Saturday, June 11, 2016

Is there any case for SNP supporters to vote Leave?

As you may have seen by now (although probably not in The Times itself, as I doubt if many of you cough up your Murdoch levy!), Kenny "Devo or Death" Farquharson hit a new low today with a bizarre article in which he claimed to be using 'method acting' to work himself into the mindset of an SNP supporter, and then declared himself hopelessly confused about how he should vote in the EU referendum - partly because he can't shake off the nagging doubt that the arguments for a Leave vote are very similar to the arguments for a Yes vote two years ago, and partly because he claims that he is being sent mixed signals by the party leadership about the outcome that would be more likely to hasten a second referendum on independence.

Hmmm.  I think what this tells us more than anything is that a man whose motto is "Devo or Death" is probably never going to be much of an authority on how independence supporters think.  (Which obviously helps put into perspective his endless optimistic tweets along the lines of "many Nats will privately agree with every word in this must-read piece by Euan McColm".)  Just look around you, Kenny - social media is awash with SNP members/voters proudly using the party's "In" twibbon, and most of them aren't riven by doubt in any way at all.  They understand perfectly well the difference between a union of independent nation states, and a union that extinguishes statehood altogether - even if that very simple concept seems mysteriously beyond the grasp of one of this country's leading anti-independence journalists.  They also understand that to the extent Brexit might bring independence closer, that can only happen if there is a substantial vote for Remain in Scotland - meaning there is no contradiction between the SNP leadership's principled support for EU membership and any tactical calculations that are being made behind the scenes.  It's simply not possible to campaign for two different outcomes simultaneously, so even if the leadership are secretly hoping for Brexit (and it's not at all clear to me that they are), they'll know full well that all they can do is campaign for as many Remain votes as possible in Scotland, and pray that doesn't tip the balance towards Remain in the UK as a whole.

However, I can maybe help Kenny out here, because even though his fictional SNP supporter is a rather silly figure who doesn't have any basis in reality, there are a minority of real-life SNP members/supporters out there who do feel somewhat ambivalent about this God-awful referendum - and I'm one of them.  In spite of the fact that I've always been very pro-European and should be a natural Remainer, I haven't finally decided how to vote yet.  So I'm ideally placed to set Kenny straight on where he's gone wrong in his creative endeavour.

Most importantly, although I'm undecided, I'm in no way confused.  The arguments seem crystal-clear to me, it's just that they're fairly finely-balanced.

The elephant in the room is that Brexit would almost certainly lead to an increase in the powers of the Scottish Parliament.  Many SNP supporters tend to roll their eyes to the heavens when this point is raised by the Leave campaign, because they reckon it's obvious that the likes of Tom Harris don't give a monkey's about Scottish self-government.  And that's absolutely true, but it doesn't mean that the actual point is in any way bogus.  Many of the policy areas that are supposedly devolved to the Scottish Parliament are in fact only devolved in a very nominal sense, because they are largely or wholly competences of the European Union.  The Sewel convention prevents Westminster from legislating on devolved matters, but entirely the opposite principle applies in respect of Brussels - EU law is always supreme, no matter how completely it encroaches on the Scottish Parliament's powers.  One obvious example is fisheries, where the Scottish Government's role is basically to implement EU rules.  So if Britain was to withdraw from the EU, at a stroke we'd find that theoretical devolved powers would become actual devolved powers.

Now, in the majority of cases (fisheries is an exception), I and other SNP supporters would tend to think that the EU's curtailment of the powers of national and sub-state parliaments is entirely appropriate - these are policy areas that on the whole are best dealt with at a continent-wide level.  But here's the thing - if we're serious about wanting a much more powerful Scottish Parliament, there's an argument that beggars can't be choosers.  Trying to get the most appropriate powers repatriated from London is like trying to get blood out of a stone, so there's an obvious attraction to getting a different package of powers repatriated from Brussels instead.  That would be an equally effective way of building Holyrood's prestige and demonstrating to the public that if we as a country can cope with such an enormous level of self-government, the final jump to independence is really quite a small one.

