Thursday, March 24, 2016

Today We don't Celebrate Our Independence Day

Had the vote in September 2014 gone the other way, today was the expected day that Scotland would have become independent. I felt I couldn't let the day pass without at least some marker.

So here it is.

At present, I have no desire to see a repeat of the referendum - the evidence is pretty strong that a second referendum would result in another "No", so there's no point. However, if there were another referendum at this point, I'd still vote "Yes", because none of the reasons I cast that vote have changed. (Things could have been different, but they're not. If anything, things are worse now than they were.)

I do think another referendum, eventually, is inevitable. And, actually, I do think independence itself is also inevitable, unless the EU becomes a genuine state first (with the consequent abolition of France, Germany, and the UK). Though I'm far from certain that that latter will result from the second independence referendum. Indeed, I'm not absolutely certain it will result from a referendum at all.

But in terms of the eventual second referendum, I think there are two possibilities. If the UK votes to leave the EU and Scotland votes to stay, I think that will essentially force the SNP to hold a second referendum. (I couldn't possibly predict the result of that - the polls are almost exactly neck-and-neck now, and it is thought that Brexit would give a ~6% swing towards independence. But there's usually a late swing back towards the status quo, so even that wouldn't normally be enough... except that Brexit would mean the status quo actually wasn't on offer.)

The other possibility, I think, is that the second referendum is likely in 2021, when the UK is 'enjoying' a third term of Tory governance under the glorious leadership of either George or Boris, and Labour are busily engaged in their next round of civil war. And, honestly, that's probably around the right time frame for a second referendum anyway, since it will mean there are a lot of voters who were too young to vote in 2014 but would be old enough by 2021. (And, also, 7 years matches the precedent in the Good Friday agreement in NI.)

(For those in the media who seem confused by the SNP's support for a Remain vote for the EU, given that Brexit would lead to an early referendum, there's a really easy explanation: the SNP leadership don't want to have a second referendum; they want to win one. If they feel that waiting longer and, crucially, picking their moment gives them the better chance of winning, of course they'll favour that!)

And that's pretty much that. Other than to say that in honour of this not-event I'll not be putting up bunting tonight, won't be letting off fireworks, and won't be eating cake.

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