2007 - 2022

Seven Ways to Win a Second Indy Referendum

Sam-YES(number 6 Will annoy you).

Sometimes it feels like the Scottish independence movement has forgotten that it lost the referendum. The huge success of the SNP in the 2015 elections, the continuing enthusiasm of the Yes movement, and the way pro-indy folk have controlled the Scottish political agenda since the referendum – all this makes it seem like we lost the referendum but won the story.

But we lost the referendum, and by a lot. 10% is a big margin. Although opinion polls are swinging since the Brexit vote, with more people coming on board the indy train, I think it’s unlikely that that alone will be enough. For one thing, we can expect the immediate Brexit panic to die down a bit and for the swing effect to decrease as things get more stable; for another, the new anti-independence argument has barely got started. Project Fear Mark One was nothing compared to what will come in a second campaign. Now that we’ve seen the chaos unleashed by the Brexit vote, the fearmongers can point to it and say “See! We told you this would happen. Do you really want more chaos? Scotland’s economy is already at risk from Brexit and now you want to make it worse?”

So we need to talk about why we lost indyref. Looking at the analysis of the vote, I think there are some important lessons to learn:

First of all, the areas with the highest Yes vote, Glasgow and Dundee, also had the lowest turnout. These are also the parts of Scotland with the highest levels of deprivation and unemployment. We know that the worse off you are in Scotland, the more likely you are to vote Yes, but also the less likely you are to actually vote. We had a record turnout, but it was a long way from total, especially in more working class areas.

Secondly, we lost the economic argument: we didn’t manage to convince people their lives would be better in an independent Scotland. Of those voting No, the most important reasons given were the pound, pensions and the NHS. Now, after the Brexit vote, we’ll be able to argue that these things might be safer in the EU than in the UK, but it’s not that easy an argument. We’ll have to make a better case that an independent Scotland can guarantee better lives for everyone.

Thirdly, we didn’t convince women. The YouGov poll after the referendum puts Yes support at 51% among men and 42% among women – a 9% difference. We need to work out what it was about the campaign that let women down and do a better job.

There are other things worth noting. Older and richer voters were more likely to vote No, and were also most likely to vote. 16-17-year-olds and 25-34-year-olds were the age groups most likely to vote yes, but also the age groups least likely to vote. “Disaffection with Westminster politics” persuaded the Yes most of all, but had almost no effect on the No. There are lots of other results worth picking over, but these are, I think, the most important.

IndyRef2 seems increasingly likely, with even Scottish Labour talking about it as a possibility, and all of the Scottish parties keen to find a way to keep Scotland in the EU. We thought it was going to be a long time before a second referendum, but it might come sooner than expected. The tactics that worked last time failed, so we can’t repeat them. We need something different. So here are my ideas for how, this time, we can win. They’re not the only answers, of course, but I think they’re a good place to start.

1. Register Voters

The groups that voted Yes voted less. There’s a reservoir of potential Yes support which we haven’t tapped, the biggest of all in those working class communities, especially Glasgow and Dundee, where turnout was 10% below the national average. Winning a second referendum is not just about persuading people that Yes is better, but persuading people who like the Yes to vote. We need registration drives and mass canvassing in working class communities, led by activists from those areas, and we need organised trips to polling stations to turn out the Yes vote. These projects also need to target younger voters: we need to find out what it takes to increase turnout among the young adults most likely to vote Yes, and organise. Achieving all this isn’t just a question of registering and transporting voters, though, but also giving people the motivation to vote. That’s why we also need to:

SPO'ConnorYesRally2. Build Solidarity Now

We live in a time of mass political discontent. People don’t trust politicians, and don’t think that politics can make their lives better. The poorer people are, the more likely they are to feel this way, and so the less likely they are to vote. Here’s a frightening figure: before 1997, UK General Election turnout was never below 70%; but after 1997, it’s never been above 70%. All this means that the people who don’t participate in politics now – who are also the people most likely to vote Yes, to vote for change if they do vote – need to have a reason to join in. And that means that we need to campaign with and for them now.

I’ve written before about some of the things you can do to be part of this: joining trade unions and tenants’ unions, supporting anti-poverty and welfare rights campaigns, organising locally. The point of doing this for pro-indy people, apart from making each other’s lives better right now, is that when you campaign with other people on one thing, they’re more likely to campaign with you another. It’s something Jeremy Corbyn is now reaping the rewards of, as the folk he’s marched alongside – disabled people, migrants, students and more – are turning out for him in droves, giving him power against his own Party. The best way of building campaigns for Yes is to grow those groups on other campaigns now. And the best way of proving to people that a new Yes can make their lives better in the future is for Yes campaigners to make lives better now.

3. Stop Diving Right

In the most recent Scottish elections, the SNP lost its majority and Labour was gutted, while the Greens and the Tories both increased their representation. There were lots of other reasons in play, but I think one reason for the SNP’s loss was that their manifesto took a dive to the right. Only the Tories offered a better tax deal for the rich and a worse tax deal for the working class than the SNP, and only the Tories offered bigger tax breaks to big business. It’s obvious what the SNP’s strategy is: to be a broad church, appealing to the biggest mass of centrist voters. It’s a strategy that’s served Labour and the Tories well since at least the 90s – until now. Now, centrist and especially centre-left parties all across Europe are taking a hit or outright crumbling, whether it’s Labour in the UK, PSOE in Spain or, most dramatically of all, Pasok in Greece. Can the SNP – and the Yes movement – really beat this trend? Is the idea of Scotland enough to hold the broad church together, even when it lost the referendum last time?

Look at those voter figures again: when Labour took a dive to the right under Blair, they got three terms in power, but at the cost of massive drops in election turnout while the Labour Party shed members and voters by the bucketload. Lots of working class people aren’t voting because generations of politicians have been responsible for making their lives worse, and nobody’s offering them something new to vote for. In England, that led to the rise of UKIP and the Brexit vote. In Scotland, some of that’s going to Yes, but not enough yet to win another referendum.

And yes, it’s tempting to dive to the right. Wealthier people tended to vote No, and you might want to offer policies to win more of them over. The first problem is that that might be harder than you think, especially in even more scary and volatile economic times, when the people with more to lose want to protect it. The second problem is that you can’t offer a good deal to everybody at once. Sometimes what we want is in conflict. You can’t offer tax breaks to the rich and social security to the working class at the same time. And you can’t make home-owners richer and help renters or first-time buyers at the same time. Maybe you think you can offer enough bits to enough people in different groups to hold enough of an alliance together, but I think that’s a risky balancing act, and one that’s failing across Europe. Why should the SNP or the Yes be able to buck that trend when no-one else is?

So I think that if we’re going to win Yes the second time round, we need to offer something actually different to the people who are most angry with politics, who most think nothing can change, who have been hurt the most by decades of centrist economics. Maybe that’s a tax policy that actually favours people on lower incomes properly. Maybe that’s big programmes of social housing funded by small rises in corporation tax. Maybe that’s massive ideas like Universal Basic Income and Land Reform. These policies don’t just benefit working class people, they also tend to favour young people, and remember,18-24-year-olds also voted No, and the pro-Yes young people didn’t turn out in large enough numbers. These policies also tend to favour women, who are hit harder on austerity. Whatever the policies, a future White Paper on independence – and a future Yes campaign – has to offer more this time round, because this time we need to persuade more people. And as part of that we also need to:

Labour_Party_membership_graph4. Be Truly Multi-Party

The first Yes campaign promised to be multi-party, but was always dominated by the SNP. It was dogged by divisions from the start, with the Greens walking out for a time near the beginning. Late in the campaign, inside stories from Yes Scotland workers told of bad-faith centralisation and campaign materials being produced by the SNP only. If we want to win then we need to do better next time, both in the Yes movement and in Scottish politics in general.

That means building trust between Parties, not just to the Greens but also – whisper it! – to past and present Scottish Labour voters. Labour are the demons of the Yes movement, blamed for letting Scotland down, and they’ve been punished in elections. But Labour still have the second largest number of voters in Scotland, in both Westminster and Holyrood elections. That means that a future Yes movement needs to reach out to those voters as well, especially with Scottish Labour sounding more sympathetic to independence by the day.

