In 2014, Scots voted 55-45 to remain in the UK. Many of us voted ‘No’ to independence because we were told – by UK politicians and EU officials alike – that remaining within the UK was our only hope of remaining EU citizens. Some of us actually were those very politicians! As it’s turned out, exactly the opposite was true. With Brexit, the pre-Brexit economic and cultural arguments against Scottish independence, which some of us accepted, have been completely undermined. England has gone off on a journey to the political right and to the margins of Europe. Scots now have to choose between that vision as part of the UK, and a social democratic future in Europe through Scottish independence.
Of course, England and Wales have made a democratic choice to break away from the EU and embrace isolationism. They are now proceeding with the mechanics of leaving the EU, just as they fairly decisively voted for. The people of Scotland and Northern Ireland made the opposite choice. Northern Irish appear to be choosing in large numbers to take up dual UK/Irish (and therefore EU) citizenship, with obvious and amazing implications for the future of that island. We simply ask that Scot’s decision, made in good faith, be respected too.
From mid-August, ‘FromNotoYes.Scot‘ will be live. Our aim is simply to help move the figure for Scots supporting Independence to over 60%. We believe this will enable the Scottish Government to deliver a second referendum which will in turn help to assure Scottish independence in Europe before the UK as we know it leaves the EU.
We’ll post at this page until mid-August. Until then, please read us here – and let us have your comments beneath each piece which we’ll cross-post here. We’re also organising events in support of helping people move from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ – do let us know if you’d like to be involved.
For now, here’s some food for thought…..
SCOTTISH UNIONISTS ARE ALL BREXITEERS, NOW
Scots are faced with a choice of remaining EU citizens or remaining part of little Brexiteer Britain. For many, that choice is straightforwards. The 45% who supported independence in 2014 will likely continue to support it; many Conservative and Unionist voters will not waver in their support for the UK Tory government’s line that the last independence referendum, whilst retrospectively invalid, was the final word. And yet, in between, many people who voted ‘No’ in 2014 are now bewildered about what to do for the best. We’ve not been natural supporters of independence until now, yet we know the colossal harm our loss of EU citizenship will bring to us and our children. With Scottish Labour, Lib Dems and of course Tories continuing to support the Brexit they all previously opposed, and therefore a future dominated by marginalised, increasingly right-wing English Tory Party members, there’s a terrible void in leadership right now.
Of course, some independence supporters do not support our membership of the EU. But it seems likely that they will continue to support independence. And a small but significant minority of SNP voters have heretofore not supported independence. Members of this group are surely now moving towards support for independence?
But what of Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters (and there are still quite a few….)? Many of these folk will remain resistant to supporting the SNP yet will be even more resistant to both leaving the EU and having their lives dominated by the values of by a UK Tory government bent on returning UKIP supporters to the Tory fold. And led by a prime minister determined to remove the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights. Even some Scottish Tory voters will baulk at the way the Scottish Tory leader went in one day from being the Scottish unionist champion of EU membership to being the Scottish unionist champion of Brexit. How credible, after all, is to to call for a continued EU open labour market when the Little Englanders won the Brexit vote on the single issue of reducing the free access to the UK of EU citizens?
Of course, for most the practical party choice in Scotland today is between a centre/centre-left social democratic SNP and an increasingly right-wing Tory party. A Tory party whose leader supports the withdrawal of our rights under the ECHR, and who leads a party dominated by hard-right, hardline Brexiteers demanding extensive withdrawal from EU co-operation even where they actually agree that will harm UK citizens.
But the disarray of the other parties, notably the complete failure of the Scottish Labour Party to respond coherently to the new situation Scotland faces (or much else besides), doesn’t mean everyone will desert these parties over the independence issue. So while it’s natural and realistic that the SNP will seek to grow its already huge support base off the back of Brexit, it’s also important that people who do not support the SNP at the moment are welcomed into the pro-independence camp. This is the way Scotland will move forwards together, and also how the 60% will be most quickly achieved.
At present, the tenet of post-independence referendum debate is characterised by an ‘SNP vs Not SNP’ frame of mind. For 60% to be exceeded, however, far more effort needs to be put into the ‘Independence vs Brexit’ debate. It’s those on the side of independence who are inclusive now, and who are on the right side of the intellectual argument. Those who remain anti-independence, especially those on the left, and so who continue to support Brexit, now have to explain why they support shackling social democratic Scotland to a hardline, increasingly right-wing Little England. They need to explain why they want to help the Tories usher Scots out of the ECHR and out of the EU altogether.
Before the Brexit vote by England and Wales (surely the new name of that putative nation, since the notion of a ‘United Kingdom’ is now laughable? Dis-united Kingdom?) it was a mainstay of the anti-independence argument that the economics of independence didn’t stack up. Well they do now, as the very experts whose economic opinions anti-independence movers relied upon have decisively changed their minds. Post-Brexit, the economic argument for Scotland staying in Europe seems manifestly stronger than the economic argument for Brexit self-harm. This, above all, may be the decisive factor for many Scots prepared to consider switching from No to Yes.
If what is left of Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats supported independence now then they would quite possibly be decisive in helping Scotland to a social democratic future in Europe. But there is little hope of leadership there; more likely, they may follow the public will when it’s too late to be of much influence or use. So the better policy for us all, surely, is to step into the breech created by the lack of leadership and help their supporters to the realisation that independence in Europe is, after all, the only sensible way ahead for an inclusive, social democratic Scotland.
Long-term nationalists may say ‘I told you so’, and that seems fair enough. People moving from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ need to be big enough to accept the point, have a bit of humility, follow their lead and work together in Scotland’s interests against the dogmatic voices of the Scottish Brexiteers.