Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Nicola Sturgeon would be wise at this stage not to completely rule out a second referendum in the next parliamentary term

I didn't see Nicola Sturgeon's press conference this morning, but if she's been accurately reported as refusing to rule out the possibility of the SNP going into the 2016 election with a pledge to hold a second referendum, then I think that's a wise move.  Yes, there'll have to be clarity by the time of the election, and that clarity is likely to involve ruling out a referendum for the forthcoming five-year term, or at least ruling it out on the strict condition that the UK does not leave the European Union.  But it would nevertheless be foolish to hastily take the theoretical possibility of an early repeat referendum off the table at this stage, for the following reasons -

1) The unionist parties are trying it on, with Willie Rennie even invoking John Smith's famous "settled will" phrase to try to make out that the referendum has decided the constitutional question for good.  Given that "settled will" implies a will that is not subject to fluctuation or change, it's a very odd kind of settled will that sees the Yes campaign ahead in two opinion polls over the last fortnight of the campaign, and the No campaign flapping around in panic to try to rescue the situation.  However silly Rennie's claim may seem to us, it's very important that the notion that last week's vote represented some kind of final word on the matter is not allowed to take root in the public consciousness, and the best way of combating it is to make clear that no options on a future referendum have been ruled out for now.

2) The SNP will presumably be going into next year's UK general election seeking an explicit mandate for full Devo Max.  But even if they win a majority of Scottish seats (a tall order, and that's why I think they should seek out an electoral pact with the Greens and others if at all possible) they would still need some kind of leverage to press that mandate home.  The Conservative government were able to ignore the clear mandate that the Constitutional Convention blueprint secured in the 1992 election, because they felt under no kind of threat.  But if the SNP are saying "look, we don't want to hold another independence referendum, but if you refuse to even enter into negotiations over the clear mandate for Devo Max we have just received at the general election, what choice will you be leaving us?", then that might well constitute a degree of leverage.  The London government know that an early repeat referendum would be likely to fail unless there was a credible pretext for holding it, but they will also realise that their refusal to take a mandate for Devo Max seriously might just constitute such a pretext. It's like a chess game where both sides are trying to predict what their opponents will do several moves in advance.


  1. I'm skeptical that the SNP could threaten a second referendum in their 2016 manifesto. One: all other parties would scream their heads off at the idea. Two: all the media would as well. Three: I'm really not sure that the Scottish people would be in the mood for a referendum so soon, regardless of devo negotiations (tbh I'm not sure that a huge %age of No voters were swayed by the Vow of 'devo meh').

  2. Commentor : Where does the leverage come from, then? Do the SNP seek a mandate for Devo Max and then meekly accept that they're powerless to drive that mandate home, because they have no bargaining chips left?

  3. You can't create leverage by threatening a referendum that people don't want, as it'll harm the SNP's chances in 2016, and WM wont feel threatened. I don't rule out that the appetite for indyref2 will have appeared in the next year, I just doubt it. But it's interesting to read your thoughts on the road ahead.

  4. Commentor : I don't see how it would harm the SNP's chances in 2016 - as I said, they only need clarity by the time of the election itself, not while they're in negotiations with the UK government well before then.

    In any case, unlike last Thursday, they won't need an outright majority of votes - in 2007 they won office with less than 33% of the vote. How many Yes voters are there out there who are now sufficiently radical?

  5. I live in Angus and I think if they didnt rule out another indyref this time around they'd lose all the tactical voters here and lose the seat to the Torys. It prob wouldnt be a problem in Glasgow and Dundee etc but they would struggle to keep their rural seats.

  6. I think we forget about Devomax. What we want and I think the majority want is Scotland's resources for Scotland's people. That to my mind is Full Fiscal Autonomy.

    We are already setting up a Scottish tax authority come 2015. Why have the duplication just to collect income tax and few odds and sods. Why not the oil?

    45% were prepared to contemplate full independence. A proportion of the 55% voted 'No' on the strength of the Unionists promises of more powers.

    Gordon Brown used the word 'federalism'

    Why not FFS with payment to London for services rendered on defence and foreign affairs.

  7. I think they'd risk losing the voters who voted for them last time but voted No in the referendum unless they made it explicitly clear there'd be no referendum. In saying that, this in/out EU referendum could provoke the required crisis.

