David Cameron and Alex Salmond after the Scottish independence referendum deal was agreed in October 2012. Photograph: Getty Images.
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How Salmond outplayed Cameron in the Scottish referendum talks

The timing of the vote, the wording of the question, and allowing 16-17-year-olds to vote. 

When David Cameron and Alex Salmond signed the deal in October 2012 allowing the Scottish parliament to stage a legally binding referendum on independence, the consensus was that Cameron had "outplayed" the First Minister. After calling the SNP leader's bluff in January 2012, the PM had denied him the second question he wanted on devo max. 

I wrote at the time that this view was mistaken and that Salmond was "the winner" from the agreement. That this was the case is even clearer now, with all of the concessions the First Minister secured working to his advantage. 

Here are the three ways in which he outmanoeuvred Cameron. 

1. The timing of the vote: 2014, rather than 2013

The UK government originally insisted that it would only give Scotland the right to hold a binding referendum (a power constitutionally reserved to Westminster) if it was staged by September 2013. But this demand was dropped in return for Salmond agreeing to a one question vote. The result was that the nationalists were gifted the commodity they needed most: time. Having begun as the underdogs, they have had an extra year to build a grassroots campaign capable of winning over the undecided and to exploit the anger over measures such as the bedroom tax and other benefit cuts (most of which were only introduced in April 2013). 

2. The wording of the question

The second key power that Cameron conceded to Salmond was the right to determine the wording of the question. While the First Minister abandoned his first choice - the biased "Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?" - on the recommendation of the Electoral Commission, he was still able to amend it to "Should Scotland be an independent country?" This wording allowed Salmond to lead the "Yes" campaign and to project the nationalists as the positive force in the campaign (while also avoiding any reference to the UK). Had Cameron played hardball and forced Salmond to accept a wording such as "Should Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom?" it could have been Alistair Darling leading the "Yes" campaign.  

3. Allowing 16-17-year-olds to vote 

Unlike in UK and Scottish parliamentary elections, Cameron reluctantly agreed to allow Salmond to extend the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds. The SNP's leader's motives were not hard to discern. Suspicious of the establishment and with fewer historic ties to the Union, these first-time voters were always likely to be susceptible to nationalism. His prediction has been fulfilled as recent polls have shown the young to be one of the most pro-independence groups. Last weekend's YouGov poll showed 60 per cent of 16-24-year-olds favour independence compared to 51 per cent of the rest of the population. In a referendum as tight as this one, the votes of 16-17-year-olds could alone determine the outcome. 

And did Cameron really win on devo max?

Cameron's success in forcing Salmond to agree to a one-question referendum (denying him the consolation prize of devo max) was hailed as his biggest negotiating coup. But few now argue that this remains the case. With a clear majority in Scotland for further devolution, Westminster has been forced to offer new powers in any case, but has struggled to overcome public scepticism of its promises. Had devo max, or something close to it, been on the ballot paper to begin with, it would have had no such problem. While telling voters to say "No" to independence, it could have also told them to say "Yes" to a reformed Union. The irony is that Salmond's failure may yet gift him victory, as voters agree that independence is the only way to guarantee real change. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Meet Anne Marie Waters - the Ukip politician too extreme for Nigel Farage

In January 2016, Waters launched Pegida UK with former EDL frontman Steven Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson). 

There are few people in British political life who can be attacked from the left by Nigel Farage. Yet that is where Anne Marie Waters has found herself. And by the end of September she could well be the new leader of Ukip, a party almost synonymous with its beer-swilling, chain-smoking former leader.

Waters’s political journey is a curious one. She started out on the political left, but like Oswald Mosley before her, has since veered dramatically to the right. That, however, is where the similarities end. Waters is Irish, agnostic, a lesbian and a self-proclaimed feminist.

But it is her politics – rather than who she is – that have caused a stir among Ukip’s old guard. Former leader Paul Nuttall has said that her views make him “uncomfortable” while Farage has claimed Ukip is “finished” if, under her leadership, it becomes an anti-Islam party.

In her rhetoric, Waters echoes groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First. She has called Islam “evil” and her leadership manifesto claims that the religion has turned Britain into a “fearful and censorious society”. Waters wants the banning of the burqa, the closure of all sharia councils and a temporary freeze on all immigration.

She started life in Dublin before moving to Germany in her teens to work as an au pair. Waters also lived in the Netherlands before returning to Britain to study journalism at Nottingham Trent University, graduating in 2003. She subsequently gained a second degree in law. It was then, she says, that she first learnt about Islam, which she claims treats women “like absolute dirt”. Now 39, Waters is a full-time campaigner who lives in Essex with her two dogs and her partner who is an accountant.

Waters’s first spell of serious activism was with the campaign group One Law for All, a secularist organisation fronted by the Iranian feminist and human rights activist Maryam Namazie. Waters resigned in November 2013 after four years with the organisation. According to Namazie, Waters left due to political disagreements over whether the group should collaborate with members of far-right groups.

In April 2014, Waters founded Sharia Watch UK and, in January 2016, she launched Pegida UK with former EDL frontman Steven Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson). The group was established as a British chapter of the German-based organisation and was set up to counter what it called the “Islamisation of our countries”. By the summer of 2016, it had petered out.

Waters twice stood unsuccessfully to become a Labour parliamentary candidate. Today, she says she could not back Labour due to its “betrayal of women” and “betrayal of the country” over Islam. After joining Ukip in 2014, she first ran for political office in the Lambeth council election, where she finished in ninth place. At the 2015 general election, Waters stood as the party’s candidate in Lewisham East, finishing third with 9.1 per cent of the vote. She was chosen to stand again in the 2016 London Assembly elections but was deselected after her role in Pegida UK became public. Waters was also prevented from standing in Lewisham East at the 2017 general election after Ukip’s then-leader Nuttall publicly intervened.

The current favourite of the 11 candidates standing to succeed Nuttall is deputy leader Peter Whittle, with Waters in second. Some had hoped the party’s top brass would ban her from standing but last week its national executive approved her campaign.

Due to an expected low turnout, the leadership contest is unpredictable. Last November, Nuttall was elected with just 9,622 votes. More than 1,000 new members reportedly joined Ukip in a two-week period earlier this year, prompting fears of far-right entryism.

Mike Hookem MEP has resigned as Ukip’s deputy whip over Waters’ candidacy, saying he would not “turn a blind eye” to extremism. By contrast, chief whip, MEP Stuart Agnew, is a supporter and has likened her to Joan of Arc. Waters is also working closely on her campaign with Jack Buckby, a former BNP activist and one of the few candidates to run against Labour in the by-election for Jo Cox’s former seat of Batley and Spen. Robinson is another backer.

Peculiarly for someone running to be the leader of a party, Waters does not appear to relish public attention. “I’m not a limelight person,” she recently told the Times. “I don’t like being phoned all the time.”

The journalist Jamie Bartlett, who was invited to the initial launch of Pegida UK in Luton in 2015, said of Waters: “She failed to remember the date of the demo. Her head lolled, her words were slurred, and she appeared to almost fall asleep while Tommy [Robinson] was speaking. After 10 minutes it all ground to an uneasy halt.”

In an age when authenticity is everything, it would be a mistake to underestimate yet another unconventional politician. But perhaps British Muslims shouldn’t panic about Anne Marie Waters just yet.

James Bloodworth is editor of Left Foot Forward

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear