Mick Watson would very much like Scottish Labour folk to please stop talking about a second independence referendum. Here are his five top reasons why.

REASON ONE: There isn’t going to be one.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he isn’t going to grant a second referendum, and recently suggested that a 31 year gap between referendums would be “about right”. If you think an independence majority at Holyrood means anything to him then you don’t know the man who lies every day, lied to the queen and prorogued Parliament to get what he wanted. Allowing a second referendum when there is any chance of him losing is just not something his massive ego would allow. Calling a referendum, supporting unionism and then losing would be an extinction level event, and Boris isn’t going to risk that when he doesn’t have to. He simply isn’t going to allow one.

REASON TWO: The SNP know they can’t call one without Boris’ consent.
Honestly, they do, they just haven’t told you yet. Buried in this article at the Scotsman, is the following nugget:

“A separate request confirmed the Scottish Government had received legal advice on the general topic of the legality of a second referendum, but officials decided it was not in the public interest to disclose the details and have kept the information secret.”

Let’s play this out. Imagine the legal advice said that calling a second referendum without Westminster’s consent was legal. How would the SNP react? By burying it and saying it’s not in the public’s interest? No, they would shout it from the rooftops. That they haven’t means the advice says the opposite. They know they can’t call one, but admitting that before the 2021 elections would be stupid. So they have buried it, and announced meaningless 11-point plans instead. Red meat for the committed followers, but it means nothing.

REASON THREE: The Scottish people don’t want one.
Poll after poll after poll show that the Scottish people do not think that a second independence referendum is a priority. It simply isn’t, despite what you may hear from a noisy minority. Once it becomes clear that the referendum isn’t happening the Scottish people will start to focus on the things that matter to them, like the NHS, poverty, equality, the economy and education, and as we all know, the SNP record on these things is not good.

REASON FOUR: Independence is not in the lead.
20 polls showing a lead for independence? You read it in the papers so it must be true? Maybe not. Follow this recent thread on Twitter about a ComRes poll and you will find that actually No scored 52% and Yes scored 48% in February 2021. But the results were then weighted by “likelihood to vote”, and that weighting flipped the result! Now given that 84.6% of the electorate turned out for the first indyref, I would suggest that any weighting on likelihood to vote is questionable. You think the “No” vote isn’t turning out if there was a second referendum? Think again.

REASON FIVE: Yes is not going to win.
My favourite poll is this one in Sept 2020 that says most scots would reject independence if they considered the issues. Here are the highlights:

“if the pound is replaced with a new Scottish currency, then 42% would be less likely to vote for independence, with 16% more likely, while there would be no difference for 35%.”

A 42% reduction in the independence vote would be the death of the independence movement. Guess what? SNP policy, as voted on at conference, is to introduce a new currency as soon as possible after independence. The leadership know this, which is why they go on about Sterlingisation, but Sterlingisation isn’t independence at all, as Westminster would have control over Scotland’s monetary policy. This is an excellent explainer on the SNP’s currency headache.

“If a hard border is introduced between Scotland and England, then 43% less likely to vote for independence, with 18% more likely, while there would be no difference for 31%”

What do we mean by a hard border? Well, Scottish people would be a different nationality. We would have Scottish passports and there would be passport checks at the Scottish border. There would be checks on trade as trade policies changed. All of this would become even worse if Scotland joined the EU because the Scottish border would become the EU border, with even more restrictions.

So can we please stop talking about #indyref2? There isn’t going to be one, Scottish voters don’t think it’s a priority, and those who want us to remain in the UK would win again anyway.

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7 thoughts on “Stop talking about #indyref2

  1. Hello Mick – I cannot agree with your views on this. I remember the same ‘prioriities’ excuse being used by those opposed to devolution during Donald Dewar’s period. I am not surprised that in the midst of a pandemic people are more concerned with the NHS, and whilst losing their jobs and running up debts they prioritise the economy. Using a basket of fruit analogy – just because I want a pineapple right now and an orange second doesn’t mean I don’t want the cox’s pippin too. Polls (22 in a row) actually do say that Scotland would vote yes in a referendum – ignoring weighting isn’t really viable as an excuse – it isn’t good practise – there are reasons for weighting in surveys as you well know. Personally I support independence but I am not sure that the yes side would win a referendum presently but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from one.

    Putting that aside, taking for a moment your figures – is it not cause for concern that 48% of the population of a part of the United Kingdom is so disenchanted with the UK as an institution that they would consider leaving this wonderful union? Do you never ask why that 48% (your figures) of the people of Scotland want away from the United Kingdom? It was only as recent as 2012 that the Scottish Social Attitudes study put support for independence at 23%. The direction of travel trends only in one direction. What I cannot understand is the attempt to thwart democracy by many political parties. Surely, in a democracy if a party wants to hold a referendum every time they get into power by the will of the electorate they should be allowed to do so? Anything less than this is a denial of democracy. It might be inconvenient, it might be costly, it might be a lot of things but it is ultimately democracy.

  2. Please explain how an independent Scotland would finance its self, its Health Service, its police, fire, armed forces, civil service,, and its border force, customs and excise

    1. Please explain 1) why you think that Scotland, out of all the advanced economies in the world, would be the only one unable to finance itself. 2) If you believe that after 314 years of Union, Scotland is the economic basket case you describe, why continuing to be run by the UK government is better for our economy than running it ourselves.

  3. Hello QuaymanIIl – I don’t know if you were asking me about this so apologies if it was for Mike Lothian. There are two answers I could give to this question but the simplest and quickest one that I can furnish here is simply:
    “Scotland would finance its self, its Health Service, its police, fire, armed forces, civil service,, and its border force, customs and excise in the same way as every other country in the world.”

    If you are serious about the question then I don’t think it is impossible to see that many poorer countries in the world manage and that many other rich countries mis-manage.

    My return question to you would be How does a dependent Scotland (Scotland within the UK) decide on its defence spending and foreign policy?

  4. The “right to self-determination” is a cardinal principle in international law.
    It has been recognised in Northern Ireland by the Downing Street Decleration.
    The Good Friday Agreement also gives Northern Ireland the legal right to ask for a unity referendum, if there is a demand—every seven years.
    These are legal precepts of the U.K.–recognised as part of the constitution of the U.K.

    Why does Scottish Labour think these constitutional rights are, and should be, denied to Scots?
    A Scottish Labour Party which signed the Claim of Right?
    This makes no political sense. Mr Sarwar states we should not have a referendum during the pandemic, but he was also saying the same thing BEFORE the pandemic.
    Scotland is not a colony, but to suggest we are subordinate to an English majority at Westminster, only supports the supposition ( by Labour) that we are.

  5. Relying on a Johnsonian veto will only ensure that a subsequent Holyrood election becomes a direct election upon the issue of independence. This will be in 2025, after the Tories win another “UK” majority in 2024.


    Yes, the Prime Minister can continue to ignore these too. The undemocratic nature of the UK during the 2020s will not reduce the desire for independence any more than the similarly undemocratic 80s reduced support for devolution. Eventually, a Labour government will win in England, perhaps in 2029.

    Then what?

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