Alex Massie

The Wendy (and Gordon) Farces Never Close...

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I wasn't quite sure what to say about this. This being the Scottish Labour party's latest attempt to finesse their position on the matter of an independence referendum. Happily, J Arthur MacNumpty summarises Labour's position with admirable clarity:

Labour are Unionists, so don't want an independence referendum, but aren't afraid of the verdict of the people, so want a referendum now, while waiting for the Calman Commission to present its findings, so want to set the timing and question of a referendum which they do want in a Bill which they can't introduce and may even be ultra vires, and as they can't introduce it, they have scored a victory over the SNP by agreeing not to oppose the SNP's main policy come 2010, when they get round to scrutinising the policy in detail that is already available and decide it's completely unpalatable.

And yet, appallingly, come the next election hundreds of thousands (millions?) of my countrymen will still dutifully vote for these clowns.

Not that their counterparts at Westminster are much, if at all, better. That said, say this for Alastair Darling: at least he ran the Paxman gauntlet. There's no way his courageous predecessor - the man largely responsible for the 10p fiasco - would have done that.

UPDATE: Fraser reports that Darling was roasted by Jon Snow on Channel 4. As Snow put it: "All this does, in the end, sum up a complete shambles. You nearly lost the Finance Bill, the Prime Minister could not focus on the reality that the 10p was a problem. Then you have had to do what no Chancellor in our lifetime has ever had to do - change income tax arrangements between budgets. Why should people trust you after this, if things can go so badly wrong?"

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.