Thursday, June 16, 2016

Indecision 2016

A few people have been taking me to task in the comments section about my uncertainty over how to vote next Thursday - they reckon it's a no-brainer that every independence supporter in Scotland should vote Remain, because we need to be able to point to as strong a Remain majority as possible. I think it might be an idea to repost my response here, so that I don't have to repeat myself another fifty times over the next week!

"I take an entirely different view, Rolfe, and I must say that I think 'risk' is the wrong word in this context. If the tactical objective is a UK Leave/Scottish Remain, then every single person in Scotland is simultaneously voting both for and against that outcome. That's simply a fact, and there's no way of avoiding it. The UK result looks like it could be very close (and I would still say Remain are slightly more likely to win), whereas the Scottish result looks pretty clear-cut. If that wasn't the case, and if Leave had a big UK lead, there would be overwhelming logic for independence supporters to vote Remain, but that isn't where we are. A Remain win of 65% to 35% in Scotland coupled with a Remain win of 50.1% to 49.9% across the UK isn't going to get us a second independence referendum, but a Remain win of 63% to 37% in Scotland coupled with a Leave win of 50.1% to 49.9% across the UK could just do the trick. That's the dilemma, and I have to say I think the likes of Bill and 'Sales - Select Wallpaper' are in danger of losing sight of the fact that Scottish votes do contribute directly to the overall UK outcome. We aren't having our own separate referendum here.

As I've said before, the problem with tactical voting this time is not that it can't or won't work, but rather that the side-benefits of Brexit for the independence movement may not actually be important enough to compensate for the major downsides of being stuck outside the EU if we don't get independence. That's why I'm still in two minds."

Just to reiterate : of the two main side-benefits that I think might arise from Brexit, I'd say greater powers for the Scottish Parliament is much the stronger potential argument for voting Leave, and the prospect of engineering a second independence referendum is the weaker. I'm also not trying to influence anyone else's vote - it would be a bit difficult to do that anyway, given that I genuinely haven't made up my mind yet on what I think the best choice would be! I've simply been thinking aloud about how to cast my own vote. There's no doubt at all that the vast majority of SNP members will vote Remain, and that may well be a very good thing. SNP voters are another matter, of course - we know from opinion polls that a sizeable minority will vote Leave, and I personally know of a couple of passionate Yes voters who had "I'm With Nicola" plastered all over their Facebook profiles only a few weeks ago, but who are now backing Brexit without seeing any contradiction. They're doing that because of immigration, though, not because of more powers for Holyrood or a second indyref. I suspect there are only a tiny number of people who are flirting with a Leave vote for the specific reasons I am, so even if you think it's unwise, I don't think you should fret too much about it.

44 comments:

  1. That's very interesting,James.I'm voting remain because I believe it to be best for Scotland.I hope rUK also vote Remain.If the UK leaves the EU it will be all the harder to persuade Scots to "go it alone".I don't think demographics will allow us to win indyref2 until 2021 anyway,but who knows.

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    1. I agree Anonymous , aim for 2021 , by them we will know how strong opinion is for Independence , if it is strong we go for it , if not then there is still work to be done , we can't afford the next one to fail , that will bring all hopes of Independence to an end .

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  2. James, you didn't touch on what the torys can do to workers rights, disability rights, etc.

    If it's a brexit, Scotland has no control over these, but UK does and with out eu protection, the record of torys on Social security changes show that they will roll back our rights.

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    1. That's covered by -

      "the side-benefits of Brexit for the independence movement may not actually be important enough to compensate for the major downsides of being stuck outside the EU if we don't get independence. That's why I'm still in two minds."

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  3. I totally agree with all your reasoning following the premise that your tactical objective is UK Leave/Scotland Remain. But I totally disagree that that should be the objective.

    For me the objective is England Leave/Scotland Remain. I think that, regardless of the UK result, that configuration would further weaken the UK and provide opportunities for the independence movement.

    Out of the two possibilities for the UK result, I'd much prefer Remain. That way, we avoid the risk of being stuck outside the EU and inside Boris Johnson's UK. It also acts as a catalyst for people in England to start questioning whether they really want to be British or English. They still don't really recognise the difference, but at some point in time they would have to realise that if the result could be England Leave/UK Remain then England is not the same thing as the UK. I think this will be very healthy, for all of us.

    If it is a UK Leave result though, I'd want to see as big a majority as possible for Remain in Scotland.

    Obviously I can't do anything to help the one half of that objective as I can't really influence the result in England. But I will be voting Remain myself and encouraging everyone in Scotland to do the same.

