 at 21:39  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Lord Lavendon:

I couldn't possibly comment on the "craic" involved in sharp-shooting (at?) soldiers, sitting as I am in an estate in Belfast where I have but to walk to the end of my street to see balaclava'd chaps painted on the side of the sandwich shop.

15 October 2012 at 21:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Mr Belfast,

Over 60,000 Irishmen from the South fought in the war, even though Eire was neutral. One either took up arms against the foe or one would have surrendered. I know which option I choose. English literature student or not.

15 October 2012 at 22:09  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Cranmer, you referred to "the UK Constitution". You mean, of course, the English Constitution; since you're English, you don't differentiate and for that reason have difficulty with the concept of Scottish separatism. I merely meant that when you refer to this instrument after Scottish independence, you will be correct.

15 October 2012 at 22:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Lavendon, old fellow. 80,000 if you include the merchant marine...

15 October 2012 at 22:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought we had an English Constition

15 October 2012 at 22:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the SNP need to be a bit more realistic when it comes to the list of demands that they think they can have on a divorce with the UK. The SNP want :

1. To have the oil
2. To make sure the UK continues to bail out 2 failed Scottish banks and to guarantee them (RBS's balance sheet is still roughly twice the size of UK GDP).
3. To have no national debt.
4. To join the EU.
5. To keep the Pound as the currency.

Aside from number 4, I doubt any English politician in a post breakup UK would be able to agree to any of these.

15 October 2012 at 22:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Mr Inspector,

My figures stand corrected.

15 October 2012 at 22:47  
Blogger Marcus Foxall said...

Long ago , I had a vision of the future . Picture this scene , just after the next General Election in , at a meeting of Voters Anonymous.

A bright chap stands up and declares to applause : "My name is Thomas and I was a Tory-holic".
The applause subsides , then rises again as he declares:
"It's now been a whole five years since I last voted Tory."

Prime Minister Farage has replaced the false prophet and he welcomes the support of those who once voted for another party (unless that party was the BNP).

16 October 2012 at 00:08  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Were you rejected by the Literary Society or something?

OK. I admit I was being just a little bit hyperbolic. I wasn't really serious about the 'military' exception. Well, maybe a little. I have always liked Heinlein.

Anyways, it was really a comment about the fallacious nature of the argument. Those who would make it are those who never have any intention of actually fighting. They simply used the service of other men for their own advantage. In fact, they despised the service of those men. They despised the men themselves.


16 October 2012 at 03:29  
Blogger bluedog said...

Why has Cameron even engaged with Salmond on the matter?

Support for independence in Scotland is running at 28% of the current electorate.

The 'agreement' does not even agree on the terms of the single question to be put to the inflated Scottish electorate. In short, it seems possible that the 'agreement' will dissolve in acrimony well before Scottish teenagers even have the chance to vote on something they will probably not begin to understand.

So what's point in taking this initial step?

Is Cameron really this stupid, or is it all a bad dream?

16 October 2012 at 08:36  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

Would not Independence from the UK still make our jock friends eligible to head over Hadrian's wall and claim benefits and 'uman rites' like their EU compatriots?? Perhaps claim asylum from the devastation of independence.

Heh, Heh. Shafted whatever we do!!!

E S Blofeld

16 October 2012 at 08:41  
Blogger Dr Robert Warde said...

one way to sort out the question of the Scots leaving the union. tell them that if the leave the union, they will not get a brass farthing from the English.Then all the benefits we pay for, but do not get will be stopped.

16 October 2012 at 09:09  
Blogger John Knox's lovechild said...

My Dad, a traitor who put his particular brand of protestant fundemantalism before his monarch and country; consorted with and aided and abetted Scotland's enemies; and encouraged mob violence including against his Queen, would vote No in the referendum.

He and his vandal friends destroyed my country's architectural and musical heritage, for which he cared not one whit.

His contempt for the ordinary people was made manifest by his readiness to manipulate them.

Prosperity to Scotland and no damned Union.

16 October 2012 at 09:11  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"one way to sort out the question of the Scots leaving the union. tell them that if the leave the union, they will not get a brass farthing from the English.Then all the benefits we pay for, but do not get will be stopped." IMPOSSIBLE. They would be EU Citizens and entitled to all the same privileges as other EU Citizens dropping in here to say 'Hello' in old Blighty.


16 October 2012 at 09:15  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

" I have always liked Heinlein. "

Actually, so have I. Although I wouldn't draw so specific a link between military service and the vote, I often wonder if there shouldn't be a greater connection between being an active citizen and voting.

16 October 2012 at 10:35  
Blogger Berserker said...

Will Scotland if it secedes from the UK become an automatic member of the EU?

Where's their glittering Independence then?

The Barnett formula means that Scotland is favoured over England by £1600 per person and still rising. People have rightly mentioned the benefit drain but the one on the NHS is even worse. Could we ever ween the Scots off their deep fried mars bars, their alcohol, their high fat diet etc and their general fighting attitude - "No one provokes me with impunity' is the Scottish motto.

The official animal of Scotland is the unicorn. A wild and mythical beast? Tameable only by a virgin. Well, that alright then - bring in the Muslims!

The Scots will never vote for Independence - they know which side their bread is buttered. Defence? Aye, there'e the rub

16 October 2012 at 10:53  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, the problem that Cameron faces in dealing with Salmond is the perennial problem of the tactician playing the strategist. Dave is quite capable of winning the referendum battle but losing the Union war.

Salmond plays a very long game with clear yet flexible objectives. Dave is defending the Blairite status quo with unsubstantiated promises of more benefits to Scotland if the Scots reject independence. Brilliant move Dave, the Scots are in now a win-win situation at the expense of the non-devolved English. It is remarkable that Cameron appears to completely discount the risks of this offer.