    David Cameron would have the opposite problem to Alex Salmond (perhaps James could do the analysis). The most likely to turn out and vote in an EU referendum are the older demographic (as usual), this is the most numerous demographic, but crucially also the most likely to vote ut of the EU. In addition, there is no way DC could muster the engagement with the younger demographic that we saw in this referendum, so there would be no young vote to counter the older vote. The only voting demographic that would enthusiastically want to stay in the EU is actually all the EU migrants. Therefore, there is a very good possibility we would leave, despite polls that show a narrow majority want to stay.

    If the UK opts to leave the EU this would change the game dramatically. First, would there by big business support for staying in the UK? Secondly, the currency issue might be solved - to stay in the EU wold have to adopt the euro, and they'd have to bend the rules to let us in. Thirdly, the EU countries would have to speak out in support or risk losing the fishing rights and the oil reserves (which are a strategic EU resource). To counter that, Westminster might simply sell Scotlands assets to the EU in exchange for enhanced trading rights from outwith the EU.

  8. What's fascinating about the EU referendum is that YouGov are the only pollster that are consistently showing a (slim) majority for staying in. Most other firms have shown the opposite.

  9. Check out the released text of her speech where she was careful to say " And I am more convinced than ever that we will became an independent country. But that will happen only when the people of Scotland choose that course in the polling booth." No limit on the kind of polling booth - good move.

  10. Nigel: distinctly remember reading somewhere today that Nicola explicitly said a referendum would be needed. I'll try and find it.

  11. I think there just might be a certain something to back up Nicola's stance.

    Ye know, a wee something a continuing political earthquake.

    Nicola Sturgeon ‏@NicolaSturgeon 1h

    .@theSNP membership hits 60,000. Wow! Still room for more though. You can join up at

    David Key ‏@davidfkeySNP 1h

    Just been at SNP HQ with an army of volunteers manning phones/screens. Just me - 30 new members in 3 hours! *wow!* #45plus #indyref

    Giorgio45% Vasari ‏@TheRedPriest1 4h

    Wow! Nearly 60,000 members now joined the SNP. 134,000 Conservatives In whole of UK just brings that home. Real statement of intent.#Spook

    Ross McCafferty ‏@RossMcCaff 5h

    People seem to be neglecting an important element in snp membership surge:cash. if every new member pays minimum subs, still boost of £400k

    Paul ‏@Paauul 4h

    Some perspective on SNP membership figs. Total UK membership of Lab, Tory & LD is 0.63% of UK population. 1.1% of Scots are SNP members.

    Now there's another endless War in Iraq and the surrounding area very firmly on the cards. I note it didn't take the BBC long to get back into full propaganda mode after Indyref. They are desperately trying to avoid mentioning that attacking Iraq and Syria in the midst of two bloody and intractable civil wars is just a wee bit more complicated than their establishment spin that it's merely attacking ISIS. Though no doubt the same gullible imbeciles who believed all the shit about WMD in Iraq will lap it up.

    This while Labour is planning to cut winter fuel allowance, cap child benefits and raise the retirement age. Good call, idiots.

    Never forgetting the spectacle of the incompetent VOW still crashing about their ears.

    So it seems just a touch far-fetched to think there isn't going to be a massive backlash soon enough.

  12. Here:

    ".@NicolaSturgeon: independence can't come via backdoor: only another #indyref can decide that; won't predict when that cld occur but not now"

  13. "So it seems just a touch far-fetched to think there isn't going to be a massive backlash soon enough."

    Lots of highly motivated 'former' Yes campaigners joining the SNP does not an imminent massive backlash make.

    Still. It's excellent. As long as it's not a huge new population of Scottish Teaparty activists...

  14. ".@NicolaSturgeon: independence can't come via backdoor: only another #indyref can decide that; won't predict when that cld occur but not now"

    She probably did say something like that, but I'm just slightly cautious because it's not unheard of for Severin's paraphrasing to be a touch misleading.

  15. "Lots of highly motivated 'former' Yes campaigners joining the SNP does not an imminent massive backlash make."

    Which might just be why I highlighted the somewhat enormous shitstorms coming westmsinters way only a few DAYS after the vote. Just imagine how many more will be there will be by the 2015 GE vote and then 2016.