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    1. I think a narrow remain, with Scotlands vote being what tips to remain, would be good for next indy ref.

      They might not try so hard to keep us in uk next time.

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    2. I really do agree with that.

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  4. Matthew Noble, I agree absolutely.

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  5. Thanks as ever James for an interesting piece. The EU Ref does not seem to be a debate about the good stuff (travel, worker's rights, Erasmus, funding for projects in Scotland...) that the EU brings, but rather about the Johnson-Gove-Farage view of 'immigrants.' In the end, it is about which type of Tory you want in Westminster (see my blog today http://serosedseriocat.blogspot.com.es/2016/06/nicolas-right.html)

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  6. James: on your hypothetical figures, wouldn't Scotland's large Remain keep England in the EU against its will and wouldn't that scenario also be likely to get us another referendum, if by a different route?

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  7. A short post on my thoughts. Most of the arguments for and against the EU are difficult if not impossible to "prove" For example there are those how claim we will be better off economically in Europe and equally those who make the opposite argument, neither side can prove they are correct. Sadly the same applies for many of the other arguments on both sides. The two positive arguments for staying that I can come up with are. Firstly the freedom of movement - I have many younger friends who make full use of this to find employment throughout Europe and have made friends coming into Scotland doing the same thing - my daughter will one day make use of this as well, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Brits now living in Europe. The other and to me more important issue is that for the last 70 years the central European governments have managed not to get millions of their citizens killed in various disputes. I have grown up without a major European war and I want this to continue for my daughters sake - would a brexit threaten this - no one can say with any certainty - but peace for over 70 years in central Europe is as far as I know exceptional.

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  8. This myth that we will get more powers is an argument entirely constructed by the Tory party. They just finished campaigning for us not to have more powers through the Smith Commission as well as directly lying through their teeth with the vow.

    Gove also said a couple of days ago, Scotland 'might' get more powers. It is by no means a sure thing and basing your vote on what tories say isn't the wisest thing I have ever read.

    You are entitled to your vote etc and I know the argument regarding the sewel commission and how it would throw things into a constitutional crisis....but there are also arguments there for the UK gov to keep powers at Westminster.

    They can get round legislation by voting on over-writing the rules pertaining to this. They will have 3 years to sort it out, as they have id'd 2019 as coming out.

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    1. They've already prepared the ground by inserting or emphasising that in some circumstances the Sewel Convention will be put to one side in the Scotland Act 2016 amendments.

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  9. I have to say I agree with Matthew, although I can sort of see James's reasoning. The problem I foresee is that the Scots backing Remain don't go and vote. I don't think it will be anything like 58%. I think the Scottish result will be much closer than the polls suggest. People are weary of politics and referendums.

    Also, the chance to have Scotland keep England in Europe against its wishes is comedy gold. That would actually be my preferred outcome. The hard right xenophobes would go nuts. If I ever needed cheering up I could look at Farage's furious wee face. Surely that's worth a Remain vote on its own?

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  10. James, this has totally summed up my own feelings about the EURef. I'm a nationalist from NI, and have long believed that Scottish independence will unlock a United Ireland - however, I'm also pro-EU, and as such have been telling all my friends I'll vote to remain. But the temptation to add to the leave vote (in a cynical way, I suppose) is getting stronger and stronger, because if we do leave the EU that will re-energise lukewarm nationalists to support a united Ireland through peaceful means. But I guess I'll just have to wait and see what sort of impact the mysteries of being alone at the ballot box has on me.

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  11. I totally understand your point. At first I was undecided and was not convinced by either side of the argument, too much rhetoric and not enough substance. I have long suspected a double bluff within the Conserative party, a PM that will not contest the next election and a chance for the far right to get it's way (stop immigration and scrap workers rights etc). Scotland may vote leave as the majority will vote against Mr Cameron as a protest vote. It is entirely possible that the UK squeaks in a remain vote with Scotland voting to leave. Frankly a disaster scenario - so my remain vote is for Scotland not a leave protest vote against the UK.

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    1. Why would that be a disaster scenario? We'd get to keep the advantages of the EU which you mention, while also being able to make the constitutional argument that Scotland hasn't got what it voted for.

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  12. Where is the written certainty of more powers for Scotland if the vote is Leave? No westminster Parliament is bound by previous laws or arrangements.
    Given the political changes in Scotland since the Indy Ref there is no reason in the world why the Tories, Labour or the HofLs would give more powers to Scotland, no matter what appears to be laid down.
    If we didn't already have Education, Health and Legal system it would never have been 'devolved'. I think it is the height of folly to believe more would be given.
    What would we do? The Brit establishment and LabConLibs in Scotland already crowing that we have too much.