We’ve let too much resentment build up between different elements of the Yes movement, and that makes it harder to campaign together. Demands from SNP supporters that everyone get in line behind the Party are frustrating to those with other desires and needs, didn’t win the Yes vote last time, and lost the SNP its Holyrood majority anyway. “Get in line!” doesn’t persuade people who just don’t want to be. On the other side, those of us supporting other parties need to accept we have good allies within the SNP, folk working to change that Party from within, and folk we need to work with for independence. Coalition governments are normal across Europe, and campaigning together has to work better if we want to win next time. That means more respect, more co-operation, and more understanding that different political ideas are good for the independence movement. Our disagreements can be our strength, and many organisations working together are stronger than one working alone.

Pic Bill FlemingPic shows Yes Scotland supporters in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh5. Stop Saying “Indy’s All We Need!”

Not everyone cares that much about the idea of Scotland as a separate sovereign nation. And if you don’t care already, it’s quite hard to make you think that the idea of Scottish statehood all by itself is worth voting for. Those who believe in Scotland’s statehood are already voting Yes: it’s everyone else we need to reach. That means that folk need to see an independent Scotland not just as a natural right but as something that can make their lives better.
Too often, if you talk about other political demands – whether that’s land reform, gender rights or tax policy – you get a chorus of folk saying “We can just sort it out after independence! Independence is the main thing!” The truth is, not everyone thinks independence is the main thing – in fact, last time, less than half the country thought that independence was the main thing – and just telling folk that it is won’t make them believe it. To make folk believe in independence, you have to take their political concerns seriously. People have to believe they might find an answer to their political needs in an independent Scotland.

And an independent Scotland isn’t a blank slate. Not everything is possible, and not everyone will get everything they want. That’s not how politics works. Who has power now shapes who will have power in the future. Most importantly, who has power when we get independence will shape how we write our new constitution. Indy people tend to agree that Westminster’s political system – with its First-Past-the-Post elections, two-party system and unelected House of Lords – is a disaster for democracy.

So, just as a start, when we write a new constitution, we need strong movements for a better democratic system, if we’re not just going to have a smaller Westminster.

So when folk criticise SNP tax policy or worry about local government, don’t say “We can sort it out after independence!” Take people’s political concerns seriously, talk to them about what they want, and talk about how that could happen as part of an independence movement. Maybe, just like building solidarity, that means winning some of their victories even before independence happens.

6. Stop Zooming

When I was campaigning for Yes, I got called out in the Daily Mail and the Telegraph as that dreaded thing, a “cybernat”. They called me “vile” and “obnoxious”. I wrote at the time about how annoyed that whole thing made me, and about how the right-wing media was using this idea of the cybernat to just dismiss a whole range of people with a whole range of views. “Cybernat” was used to cover up the fact that unionists could be just as abusive, if not more so, too. I hate that kind of politics that comes up with a silly name just to dismiss people.

But. Oh, but. It’s definitely true that if you argue against a big idea of the mainstream independence movement – if you criticise the SNP, for example – you can expect folk to turn up in large numbers to have a go at you. Mostly they’re not directly abusive, and only some are insulting, and then only mildly. But you do tend to get the same slogans and simple points over and over again, often going on for days, and that is very tiring. I like the word “zoomer” for this, because it feels like they’re zooming at you in a bit of a swarm.

This kind of behaviour is good for building friendships and connections between people who agree. Getting together to mock people who criticise you can be fun, and can be a relief when you’re campaigning against power. Ganging up can build strength in groups who already agree. And it really doesn’t matter if you irritate a few columnists. But the thing that zooming is terrible at is persuading other people. And the people who agree on this stuff lost the argument last time, which means they really do have to persuade other people. That means learning new ways of arguing. It means listening, taking other people’s views seriously, and talking together to find out what you have in common. The group hammer didn’t work, so try a different, more subtle tool.

I think this is also relevant to the independence movement’s gender problem, too. Most women did not vote Yes. And the zoomers in my mentions do tend to be men, in the vast majority, and this kind of behaviour is very, very macho. I can’t help but think that this works against the independence movement and makes it much less inclusive. A superior, dismissive attitude is encouraged in the angrier pro-indy blogs, where standard lines of attack are circulated in the echo chambers of their comment threads. This does not help build a broad movement, but encourages us to be narrow and insulated. Along with better policies to benefit women, there has to be zero tolerance of misogyny and much less of a tendency towards macho posturing in the way Yes people argue. There’s too much at stake to waste time and potential voters by being an arse on social media.

Yes Launch Cineworld7. Fight What’s In Front Of You
Lastly, getting a second independence referendum isn’t a done deal. It seems more and more likely, but we don’t know when and how it will happen. It could be longer than we hope, or it could be sooner than we think. Either way, we can’t waste any time in building the connections, arguments and campaigns that will win independence the next time round. That means not waiting for the referendum, not expecting everything to get fixed after independence, but making Scotland better right now.

Find something in your local community to work for, and find some people to work with to get it. Take part in the national campaigns that speak to you. Get better at campaigning now so that we can win the vote next time. Making Scotland better right now means that we’re better able to win independence when the time is right.

Comments (82)

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  1. ElaineS says:

    I think number 6 can go both ways, it seems we in SNP were plenty attacked by Rise/SSP over the last few years so whilst you are attacking the SNP Yes supporters calling us Zoomers you really need to look deep within yourself. I was Labour for 40 years so you’d think I’d have more likely moved towards Rise or SSP, not a chance when there was so much ripping apart SNP for your own intentions, to try and claw back ex Labour folk like me by lying and distorting just like the unionists did against SNP. They aren’t perfect but I did NOT like what was coming from Rise/SSP people against SNP to gain votes for Scottish Election…they certainly took pointers from the BetterTogether side.

    1. Jt1 says:

      Indeed,this line from the article itself comes across as distinctly zoomorphic:

      “On the other side, those of us supporting other parties need to accept we have good allies within the SNP, folk working to change that Party from within”

      If the author puts themselves in the shoes of an SNP member, they would find that last line very strange.

      1. Jt1 says:

        Zoomorphic was my phone’s attempt to make sense of zoomerish, sorry!

  2. Piedar Ailean says:

    Love how the very first comment is such a vivid example of your “point 6”

  3. Thanks for the comment Elaine – but I don’t think the author is in RISE or the SSP.

  4. John Page says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of getting the vote out……and the campaigning around that can start to create the energy needed for success next time.
    John Page

    1. John Page says:

      Can Yes Campaign Groups set up stalls with mobile phones to guide people to register online…….has RIC got practical experience?
      John Page

  5. john young says:

    Uphill battle to be sure,when we are faced with the worst of both worlds Tory/Labour shambles yet can only muster 59% gives you an indication of how hard the struggle is.Scotland not noted for being a brave forward looking country.

  6. Stan Evans says:

    NO voters and some YES voters are still asking the questions.

    How can Scotland survive when England is telling us, and it’s true that North Sea Oil is no longer the cash cow for Scotland that is has been for England all these years?

    What will our currency be? Saying The Pound is ours didn’t work the last time. The Euro fills people with dread.Can’t blame them they say look at Greece, didn’t work out too great for them.

    These are but two of a lot of very important issues that have to be addressed by all Parties in Scotland. They have to get common ground on these things and convince people that a YES vote is best for Scotland.

    1. Seumas says:

      Ile helps the economy but it wis never something that Scotland relied on.

      A’ve aye been fur a Scots pound, a independent currency fur a independent kintra, an recent developments haes strenthened ma threapin fur this.

  7. w.b.robertson says:

    The piece makes some good points. the next indyref, like the previous one, will be a numbers game. It has got to pitch its “Yes” appeal to win the votes of the majority. There are more poor punters than rich people. Simples.

  8. Frank says:

    Is it just me or is there anyone else who is not keen on the new ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ features -they distract from reading the text! Who the hell cares if a comment is liked or disliked.