In my view, that's the single most compelling argument for a Leave vote from a Scottish pro-independence point of view.  A much more dubious argument (but one that isn't totally without merit) can be summed up in the following dread phrase : "tactical voting".  In spite of Kenny Farquharson's incomprehensible inability to grasp that Brexit can only be a trigger for Indyref 2 if Scotland votes Remain, is there still some way that "tactically" voting Leave could bring a referendum closer?  Well, possibly.  Although it's not possible for the SNP as a party to campaign for two different outcomes simultaneously, it's open to us as individuals to take a more nuanced view if we want to.  Suppose the polling averages in ten days' time look something like this...

Scotland :

Remain 65%
Leave 35%

UK :

Remain 51%
Leave 49%

In that scenario (which is actually pretty plausible based on what we're seeing now), the risk of Scotland not voting Remain will look extremely remote, but the UK result will be on a knife-edge.  If we genuinely want to see a UK Leave coupled with a Scottish Remain, it would be entirely logical to 'lend' votes to Leave in the hope of tipping the balance across the UK.  The problem is not that tactical voting isn't viable (in contrast to the Holyrood election, there aren't too many variables and it should be fairly straightforward), but rather that we should be very careful what we wish for.  If we help to bring about Brexit in this rather frivolous way, it may well trigger an independence referendum - but it won't necessarily lead to independence.  If it doesn't, we won't have an independent Scotland within Europe, we'll instead have the nightmare outcome of a dependent Scotland within the UK but outside the EU - completely the opposite of what the tactical vote was supposed to achieve.  It could mean losing our rights as EU citizens to live and work in any other EU country - not necessarily, because EEA citizens have exactly the same rights, but the trajectory of this campaign doesn't fill me with any great confidence that we'd be staying in the EEA after a Leave vote.  We could lose the much-needed flow of immigration from other EU countries that enriches our society and economy.  We might well suffer all sorts of other reverses on employment rights, and even the most basic human rights.  Yes, we'd have a significantly more powerful Scottish Parliament to sweeten the pill, but would that make it all worthwhile?

I don't know.  Probably not.  But I can't completely shake off the thought that a Leave vote could be a rational 'each-way bet' - ie. it might well lead to independence for one reason or another, but if it doesn't there would at least be partial compensations.  I'm going to think some more about that over the next fortnight.  (And then probably cop out, vote Remain, and feel a lot better for it!)

78 comments:

  1. Kenny Death of Devo writes what his paymasters tell him to write or he would be oot of a job! I have said before and I will say it again we are effed whatever way the vote goes. Kenny Death of Devo wont give a toss either way.

    He will put whatever spin that his bosses tell him to put on it and that spin will inevitably be SNP BAAHD INDY IS DEAD and not just Devo is Dead. He is a treacherous snake. I hope he chokes on a cane toad.

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  2. James, it would be crazy to vote Leave in the hope that it would trigger a second indyref! Because if enough of us did that to make a difference, our voting profile would not be much different from England's and therefore there would be no justifiable grievance on which to base an indyref!

    How dare Boorish Johnson deprive me of my European citizenship! At present we have the right to work anywhere in the 28 countries that make up the EU. Not many of us do, because being Anglophones we are crap at languages, but all the same, we have that right. And in many parts of Europe English language suffices, because it is one of the EU languages as well as a world language of business.

    But if Boorish pulls us out, we lose those rights! And so we are trapped, more or less in mad Tory Britain, and lord knows what they will do to us on this island. There will be no escape. The Tories will rule us forever. We have to vote Remain to preserve our lifeboat. Otherwise we will be trapped in this madhouse Ukania.

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    1. "James, it would be crazy to vote Leave in the hope that it would trigger a second indyref! Because if enough of us did that to make a difference, our voting profile would not be much different from England's and therefore there would be no justifiable grievance on which to base an indyref!"

      I addressed that point directly in my post.

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    2. Then why even flirt with the idea? The biggest reason for any of us to vote Remain is that a Leave majority will see us trapped in a Tory dominated isolationist Britain. That ought to scare the pants off any left leaning Scot. The EU is dysfunctional but at least there is space, and its dysfunctionality is as nothing compared to the mad Brits.

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    3. What d'you mean "there is space"?

      Dunno about "trapped in a Tory dominated isolationist Britain". With the admittedly huge caveat that most of the UK parliament is unelected, we still have the power to vote out the actual UK government. We can't do that with the Commission.