The correct move for Dave is the strategic gambit of federalising the UK so that all four entities of the UK have the same status within the Constitution. This means devolution for England within the UK. By offering Scotland greater benefits Dave is making the fatal mistake of bidding against himself. It is only a matter of time before Wales and NI say 'what about us' and before the English say 'stuff the lot of them'. By offering the Scots a privileged position, Dave is virtually guaranteeing the end of the whole UK. Much to the glee of Brussels.

As this communicant has said before, by introducing a federal constitution it becomes possible to both defend and strengthen the Union by creating a political structure that allows the Irish Republic to rejoin.

And don't we need some Irish commonsense to help the political elite keep both feet on the ground.

16 October 2012 at 11:30  
Blogger William said...


You make a lot of sense and, as DanJ0 said earlier, Scottish independence means that the kingdom will no longer be united and is consequently a matter for all of us.

16 October 2012 at 12:10  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


NI knows what side their bread is buttered. It's long been the case that a majority of Catholics, let alone Protestant Unionists, would prefer to remain in the UK - mostly because it is quite plain to anyone living here that the South could not sustain, as England's taxpayers can, the level of public sector employment and public subsidies.

Wales probably wants to be independent - but on what basis? It has virtually no economy of its own, has crippling areas of unemployment and low productivity. Of all the nations, it's the least likely to ever leave the UK, simply because it would fold the minute it did so.

Scotland is the only one of the three that stands even a remote chance of standing on its own - though even then, it's difficult to see how they'll avoid taking a hit to living standards in the short run. However, if they're willing to do that, I don't see any reason why a tax-efficient independent Scotland wouldn't thrive in the long-run. But that would seem to be at odds with the EU...

16 October 2012 at 12:28  
Blogger William said...


I'm sure that the EU would be more than happy to spend our money (or should that be our grandchildren's money) on welcoming it's latest protege into the fold.

16 October 2012 at 12:33  
Blogger William said...

its not it's

16 October 2012 at 12:50  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Mr Belfast and Carl Jacobs,

Never really saw either of you being into 'starship troopers'- for Belfast it is very bloody, violent and fascist-esq and for Carl, isn't it a bit too much of a leap of science fiction for you, i.e an extra terrestrial war against giant bugs?

16 October 2012 at 13:23  
Blogger William said...

Ironic really. The English would probably pay for Scotland to leave the UK and then pay again for them to join the EU. Meanwhile the Scots would be shouting "FREEDOM!" as they jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

16 October 2012 at 13:27  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Well if Scotland wants a Get, I would hope Cameron or whoever is PM by that time making the most of the upside.

Although the more I look at it, the more relevant it is to EVERYONE else in the UK. Yet the English will have no say in their future, it is all being dictated by Scotland.

Perhaps the only way this whole Union thing will work is for England to have a devolved Parliament as well.

16 October 2012 at 13:35  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


No you're quite right - it's politics are a fair bit away from my own. I like it much as I like the Dune series (which is in many ways even more philosophically scornful of democracy), not necessarily as a manifesto, but for its capacity to create other worlds. I find that viewing ideas - like democracy - through wholly "alien" lenses can be remarkably helpful in clarifying where one actually stands: what the basis for one's philosophy is, and which values are truly essential. I'd certainly not want to live in either the Terran Federation or the Atreides Empire!

For starters, both of them have vastly powerful central States - which is hardly the direction I'd be tending towards. But I'd also say that the existence of Bugs and endless wars across the stars for Spice also make them slightly less appealing :)

16 October 2012 at 13:44  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Actually, the person who "pegs" my views on Democracy, is unsurprisingly J.R.R. Tolkien:

“I am not a 'democrat' only because 'humility' and equality are spiritual principles corrupted by the attempt to mechanize and formalize them, with the result that we get not universal smallness and humility, but universal greatness and pride, till some Orc gets hold of a ring of power--and then we get and are getting slavery.”

16 October 2012 at 13:47  
Blogger Tommy said...

An independent England could prosper, we take back our north sea borders ceeded to Scotland to appease nationalists in the 60's we tax all goods passing through our waters or land, we develop an English parliament, we reform our county regiments, we trade with the world, we retain the pound. Scotland will merely be a suburb of the EU independent in what? Governed by Brussels, Shetland will probably seek its own independence, and they get to take a sizeable portion of the national debt. The future is bright,

16 October 2012 at 15:34  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

If Scotland was to stand alone as a country, an influx of five or six million muslims could outvote the lot of them and have their own county Scotlandistan - Arrrrrrrrgh!

16 October 2012 at 19:18  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Not all at Dreadnaught. Stand by for a celebration of petty nationalism, and immigration controls. Makes sense, you know...

16 October 2012 at 20:19  
Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

"The Prime Minister has no right to barter with the Constitution in this fashion"

Or in any fashion, if it comes to that.

Similarly, he has no right to hand over powers to the EU - those powers belong to the people and are lent to parliament for its term, to be returned intact thereafter and entrusted to the next parliament. This is why no partliament, under our constitution, can bind its successors in any way.

Doesn't stop them, though.

Traitorous scumbags.

17 October 2012 at 09:00  
Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

"most 18 to 25 year old people do not bother to vote in droves"


But if Salmond thinks the ones still at school will tip it for him, he will stick at nothing. Expect to see SNP activitists sent into schools, special sessions for teachers, time off given for the vote, buses laid on, etc etc etc.

Much of it illegal, of course, but again - when did that ever stop them?

18 October 2012 at 09:42  

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