    1. They were added at the request of users, but we can take them off

      1. Broadbield says:

        I can like my own posts, it seems. Again and again. Maybe need to sort that.

      2. John says:

        Take them off Ed.

    2. Mr T says:

      I’m reading this in Turkey and I can tell you that the ‘Like’ & ‘Dislike’ symbols are really weird!

  9. old battle says:

    1.Currency ?
    2. Pensions?
    4. Accepted in EU?
    5. A strong economic case post-oil?
    6. The positive in post-sovereign states?

  10. fermerfaefife says:

    Some of that is a bit cart before the horse, but generally sensible. The author dives into policy areas that really would be up for grabs after Indy and though he singles that train of thought out in the arguments it is true that many things come after independence.
    The way I would argue is that there are a number of things that need to be sorted out and backed up by the YES movement as a whole – I would describe as the nuts and bolts of independence – The currency, central bank etc, constitution, place in Europe, external borders with England/NI, trade and common travel areas with England/NI, immigration & citizenship policy and all the dull things that need a joined up and cast iron argument.
    THEN there also needs a vision of what an Indy Scotland could provide and this is where the separate areas of the political spectrum could argue how an indy Scotland could operate and the policies those different parties would pursue.
    So for example I would see the greens after agreeing the nuts and bolts could argue they would see a Scotland with local taxation as a land tax, building energy efficient council houses, an economy based around renewable technology etc. The SNP might want to argue different things like the opportunities for the Financial sector in Edinburgh as the english speaking base for financial institutions within the EU, the further exploration of oil reserves and subsequent inevitable decommissioning of rigs and further land reform.
    We have to speak to people right across the political spectrum and enlighten them with possibilities of how Scots as a society will have the choice to shape our society going forward and it will be up to its citizens how they do that after indy.
    Going into minute policy, set in stone – essentially another white paper – is NOT how to attack it this time. There has to be a broad range of views how an Indy Scotland might operate.

  11. David Sillars says:

    One group should be the Europeans living here. Promise to campaign for them to remain. Let’s have a strategy to build our population and infrastructure to support that. A slogan “Build Make Grow and Learn”

    1. Alastair McIver says:

      Yes! I made the point to Yes Southside that multi-language Yes literature should be created and distributed, especially in Govanhill. They assured me they were working one it. Multi-language material never appeared. It is an insult to people who speak other languages that we ignored them in this way, and what happened? The No Campaign got to them, had no problem at all crossing language barriers and spreading the lie that a Yes-vote would mean mass deportations. We cannot ignore these community second time round!

  12. Edward Doherty says:

    My view is you are all ok. Anyone with a positive view on independence whatever party or group who makes constructive suggestions towards a more positive outcome for indyref 2 should be welcomed and encouraged. Attend any meeting you can contribute ideas, your time, no need to join a party but be part of the movement only scots together will successfully bring about the change we all desire.
    Yours for Scotland

  13. Juteman says:

    We lost the referendum because of the lies and propaganda of the British Government and the MSM.
    End of.
    Too many folk still get their information from Establishment sources.

    1. Juteman says:

      The postal voting procedure needs to be sorted as well. Doctors letter, proof you will be out of the country on the day, proof of at least 3 years residency, or you don’t get to vote.

  14. Juteman says:

    Poor folk are the least likely to vote?
    Tell that to the huge turnout for Leave in working class communities in England in the EU referendum.

    1. Harry Giles says:

      Hi Juteman,

      My piece links to the evidence for that claim. Here’s some evidence that, although working class people were more likely to vote Leave, they were also still less likely to vote: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/24/how-did-turnout-affect-the-eu-referendum-result/

  15. Juteman says:

    A short sharp slogan, lots of TV airtime and friendly headlines at the newsagents, and it’s in the bag.
    Just look down South.

  16. Graeme McCormick says:

    Your correspondent makes the basic error that Scotland must follow a conventional right/left agenda.

    The SNP’s strength is that it appeals across conventional political theories.

    The Unionist arguments have not changed. Brexit has no more than a qualifying effect.

    Annual Ground Rent provides a model to provide substantially more public revenue but also substantially reduces ordinary folk’s tax liability and without depending on the volatility of global markets and oil prices.

    There is something for everyone with Independence. Most folk in Scots are ‘ haves’ not ‘have nots’. We forget that at our peril

    1. Harry Giles says:

      Hi Graeme,

      New Labour and Cameron’s Conservatives, along with the European parties I mentioned, all have economic models and electoral strategies similar to the SNP’s: they all attempt to appeal across potential political theories, with a mix of economic and social policies to appeal to different social classes. My argument, which I linked to a little evidence for, is that such parties are in decline across Europe. Can you provide any evidence that the SNP’s broad church strategy is actually different from other broad church strategies?

      The majority of Scots are working class (social grades C2DE, http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/ for data). 1 in 10 Scots are in severe poverty (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-31908888). Income inequality is increasing (http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/06/3468/downloads), and it is the best predictor of many social ills (https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/the-spirit-level). I do not know why you think the majority of Scots are “haves” rather than “have-nots”.

  17. Johnny R udkin says:

    we have an ace in the hole this time membership of Europe the Scottish government must work behind closed doors to get the backing of the European countries so they can use this in a new referendum we must get the young on board to shout for Europe get them to convince the older generation that being in Europe is the most important decision for Scotland Europe needs Scotland to be a member after losing England Scotland has most of Britain exports like oil fish whisky Scotland is a wealthy country with assets like fresh water clean energy the best education in the world with top class universities and their biggest asset the friendly Scottish people who welcomes migrants Scotland could do with an extra million workers to help with the economy for the future

  18. McDuff says:

    Food for thought.
    Robin McCalpine’s new book “Determination” also discusses the mechanisms for Scotland gaining independence (by 2021.) His arguments and recommendations are carefully considered and well argued. Published by Common Print from Common Weal, it is a fiver well spent!

  19. Craig P says:

    My thoughts for many years have been that persuading the middle class of the benefits of independence are crucial. They are the ones who vote and form opinion. That means indy supporters must seriously consider the possibility that independence might only be achieved by throwing the working class under the bus.

    We have also just seen that a bit of xenophobia does a referendum campaign no harm, a train of thought whose ultimate outcome is too depressing for me to spell out here 🙁

  20. Craig P says:

    The other big thing you didn’t mention Harry is the media. That is the real enemy of Scottish independence and a formidable obstacle to progress.

    1. Coul Porter says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Next time, there has to be a more concentrated / better organised publicity machine. Why were there no billboard ads? You don’t have to buy a newspaper to get the message – they (poster sites) will reinforce the message wherever you go.

      A few observations:

      Trident is potentially a trump card in negotiations – why wasn’t it used?

      ‘No’ Blair was a much more devious operator than ‘Yes’ Blair. He is credited with the relentless pursuit of Project Fear. Let’s have a little more nous next time.

      I had occasion to ask the Yes campaign one question re personal goods sourced abroad all having to clear through Mount Pleasant (London) sorting office. I was looking for some indication of what / where the Scottish equivalent would be. After a five week delay, I was emailed to the effect that it would all be sorted out after independence.

      Sharper next time, people!!

  21. bringiton says:

    Full English Brexit or Continental,that is the question.
    Probably too much pork in the Full English for Scottish tastes!

  22. Steven Milne says:

    The White Paper in 2014 forecast tax revenues from North Sea oil of between £6.8 billion and £7.9 billion per annum.

    Actual tax revenue this year will be £0.6 billion. This is a shortfall of£3,000 for every household in Scotland,

    I get the feeling that most Indy supporters are much happier in a comfort zone talking about getting the working class vote out and uniting the Yes campaign than seeking answers to the tough economic questions including:

    How can Scotland reduce deficit/GDP from 9% to the 3% required to join Eurozone?

    Can we accept that, ceteres paribus, taxes will need to increase as Scotland’s public spending per head >rUK (due to lower density of population) ?

    Can we accept that the loss of economies of scale will mean it will cost more to have Scottish versions of NHS, armed forces, foreign embassies etc ? (as well as the one off costs of setting up these institutions)

    How do we address the reliance of the Scottish economy on the commodity price of oil which is driven by geopolitical factors out with our control?