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  13. The points that James has previously made about devolved powers in areas such as fisheries and agriculture reverting to Holyrood in the event of Brexit are strong ones.

    Should the UK Government have to negotiate an EU exit, with the two largest English political parties weakened by internal feuding, this will throw up interesting opportunities for the Scottish Government.

    Rather than being worried about depredations of a future Conservative Government, should they hang on after a schism, we should seize the opportunity to force through a comprehensive version of Devomax.

    A weakened UK Government distracted by complex and lengthy EU negotiations may not be able to withstand the demands of a strong Scottish Government for Devomax as the price of avoiding a second referendum.

    Much of what we aspire to may be achieved without the need for another vote.

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  14. I am not convinced with the "vote leave and Scotland will gain new powers" argument. When pressed on this the leave campaign get very vague or talk about stuff that is entirely reserved like immigration or talk about powers we already have. I think voting leave is really voting for a pig in a poke. Also if you think voting leave will protect the NHS from TTIP or safeguard workers rights, you are being monstrously naive.

    Europe has been a favorite whipping post in the UK and so it is almost impossible to have sensible debate about it. The UK gov has pissed in the well once to often for that to happen. But I can't vote leave to get a dig at Cameron, as much as he deserves it. Because the alternative is Boris. The UKs version of Trump. I won't vote leave due to the MSM/UKIP led Anti immigrant, anti-Europe phobia. I am voting remain, not to take part in a pissing contest between two flavors "bastard" tory. I voting remain because I am sick and tired of being a hostage to fortune in this UK. And if leave wins, Scotland won't see a single power for its trouble. We'll have to listen to endless gloating from a thoroughly rotten MSM. Hell I'll have to endure another article on just how British we are after all from David "cogent analysis" Torrance. That alone is a reason to vote remain.

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  15. I consider the risk of 'accidentally' causing an UK-wide remain result as acceptable, but then I want to remain in the EU anyway(it's the best way to deal with a post-indy England, whether it eventually leaves the EU or not). If nothing else, watching the hardcore Brexiters realise who swung the results will be worth the missed opportunity.

    It will also make the second indyref a little more likely in the long run.

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  16. What on earth makes you think Scotland would get more powers from Boris, Gove, IDS and Co? John Redwood of EVEL notoriety is a Brexiter too. The only thing Scotland will get from the BREXIT crew is right royally shafted!

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  17. James;

    You may remember me as "the American" who emailed you some time ago.

    At 18 I put myself through University working in a tooling firm as a member of the United Automobile Workers. After earning a masters degree that I was able to pay for having received wages based on a union payscale I went into business yet I have remained to this day in solidarity with working men and women. Fast forward decades and I am back across the pond and a member of the SNP who supported independence.

    I assume that you are politically left of center and if thats the case I would encourage you to watch the movie just released today by @LabourLeave, Lexit the Movie;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq72f81kkM4

    As a former trades union member and as someone who has gone far in the business world in America, I can not align myself with the likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. They are not bankrolling Remain for altruistic reasons. If you are a left of center voter, I think you need to reflect and ask why are the likes of those two firms bankrolling remain?

    As a left of center American voter who would support Bernie Sanders, I know what TTIP will and can do to both the USA and the UK. As a fellow European, I have seen the destructive nature of oligarchy capitalism on our brothers and sisters in Greece. I can not stand with the EU based on their record of scorched earth policies in Greece.

    A vote to remain is lining up with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and EU Austerity (the troika). Iceland had the right idea of putting the banksters in prison, but in the USA and UK the banksters got quantitaive easing and helicopter money.

    You may or may not have watched the cross party movie Brexit the Movie. If anything, it is a civics lesson in how the EU Government is organized. To be honest and I am politically informed, I did not realize how anti-democratic the EU Institutions were. This is far beyond Can you name the five presidents? (which no one came name)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTMxfAkxfQ0

    I sense you are struggling between your heart and your brain.

    In the invasion of Iraq, I relied on my brain instead of my heart, I was wrong then and I regret that.

    I support an independent Scotland but I do know we might not get there in our lifetimes. Scotland lost two years ago because a majority of Scots felt they were in fact too wee and too poor and too thick needing to rely in their betters. For many of these individuals, they will vote remain for the same reason.

