Two Years Later…

Here we are then, two years later, living in a post-IndyRef, -EVEL and -EU Referendum world.  Of course, we are not in a post-Brexit one yet as the UK Government still has to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty or give a clear idea of when they will.  I know that the unelected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to give Theresa May her full and Sunday-best title, has said she will trigger it early next year.  Or at least according to Donald Tusk, the European Council President, she has.  I don’t know about you but knowing the UK Government won’t tell us what their plans are to leave the EU until at least seven months after the referendum that they organised does not fill me with confidence or trust in their ability to produce a decent deal.  Remember, these are the people who said the Yes campaign and the Scottish Government’s White Paper didn’t have enough firm details in it for how Scotland would look under independence.

However, discussing the UK’s lurch towards Brexit is for another day.  Today I can’t help but write about how we move towards a second Scottish independence referendum and hopefully win it.  According to What Scotland Thinks, the current poll of polls put support for Scottish independence at 45%, against at 48% and Don’t Knows at 7%.  That is an improvement on the referendum result but more is needed to get support to over that magic 50%+1 line, let alone a decent majority.

I’ve spoken before of why I think Scotland should become independent and in the short time of two years things have made me more certain that it should.  According to some, like the Scottish Secretary David, we now have “the strongest devolved parliament in the world,” between the extra powers granted in the Scotland Act 2012 and the Scotland Act 2016.  We don’t have control over things like broadcasting, which some do, and only control over certain removable taxes and certain aspects of several welfare and housing related benefits.  Not even control over all aspects of various benefits, let alone all of them.  On 16th September, two days before the referendum, the then UK party leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, joined forces to pledge that a No vote would deliver “faster, safer and better change” than independence would.  Since then, Cameron created a democratic deficit by quickly pushing through Standing Orders following a whole two days of debate on his English Votes for English Laws proposals and enforcing constitutional change.  Under the changes, the Speaker of the House of Commons decides whether a Bill, or sections of a Bill, apply only to England, or only to England and Wales.  In practice, civil servants will make a recommendation and the Speaker will abide by it.  However, most experts have predicted that exceptions will occur where one party or another feels the decision is wrong, dragging the supposedly impartial Speaker into political rows.  That also relies on having a strong Speaker and the current incumbent is not particularly strong or reliable if you ask me.  After all, John Bercow is accused of presiding over the destruction of all MPs’ expenses evidence prior to 2010, which doesn’t look like an Establishment cover-up at all.

All in all, the Vow’s failed to deliver the most devolved set of powers or to properly guarantee Holyrood and its institutions as permanent in the UK’s constitutional arrangements.  The Scotland Act 2016 does recognise the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government as permanent among the arrangements, with a referendum required before either is abolished.  However, the Act institutes a weak statutory mechanism that does not stipulate provisions or guarantees for this, let alone ensure Crown Ministers’ duties in this respect are publicly answerable to the Scottish electorate.

Then we are faced with the EU Referendum result.  After months of telling us that a “No vote means stay in EU and Yes vote means leave EU,” David Cameron’s and Ruth Davidson’s party ensured that Scotland is to leave the European Union against it’s wishes.  Thanks for that folks.  Of course, they can’t tell us how it will work, what it means economically or for our future, but to trust them.  In or our of the Single Market?  Dunno.  Freedom of movement, goods or service?  Possibly, let us get back to you on that but you might need a visa in the future to go on holiday or visit in relatives in the remaining 27 Member States.  Again, these are the people who said there weren’t enough details on the proposed future in the 609-page Scotland’s Future, if you exclude the End Notes that is*.

Given all of this, we are living in uncertain times, where our future is unwritten and the BoZos in charge have no idea what to do next.  We also don’t have full, if any in some cases, control over our economy, our relations with other countries, how much tax the government makes us pay or where the money raised goes.  Aye Trident-supporters, I’m looking at your favourite hobby horse here.  There’s also Crossrail, Hinkley Point C and HS2 as well but having to live in a country with the means to start mutually assured destruction but no control over it fills me with the greater concern.

Obviously, I still believe that Scotland should take to take responsibility for itself and stand as a nation with a written constitution that seeks to look after all its citizens.  After the first Indy Referendum I repeatedly said that, unless something drastic happens, we should not have another one for at least twenty years, or a generation.  I even suggested 2037 as having a certain ring to it, given it would mark forty years since Scotland voted for a devolved parliament.  That has a certain synchronicity to my mind.  However, given we are now faced with a fundamental change to our future thanks to Cameron’s failed attempt to outflank UKIP and Euro-sceptic folk in his own party.  That fits with the drastic occurrence argument; leaving the EU is a significant and material change in Scotland’s position.  The Scottish electorate voted to stay in the EU by a 62% to 38% majority, 1,661,191 folk versus 1,018,322.  Sadly, 1,921,410 folk in England, Wales and even Gibraltar** decided our future for us.  Another democratic deficit.  The morning after the vote, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union.”  She also said that it was “democratically unacceptable” for Scotland to leave the EU “against its will.”  I’d agree with that and, while I applaud the attempts of the various parties at Holyrood to find a way for us to stay in the EU and the UK, I can’t see it happening.  You can’t balance that equation, it is either one or the other now.  That means we should have a second Independence Referendum but all Yes supporters, especially those in charge of the campaign, have a lot of work to do.  I always thought some of the arguments put forward were hoping for the best or that our political opponents would play fair and accept the arguments put forward as sound and based on facts.  Fat chance of that happening.