    " As long as it's not a huge new population of Scottish Teaparty activists... "


    Absolutely desperate stuff but full marks for lunacy and hilarity all the same. :-)

  16. You have such a good sense of humour Mick - you are always confidently ROFLing and LOLing away.

    I'm reminded of your gung-ho ROFL-heavy predictions of a Yes win. I'm sure you're right this time, though.

  17. Commentor : Is being a wet blanket any more constructive than ROFLing?

  18. Off topic - could you do an analysis of the post-referendum yougov poll released earlier which showed it was less clear that the 55+ were the only ones voting no than the Archer poll from Friday.
    Thanks :)

  19. Well, unfortunately gung-ho over-confidence and theatrical ROFLing didn't win the referendum otherwise I'd be all in favour of it.

    I've put forward my opinion on the situation - take it or leave it! :)

  20. Anon : Yes, I was having a look at that earlier today. The problem is that YouGov use different age categories. If we assume that 55-60s probably broke for No, then that would mean that under-55s did vote Yes overall, but only just.

    We'll never have absolute clarity, though. Gerry Hassan is making some absurdly definitive statements about how various demographic groups voted, on the basis of very small samples in the Ashcroft poll.

  21. "Well, unfortunately gung-ho over-confidence and theatrical ROFLing didn't win the referendum otherwise I'd be all in favour of it."

    I doubt if it lost us the referendum, either (or hurt us in any way), otherwise I might be opposed to it.

  22. Did you remember when I said YEARS ago before the hacking scandal started snowballing that it wasn't just Murdoch and News International but Trinity Mirror and most of the tabloids who were involved?

    How's that prediction looking today?

    Cammie's close friend and spindoctor Andy Coulson is also still in Jail is see.

    Phillip Hughes ‏@phillipmhughes 4h

    BBCNews: Trinity Mirror pays out & admits journalists involved in phone hacking: So, could Andy Coulson be getting a Piers Morgan for Xmas?


    I await little Ed's somewhat overdue 'crusade' against illegal wrongdoing from the owners of the Mirror and Record with bated breath.

    Assuming little Ed doesn't forget about it while he's making another 'triumphant' speech. ;-)

    At least nothing can possibly go wrong attacking Iraq. I'm sure the warmongers and chickenhawks have got it right this time, though.

    I'm also sure the scottish public won't care in the slightest about an incompetent and corrupt westminster elite making a complete mess of things yet again after all the "Better Together" spin, pleading, promises and VOWS.

    Or not..

    Angus Millar ‏@AngusCMillar 20m

    1 in 90 people in Scotland is now a member of @theSNP. Wow. Membership still rising! Be part of it and join today.

    linuspoint ‏@linuspoint 25m

    Reduced membership £5 for Pensioners, Unwaged, under15 Join online or call our hotline 0800 633 5432 #the45plus

    linuspoint ‏@linuspoint 27m

    Membership £12 a year (£1 a month) or call our hotline 0800 633 5432 #the45+ 60 thousand and growing

  23. "I doubt if it lost us the referendum, either (or hurt us in any way), otherwise I might be opposed to it."

    Indeed - I also doubt over-confident people making ultimately bad predictions had much effect on the result. Depends on what the goal is here - just cheering each other up with nice stories, or making realistic predictions of what is gonna happen.

  24. "I doubt if it lost us the referendum, either (or hurt us in any way), otherwise I might be opposed to it."

    Indeed - I also doubt over-confident people making ultimately bad predictions had much effect on the result. Depends on what the goal is here - just cheering each other up with nice stories, or making realistic predictions of what is gonna happen.

  25. Commentor : I don't think either is the goal - I'm more interested in constructive suggestions of how to shape the future, rather than helplessly predicting that everything we try is doomed to failure.

  26. Oh well. I'm firmly in the "realistically predict" camp. Total downer.

  27. Well, look at it this way - you believe in independence, but if you think it can't be achieved (and that's the impression you've given both before and after the referendum), what's the point of even bothering with it?

  28. 85% turnout for those with an amusingly short memory. So it's going to be a wee bit difficult for the out of touch twits to spin that as a scottish public who weren't interested in a referendum. Let's see if the 2015 GE can match that for a start. ;-)

    Not to mention the fact that the incompetent fop Cameron is putting an IN/OUT EU referendum for 2017 centre-stage for the tories election campaign. This as he postures desperately over EV4EL in panic over the kippers and the forthcoming Clacton by-election.