    Anyways, watch Lexit from @LabourLeave, then watch Brexit the Movie and after that whatever your vote you will not say woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    Cheers, George Stewart

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    1. 'Scotland lost two years ago because a majority of Scots felt they were in fact too wee and too poor and too thick needing to rely in their betters'

      George,
      just to be pedantic for a moment. 52.7% of the Scots born electorate voted Yes at the last referendum.

      braco

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    2. So, people are only Scots if they were born in Scotland and you know to a fraction of a per cent how people with different birthplaces voted?

      I assume you are calculating from some post-referendum poll or other. Did you include turnout? You do say "electorate". Do you know whether turnout differed depending on birthplace?

      I'm not sure "pedantic" is the right adjective for your contribution.

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    3. feel the concern trollingJune 16, 2016 at 12:41 PM

      Whereas "ironic" is the perfect adjective for your contribution since you somehow missed the kind of post he was responding to.

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    4. I would point out george, that this leave campaign has been entirely fought by right wing nutjobs, who if it is a leave vote, will have a massive mandate to bring about everything they have done.

      The Labour party in England is entirely unelectable and it will be for some time and even then shoudl they find themselves in power, it will not be because of their left wing leanings, they have to lurch to the right, england demands it.

      If someone, anyone, made a left wing argument to leave, I would be all for it, but there isn't, the mandate is with the right wing and for that reason, should there be another GE called, boris will be PM and god knows what lies in store, the decimation of workers rights no doubt.

      I would also point out, that my opinion was ironically mirrored by right wing would be yes voters, during our referendum, as a means to not vote for a yes as they thought it would be a socialist fantasy island with 70% taxes etc.

      If there was a balance to the leave campaign, with lefties advocating a leave and a good chance of bringing about left wing policies then it would be different, but you have to play with the ball you have and for that reason the best thing scotland can do is vote remain, hope england votes out and we move heaven and earth to get an indyref2 and then we win.

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  18. Breaking - Ipsos/MORI telephone for the Evening Standard:

    Leave 53 Remain 47

    A 10 pt swing to leave since 1 month ago.

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    1. Heathite OmnishamblesJune 16, 2016 at 11:23 AM

      Having inept fools like Cameron and Osborne in charge of the referendum was always an amusingly dumb idea.

      Right this second the tory pary is lining up for the mother and father of all splits.

      They have barely even started as far as the levels of recriminations and venom that will be directed at certain prominent tory politicians on both sides of the argument from inside their own party.

      Invest in popcorn shares now!

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  19. JAMES

    In the long run we will all be dead.
    I'm sure you realise when independence hard liners talk about waiting for the right demographics before holding another referendum they are actually thinking the word Crematorium.

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    1. While I'm sure you realise the staggering chaos and utter incompetence being displayed in abundance by some of westmisnter's 'finest', during this EU referendum, is hardly going to increase the already catastrophically low levels of trust Scotland has for the corrupt and inept Westminster establishment.

      But sure, bring in Brown and Darling now because that's a REAL fucking good idea. LOLZ

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    2. It's become more corrupt and inept since the 56 minions wandered in there, while scrounging 4 million of taxpayers money. Too much scheming to try to catch us real Scots out with "timing".

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  20. This article is a good illustration of the pros and cons of Scotland pushing for independence if Leave wins. The over-arching point is that an independent Scotland would be in a quite similar position to Ireland, who would have some major problems (and some significant opportunities) to face.

    https://academyofgovernment.wordpress.com/

    Pros: may be some increase in popular support; would be easier to attract foreign investment.

    Cons: we don't know what kind of deal UK and EU would reach (if any); possibility of hard Anglo/Scottish border; effect on trade with rUK.

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  21. The nationalists should be trying desperately at the moment to achieve a remain win. That then allows them to pursue a gradualistic approach to independence that may take 10, 15, 20 years to achieve but which actually has a chance of success. The alternative - Brexit - vastly complicates the situation and forces the SNP hand many years before they'd planned to make a move. The economic dynamics that would exist post brexit also make Scottish independence permanently less attractive.

    Aldo

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    1. Heathite OmnishamblesJune 16, 2016 at 11:37 AM

      Mebbes Cameroons like you should be concentrating on how to unite a split and chaotic tory party because that could take the better part of 10, 15, 20 years to achieve. :o)

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    2. 'The economic dynamics that would exist post brexit also make Scottish independence permanently less attractive.'

      To you Aldo, to you...

      braco

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    3. We trade more with England than we do with Europe. Scottish independence would give us free access to the European market*, but raise tariffs between Scotland and our largest trading partner. So right away there is a devastating new argument against Scottish independence post brexit.

      *This assumes we can secure EU membership. We'd need to have a cast iron guarantee of it before we voted. That means that the EU would need to negotiate with Scottish ministers prior to independence. The EU wouldn't do that and the British government wouldn't allow them to if they tried. So you'd be voting blind and could well end up outside both the UK and the EU.

