The referendum on Scottish independence is scheduled for Autumn 2014. There is one question that is guaranteed to be asked which is likely to be, “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”. Given the damage that the current Union is doing to Scotland’s economy and the prosperity of the Scottish people, this is a good question to ask. It is the right first question.

But what about the second question? The question, that today the majority of Scots would like to be asked in the referendum. The question, which no political party in Scotland, that supports the Union, is prepared to ask.  This sorry state of affairs was summed up perfectly by Lesley Riddoch (2012), “The latest Ipsos Mori poll found that 59% of Scottish Voters want two referendum questions … so the majority of Scots who currently favour a constitutional halfway house (like devo plus or devo max) will have no clear way to register that preference with a single “clarity-creating” question”.

So it appears that no Scottish politician, who believes in the value of a Union, has the courage to address this challenge, and that’s the big problem. The current Union is so damaging to Scotland that change is required, and it needs to be radical change. A growing number of Scots are expecting, and by 2014 are likely to be demanding, this radical change. So who is going to blink first? Someone, somewhere, in the ranks of the politicians supporting a Union will have to step forward. If not, this could be the most fatal mistake the unionist camp could make.

This growing desire for change in Scotland presents unionists with a real dilemma. Should they attempt to defend the current inequitable Union using the negative and scaremongering tactics of the past? Can Scottish unionists really look their countrymen in the eye today and argue that the current Union is a good deal for Scotland? Or could this now be the time for unionists to admit to the failures of the past and embrace the cause for radical change? Is now not the time for those who support a Union to be the very people who should now propose a new union between England and Scotland? This is a critical decision for unionists and one that they must get right. As Hazell (2009) observed, “for the first time the Union is perceived to be in danger; but the danger to the Union lies more from within, from clumsy defence by unionists, than from the challenges from the nationalists without”. The clumsiest defence that unionists could undertake heading towards the Scottish independence referendum would be to defend the current inequitable Union.

For unionists the message is really quite simple, the “do nothing” option will not succeed, radical change is required or eventually the drive for Scottish independence will prevail. There is simply no point in unionists burying their heads in the sand any longer trying to convince themselves, and others, that the current Union is a viable solution for the future.

So what it the way forward for the supporters of the Union? Alternative options to independence have already been suggested. Prominent amongst these alternatives is full devolution or Devolution Max (Devo Max). This option is based on the Westminster parliament devolving more, yet to be determined, power to the Scottish Parliament. However, a fundamental problem with Devo Max is that many of the inequities that exist in the current Union will persist with this option. If an equitable Union is to be established between England and Scotland then a solution that is much more radical than Devo Max is required. The Union of Equals Blueprint proposes such a solution. This Blueprint proposes a new Union that will be created, not by devolving power from Westminster to Edinburgh, but by two equal nations working together to create a new partnership. Time is running out for unionists, there is an urgent need for them to embrace a radical alternative to independence and use it to form the second question. The framework of government proposed in the Union of Equals Blueprint provides them with a ready-made solution. The deliberating and dithering must end; it’s now time for action.

The details for any references in this blog can be found at


The creator of this blog and the A Union of Equals website has no political affiliations.