  29. @James

    I worked tirelessly in the campaign throughout. I know how hard I worked and will work again to make Independence a reality and I am VERY far from alone. So I'm hardly about to take the armchair doomsayer seriously after that.

    Certainly not as the SNP is in the midst of one of the most incredible political earthquakes ever seen in these isles. A skyrocketing SNP membership that's even beginning to look like it might even keep surging to become HALF or more of the ENTIRE UK tory party membership.

    That is simply astonishing.

  30. Congratulations too to the other Yes parties the scottish Greens and indeed the SSP who have also seen their memberships soaring.

    Alan Laird ‏@The_Real_Big_Al Sep 23

    Scottish Green party membership more than doubles in 4 days to over 5000. That rate (app 600/day)overtake Scottish Labour's total in 12 days

    No doubt on PB Stormfront Lite the 'Green' tory and the NON-STORY shrieking tory twat will be somewhat upset at the undeniable popularity and incredible success of the SNP and Scottish Green Party.



  31. Neil will be delighted by the Greens' success. His passion for the environment leaks out from his every utterance.

  32. Let's just leave the repulsive racists and bigots on Stormfront Lite to turn on each other. The shrieking will reach earsplitting levels again the closer the Clacton by-election gets. No doubt the warmongers and PB chickenhawks also haven't learned a thing since the last time they all supported Blair's Lies and Iraq stupidity.

    On a more positive note I'm amazed that the surge is still going so strong. That looks incredibly optimistic for the Greens to overtake SLAB but considering there has been almost ZERO publicity in the media for the surge you just never know.

    Can you imagine the meltdown in SLAB if the Greens started creeping up on their membership? Jesus! :-D

    They're in the middle of an omnipanic right now with the knives all out for Lamont at the Labour conference. Hard to see how that ends well since Murphy is still looking reluctant to become 'Eggmaster in chief' for 'scottish' labour. Lamont surely can't go on that much longer after this?

  33. I would caution about talking about another independence referendum for a fair while. It was fairly close, but I think voters in Scotland need a break from the independence issue. I am saying this as a Yes supporter. The last few years have been rightly dominated by the issue, and I suspect it would test the patience of those who voted No too much, in fact beyond endurance I suspect.

    The SNP and Greens, SSP etc should go into the general election trying to get as much possible change as is possible inside the UK system. This is really pushing for Devo max. If we, as is very likely don't get it, or do not even get close to it, can then discuss tactics for 2016 and onwards.

  34. Oh, and Willie Rennie is a dolt!

  35. Willie Who???


    Calamity Clegg has been in hiding after he was utterly humiliated and stripped of his responsibility for constitutional reform when Cammie handed to wee Willie Hague.

    Calamity Clegg now has to force those few lib dems left into voting for and cheering on attacking Iraq yet again. (because that ALWAYS ends well) So he'll have to pop back up to order his ostrich faction to toe the party line. Poor old yellow tories, what a shame.

  36. Anon : I think we're talking at cross-purposes. I'm suggesting that a second referendum should not be ruled out precisely because we ARE aiming for Devo Max, and need to hard-headed about how we get there. To let up on the pressure for a huge transfer of powers now would be a historic error of epic proportions. Plenty of time to give everyone a break from the constituion after we see how far this process can take us.

  37. I think it's pushing it to have another referendum so soon. I'm certainly not in the camp that says this result is "for good", but those who want another referendum should maybe be thinking on a Quebec timescale ; 15 years between the first and second referendums.

    The next few years look good for the Independence cause:

    1) Iraq war 3, and some intervention in Syria.
    2) Even more austerity cuts, under either Lab or Con
    3) Continued rise of UKIP and far-right politics, mainly in England and Wales
    4) Possible exist of EU
    5) Devo-max turns out not to be
    6) If Tories get back in, continuing privatisation of NHS England.
    7) continued squeeze on living standards

    to take a few obvious examples.

  38. oh, and since the papers are very much in the headlines again.

    Here's one which is bucking the trend with circulation not plummeting like the rest but actually soaring.

    sunday herald ‏@newsundayherald 7h

    Our internal figures confirm a circulation last week of 49,921. That's a year on year increase of 111%. We are speechless and very grateful

    I wonder why? ;-)

    Ah well, at least the Daily Record can look forward to seeing Piers Moron and Trinity splashed all over the news for quite some time to come. They're going to enjoy that almost as much as THE VOW crashing and burning.

