The SNP names its date

Scottish government announces intention to hold an independence referendum in autuman 2014.

In a bid to seize the initiative back from the UK government, the SNP has just announced autumn 2014 - a few weeks after the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn - as its preferred date for a referendum on Scottish independence. Nicola Sturgeon, the party's deputy leader, broke the news a few minutes ago on Twitter.


This would be an advisory referendum (the Scottish government does not have the legal right to hold a binding referendum) designed to provide the SNP with a clear mandate to negotiate for independence. But in his statement to the Commons earlier this afternoon, the Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, denied that Alex Salmond's administration even had the right to hold this. Westminster insists that it must determine both the timing and the wording of any vote. The course is set for a dramatic constitutional collision.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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