    How would we address the risks of RBS, HBOS, Standard Life etc relocating to London ?

    How would we avoid a brain drain similar to that experienced by Ireland in it’s first 40 years of independence if tax rates are lower in rUK?

    Are we prepared to accept the constraints of being in the Eurozone and not having the opt outs which UK governments have negotiated over the past 25 years? (The EU does not tolerate anti austerity policies, remember Greece)

    1. Broadbield says:

      Sweden committed to joining the Euro when it acceded to the EU – 20 years ago, and has no plans to ditch the Krona. I think that might be a model.

    2. John Page says:

      You are quite right….we are too wee, too poor and too stupid to make it on our own and the UK has a bright future where we have a voice in the world, we have our own independent nuclear deterrent and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Yes, we are better together. And it will be so liberating and good for business when we ditch the Human Rights Act and those bureaucratic environmental rules.
      Thank you for pointing out that all the contributors here are ill informed group thinkers……I was especially impressed by the Latin phrase…….
      Thank you so much
      John Page

      1. John Page says:

        Oh I forgot the drop in CT to 15% which will be good for enterprise and our reduced interest rates will help keep house values growth. And with that ridiculous Barnett formula to be dropped, Scottish tertiary education will have to sharpen up to be more competitive and efficient with students paying appropriate fees to give them a good lesson to start off in life. And the buses will be quieter without those feather bedded pensioners.
        And to think there are people who would give all this up because they are unthinking nationalists who can’t see the big picture and obsess about taking control in their own wee narrow parliament.
        Thank you for your illuminating post.
        John Page

      2. Steven Milne says:

        John Page

        You are demonstrating why the YES movement will never succeed unless it displays a fundamental change in attitudes.

        All successful organisations learn from their mistakes rather than assuming that they just need to try a bit harder at what didn’t work before.

        You didn’t attempt to answer any of the economic questions but resorted to making snide remarks.

        You repeated John Swinneys phrase about Scotland being too wee/small/stupid. No person without an axe to grind could have interpreted my questions in this way.

        Yessers need to accept that there are strong arguments for the Union rather than dismissing No voters as greedy/cowardly/gullible.

        It is incumbent on any movement proposing a major change to have positive and well thought through positions as to why this change will be beneficial. Simply berating “Westminster” just won’t do.

        1. John Page says:

          That’ll be the positive and well thought out plans that the UK Government has for leaving the EU.
          You are talking down to me ( okay I accept that you must be dead brainy since you can use Latin phrases) by coming back and demanding like some junior lecturer that I must justify my assertions………..the UK is going down the toilet fast, is profoundly prejudicial to the interests of people in Scotland and no matter what the sacrifices in the short term, we are better off making our own way as a collaborating open minded European nation rather than some throw back to a former (and profoundly wicked) Empire.
          Press phone tapping, the illegal invasion of Iraq, £205bn (how much after recent currency losses) for our very own WMD, the wickedness around Hillsborough, cash for questions, MPs expenses, regulatory capture of HMRC by the accountancy firms, offshore secrecy and tax havens used by the elite, HS2, paedophile scandals in the Mother of Parlanents, Bloody Sunday………..I don’t need to have answers for all your wee queries…….I know that Westminster is a cesspit and we need to be independent.
          John Page

        2. Kenny says:

          Hi Steven. Apologies if the other people replying to you seem aggressive. It’s hard not to be when you believe in a cause, usually on a point of principle, and feel constantly under attack from the media, government and even a great many of your fellow countrymen, often on fairly spurious grounds. An inferiority complex has been bred into Scots for centuries now and it stings for those of us who can see another way of being.

          To answer some of your questions though, I think you’re seeing things from a rather rigid and basically wrong position. The Scottish economy is very clearly NOT “dependent” on oil. The oil price crashed over the last year or two and Scotland’s nominal GDP fell by ONE percent. That’s not because oil is such a small part of our economy, but because the lower cost of oil has such a huge benefit to other industries and to ordinary people as well. Lower petrol prices put more money into the rest of the economy. It’s been a tragedy for Aberdeen, but that should only highlight that the promises of the No campaign last time were false. Remember how the “broad shoulders” of the UK would protect us from any negative impact of a low oil price?

          You speak of the nominal deficit as reported in the latest GERS figures. According to that, Scotland is the poorest country in Europe. Do you really believe that? I mean, don’t you know anyone employed in high quality private sector jobs? Have you noticed that our unemployment rates and employment rates are usually about as good or better than England’s?

          Even if you do believe the “Greece without the sun” line, it’s based on a false premise. At present there is clearly a considerable amount of tax raised in Scotland. It then travels to the Exchequer in London and is then returned to us as a block grant. The block grant, however, is not related in ANY way to what is actually raised in Scotland; it’s a proportion of what is spent by HMG as English Identified Expenditure. English expenditure in this formula includes things like health, education and justice spending in England, but doesn’t include UK-wide spending, i.e. money spent on reserved matters like defence, foreign affairs, the Home Office and so on. If we take those three government departments alone, Scotland currently contributes roughly 8-9% of their running costs (our population share) but almost all of those jobs are based in London. If we take those jobs out of London and put them in Glasgow or Edinburgh or Stirling or Dundee or Aberdeen or wherever, that’s about 30,000 jobs created in Scotland at the stroke of a pen. Those are jobs we already pay for but we pay for them to be outside Scotland. (Indeed, by paying for them in London, we also pay London-weighting on them.) In budgetary terms, that’s about £1billion. So just on that one narrow issue, the very act of creating an independent Scotland puts an extra £1bn into the actual Scottish economy at ZERO extra cost to the Scottish Exchequer. It also either takes 30,000 people off the dole in Scotland or encourages 30,000 young people not to leave Scotland for England (usually London) as so many do every year. (My own aunt left Scotland years ago because in her civil service role, the only opportunity for advancement was a move to London or Birmingham; that department simply didn’t have any senior roles in Scotland.)

          This example would be replicated across all reserved departments. The DWP, for example, is an enormous department but it has relatively few jobs actually based in Scotland and certainly very few of its higher level functions (i.e. not the Jobcentre desk staff) exist outside London. Once you start factoring in the actual ongoing activity of these civil service functions, the spending on new buildings for their work, building homes for those 30,000 workers, all of them buying their lunches and going for pints after work, the differences really start to add up. I’m no economist, but if we were to say that every ten jobs created supported one job in the wider economy, we’ve just created another 3000 jobs. Those people are all paying tax, NOT claiming social security AND are spending in the wider economy. The change in our absolute deficit (and more so to our deficit relative to rUK, since those jobs would be moving out of London thus lowering London’s nominal economic power) really adds up once you factor all those things in.

          There are numerous similar examples. They may be small, but the cumulative impact is large. For example, the BBC currently spends around £100m each year on English football. (It justifies this by saying that the FA Cup is a “major national occasion.” I’ll let you make your own jokes about which nation they mean.) Meanwhile, BBC Scotland has a total budget for ALL sport of £4m. That’s more money flowing out of Scotland to be spent on England. Imagine if there could be a bit more balance there, where our national broadcaster could spend more on Scottish sport. Could we boost the profile and economic stability of Scottish football? Might we then start seeing crowds at games improve, maybe see a wee bit of European success that brings in foreign fans to stay in hotels in Aberdeen and Dundee and Edinburgh and Glasgow and Kilmarnock and Perth? Maybe they bring in a wee bit more prize money from Europe too. Maybe the new SBC might spend a bit more on other sports too, boosting overall participation rates and Scottish successes at future Commonwealth and Olympic Games. The health benefits and boost to national self-confidence could be immeasurable. The same could be said for a host of other organisations too. We pay a share of the National Theatre, The Royal Opera and so on while we also pay for our own Scottish National Theatre, Scottish Opera and the like. With all that money staying in Scotland, could we boost our international reputation in the arts? Could our best musicians and actors stay in Scotland instead of having to move south to find the best work? Scotland already has a grossly disproportionate number of hugely successful actors. What if a vibrant Scottish film industry could be developed, with the likes of Ewan McGregor and Gerard Butler getting behind it? How many Hollywood dollars could flow towards us? Edinburgh is already a premier arts destination for one month each year. Could that reputation grow further or be extended to other cities? How many new jobs might be created?