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    4. "we still have the power to vote out the actual UK government".

      You must have missed the 56/59 SNP MPs that we sent to Westminster, with precisely *zero* effect.

      Scotland has no power to vote out a UK government. We get what England votes for.

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    5. I don't think they've had zero effect. On the whole, they seem to be doing better at opposing the government than the Labour MPs they replaced ever did.

      A Scottish vote counts towards the make-up of the UK government just as much as an English one - actually more, given our slightly higher number of MPs per capita.

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  3. In an optimistic moment, I could sympathise with the the idea about "getting a different package of powers repatriated from Brussels instead".

    But I remember listening to a Radio 4 programme "How to Make a Brexit" – Caroline Quinn, BBCR4, 05 and 10Jan2016,see www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35233683

    Martin Howe QC (constitutional lawyer) referring to CAP, patiently explained that agriculture is a devolved responsibility, and there would be a need to replace EU control with UK central control responsibility as there needs to be a degree of central control of policy. I don't think that he saw any need for discussion or argument on the principle; it was just obvious from a Westminster perspective that control could not go out to disparate centres in the UK. I think that this would be the natural Westminster attitude to the very idea that powers coming back from Brussels should just be left with the Scottish Parliament, even on devolved issues.

    Perhaps the only thing that would stop Westminster legislating to grab back most of the powers which in theory should be repatriated to the Scottish Parliament would be public opinion and campaigns in Scotland, but to succeed it would have to engage supporters of independence and of Devo-whatever.

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    1. If they wanted to do that, it would involve stripping the Scottish Parliament of substantive powers for the first time since 1999 - and it would probably mean a breach of the Sewel convention, because there's no way the SNP would consent to it.

      Politically, that would not be easy in the current climate, and could easily be interpreted as another 'material change in circumstances'.

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    2. John raises a good point and given the number of Tory voting landowners in Scotland I am sure that they would not want the Scottish Parliament having control over farming. I think it is very optimistic to assume Brexit would mean the repatriation of powers to Scotland. They will find some technical way as they did with EVEL to assert control over agriculture.

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    4. I totally agree that it's pure optimism to assume the powers would come to Edinburgh.

      There will be a new leadership of the Tories, they'll be bolder from having won three recent referendums/elections and this would just be seen as a continuation of the power grab to reclaim something they'd feel they were automatically entitled to.

      I can even see them using the "change of circumstances" argument to justify a change to the devolved powers.

      PS. You need an edit button :-)

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    5. Devorgilla : There's no 'technical way' of asserting control over devolved powers. If they wanted to do that, they would have to strip the Scottish Parliament of those powers. It would also mean breaching the Sewel convention unless the Scottish Parliament consented to it. (I'm basing that last point on Alan Trench's explanation of how the Sewel convention has developed.)

      Do you honestly think that could be done without causing a monumental constitutional crisis?

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    6. Like the monumental crisis caused when thr SNP won all those MPs and got EVEL foisted upon them? Westminster wouldn't give a hoot, and would do whatever it dammed well pleased. I am certain that Westminster will remove all useful powers that transfer to Holyrood in the event of Brexit. I'm amazed that people think it even possible that they'd do otherwise. Fool me once, etc.

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    7. I don't really see the comparison, to be honest. Sewel has always been regarded as sacred, and if it's breached that would be a much bigger deal than EVEL.

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  4. As so often, James is right on the mark. His entire argument is sound, and with one or two minor adjustments pretty much sums up how I feel too (and note his final sentence in parentheses).
    For the first time in my entire life I find myself a floating voter. I cannot decide if this is a liberating experience or purgatory.

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    1. Post-Brexit Tory dominated isolationist go-it-alone Britain would be a nightmare! Wake up and see the danger! It's not a general election for the next five years, it's forever. The EU is at least some brake on Boris.

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    2. Like Stuart I have watching the EU referendum campaign from afar and feeling detached from it. No strong opinions either way. I don't think the turnout here in Dundee will be that high compared to the UK GE or the 2014 Referendum. However in the past couple of days I am feeling I am now moving more towards Remain as the thought of being shackled to a right wing Tory Government is worrying. Scotland voting remain whilst England votes Leave will help the Independence vote in the long run so I shall cast a ballot for Leave rather than spoiling my paper by as I had intended to do.

