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.