Prime Minister sees no need for plebiscite before 2020

David Cameron has ruled out authorising a second referendum on Scottish independence before the 2020 general election.

The Scotsman describes the SNP warning the Prime Minister not to try to ‘dictate’ the timing of such a poll – but the power to call an official plebiscite remains reserved to Westminster.

Alex Salmond, the SNP foreign affairs spokesman and former leader, has been criticised for ‘bully-boy’ tactics after claiming that Scotland was moving towards another referendum.

The Daily Herald reports that Alex Johnstone, on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives, denounced the MP for Gordon for attempting to so swiftly re-open a divisive issue Scots rejected by more than ten points only last year

Meanwhile, over at CapX Iain Martin has also savaged Salmond, advancing the argument that he and Sturgeon need to distract pundits from scrutinising their record in government north of the border.

James Forsyth has suggested in the Spectator that, by forcing Scotland onto the political agenda in London, the SNP’s spectacular success at the General Election might just end up saving the union.

In a slightly surreal attempt to co-opt the separatists to the cause of Union more directly, Nicola Sturgeon is going to give evidence to a House of Lords enquiry on strengthening the UK.

The commission is chaired by Lord Lang, a Conservative peer who served as Secretary of State for Scotland during the John Major administration. The paper quotes him as saying:

“Since 1998, devolution has significantly changed the way the United Kingdom is governed and there are proposals for the further devolution of power both to nations within the UK and to English cities and regions in the very near future. We are concerned, however, that this process has not been undertaken in a coherent or considered way; the devolution of powers to each nation has been considered separately with little or no reflection on the impact on the Union as a whole.”

On which note, the Scotsman reports that the Government has decided to grant the latest tranche of powers to Holyrood a year early, in order to allow them to become the focus of next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

Originally intended to be implemented in 2018, the Scotland Office intends the expedited schedule to mean that the first budget of the next Scottish government will have to address the new policy areas, including income tax and welfare.

Plaid debate fate of leadership critic

The BBC reports that talk are underway over the future of Lord Elis-Thomas, a Welsh Assembly Member and former leader of Plaid Cymru.

This column explained two weeks ago that he would face discipline by his party after publicly criticising Leanne Wood, the embattled nationalist leader, over their party’s general election performance.

In particular he attacked Plaid’s tendency – shared by some in Labour in including Carwyn Jones, the First Minister – to demand Wales simply receive the same treatment as Scotland, rather than addressing the distinct priorities of Welsh voters.

Plaid were disappointed to make no gains in May, despite Wood’s profile receiving an enormous boost from the seven-way ‘challengers’ debate’ during the election campaign. They failed to unseat either Labour in Ynys Mon or the Liberal Democrats in Ceredigion, despite both those parties underperforming in Wales.

SNP infiltrating Labour to vote for Corbyn

The Daily Herald reports that sources inside Scottish Labour have claimed that supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are attempting to sign up SNP supporters to vote for their candidate.

“There is definitely entryism going on”, this source told the paper.

Corbyn’s Scottish division is commanded by Neil Findlay, the far-left throwback who challenged Jim Murphy for the Scottish Labour leadership and announced his candidacy in the Morning Star.

He denies encouraging entryism, but has previously called on left wingers opposed to austerity and Trident to “put aside differences for a short period”. He claims it was a bid to woo back left-wing voters who abandoned Labour for the Nationalists in May.

Last week, the SNP in their turn reported fears that far-left elements were infiltrating the party to try to channel Nationalist second preferences to Tommy Sheridan, the disgraced former convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party.

For his part, Corbyn has indicated that he believes Scottish Labour has been punished for straying too far from the traditional left-wing positions now held by Nicola Sturgeon’s party.

Alex Salmond has indicated that it would be possible for the SNP to ‘cooperate’ with Labour if they were led by the hard left Islington MP.

Welsh Labour criticise toxic leadership contest

Several figures in Welsh Labour have hit out at the increasingly sour and negative tone of the party’s leadership election.

According to Wales Online Alun Davies AM, a former Welsh executive minister, has attacked the ‘bullying’ of Liz Kendall, the Blairite candidate.

Davies, a Burnham supporter, has described the campaign against Kendall as “almost misogynistic”. Writing on his blog he warns that the election is actually damaging the party and risks turning it into a bystander in British politics.

Meanwhile Darren Williams, secretary of Welsh Labour Grassroots and a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, has attacked party figures raising concerns about far-left elements infiltrating the party to back his candidate.

The BBC reports Williams decrying such “mud-slinging” and the “high-handed” tone being taken by some in the party centre.

Nationalists bid to rename Londonderry

Unionists have reacted with fury (£) to a bid by the city council to officially rechristen Londonderry.

A motion passed by Sinn Fein and the more moderate nationalist SDLP has called for the city to formally adopt the name Derry, which was its name prior to 1613 when it was granted a royal charter by James I.

The name has been a point of contention between unionists and nationalists, with the former favouring the full name and the nationalists favouring Derry. Attempts to find a compromise name have floundered.

In order to maintain neutrality many outlet adopt the form ‘Derry/Londonderry’, leading to the moniker ‘Stroke City’.

RTE reports that the council will now pursue the matter with sympathetic members of the devolved administration, although it is not a devolved matter.

Whilst attempts to find a compromise name have floundered thus far, it probably holds out the best hope for conciliation – even if it entails the city having two official names.