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    3. Uh? If you want Scotland to vote Remain, and you're voting in Scotland, shouldn't you...vote Remain? Or am I missing some cleverly convoluted strategy here?

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    4. Keaton

      LoL - I'm voting Remain - must get a proof reader!

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  5. The time and place for SNP voters to opt for remain or leave would be in an independent Scotland and in a Scottish referendum on leaving .SNP voters joining the Brexit crew diminishes the chance of another indyref . The overriding aim of the SNP has to be Scottish independence from Westminster rather than UK isolation from Europe which can only strengthen the unionist cause .

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    1. I see it completely the other way around, actually. If this was a referendum about Scottish membership of the EU, I'd be a passionate Remain. It's the fact that it's about UK membership that makes it a more complicated choice.

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    2. But James we are going into this referendum not as an independent state. If there is a Brexit, we will have no negotiation powers. Though we might try and plead a stronger say in any negotiations, Westminster doesn't need to listen. If there is a strong Remain vote in Scotland Brussels might be prevailed upon to listen.

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    3. The point I was making is that if people want a Scottish Remain/UK Leave, then there are two sides to that equation, not one. Only one seems to be in any doubt at the moment.

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    4. I thought SNP were an open political party, there to represent all Scots? is it only independence voters who can vote for them now ? Why not vote for what you believe in the referendum ?

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  6. I was a solid remain at start of campaign but the remain fear campaign with its echos of indyref has me soooo scunnered that I'm going to be thrawn and vote leave. Utterly bored of whole thing with a level of debate of primary school children. harumph.

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    1. Aye, but many southerners will have had their eyes opened to what happened in Scotland. We can see through the guff because we have learned how to detect bullshit. Its a new thing for them.

      TTIP would be right up the Conservative street. Its resistance in Germany and France ( and there is a lot in Germany - http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/protest-movement-threatens-ttip-transatlantic-trade-deal-a-1091088.html ) which is more likely to derail it than anything CMD or Boris tells you.

      Vote any way you want, but let us decide as Scots, not little Englanders.

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    2. And vote to be trapped in an isolationist Tory controlled Britain? They can and will do anything and who's to stop them? Wake up and see the danger to Scotland of a Brexit.

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  7. I want an independent scotland outside of the EU because the EU in its current form is a an undemocratic bloc governed by unelected commissaries and lobbyists whose sole goal is imposing neoliberalism over its member regardless of what people there would vote for as the case with Greece has recently shown. I struggle to understand why left wing people can be pro EU. The TTIP is the scariest thing that has ever been tried to be imposed over us and the mere fact that these thieves considered signing it once is a reason to not trust them

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    1. Then the time for voting Leave would be when we are independent and not before! Boris will be controlling the Leave conditions if there's a Brexit, and do you think for one minute that he's going to be mindful of our interests? Wake up!

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  8. In my own simple terms, I see a vote to remain as having us firmly involved in the TTIP and I find the details of this (the ones that we have actually had leaked) extremely disturbing.

    However, a vote to leave means that the Tories get even more control to trash all the laws and protections put in place by the EU which will probably make life worse for everybody (except from Tory politicians and big business who will personally profit from such changes!)


    If another indy ref was triggered by Scotland voting to remain and the rest of the UK voting leave I'm not convinced we'd currently win it and in that situation we'd be stuck for even longer in a situation where we are under the thumb of an even more powerful Westminster which is somewhat terrifying.

    I think I just convinced myself to vote remain! I'd rather we remained part of the EU (and somewhat protected by it) until Scotland gets independence and can make that decision for itself.

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    1. that's my view too. EU isn't perfect, I am also critical of TTIP, but a Brexit Britain would see double TTIP conditions coming in under Boris as PM as he scrambles around to make/save money by privatisation of the NHS to US medical companies and get fracking going to bring in some revenues for the Treasury in austerity Britain. If you think TTIP/EU is bad, a post Brexit Tory controlled isolationist Britain will be ten times worse. A nightmare!

