Thursday 12 July 2012

Electoral Omission?

A bit of an unfortunate response from John McCormick of the Electoral Commission yesterday to the Holyrood opposition parties' referendum question panel. It's a pity they omitted to square their plan with the EC before their big announcement. But let's note what he said: it's for the relevant government to propose a question. Relevant, not Scottish.

In their original response to the referendum consultations published in March, the EC made it clear that they are agnostic on the question of which government should propose a question; to quote: Irrespective of who is responsible for drafting or agreeing the referendum question (or questions), we recommend following our guidelines... The UK Government consultation paper expresses a preference for the proposed referendum to be held in accordance with PPERA, which contains provision for the UK Parliament to be provided with an assessment of the intelligibility of the wording of proposed referendum questions by the Electoral Commission. It is unclear from the Scottish Government consultation paper the mechanism that they envisage being used to consider the intelligibility of the proposed question. Whatever the legislative process, there will be an important role for the provision of informed and independent advice to the relevant Parliament about the intelligibility of the question that is finally presented for legislative approval.

Of course, the SNP have jumped on the rare opportunity to hit back at the unionist alliance, assuming incorrectly that McCormick meant the Scottish government. But just look at how Angus Robertson tries to squeeze as many mentions of the Tories as possible into his quote for the press. Clearly the SNP want you to believe all Unionists are Tories, and if you're not a Nat then you must be a Tory. Let's see how far that gets them.

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