Some policies need major re-working, especially the currency issue, which I still think was what ultimately caused the No majority.  Not only that, but we must reach out to No voters and those who didn’t and convince them that independence is the better way.  We must do that now and in a friendly manner.  We must open our arms to previous No voters, not berate them for making a bad choice before.  However, given that some SNP supporters and politicians call other parties ‘recent converts’ to the cause, I worry that won’t happen.  Thankfully, the Greens have launched a new campaign – No2Yes.scot – to give people the chance to say why they’ve since changed their mind to support independence.  Aye, the SNP has finally launched their ‘Summer offensive’ on independence, the National Survey, but I think it’s just for the party faithful.  I also don’t trust them with my details, which you need to give to complete their survey.  I had to mark Scottish Labour email addresses as spam to stop receiving them when I sent them a question by email a year ago and would imagine the SNP would do likewise.

The trouble is with both of these campaigns and the new Indy App is that they are mainly or completely online activities.  That excludes a large group of people who predominately voted No but receive their news and information through traditional media routes.  According to the Scottish Referendum Study, 59.5% of sixty-somethings and 67.1% aged 70 or older voted No.  Out of eight age bands, these two produced the highest numbers wanting to remain in the Union.  What good is putting information and reasons to support independence online when they are the group who are least likely to own an internet-enabled device?  I thank what’s needed is old-fashioned door knocking, going round each and every estate and stair in the country to ask folk if they would consider voting Yes or are undecided and would like more information.  This campaign should also make sure that the folk wanting further engagement are asked how they would like the Yes camp to contact them.  I’m betting a good number of older people would jump at the chance to talk to somebody of a similar age about the campaign if they were offered it.  Throw in making it during the day and in their local community centre or library with refreshments and the number would probably increase.  I know that’s a sweeping statement but when you’re looking to fill your day or week, you’d appreciate the chance to talk to somebody.  Especially if those people wanted to hear what you had to say.

Then there are citizens from other EU countries.  Supposedly they voted 60% No in 2014, which should automatically chance but that’s not a given.  After all, it is not just folk in the UK who are disillusioned or distrustful of the EU or the European Commissions.  Again, another group who Yes campaigners should engage with.  Likewise with academics who feared their very generous pension ‘might’ go down in value.  I saw two emails from University managers who warned their staff they ‘could’ lose their jobs by voting Yes and encouraged them not to.  We have to find a way round these false ideas that are entrenched in some people’s minds.  The University’s face losing their EU funding now of course so maybe researchers would see things differently but only if Scotland’s future as a Member State was assured.

However, the largest group that independence supporters need to convince to vote yes are the 660,048 people who were registered to vote in 2014 but DID NOT VOTE.  That’s right, 15.41% of the total of registered folk decided not to cast their ballot in the most important, talked about and reported upon vote their country had faced.  A further 153,036, according to the General Register Office for Scotland**, were eligible to register but didn’t and thus couldn’t vote.

Choice

Votes

Percentages

No

2,001,926

55.3% of votes cast

Yes

1,617,989

44.7% of votes cast

Valid votes

3,619,915

99.91% of votes cast

Invalid or blank votes

3,429

0.09% of votes cast

Total Votes Cast

3,623,344

81.67% of eligible voters

Registered voters and turnout

4,283,392

84.59% of registered voters

Registered but did not vote

660,048

15.41% of registered voters

Voting age population

4,436,428

 

Eligible but did not register

153,036

3.45% of eligible voters

Think about that for a second.  In September 2014 an official total of 813,084 people did not vote one way or another.  I have no idea why they didn’t vote but surely it is worth trying to engage with them.  That for me is the next step forward, speak to the group who account for more than half the Yes votes from two years ago and see if we can not only get them to register not vote as well.  Look at the figures above again if you don’t think they matter.  Then perhaps we produce a new largest ever turnout at a Scottish vote.  That I would definitely like to see.

*Aye, I did check; it’s still on the bookshelf in my front room.

**Seems 872 Gibraltarians voted to leave the EU.  I know, bizarre, isn’t it.

***Although I still think that number is higher but trust their calculations more than the back of an envelope one I did previously.

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About LothiansKen

I'm a middle classed kiddie, but I know where I stand.
This entry was posted in IndyRef, Political Posts, Voting. Bookmark the permalink.

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