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  9. Glad to see you explain the lend-a-vote-to-Leave tactical voting concept. I tried unsuccessfully to explain that to Skier on this site a few weeks ago.

    It's a moot point anyway. A vote for Brexit won't lead to independence - it won't even lead to Brexit.

    The money men will force the leaders to get back round the table for another round of negotiations, reluctantly agree further concessions for the UK, followed by a second EU Ref with Remain certain to win.

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  10. For me it's a relatively simple choice between two less than ideal options
    1. Rule from London/Brussels
    2. Rule from just Brussels

    On that basis I'll vote Remain.

    No tactics, hedging bets or double bluffs just the lesser of two evils.

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  11. It was me who came up with the idea of tactical voting to help the English leave in the event of split UK vote and a massive remain in Scotland vote. It was called the tactical Stellafella vote and was used to force a 2nd referendum. It may have some merit if we think it was a referendum that could be called by Nicola and then subsequently won. Both are very uncertain in my opinion. Anyway, the tactical stellafella vote. Stellafella.

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  12. Whoops! That doesn't make sense. Option 2 should be "Rule from just London". I Just got up!

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    1. 1. Laws from a conservative parliament where Scotland represented by 9% (59/650)
      2. Laws from a conservative parliament where Scotland represented by 0.8% (6/751)

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    2. I'm pretty sure an iScotland would get 12 or 13 MEPs, based on how many Ireland, Finland, Slovakia and Denmark currently has. Maybe one or two more when the rUK's seats are reapportioned amongst EU members.

      There's no getting around it - being part of the UK reduces Scotland's influence in Europe.

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  13. Unfettered Tory rule?
    No thanks!
    Remain.

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    1. Hear, hear! You got the picture! An isolationist Britain under Boris would be a total nightmare! HIS 'sovereignty'! No thanks!

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  14. No tactical voting please , let's not go down that road again , we had enough of that during the Holyrood elections and look where that got us . Do what Nicola says and use your common sense . Look at all the projects that have been done in Scotland while we have been in the EU, these bridges , roads etc. would never have been built if it was up to Westminster . Scotland gets a higher share because we are considered a more deprived area of the UK , we get more out than we put in .If we vote out, everything will be done from Westminster, they won't see Scotland as any kind of special case . The chance of a Labour UK government isn't going to happen any time soon because of the complete shambles they are in ,not that it would make much difference to us up here . Vote remain and let the rest of the UK take themselves out if they want to .

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  15. Just to confirm, does the UK 51/49 include the Scottish vote?

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    1. Yes I think it does , Chris Grayling said the vote was for the UK as a whole from John O'Groats to Lands end (obviously all the islands as well) . I think he is preparing the way . If UK as a whole votes to leave , that's just too bad Scotland , suck it up !.If the Scottish Government then looks at how Scotland voted and we voted overwhelmingly to stay in , that's when the fireworks will start .

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  16. Nicola Sturgeon has now said that an Indy Scotland will continue to use the pound. A currency that will go into freefall after Brexit. Sometimes I wonder if the SNP actually want Independence as they have had 2 years to address the mistakes made by the YES campaign and have done absolutely nothing.

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    1. There was nothing wrong with the plan to use the £. Mark Carney said as much recently. It would have worked and is and will be a strong currency. If it devalues post Brexit that will help exports. Swings and roundabouts. But eventually, quite quickly, it will stabilise. What was wrong with the £ plan was that the SNP were unprepared for the political storm that it would raise and were wrong-footed on that one. The plan was sound but they didn't have the soundbites to gnash off the furore it raised.

      But the fact that it raised such furore showed very clearly that they were on the right track, they were 'following the money', the power, or Osborne and the Treasury would not have fought back so hard.

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    2. The coordinated attacks from the Tory led Government and press/tv news was something the Yes campaign could not surmount. What hampered the Yes campaign was that the anti-independence side had the media on their side. Many who voted No did not hear the positive side of Yes just the negative. Not many of them would access a computer to read the Yes arguments. So despite all the negativity the Yes side did succeed to a point.

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    3. I am glad Sturgeon is reopening the case but cawing canny on another referendum. As it is one key argument we must thrash out and win before we can contemplate that.