          And all of the above is only public spending. Think of the private sector media. An independent Scotland would no longer rely on English owned and operated newspapers. Coverage of Holyrood would no longer be an afterthought; Scottish editions would no longer exist. If Scotland were to retain a Scottish Sun, it would need a full complement of staff because its English columnists and journalists would no longer be relevant. London might have a foreign correspondent or two, but the real meat of the paper would have to be produced in Scotland, by and for Scots. Foreign embassies would have to be built in Scotland. There are a number of consulates already, but these would be expanded and more countries would send ambassadors here. Maybe 100 full embassies would be created and the staff there would be spending in the Scottish economy, giving Edinburgh an enormous boost. And if “Brexit” (how I loathe that word!) causes difficulties for international finance houses operating in London, who’s to say that any business would leave Scotland? Wouldn’t they be more likely to shift to the already successful financial districts of Edinburgh and Glasgow, retaining an English-speaking base within the EU? More jobs, more money flowing the the Scottish Exchequer.

          Added into all of that are a couple more contentious issues: debt and pensions. Now we know that debt cannot legally be forced on Scotland. Taking on responsibility for UK sovereign debt is a gesture of goodwill, not a legal requirement. It’s not even really a requirement to protect any future credit rating. Markets don’t care about morality. Markets care about ability to pay. A country with a stable economy and a reserve of oil is not going to scare anyone. We might pay a slightly higher rate on Scottish sovereign debt initially until our lines of credit are established, but in the meantime, why should be take on responsibility for UK debt? There’s ample evidence that Scotland never needed that debt and that for most of the last 40 years (at least) we’ve been paying more than our fair share of repayments. (What little evidence there is from before GERS suggests that this may have been going on for far, far longer.) If rUK intends to be as obstructive as its campaigning during the 2014 campaign suggests, why should we take on any of that debt we never ran up and have already paid for? Similarly on pensions, we know the DWP assured any pensioners who asked that their pensions would continue to be paid as normal after independence. This is thoroughly reasonable. After all, state pensions are still paid to pensioners who have retired to Spain and Australia and Outer Mongolia. Why should Scotland be any different? It’s not the fault of an independent Scotland that there is no National Insurance Pension Fund. People paid their NI contributions in good faith and have a legal right to keep receiving them. Given that no citizen of an independent Scotland could be stripped of British nationality, it would be impossible to forcibly transfer that responsibility to Edinburgh anyway. (It would be utterly impractical anyway. How would you deal with people like my brother-in-law’s parents who worked all their lives down south but have since retired north of the border? Or what of my own dad, who would probably want Scottish citizenship even though he’s retired to Portugal?) This is not just about current pensioners either. I’m in my 30s and I’ve been paying NI since I started working over 15 years ago. If I emigrated tomorrow, I’d still be entitled to a share of a UK state pension commensurate with the contributions I’ve made so far. Why should that be any different if Scotland becomes independent and I start paying NI to the Scottish Government instead? There is no reason why Scotland would be paying the full pension bill for Scottish pensioners until almost 100 years hence!

          These are all more complicated and difficult to explain than a glib line like “Greece without the sun,” but I defy anyone to argue the basic point. The Scotland portrayed in GERS is not an independent Scotland. It’s a weird distortion of a country based a the weird, Anglocentric model that we’ve all been taught to believe is totally normal and natural. We’ve been educated for centuries to believe that anything different is not just impossible, but unthinkable. Who would want to leave Britain, after all? Who would want to be FOREIGN? We might not be richest country in the world (although plenty of evidence suggests we could be right up in that conversation) but we would be a normal country with all the functions a normal country has – its own government representing the votes of its citizens, its own media, its own public and private institutions. Even if it DID cost us a little bit in the short term, isn’t that a price worth paying?

          1. Steven Milne says:

            Good answer, though I would point out that if an independent Scotland refused to take on a share of UK national debt this would have a very serious impact on our ability to access the money markets.

            Markets care about ability to pay as you say and Scotland would be in the position of a divorcee who walked away from a marriage leaving their ex with all the debts.

            As most Indy supporters seem committed to higher levels of public spending than the UK model then the only way to balance the books would be to increase taxes which would probably lead to a brain drain to the rUK if taxes were lower there.

          2. Justin Kenrick says:

            Hi Kenny,

            Really helpful response which moves us from “a vague picture of a better and brighter future” to real examples of the difference bringing decisions closer to home would bring.

        3. John Page says:

          Is there no depths that Westminster can plumb that would cause us to leave?
          Your last response is built on three unfounded premises:
          Your hangup about brain drain……what is going on here?
          Differential tax rates
          The “markets”…..used as some magic totem that means Scotland is uniquely powerless.
          In the context of England out of the EU with its economy tanking…….what about the market downgrading the erstwhile AAA rating?…….and Scotland in the EU……can we please have a rigorous re examination of your response. And this time rather than a platitudinous reference to a “brain drain” can we have some referenced data on historic trends on general and especially graduate population shifts of the young from Scotland to England to demonstate how it would be worse if Scotland stayed in the EU but England left. Perhaps you could look at Irish trends pre and post EU membership.
          Given increased borrowing costs, vastly reduced CT and a likely recession how will England fund Trident, HS2, the refurb of Parliament etc without increasing IT or VAT……..and in any event why would a marginal differential on tax rates fuel a mass exit from Scotland to England if the cost of living outside the EU especially around housing would be much higher.
          You demand a detailed blue print for an Indy Scotland. But the whole position has changed. Don’t you see the ridiculousness of using 2 year old arguments when England has pulled us out of the EU without any plan whatsoever.
          John Page

    3. Fiona Grahame says:

      Scotland has: £13bn food & drink industry, £5bn tourism industry, £17bn construction & manufacturing industry, £4bn whisky exports & £70bn overall exports, £1500bn oil & gas reserves (worth only 22% of our economy)
      Sources :www.businessforscotland.co.uk and http://www.gov.scot

    4. Harry Giles says:

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for raising these questions — they’re good and important questions, I agree, though rather beyond the scope of this article (and my expertise!) I do think it’s vital for a new independence campaign to make robust economic case, and this was the implication of my very broad statements about being able to reassure working class people that independence would be better for them. I do think this is possible, and that Kenny’s reply shows that campaigners can begin that conversation well.

      That said, I think the Brexit campaign demonstrates that it is possible to win a political campaign using only lies and resentment, and that if you whip up enough resentment you can get people to vote even though you have no plan whatsoever. I think it’s clear that some in the independence camp would be quite happy to do this, and that this would be as disastrous for the Scottish working class as Brexit is already being for the UK working class. For me, though, the answer is not to campaign for a No, but to campaign for a Yes with an alternative economic model and plan that could actually redistribute wealth in a strong economy.

      1. Steven Milne says:

        Thanks Harry

        I am in no hurry for another referendum but I hope if and when it happens the debate will be conducted in a more “grown up” manner than in 2014 and 2016.

        In both cases those arguing for a change painted a vague picture of a better and brighter future based on very optimistic economic arguments with little or no plan for getting from A to B.

        Those campaigning for the status quo were relentlessly negative with lots of dire warnings about how the sky would fall in.

        1. Kenny says:

          Hi again Steven. I have to ask – is there any actual evidence for the argument that Scotland would be “punished” by international money markets for failing to “do the right thing” regarding UK debt? I mean, were Georgia and Ukraine and the other former Soviet States given punitive costs for their sovereign debt when the USSR collapsed and Russia retained responsibility for all the debt? Has South Sudan been punished for taking on none of Sudan’s debt? I genuinely don’t know and since it’s such a strong part of the No campaign’s message about an independent Scotland’s finances, I think it’s something we ought to get some certainty on. It seems really unlikely to me, but maybe there’s something I don’t understand about how these things work.

