Last week, we were told that the UK government believes the Scottish parliament does not have the legal right to hold its own referendum on independence.
Since then, debate has focused on what the legal consequences would be if Alex Salmond pushed on and held one anyway: would it be regarded as “consultative”? Would the UK government challenge it in the courts? If so, would that look like London bullying Edinburgh?
Today, Jim Wallace, the former deputy first minister and Lib Dem leader in Scotland, has intervened in that debate, using some pretty strong language to try and head off the possibility of Salmond simply going ahead and holding his own referendum. In the most striking passage, Wallace says that to do so would be not just illegal, but undemocratic: Read more
This won’t come to a head until the summer; but rebellion is already in the air among Lib Dem MPs over coalition plans to regionalise public sector pay. Several have told us they believe the idea is “stupid” or “unsound” and “should be resisted” because it could accentuate the north-south divide.
George Osborne has written to six pay bodies to report back by July on how the idea might work; the Tory chancellor believes it could help the economy. (The theory is that if the state offers higher wages in poorer areas then companies have a smaller pool of available talent). Tory MPs – even in the north and south-west – seem to think it’s a great idea. But the Lib Dems fear it could have the reverse effect, causing a “race to the bottom” as companies follow suit and cut their pay to match the public sector. Read more