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  17. Whatever the result, you just know that the media narrative is going to be:

    "Well I guess that kills the Scottish independence argument stone dead"

    Not that we should be worried - after all, they have been saying this, wishfully, since devo began in 1999. :)

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  18. As I've been trying to argue, the EU is not perfect but is by far the lesser of two evils. An isolationist Brexit Britain run by Boris and Gove would be a neocon nightmare. Tory rule will be unending and they will use the power space vacated by the EU to grab more control over the British union, strengthen the British union. It is optimistic to say the least that powers technically devolved will be repatriated to Scotland. And in any lengthy negotiations they are not going to hasten anything that is going to benefit us. If we are left screaming in a limbo whilst other more pressing interests of the SE of Emgland and Home Counties are being sorted out, then too bad. They will use the opportunity to regain power over us. We are NOT an independent country, we will not be able to control the negotiations, the negotiation period will not favour us in any way. You can bet Fluffy Mundell will get the farming brief and they will stitch it up so that his Tory voters are appeased that this remains under central UK control.

    Vote Remain. Cameron is a useles t**d but 'my enemy's enemy is therefore my friend' is a useless piece of guidance. Don't let Cameron and Osborne's repulsiveness and inability to sell a fish supper put you off seeing what is the far bigger danger here.

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    1. This is pretty much why I support Remain, as well. This isn't a vote between the status quo and a better, more socially just, prosperous, and left-wing government. This is a vote between the status quo and having a Tory-led UK government that no longer has to respect EU labour laws.

      The Scottish government's budget will be cut even further, thanks to further austerity and the discontinuation of EU funding for various projects in Scotland. I don't believe for a minute that whatever powers Holyrood acquires from leaving the EU will allow them to make up the difference. As you correctly state, the UK government will focus on its spending priorities on London and the southeast of England and the rest of the UK will be even more fucked than it already is.

      But then again, I also don't believe that a second independence referendum will happen even if Scots vote heavily for Remain. According to The National, those circumstances don't really change the level of support for independence above what it was in the last referendum (http://www.thenational.scot/news/brexit-unlikely-to-lead-to-greater-support-for-indyref-poll-shows.18517). Admittedly, this is people projecting how they'd feel about the situation, rather than living it, but regardless, the fact that people don't think they'd change their minds makes it too risky to hold another independence referendum on the back of a potential forced exit from the EU.

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  19. It really is simple. If Scottish independence is more important to you than leaving the EU, you should vote remain. The referendum is a great opportunity to further the case for Scottish independence, but only if there is a significant difference between the way Scotland and the rUK votes.

    If the rUK vote is 52-48 leave and Scotland votes 60% remain, then Scottish independence shoots right back up the agenda, regardless of whether the overall result is Brexit or Scottish votes tipping the balance for remain. If the rUK vote is 52-48 leave and the Scottish vote is 52-48 remain, I think the result will be a shrug of the shoulders and an acceptance that Scotland is not really much different from rUK.

    This latter scenario (to reduce the difference between the Scottish and rUK vote) is what Kenny Farquharson is trying to achieve with his article. I'm sure he's delighted that this site and Wings have spread his message to loads of independence supporters that wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

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  20. My advice James forget tactical voting or a vote with the head this referendum boils down to emotions, sovereignty v loss of power to an ever greater neoliberal EU state. Vote leave!

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    1. Dream on! A Brexit Britain under Boris will be a far worse neoliberal state than the EU! And there won't be any escape either, as we will lose our EU citizenship. We will be trapped on this island with a bunch of neocon lunatics more firmly in the saddle than ever before! Emperor Boris! Where will be the checks?

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    2. It may not even be Boris but someone even more right wing. Cameron's days are numbered. He may be gone sooner than he had planned. The anti-EU Tories want to see the back of him.

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    3. Sovereignty to whom, though? In theory, it means "the people of Britain." In practise, it means the UK Parliament. I don't want the UK Parliament having even more power than it does at present given the absolute mess it is.

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  21. Juteman hit the nail on the head. Brexit Britain = Unfettered Tory rule. For ever.