          On a more relevant point though, even if we were to be given a punitive credit rating on independence, would that extra cost of servicing new debt outweigh the savings from not paying for existing UK debt? If memory serves, GERS has Scotland currently paying £4-5bn/year to service UK debt. That’s somewhere around 3% of GDP. We’d surely have to be borrowing an ENORMOUS sum at absolute junk ratings to be paying that much on top of “normal” borrowing costs. After all, if our current nominal deficit is 9% of GDP or around £15bn/year, losing that UK debt payment takes us down to £10bn or 6% of GDP. We’d have to be paying interest rates of 50% or more for it to cost us more to scratch “our” UK debt and borrow everything we need at our new punitive rate than to accept “our” share of UK debt and borrow at a lower rate.

          Again, I may be wrong about this. International money markets aren’t really my area of expertise. Does anyone pay interest rates of 50% on sovereign debt? Do money markets punish newly independent countries for not taking on responsibility for debt they have no legal reason to pay?

          1. Steven Milne says:


            The only relevant case in recent history would be the Velvet Divorce between Czech and Slovak Republics in which assets and liabilities were split broadly in line with population.

            The break up of the USSR isn’t really relevant as it was an economic basket case and all the new nations had to start from scratch in the capital markets.

            The idea of Scotland failing to take on it’s share of the U.K debt just isn’t credible. The business I work for us made up of 5 separate divisions and is funded by RBS. The only way we would allow 1 of the divisions to walk away without assuming it’s share of the debt would be if it was a chronic loss maker which was bleeding cash. The division which walked away would have no chance of getting funding from a bank or any other investor without embarking on a comprehensive and painful cost reduction exercise.

    5. Wul says:

      I’m probably one of those annoying Yes voters who fails to answer your “tough economic questions” Steven.

      Here’s how I made up my mind; I looked around for other independant countries with a similar sized population, geography and natural resources to Scotland and I asked myself “Are they making a go of it?”

      The answer was “Yes”

      I asked myself; “Does the government in Westminster have the long-term well-being of me and my family as a high priority?”


      “Is the path of London-based UK government a sustainable one?”

      The answers were “No’

      Independence would be a risk, an unknown. You can’t deny that we have the capability. What else do we really need? I think “tough questions” are simple self-doubt masquerading as intelligent pragmatism.

      However, you are right that lots of people, like yourself, need a carefully drawn picture of an independant future before they will take the leap. I find this need for a security blanket frustrating because it is partly responsible for the very vaugeness you criticise. “I’m tempted by independence but I want reassurance that everything to be mostly the same”

      Or “will I have as much money as I have now?” No, probably not. But your kids might. And their society might be happier & healthier than this one. No guarantees.

      The Yes side need to be more open about the fact that independence would be a big change & disruption and address these issues head on.

      1. Kenny says:

        The Velvet Divorce is not a like for like comparison though, Steven. That was one country splitting into two co-equal successor states. The rUK position is that it and it alone is the continuing state and that Scotland is seceding. Indeed, the official UK Government position is that Scotland was “extinguished” in 1707 and absorbed into a “Greater England.” If rUK seeks to maintain all the existing rights and responsibilities of the current UK (e.g. permanent seat on the Security Council, membership of NATO etc.) and since it has already said flat out that it will retain full responsibility for all sovereign debt, then how can it possibly require Scotland to take it on? And what lender would sensibly lend to a borrower which has voluntarily taken on a share of an extraordinarily large debt?

        I would ask again – does anyone know what happened to Sudan’s national debt when South Sudan seceded? If you’re abritrarily throwing out the USSR as a precedent, South Sudan is a much more recent and probably much more cogent example. Did Sudan somehow force any debt on South Sudan? Did South Sudan experience particularly punitive yields on its own debt as a result? I genuinely don’t know the answers to these questions. I just can’t for the life of me see how I can be wrong about this on a purely legal and economic level. Morally I agree it might be iffy for a lot of people, but one thing financial markets absolutely are not is moral.

  23. Broadbield says:

    You say SNP lost seats because of a lurch to the right. Yet the figures you link to on the BBC show that the SNP increased its vote in the constituencies while the Labour crash was mirrored by the Tory increase, and left wing parties (is Labour left wing?) such as Rise came nowhere. In the Regions the SNP went down 2.3% (both votes not SNP perhaps?), Greens, another party supporting Independence went up 2.2%, while Tories increased by 10.6% and Labour went down by 7.2%.

    I don’t think these figures support your thesis that the SNP have lost seats due to a lurch to the right. Nor is there any evidence in these figures that voters will vote for more left wing parties.

    Furthermore, Political Compass placed the SNP in 2015 well to the left of Labour, the Libdems and of course the Tories.

    There may be some evidence that some left-leaning voters have stopped voting. The people who used to vote Labour, (maybe more so in England) were so disillusioned by the way Blair/Brown and co sold out to big business and so eagerly went to war that they may no longer vote, which would account for the fall off in the turnout and Tory victories.

    I agree we should put pressure on the SNP to adopt more socialist policies. But therein also lies a danger. The SNP have been very successful recently. Supposing a lurch to the left sent voters streaming back to Unionist parties? Without the SNP whaur’s yer Independence?

    Finally, contra yourself, I think a more socialist government can be achieved after Independence in a reformed parliament and voting system where all parties which had ditched their Unionism could work together as a coalition.

    1. Harry Giles says:

      Hi Broadbield,

      I think it’s true that I’m overplaying my hand when it comes to the narrative of centre-left party collapse, and that the effect is much clearer on Labour than it is on the SNP. However, your own argument oddly leaves the Greens out from the case, when the SNP loss in regional vote seems to be exactly mirrored by the Green gain, however small, and the Greens are considerably left of the SNP. I think if there were a credible constituency challenge to the SNP from the left (RISE/Solidarity were just not credible enough) then we’d see the same effect there.

      I think Political Compass’ assessment is a little peculiar, and I’d love to see their working. It’s also based on 2015 UK manifestos rather than 2016 Scottish manifestos, which is when the SNP rightward shift on tax policy was much clearer, and also when Labour had taken a major step left, including with Scottish Labour’s position on Trident.

      My argument is that a more diverse Yes movement, especially with diversity to the left, makes independence *more* likely rather than less. Essentially, I think that increasing working class and youth turnout is a better way to independence than winning more middle-class voters, and I think those two things are, if not a zero-sum game, then at least a bit of a seesaw. (i.e., the more rightward the SNP/Yes goes, the more middle-class voters they might get but the harder it is to get the youth and working class vote out.)

      I agree that socialism can be more possible after independence, which is why I campaign for independence, but I also think that this is not a done deal and that there are risks: it’s clear to me that the centre-right in Scotland is manouvering to gain more power through independence, especially after Brexit, when indy becomes a safer bet for neoliberal globalisation. I’ve written about this in my previous and rather more critical and negative Bella article “Scotland is Not Sorted”.

      1. Broadbield says:

        Thanks for taking the time to reply, Harry. I don’t think we’re that far apart and I agree we need to beware the centre right and indeed the hard right who, with their lobbyists, will be queuing up to get their share (or more than their share) of the pie.

  24. Kimberley says:

    Had to stop reading at when he said rhe SNP lurched to the right in their 2016 manifesto – just complete and utter baseless nonsense…

  25. Cobby says:

    This working class Brit actually understood the majority of this article, cheers

  26. Fiona Grahame says:

    The argument for an independent Scotland will not be won by people on social media but by active campaigning in communities. Many of those who voted No in 2014 did not use social media and relied on newspapers and the BBC for their ‘information’. We also need to remember that 45% voted for complete independence despite the threats that were thrown their way by the MSM. That is a fantastic place to start from. The author concentrates on the central belt i.e. the need to win over Labour voters which I suggest will be hard to find in rural areas and the highlands & islands. We are one Scotland – every area of our nation needs to be persuaded of the benefits of self government. Certainly as an activist I am encountering many people who were No voters now listening to the positive arguments for an independent Scotland because of Brexit. This one event has provided the Yes campaign with a fabulous opportunity to make the case for independence. The Yes movement never went away after indyref but many groups kept going and with Yes Registry we have an excellent way to share information. Independence Live & Broadcasting Scotland are now well established. As a movement we are now in a much stronger position than we were in indyref 2014. We know what the Unionist counter arguments will be and this time we will have the answers: our own currency, membership of the EU & no borders.

