Two things in my head about politics today. The first, prompted by some of my FB friends and, somewhat more intelligently, by [livejournal.com profile] jen_c_w of this parish, is why do I care about who wins in America at all? It's a fair question, and I suppose there are two answers. The first is that it matters, a lot, to my American friends. It matters, surprisingly often, on a very personal level. If Obama had lost, a lot of them would find it more difficult to get married, to get medical treatment, to get access to family planning. And I don't have a lot of poor American friends (worth noting that a lot of these friends are on-line friends, though some are friends I've actually met!). If it's like that for them, then there must be a lot of people affected further down the social ladder. Secondly, the President has the power to regulate American foreign policy and, on balance, I think Obama is less likely to find a juicy new war to play with than Romney. It goes without saying that a UK government of any stamp would follow America into war with its tail happily wagging, and that would upset me.

So that's why I care, but I don't care as much as some people I know (like the Edinburgh students I heard on Radio Scotland this morning, who've spent 4 months volunteering in the States). Mostly it comes down to the simple fact that America (and I apologise for using America here and throughout as being synonymous with the USA - I do know better, honestly) is a foreign country. I have no vote there, and they have a variety of political views which come to them through being American, and being directly influenced by American politics. Being invested in them voting the way I'd like them to is useless, self-indulgent, and, possibly, down-right insulting. Americans will choose (have chosen) the government that Americans want. Nothing I can, or should, do about that.

Strangely enough it was only last night, in conversation with [livejournal.com profile] widgetfox, that I realised that this is the way I'm increasingly thinking about Westminster, about UK elections. No matter what I think, or feel, or how I vote, or how anyone votes, up here in Scotland, UK results will reflect what England wants. That's not a political point, it's an arithmetical one. But it does help me to understand that when English voters elect a Conservative government, or make a Conservative led government possible, then that is what they want. From up here in Scotland I have no right to say that they should vote Labour just because Scotland does. That, I think, is why I don't subscribe to the idea that Scotland should remain within the Union to fight for a fairer government (or what I, and other Labour supporters would consider to be a fairer government). If England wants that type of government, they will vote for it. If they don't then their choice has a legitimacy that has nothing to do with my prefrrences.
On the 25th of January I wrote:


"So far, four main issues have arisen:

1. Timing of the referendum: Westminster wants "as soon as possible", Holyrood wants Autumn of 2014.

2. Body to oversee the referendum: Westminster wants the UK Electoral Commission, Holyrood wants a Scottish body established to do the job.

3. Who should be eligible to vote? Westminster would go with the electoral roll, Holyrood has promised to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds

4. What should the ballot paper say? Westminster wants one question, Independence or Status Quo, Holyrood has registered Scottish support for a third option, staying in the Union with increased powers.

Basically, we're down to horse-trading over these issues.

Wallace didn't say much about Timing - I think they're giving that one to Holyrood.
Salmond has now come out and said the Electoral Commission aren't necessarily the wrong body to oversee the referendum - that makes one apiece (I'd say 1 was a bigger deal than 2, and make this a Holyrood victory).

The other two are interesting. Extension of the franchise was a Lib Dem policy at the last election. They'll look a bit awkward opposing it. The third question, or "Devolution Max" has never been an SNP policy - it was actually floated by the Scottish arms of the Unionist Parties as an alternative to an Independence Referendum. My view, at the moment, is that Holyrood will swap Devo Max for extending the franchise - if a referendum is lost on a Friday, Devo Max will be back on the agenda on Monday. And many more young people support independence than are against it, so the extension of the franchise is a bigger win.

There is no legal reason to put any limitation on a Section 30 derogation - watching the politics will be interesting. My view is that so far it is going all Holyrood's way - they are being given a legal right to do something they couldn't do legally, and they will retain control over the timing - something that is likely to play out in their favour.

In return for giving away these two huge advantages, Westminster is getting to use the Electoral Commission - not a huge win. So far, Westminster intervention in the process is playing well in England - showing the Bolshy Scots who's boss, showing some English steel, and disastrously in Scotland. In other words, playing very well to 90% of the audience, and abysmally to 10%. Only problem is, the 90% aren't eligible to vote. In a reversal that makes obvious why I support Independence, the voice of the 90% will not over-rule the voice of the 10%."

Sometimes it's nice to be right...

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