      Aldo

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  22. What the result of the Independence Referendum meant was that a majority of Scots agreed that decisions such as Remain/Leave be made by the whole of the UK for the whole of the UK.

    An imbalance in voting along national boundaries is therefore no basis to argue a 'change in circumstances' because it would be EXACTLY what Scotland voted for in all its glorious action.

    The change of circumstances will be the UK voting to Leave, regardless of how that majority is arrived at.

    Why? Because nobody in Scotland voted No on the basis that Scotland as part of the UK would be outside of the EU and many will have voted No because there was no guarantee that an Independent Scotland would be in the EU.

    Remember, this Referendum is about whether the UK should be a member NOT about whether an Independent Scotland should be a member. For people living in Scotland, we need to be very clear about the difference.

    Unfortunately the, in my view, mistaken position the SNP has taken has prevented it from explaining this point.

    I will be voting to leave because the Scottish people will have no voice in the governance of the EU. Exactly the same reason as I voted Yes for Independence.

    (BTW, anyone who thinks we are safer in the EU because European politicians are naturally more inclined to support social democracy should go and ask the Greeks what they think.)

    For the sake of completeness, I would vote for an Independent Scotland to become or remain a member of the EU because we would be a full and equal participants in a confederation.

    Despite its current position, I do hope the Scottish Government are ready to negotiate a 'Scotland Remains' position with the EU in the event of a Brexit vote. A Referendum asking Independence inside the EU versus Part of the UK outside the EU would be a tantalising prospect and, to be honest, so far removed from the position of the first IndyRef that I would doubt it should even count as a re-run.

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    1. westminster bubble boysJune 16, 2016 at 11:46 AM

      Do you seriously think the Scottish people have somehow not noticed the incredible spectacle of bickering public schoolboy tories and Farage being the utterly dominant centre of attention during this entire EU ref omnishambles?

      Think again.

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    2. Scotland does have a voice in the EU parliament which is elected via a PR system. That's perhaps where some of the distrust comes from from Westminster. Rather than being able to fight key marginals and ignore areas unlikely to change party alegience PR, depending on it's format, means you have to persuade more people. The AV referendum more than ever showed exactly the winner takes it all attitude beloved of Westminster. It also showed why the ongoing electoral expenses scandal is as important.

      A tad schizoid mentioning Greece given Scotland might just as easily be drawn in to the same situation if we joined the Euro after cooking the books to qualify, were responsible for a melt down and as part of a relief package were put in a financial straight jacket. A bit like the UK was when bailed out by the IMF.

      I'm voting Remain because that's best for the UK and Scotland regardless of independence. Those most likely to win the Tory Civil War have already set their sights on replacing the current human rights via a process of abolishing the first set and then introducing a replacement. I wouldn't hold my breath on the replacements happening at all or including the protections we all benefit from.

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  23. I see that was actually a response to me (which I hadn't read - the comments are so infested with trolls I seldom revisit them), so I'll reply here.

    I appreciate you're only one vote, James, and there aren't likely to be many of you, so it probably won't make a lot of difference. I said that. What is worrying me is the possibility either that due to a late swing there is actually a Leave vote in Scotland, or that the Remain vote is so narrow that it can be portrayed as pretty well split down the middle so it's not really a huge issue.

    I can live with an overall Remain vote, and if Scottish votes swing it for Remain against an English Leave vote, things could actually get quite entertaining. I really, really don't want an overall Leave vote if the Scottish vote is either Leave also, or only a narrow Remain. And I don't think courting that possibility is wise.

    If we're stuck with the UK, I'd rather be in the EU than out, is the bottom line. Also, do consider the possibilities if a huge Scottish Remain vote were indeed to swing it against an English vote for Leave.

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    1. If Scotland swings the vote for remain then Labour and the Europhilic wing of the Tory party will be so impressed with Scotland they will insist we stay, forever and ever, as a bulwark against Farage-ism.

      Careful what you wish for!

      Aldo

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    2. Rolfe, if the vote swings that far in Scotland that Leave win here as well, all of those who feel as you and I do need to accept our lot, pack our bags and emigrate to a country that actually cares about its future. What that country is I am not quite sure but go I most certainly will.

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  24. In order for there to be an indyref 2 there has to be a uk leave and Scottish remain.
    If I wanted to help prevent an indyref then I'd vote leave. My vote in Scotland is one of five million people, not sixty million and so offers an 11x multiplier.
    The converse must be true for Yes supporters - vote remain.

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