  27. Fiona MacInnes says:

    And just a snippet on currency..shops in Kirkwall have been taking euros for some time…its the seagoing trade with Europe in the form of cruise ships. Love or hate them the traders will adapt pronto if its in their interest. Euro or scottish pound is not so frightening after all. Start from a currency position of independent currency with co – operation ( sharing) of UK £ as a potential negotiating tool, to be activated or not, but not as a star position we alread know will be denied.

    1. Kenny says:

      Great point, Fiona. My girlfriend lives on the German-Swiss border. After spending time with her (we only got together in 2014, so these issues were very live for me!) I realised that a lot of the currency arguments we were hearing were nonsense. Everywhere in Konstanz (German) and Kreuzlingen (Swiss) has dual currency tills. The few shops that haven’t yet upgraded to those just stick a poster up each day with the exchange rate on it and, after accepting either currency, give you your change in the local currency. My girlfriend has two purses – one with Euros, one with Swiss Francs. Plenty of other people just have wallets with two compartments, or keep change from one country in one pocket and one in another. These things are not so hard to deal with in real life. We in the UK are just very bad at dealing with other countries and different ways of doing things. “Splendid Isolation” still haunts this island and damages our perception of ourselves and our neighbours, as the recent EU referendum has shown. Our European cousins can barely believe we would do this. They don’t understand just how confused, frightened and upset the British mind can be by anything “foreign.” That’s why for decades we’ve all gone to Benidorm just to drink in Scottish pubs. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs.

  28. david wilson says:

    One factor conveniently sidelined/ignored in all the analysis- maybe because folks don’t want to acknowledge the ugly truth- Sectarianism. The religious dimension also features in the breakdown but it has become the big orange/gold & green elephant in the room. It DID and CONTINUES to play a part. It is so pernicious and refuses to go away. We can white wash it/ignore it but it played its part. This ingrained evil element should be confronted

  29. Martin says:

    Targeting the working class vote in Glasgow will be a bit more tricky with indy 2 being about joining the EU when we know around 400,000 2014 yes voters decided to vote leave. Look at Glasgow East: 18,000 for remaining in the EU and 15,000 for leaving. How do you get those yes2014/Leave voters to back EU/INDY when they clearly don’t want to be in the EU especially after they have been told they are racists for voting leave?

  30. June says:

    Agree totally David. I really don’t know why it’s tolerated. It actually has nothing to do with religion any more. It’s just pointless hatred. But you’re right, it should be confronted.

  31. Spin Doctor says:

    As a NO voter in 2014 who could be persuaded, I would suggest an alternative seven ways:

    1 Mind Your Manners

    No matter how strong your arguments people won’t listen if you come across as rude and aggressive. The leaders of YES should adopt a zero tolerance policy to Cybernats and be much more respectful to NO voters

    2 Wait 10 Years

    The wounds from 2014 will take time to heal and continually pressing for another referendum makes you look like bad losers. In the meantime SNP can …

    3 Make Good Use Of Holyrood’s New Powers

    Many NO voters are not happy about the extra powers granted to Holyrood as they don’t trust SNP to use them wisely. Only time can prove otherwise.

    4 Stop Blaming Everything On Westminster/Tories/Mainstream Media

    It just makes you look like conspiracy theorists

    5 Reach Out To The Centre And Right Of Centre

    YES in 2014 mopped up virtually every left-wing vote (helped by the post-Blair collapse of Labour) but there just aren’t enough left wing voters. You need to find a way of connecting better with aspirational voters who want lower taxes and less state intervention. Don’t portray an independent Scotland as some sort of Socialist utopia – this puts a lot of people off.

    6 Answer The Currency Question

    There are always economic uncertainties and it is not credible to make forecasts about future levels of unemployment, growth , inflation etc. However without a crystal clear statement about what the currency will be YES has a huge economic credibility problem.

    7 Don’t Align Your Case With EU Membership

    Around 30% of YES voters cast their vote for Brexit in spite of the fact that every single SNP MP and MSP supported Remain. As part of the Eurozone with a goal of ever increasing political union just how independent would Scotland be ? How long can the EU exist in it’s current form ? Better to say that after an independence vote Scotland would begin negotiations about EU membership and then offer a referendum on this subject a few years later.

    1. Bob McMahon says:

      On point #7, I would go further and say that in an independent Scotland, there should be a referendum soon after independence on whether there should be Holyrood-Brussels negotiations on EU membership at all. If the voters are for it, go ahead and negotiate (and have another referendum to determine whether or not the voters approve of the terms). If the voters are against it, then the Scottish government can save a lot of time and money by not negotiating. Ted Heath’s government took us into the EEC as it was, without bothering to consult the UK’s voters beforehand, so the democratic choice would be an improvement on the Heath government’s presenting us with a fait accompli.

    2. John Page says:

      Are you genuinely suggesting we wait 10 years? Outside the EU? Still in the UK? While the UK economy tanks? Not blaming Westminster and the MSM? Repainting our road signs regularly? And being ever so polite? Keeping WMD on the Clyde? Coughing up for a refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster?
      I don’t think I would like to do that.
      Maybe you don’t really want to be persuaded at all.
      Thank you
      John Page

    3. Harry Giles says:

      Thanks for the reply, Spin Doctor. I actually strongly agree with most of your argument, except, of course, about appealing to the right and centre-right. I’ve seen a few people arguing this, but I’d really like to see the argument rooted in data and polling, as I’ve tried to root mine: I’ve tried to demonstrate a case based on arguments about turnout and voter disenfranchisement, and also on pointing out that there was a significant Labour No vote who can be converted. I also think it’s important for those advocating a righward strategy to acknowledge that this is a trade-off: the further right you go, the more left and working class votes you lose, and this is causing the collapse of centre-left parties across Europe.

  32. David Sangster says:

    This has been a thoroughly enjoyable discussion, but of course it all becomes redundant in an instant if Theresa May (or whoever is delegated to do the dirty deed) simply says, “Indyref2? Nuh.” What then, friends? Anyone got any idea?

  33. Cloggins says:

    Stop using all this politico-technical voterspeak, make sure you have a fair economical case complete with currency solutions, balance of payment, separation conditions, visiting rights, forecasts and scenarios, guarantees, employment effects – in short the blueprint for a new country, a new economy but a believable one. Revenues and expenditures say more than voter turnout will ever do, and it has been proven that the Scots know how to read and interpret the serious stuff.
    Start writing it now, don’t wait. Set up the structure, don’t let project fear bog you down – again.

  34. Rab says:

    I’m really sorry, but – with respect – I’m struggling to see part of the logic here.

    “In the most recent Scottish elections, the SNP lost its majority and Labour was gutted, while the Greens and the Tories both increased their representation. There were lots of other reasons in play, but I think one reason for the SNP’s loss was that their manifesto took a dive to the right… Now, centrist and especially centre-left parties all across Europe are taking a hit or outright crumbling.”

    If adherence to the centre/centre left hurt the SNP, why did the SNP get so many more votes this time than last time? And if it’s the case that more left-leaning alternatives are more popular, then why did nobody vote for RISE, who offered exactly that?

    As I understand it, the SNP got even more votes in 2016, but this didn’t translate into an overall majority because we have a system specifically designed to prevent such a majority. Many SNP voters gave their list votes to Green. Many Green voters lent their first or second votes to the SNP. Unionists got behind the Tories. RISE went nowhere. Somehow this confusion returned a pro-indy majority.


    It seems to me that the question of independence is foremost in most people’s minds and that we need to use this voting system we have to keep that constitutional question at the forefront because we might have *one last* chance to win Scottish independence.