  39. I obviously didn't explain myself very well in the post, because several people have misconstrued the point I was making. I am NOT talking about having an early second referendum. I am suggesting merely that an early second referendum should not be explicitly ruled out at this stage, because to do so would diminish our leverage in the push for Devo Max, which is going to be tough enough as it is.

  40. Replying to Anonymous at 7:28

    Sorry in those circumstances an independence referendum should be held within the next 10 years. I argued we should campaign for Devo max, but there is no way that we can turn away from another independence referendum if all, or even some of these events, happened.

    If Scotland votes to remain in the EU, and the rest of the UK does not for example, there is no chance that we should feel inhibited about calling another independence referendum. A failure to deliver on Devo max (and the MSM were freely using this term in the last weeks of the indy campaign) and an exit from the EU if Scotland voted to remain, is more than enough to justify supporting a call for another referendum. We don't know if the people in general would support it or not, but it would certainly be grounds for arguing for it at the very least.

  41. "6) If Tories get back in, continuing privatisation of NHS England."

    Almost, if Tories or Labour get in.

    Burnham's NHS posturing today is completely at odds with what he actually did and, rest assured, would do again.

    "DrJames Rees ‏@Tombaldwinscoke

    #marr Andy Burnham @andyburnhammp it was Labour who started privatisation of NHS, and you who take money off Private health lobbying groups!"

    Tens of thousands of pounds from several firms involved in private healthcare. Not small change by any means.

  42. Talk Constitution John Drummond, Edinburgh

    Labour in Scotland we are better together to protect the NHS meanwhile Labour in rest of UK see Mick above.

    Foundation hospitals massive PFI deals under Labour set up the NHS to fail by design.

  43. Your blog is the real deal - none of the others really impress me at all but at least here you deal with facts and info - I will give a donation at the end of the month (even though frankly I'd promised myself not to donate to any more pro-indy things). You do the business and it is deeply appreciated. You have done a qtand up job, sir. It would be a valuable service for you to continue but I think you should ask foe more than the minimum - the minimum is no way to do business. I think you'd be surprised at the good will.

  44. Are the Scottish government able to call a second referendum or would they need permission from Westminster?

    Was the Edinburgh agreement a one time only deal?

  45. Picture the following:

    2015: 30+ Yes Alliance MPs elected.

    2016: Majority SNP/Green Govt elected, perhaps even on 50+% of the vote.

    2017: The UK votes to leave the EU while Scotland votes to stay in.

    2017: In response to this unprecedented denial of the will of the Scottish people Holyrood organises a snap SOVEREIGNTY referendum.

    The referendum question is something like this:

    Do you believe that sovereignty should lie with

    The will of the Scottish population?


    The will of Westminster?

    That would put the London media and politicians in quite a bind. They either ignore the referendum as 'invalid' (they'd be concentrating anyway on the EU exit) and risk it becoming a massacre, or they go red in tooth and claw again, but this time defending Westminster versus the will of the Scottish people.

    Imagine Unionists having to go door to door defending not the Union but specifically Westminster.

    Imagine Yessers going door to door arguing against Westminster and for the will of the Scottish people.

    I see such a referendum becoming a rout.

    So we'd have a situation where pro-indy parties have a majority of Scottish WM MPs; a majority Govt in Holyrood; Westminster trying to yank Scotland out of the EU; and the backing of the electorate for taking back sovereignty from Westminster.

    In such circumstances UDI might just be possible.

    What would certainly be feasible is UDS -- Unilateral Declaration of SOVEREIGNTY. Sovereignty declared as lying once more with the Scottish people and not Westminster.

    Then just call an indy referendum whenever the time is right.

  46. re Anon @ 08:41: The Edinburgh Agreement was a one-off deal. The referendum had to be held by 31 December 2014 (point 4, timing).

  47. I think James is correct. The SNP need to keep the option of having a referendum in their manifesto, but should couch it in terms of waiting for a material change in circumstances. This is more important than the precise time interval.

    e.g. Most of the Labour Party changed their mind about devolution within 10 years of the 1979 referendum. The material change was the way Thatcher governed the UK generally and Scotland in particular while having a diminishing level of support. Nobody said to Labour people in the late 80s, "it's only ~10 years since we last had a referendum on this".

