In 2014 I voted in the Scottish Independence Referendum to leave the United Kingdom. I am a bit ashamed to say that my decision was based on the principal that, “It will be a laugh!” The people of Scotland voted to remain in the Union by 55.3% to 44.7% with am 84.6% turnout of registered voters.
And that was fine, the people had spoken and the decision had been made and we all went back to getting on with our lives. My wife and I had rented a holiday cottage in St Andrews and we got on with our holiday.
Then in 2016 I voted to stay in the EU. Interestingly enough, the people of the UK as a whole voted to leave with an even smaller majority of 51.9% against 48.1% with a turnout of 72.2%. While I was a little more concerned about this result, especially given the divisiveness of the campaigners (on both sides), I thought, “Don’t worry the government knows what it’s doing. I’m sure they will sort all this out without too many issues.” How wrong can a person be?
Going briefly back to the 2014 referendum one of the key messages for me was that voting to leave the United Kingdom would pull us out of the EU and that the only way for Scotland to trade with the EU was to remain part of the United Kingdom. If anything would have swayed me to vote ‘NO’ (Scotland should not leave the U.K.) it was that. But in the early light of Friday the 19th September it became a moot point as Scotland decided to stay in the United Kingdom. The chance of an independent Scotland, a once in a generation opportunity, had been lost.
On 20th February 2016 the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that a referendum would be held on EU membership in June of that year. On the 23rd of June 2016 the UK went to the polls and voted us out of the EU. Except in Scotland. While the UK vote was 55.3% to 44.7% in favour of leaving, in Scotland there was a very different picture. 62% to 38% of the Scottish people voted to remain. The picture below from Wikipedia shows the extent of the North-South division on the subject of the EU referendum.
Not a single constituency in Scotland voted to leave the EU and yet our cousins in England had voted to drag us out whether we liked it or not.
What followed in the remaining part of 2016 right through the present day (3rd January 2020 as I type) went to show levels of incompetence in both Parliament and Government that I had never seen in my life. If private companies behaved like that they would be out of business in the first quarter. It was this ineptitude, combined with the Scotland EU referendum result that turned Sottish Independence for me from “It’ll be a laugh!” to “It’s absolutely imperative!”
So I have laid out my stall and I’m not ashamed to be a Scottish Independence supporter. I am also not a fanatic. The polls (if you believe them) show Scotland would again vote to stay in the U.K. (I know, we’re suckers for punishment) albeit by a similarly small margin to the 2014 Referendum. The graph below is from the What Scotland Thinks website. You can see that apart from a slight increase recorded on the 2nd of August 2019, Scotland, according to this poll, still wants to remain part of the U.K.
Despite this, our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, is pressing ahead trying to secure and second Independence Referendum under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 and it is here that I have my concerns. Given the turmoil that Brexit has caused over the last three and a half years and with the imminent extrication of the U.K. from the EU on the 31st January 2020, I do not believe now is the time to be banging the drum about IndyRef2. Even when we leave the EU at the end of January, there is still a painful year of negotiations ahead, guaranteed to keep the country under constant Brexit stress. Yet our First Minister has taken the increase in SNP seats during the December 2019 general election to represent a mandate for another referendum on Sottish Independence.
Just because Westminster has made such a mess of Parliament, Government and Brexit does not mean that Scotland should be immediately banging the drum about leaving the Union. I believe we should wait beyond 2020, probably even beyond 2021 before we look at holding another referendum on Independence. Let the certain incompetence and arrogance of Westminster make the pips squeak in Scotland to a point at which the case for and result of an Independence referendum inevitable. In the meantime I hope that the Scottish government will focus on the domestic issues it faces concerning schools, the NHS and the justice system. Not yet Nicola, not yet!