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  22. James, you don't consider the possibility that a Remain vote could also destabilise the UK, potentially leading to Scottish independence. i.e. if the theoretical poll numbers you use above were the actual result, Scotland would have kept the UK in the EU against England's will. It doesn't take much imagination to foresee Farage, some of the loonier Tories and their fellow travellers in the media kicking up an almighty fuss about that.

    The other problem with a tactical vote for Leave is it would narrow the difference between the Scottish and UK results, thereby weakening the argument that the two results were "different". They would still be different in the binary sense (one would be Remain and the other would be Leave), but they would be narrower in percentage terms.

    If Leave wins 52-48 overall, but Scotland is (say) 55-45 for Remain, is that really a big enough difference to convince people that there is due cause for another indyref? Obviously it would upset some people, but I don't think it would convince many 2014 'No' voters.

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    1. "you don't consider the possibility that a Remain vote could also destabilise the UK, potentially leading to Scottish independence"

      I may not have mentioned that possibility in this post, but I did the other day. I think it's pure wishful thinking. The fuss caused by that outcome would be a seven-day wonder and would be quickly forgotten.

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    2. Okay, the leavers with a brain-cell (e.g. Gove) would realise that they could not complain about this point having campaigned against Scottish independence. But Farage, the London editions of the right wing press and some of the loonier Tories would feel no such obligation.

      I don't see any basis for saying it would be a "seven-day wonder". It would be mentioned at every point at which it was relevant. The leave supporters are desperately seeking for any excuse for losing. Just look at their unhinged reaction to the temporary extension to the voter application deadline.

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  23. A Brexit makes independence less likely.
    We might get more powers over fishing but that is scant compensation for becoming a normal country.

    With the UK inside the EU, there is a good argument for Scotland cutting out the middle man. We still have full freedom to work and travel anywhere in Europe.

    If you think the first Project Fear was bad, wait and see what it would be like after a Brexit with pledges of tariffs and border controls.

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    1. In that instance it would be the rUK isolating themselves....

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    2. Of course. It wouldn't actually happen. But that is what the threat would be. We all saw what happened with a refusal to use the pound during the first referendum. It would be far worse with an isolated UK. The EU guarantees freedom of trade.

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  24. If leave win say goodbye to Holyrood,remember Westminster has the motto that no government is held to keep previous government's policies.Westminster CAN change the law and remove the permanency of Holyrood,and they will given half a chance.

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  25. But here's the thing - if we're serious about wanting a much more powerful Scottish Parliament, there's an argument that beggars can't be choosers. Trying to get the most appropriate powers repatriated from London is like trying to get blood out of a stone, so there's an obvious attraction to getting a different package of powers repatriated from Brussels instead. That would be an equally effective way of building Holyrood's prestige and demonstrating to the public that if we as a country can cope with such an enormous level of self-government, the final jump to independence is really quite a small one.

    On the other hand, you have to look at the responsibilities over Scotland which are currently in the remit of the EU which would go straight to Westminster. As a result, while the Scottish Parliament may well be strengthened over areas like fishing and farming, at the same time Westminster has even more power over reserved matters like employment law, human rights, immigration, and so forth. Thus, while the Scottish Parliament could well be strengthened in those ways, Westminster's influence over Scotland would be strengthened to a far greater degree than it is at present.

    Your argument that more powers is always good is a strong one, but we've already seen that Westminster absolutely will do everything they can to exact a high price for any powers the Scottish Parliament takes. Is it worth having some powers - and to be frank, I do not share your optimism that Westminster will not find some way to gig the system, probably through empowering local government to ensure Tory areas enact Tory policies - if it means that the powers we do have are overwhelmed by a strengthened Westminster?

    All things being equal, I'd happily accept the notion of reserved powers being devolved straight to Scotland. It's a strong argument, but only in theory, just like the left-wing case for Leave falls apart considering who will be "taking back control" in this climate. In reality, there's no way Westminster will just let Scotland have control over such potentially lucrative & powerful areas as fisheries and farming, and even if they do, Westminster's control over areas directly affected to those fields will ensure that what power Holyrood will have is fundamentally undermined.

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  26. "So if Britain was to withdraw from the EU, at a stroke we'd find that theoretical devolved powers would become actual devolved powers."

    Is this strictly true James... I thought that the UK (ie Wastemonster) was the signatory so the powers would remain there surely...?