    If the question becomes “independence, but *only* on my terms and with these policies that I want implemented othewise I’m not interested” then you alienate those voters who might have voted Yes, but now wont because they don’t like the caveats you have attached to the question.

    In that situation we might lose not just the chance for independence, but also the best chance to have those same policies you are also fighting for implemented.

    Two guys are in chains. One guy has a hammer. One has an iron spike. If they help each other they can both escape. “After we are free,” the guy with the hammer says, “we should go West.” The guy with the spike retorts: “But I don’t want to go there. I’ll only help if we go East.” The pair of them argue and argue and never actually decide which way to go after they are free. So they sit in chains forever, while Theresa May and her fork-tongued slaves roast them over the fires of eternal damnation.

    1. Harry Giles says:

      Hi Rab, in reply to your criticisms of my argument of centrism, please see my replies to Broadbield and Spin Doctor above!

      I think your metaphor is rather flawed, because of course in that situation the two prisoners can happily go in two different directions: they don’t have to both go the same way. Scotland after independence, however, must go in one direction or another. And some directions disproportionately hurt the working class, some directions actively make their lives worse. So I think it’s rather like this:

      Two people are in chains and are joined at the hip. One has a hammer. One has an iron spike. If they help each other they can both escape. “After we are free,” the one with the hammer says, “we should go West.” The one with the spike retorts: “But I don’t want to go there. It’s an arctic waste, and only you have a fur coat: I’ll freeze to death. I’d rather stay here if we the only other option is going West. I’ll only help if we go East.” The pair of them argue and argue and are are risk of staying in chains forever, because the one in the fur coat refuses to help the other, until the second person, the one without the fur coat, knocks out the first one, takes their spike, tears the fur coat in half so they both get a piece, breaks them both free, and heads North.

  35. Adrian Lea says:

    There is a flaw in the arguments in several of the 7 points. The SNP did not lose seats and their majority because they had become less popular, but because the other parties targeted them more effectively in order to maximise their returns in the Holyrood electoral system. The SNP’s constituency vote actually went up. The SNP benefited from a freak result within the framework of the electoral system in 2011; the 2016 result was simply a return to a more normal outcome.

    Furthermore, as we have seen throughout recent political history, there is no direct correlation between support for pro-independence parties and support for independence; it may be indicative of wider support, but there are a significant number of voters choosing the SNP for Holyrood and Westminster elections who did not support independence in 2014, and there are still a significant minority who vote for Unionist parties at Westminster and Holyrood who voted Yes

  36. Onwards says:

    It’s not so easy to propose a rise in corporation tax when our 2 closest neighbours are going in the opposite direction.
    Osborne wants a 15% rate for the UK to compensate for Brexit, and Ireland does very well from its 12.5% rate.

    If Scotland proposed higher company tax, then we lose a massive selling point – The ability to attract jobs and investment away from an isolationist England.
    If our tax rates are the same, and the main difference is that Scotland is in the single market, then that is a huge weapon in our arsenal at the next referendum, and compensate for all the scare stories over the current deficit. We can play the best of both worlds card. Close links to the UK and the EU.

    Surely it is possible to have both pro-business policies, and a good mix of progressive social policies ?

    1. Harry Giles says:

      Hi Onwards,

      It is only possible to have lower corporation tax and higher social spending if the higher social pending is paid for elsewhere, largely through redistributive income tax, local taxation and land taxation. If higher social spending is paid for only by increased GDP and not by redistribution, then income inequality increases, which has the malign social effects we’ve seen in the UK for the last few decades (https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/the-spirit-level for details). Essentially, you can be pro-business if rich *individuals* are willing to pay more. Pro-business and pro-redistribution is a bit like the Nordic model, I think, and would be a step forward, though I think it too has its limits.

  37. Muscleguy says:

    I’ve posted this before, I’ll do so again: here in Dundee I volunteered to help get the vote out first thing. A carload of FIVE of us was sent to a leafy NW suburb with long gravel drives to large detached houses with three cars in the drive. Service buttons granting access to multis and closes work up until 12noon and there are a lot of those in Dundee. The people we were sent to pointlessly urge to vote would have kept until the afternoon. The operation was run by the SNP who back then were largely a middle class party. It was us in RIC who had canvassed the poorer areas but they didn’t bother asking us for our canvas returns. So basically that segment of society was not reminded to vote.

    People working two jobs, those with chaotic lives etc whose votes still counted but could be counted to vote for us, were registered by us were not reminded, not helped to vote.

    We MUST do better next time including old fashioned loudspeaker vans. I think we should collect mobile numbers and text people to remind them to vote. Both things as well as chapping doors in corridors and closes.

    1. Onwards says:

      Muscleguy – I think the key to increasing turnout in the schemes might be to use postal votes to our advantage instead of leaving it to the day.
      I remember volunteering to help get out the vote, and there was a big Celtic European game on in the evening.. People ignoring the doorbell watching the game.

      The council areas that voted YES had the lowest turnout.
      Glasgow at 75% turnout sounds ok, but that still means 1 in 4 voters didn’t bother to vote in the most important decision Scotland has ever had.

      IMO, most of these votes could have gone to YES. These are likely people disillusioned with the political system and possibly not registered anyway. RIC did a good job, but everyone could do better next time.
      Collecting mobile numbers seems like a good idea. But getting the vote in early would be even better, especially from lower income areas. Old Tories in leafy suburbs never fail to vote.

      The SNP had a huge list of YES pledges from the street stands. How much better would it had been if they had a million postal vote confirmations in the bag, well before voting day.

      1. Juteman says:

        I simply do not trust postal voting. Who knows how far the British State will go in order to hold onto us?

  38. Rab says:

    p.s. I suspect the single biggest Unionist assault will be to suggest that an independent Scotland will not be allowed to trade with the rUK. That’s the one to fight.

    1. John Page says:

      I am genuinely puzzled by this…….what would their argument be.
      England is out of the EU.
      Scotland is in the EU
      England is desperate to trade with the EU and won’t put up trade barriers to enjoy a “common market” (even to the extent of allowing in more of the dreaded immigrants)
      English businesses want to sell into Scotland
      BUT Scots businesses won’t be allowed to sell into England
      How would that work?
      Sorry if I am being dense.
      John Page

      1. Rab says:

        What would likely happen and what they will argue will be two different things. Like in the first indyref, when we were told that we wouldn’t be allowed to use the pound, or that we couldn’t afford independence because our economy was utterly reliant on oil and therefore unsustainable.

        They will say Scotland would be mad to shut itself off from the English market, even though we know that won’t happen. Even though it is illogical. It forces Sturgeon to say, “Well no, this isn’t in their interests.” To which they reply “Do you really want to risk it? Shutting yourself off from all those businesses? From all those customers in England? Are you sure?”

        Similarly, they will say that Scotland would be insane to put up borders and check points between us and our family and friends in England, even though that is very unlikely to happen. The point is just to shift the debate away from the truth and into the grey area of doubts and fears.

        That’s exactly what they did in much of the first indyref.

        Scotland won’t be allowed into the EU. Doesn’t meet the criteria. We will be kicked out of NATO. These debates are not based on truth or likelihoods.

        With Brexit they claimed that the UK will remain part of the single market and yet stop free movement of people. When experts ridiculed the idea, they said, “The British people have had enough of experts.” They won that debate.

        1. John Page says:

          Thanks for that, Rab
          I suppose 2 could play that game.
          Scottish journalists should ask Standard & Poors what would happen to rUK credit rating if it did not have Scotland’s oil reserves ( we all know it has been a curse for Scotland…….take that as red…….) but how would it affect rUK’s capacity to borrow?

        2. Rab says:

          This is what I meant. They’re now suggesting an indy Scotland would have a border with England.


          Just sowing doubt and uncertainty. Project Fear all over again.

          As you say, two could play that game. Unfortunately they have the BBC to disseminate misinformation in the interests of promoting and supporting the UK.

          1. Patrick says:

            TURN OF THE BBC ; you will be better informed listening any abroad Station. Of course, always balance the interest of such gov with UK gov.

            A curiosity, all commentaries are so old?

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