  48. The Edinburgh Agreement was a one-off, but that doesn't prevent any Scottish Govt pursuing a consultative referendum, as was originally the plan.

  49. I think the Brit Nats being wiped out in Scotland at the 2015 Brit GE would constitute a material change of circumstances. Is there any real need for any kind of Referendum after that?

  50. Why don't the SNP simply state a vote for us is a vote for independence in their manifesto? Once they get a majority in either Westminster or Holyrood, no need for a referendum.

  51. Correct they can do that Anon.I have suggested the gradualist approach is now counter productive. Stand for what you believe in and tell people what they are voting for if they vote SNP. A Westminster majority carries the mandate to declare independence as the public were clear of this when voting SNP. Time to be bold and take a punt old fashioned win or bust.

  52. The fundamentalist approach is counter-productive. The SNP would be more likely to lose some of the seats they have (most of which are in what were strong areas for No) than gain any. Thereby killing any pressure for increased devolution, let alone a second push for independence.

  53. Sean - a slightly loaded ballot you're proposing there. If the Electoral Commission weren't fans of having "agree" in the question, I wonder what they'd make of your suggestion!

  54. keaton --

    And there I thought I was being reasonable by not including "your Satanic London masters". ;-)

    What wording do you think would be okay, then?

    Surely it can't be too hard to word it. Common sense tells us what the two alternatives are.

    And however it's worded I just can't see us losing it if everyone knows that one of the options, no matter how it's worded, really means Westminster.

    "The majority will/decision/ of the Scottish people/population/electorate


    "The House of Commons"
    "Elected representatives in Parliament"
    "Democratically-elected MPs"

    I'd be happy to campaign against any of those.

  55. In your example, we'd be leaving the EU because the UK electorate voted to do so. The constitutional crisis would arise because the will of the people of Scotland would conflict with the will of the people of the UK. What's Westminster got to do with it?

    Your proposed questions present a false dichotomy. The analogue of "the will of the Scottish people" is "the will of the British people", and the analogue of "Westminster" is "Holyrood".

    In any case, what would the result of a "sovereignty" referendum actually mean? You say there would have to be a separate independence referendum, so it sounds like the sovereignty one wouldn't have any practical consequences at all.

  56. This article is clasping at straws and making the indy side look bad. You use the phrase "settled will" and scoff at the idea that a NO vote might be settled will. If we had won the referendum, we would have thought that the vote reflected the settled will and that the debate over independence had been won. It illegitimises our moral argument to suggest that a YES vote is complete and binding while a NO vote (over the entire breadth of the record electorate) is not.

    We need to find the next battle line, but we also need to understand that another referendum doesn't act as that battle line without a damn good reason as to why we're having it (and "we lost, so we want another crack" isn't a reason).

  57. @Simon
    "It illegitimises our moral argument to suggest that a YES vote is complete and binding while a NO vote (over the entire breadth of the record electorate) is not."

    I think James pointed out in an earlier article that it was only ever the No side who said that a Yes vote would be "complete and binding". "There'll be no going back!" was one of the three or four sentences which comprised Darling's entire repertoire.

    The implication was clearly supposed to be that it was "safe" to vote No, because you can always try again later if you change your mind: but if you vote Yes, that's it, no second chances. The Yes campaign's decision not to confront that argument was, to my mind, one of their major failures.

    In an independent Scotland, there would have been absolutely nothing stopping the Labour party calling for a referendum on rejoining the Union and being elected on such a platform. What Yes person has ever said that this would be illegitimate?

  58. "Your proposed questions present a false dichotomy. The analogue of "the will of the Scottish people" is "the will of the British people", and the analogue of "Westminster" is "Holyrood"".

    Not so, I'm afraid. Currently sovereignty lies with Westminster, we can agree, but pre-1707 it lay with the Scottish people.

    Just one summary from many across the web:

    "Nonetheless, a distinguished lineage of Scottish jurists, politicians and historians has made the point that the idea of popular sovereignty can be found in Scottish political thought from the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. A consensus has emerged within the Scots intelligentsia that since 1320 the country's indigenous constitutional tradition has been one of popular, rather than parliamentary, sovereignty. In other words, before 1707, sovereignty resided in the people - and it has never ceased to do so."