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    1. No. Agriculture and fisheries, for example, are devolved powers. They would default automatically to the Scottish Parliament in the event of Brexit UNLESS the UK government added them to the list of reserved powers, which would almost certainly mean a breach of the Sewel convention.

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    2. The Sewel Convention is a chocolate fireguard. No way are they going to let us have agriculture. Fluffy Mundell and his farmer chums will see to that. Your optimism is ill-placed. I wish I was wrong, but I can feel it in my bones James. Brexit is coming and they will royally screw us over.

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    3. Apart from one technical breach that was apologised for, Sewel has not been broken since 1999. There is no absolute legal impediment to it being broken in future, but all hell will break loose if it is. It's not something that can happen casually.

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  27. A large Brexit vote from Scotland in this referendum for whatever reason tactical or otherwise sends a clear signal that Scotland is voting in line with England and diminishes the argument for a second indyref .This referendum is not about the rights and wrongs of the EU or whether Scotland should be in it . Rather it is about whether the UK should be a member and the argument for Scottish independence is greatly harmed by voting to leave because it implies that the UK is best placed to decide Scotland's future which should be anathema to any supporter of independence .

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    1. Yes, exactly this. The only way the EU referendum paves the way for another independence referendum is if Scotland votes to remain by a wide margin and is pulled out of the EU by voters from the rest of the UK. If people who want a second independence referendum want to vote tactically in the EU referendum, then it should be people who would prefer to vote Leave switching their votes to Remain in order to increase the margin by which Remain wins in Scotland. It is very likely that this referendum will decided by England, so piling more votes for Leave does nothing but diminish the argument that Scotland is being taken out of the EU against the will of its people.

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  28. No no no no. Vote for what you believe in at all times. Don't even consider gambling. Scotland has very little influence in any case. We would need to drop remain to 52% in Scotland to impact the English vote. Then we risk the remain vote not being seen as decisive in Scotland and Wm saying we are not much different. The margin of difference is the key not the margin of victory.

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    1. "We would need to drop remain to 52% in Scotland to impact the English vote."

      That's a figure plucked out of thin air. If the referendum is on a knife-edge going into polling day (and it remains to be seen whether it will be) it's not inconceivable that a relatively small number of votes could swing the balance. Roughly 6 million people voted in Florida in 2000, and the election was decided by only a few hundred votes.

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  29. Personally I think it's lala land if you think Unionists in Scotland value the EU more than the UK. Ultimately we have to convince a decent proportion of the 55% that Scotland is best served as an independent nation regardless of Brexit of not. Look at the EU issue from first principles and decide upon that basis how to vote - this triangulation shite is pointless.

    Also holding a snap IndyRef2 in the aftermath and losing will kill the issue for decades. It would just be more honest for the SNP to say if it appears that opinion in Scotland has significantly changed on independence then we would hold a 2nd referendum. An honest and principled position.

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    1. Personally I think it's lala land if you think Unionists in Scotland value the EU more than the UK.

      Some of us do, actually.

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  30. I think losing a ref after Brexit. Would kill Scotland forever. However if Scots don't vote for independence while getting dragged out of the EU against its will. Then I think fuck it Scotland is a lost cause, and I will genuinely give up my passion for Scotland. Unfortunately some people will never see the truth.

    I would just become stateless.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2June 12, 2016 at 1:36 PM

      It was the UK that joined the CM. You could say we were dragged in.

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  31. If the figures are as stated then, as others have said, a tactical Leave vote from an independence supporter in Scotland to work amost the entirety of the difference between Scotland and the rUK would need to be eliminated.

    Couching the idea within a tactical framework is simply asking how gullible the questioner thinks independece supporters are.

    As to the idea of any powers currently "evolved" to the EU naturally being returned to Holyrood. That's a huge leap in the dark. Westminster's argument will be that they were never devolved to Scotland in the first place. As with the promises pre indyref1 you'll find no official guarantees that Holyrood would get any more control of Scotland's affairs.

    Obviously the problems of farm subsidies would vanish overnight. Fisheries are in the same category as oil and ex-regio, or at least will be.

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  32. Bnewsbd.com- Letest and Largest bangla online newspaper in Bangladesh.

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