    So the Sovereignty referendum would be on the question of whether sovereignty should revert to the Scottish people, who were never given the choice over it being given to Westminster. (And that's without getting into the argument above that sovereignty *still* resides with the Scottish people).

    In many if not most countries around the world, sovereignty lies with the people, not with any particular institution. So the issue in the referendum would be whether or not Scotland joins these countries and reverts to its pre-1707 status.

    "In any case, what would the result of a "sovereignty" referendum actually mean? You say there would have to be a separate independence referendum, so it sounds like the sovereignty one wouldn't have any practical consequences at all."

    It would be a purely tactical move, a consultative referendum of the type James Discusses in OP. The point would simply be to add more leverage for (extremely unlikely) UDI or (much more likely) another indyref.

    It's a question of setting the ducks in a row:

    -- Majority of WM MPs in 2015.
    -- Majority Holyrood admin in 2016
    -- Scotland's will denied in the EU ref in 2017
    -- The sovereignty of the Scottish people, and no longer Westminster, legitimised by a referendum.

    These ducks would give Holyrood a stronger case for calling another indyref toward the end of the decade.

  59. tl;dr:

    If Westminster sovereignty has been denied by a referendum, its refusal of another indyref becomes easier to ignore.

  60. I think James pointed out in an earlier article that it was only ever the No side who said that a Yes vote would be "complete and binding". "There'll be no going back!" was one of the three or four sentences which comprised Darling's entire repertoire.

    This really is a fundamental of the argument and if the SNP were to explicitly rule out another referendum they would lose support from myself and I would think significant numbers of others.

    The Independence movement needs some honesty here. Loyalists and WW2 Unionists are never going to be persuaded. But they are declining cohorts.

    The main consideration is only those who voted Yes (for whom there is a clear appetite for another referendum as soon as politically possible) and the remaining portion of the population perhaps only 15% of the total who weren''t persuaded.

    But Yes only needs 200k out of this cohort of maybe 600k people to change their mind. Why should a timetable of 5 years not be realistic for this to happen ? The shitstorm is brewing.

    Scottish budget is facing cuts of over 15% of its budget
    Westminster cannot supress Oil Revenues any longer, they are desperate for that revenue. If 2016 is an £8bn to £10bn return that's huge campaigning ground.
    The Devo process at Weswtminster is fatally flawed and will fail.
    The EU Referendum is still looming large.

    Ruling out another referendum in the 2016-21 Holyrood parliament would be a phenomenal mistake and that's why the Unionists and their media chums are so desperate for such a statement. It's also why Salmond stepped aside. I'm confident.

  61. The 3rd Gulf War and the upcoming GE in 2015 is where I will find the answers to all my problems. We as a United Kingdom are dysfunctional and as a military force we are insignificant to the wider world whoever thinks that we are taken seriously and have political clout are deluding themselves and others.

  62. There will be another referendum in the next ten years.

    Look at what is coming up...45% already believe that Scotland is a country, it isn't a stretch to suggest we'd convince the necessary figures required to gain independence.

    Another Tory government we didn't vote for, an EU In/Out referendum where our votes are meaningless, voting for the SNP and gaining no new powers of worth.

    Massive cuts to the public services and our block grant.

    How on earth will another referendum NOT happen!?

    And the next time I'd like us to get negative as fuck over what awaits us in the Union.

  63. Chalks is right about the lack of negative campaigning. There should have been huge adverts "Westminster ALREADY stole 2 years of your pension, don't let them steal the rest" and similar.

  64. ONE OF THE LOWEST PENSIONS IN THE EU with a photo of cameron,osborne,miliband and clegg all laughing

  65. One thing is for sure - there is no point even calling another referendum until polls consistently show yes with a large lead (c60-40) over a period of time. If the polls start showing a lead, the Scottish press should eventually follow... and then we will just have the BBC to worry about.

  66. "And the next time I'd like us to get negative as fuck over what awaits us in the Union."

    I agree we should have had more of a balanced campaign.

    Including huge billboards with a comparison between Norway's oil fund and Scotland's oil fund.

    For any devolution settlement, the SNP should be pushing hard for a share of oil revenues, and devolved crown estate.

    The oil is running out apparently, so that shouldn't be a problem.

  67. Will there be an electoral pact next year between the SNP and Labour for Independence to try to wipe out the Labour party in Scotland?