Friday, October 31, 2014

1-0 to Sturgeon on the EU

Naming no names, but I gather that one or two high-profile broadcast journalists did a spot of editorialising the other night (to all intents and purposes on behalf of the anti-independence parties) and claimed that Nicola Sturgeon's suggestion of a super-majority requirement for any in/out EU referendum was "ironic".  I was genuinely curious as to what the nature of this "irony" was, because it certainly didn't leap out at me as being obvious.  Well, it turns out that our "neutral, objective" public service broadcasters expect us to believe that it's somehow ironic for the SNP to simultaneously think that Scotland and Scotland alone should decide whether it becomes an independent country, and that Scotland and Scotland alone should also decide whether it leaves the European Union or not.  Erm, that doesn't strike me as being "ironic" so much as boringly consistent.

But naturally the journalists in question didn't frame the issue in those terms - they instead brazenly used the hardcore Tory unionist framing of "the SNP think the whole United Kingdom should have to agree about leaving the EU, but don't think the rest of the UK should have any say on Scottish independence".  Nope, I'm sorry, guys, but that line doesn't make any more logical sense no matter how many times it's trotted out, and chuckling under your breath as you say it doesn't make it any more convincing either.  The rest of the UK will never have a direct say in any Scottish independence referendum, for the simple reason that the independence of a country is no business of anyone else.  Whether Scotland leaves the EU is, however, rather obviously the business of Scotland.  The idea that Scotland being little more than an interested bystander while others decide its EU fate is somehow a logical and natural quid pro quo for us getting the chance to decide on independence for ourselves is so barking mad and downright offensive that it could only come from our friends in the London media establishment.

Even before these journalists revealed their true colours, I had seen equally nonsensical reactions to Sturgeon's suggestion on Twitter, along the lines of "hasn't she noticed who won?" and "45 is a bigger number than 55 in SNP maths".  Er, WHAT?  Weren't they listening at all?  The whole point of what Sturgeon was saying was not that she thought the anti-independence campaign lost, but rather that she had noticed that they narrowly won, and in particular that she had noticed the basis on which they narrowly won.  Much as they would have dearly loved to have won on the basis of "extinguish yourself as a nation, Scotland, subsume yourself into eternal British uniformity under one flag", it wasn't like that at all.  It wasn't the Union Jack that flew over 10 Downing Street on referendum day, but the saltire.  We were told that a No vote was a vote for Scotland to remain part of a family of four equal nations, and in spite of the speed with which Cameron backtracked on his "solemn vow" after polling was over, he was quite happy to reiterate the "family" thing.  OK, so what does that actually mean in concrete terms - if anything?

It was supremely amusing to read Iain Martin in the Telegraph attacking Sturgeon for a "ham-fisted" intervention, because he seemed blissfully unaware that he had just walked straight into her trap.  If he thinks it's outrageous that England could be forced by its much smaller neighbour to stay in the EU against its will, then I'm inclined to agree.  But it's not SNP logic that has led to that possibility being raised, but the logic of Martin's own side.  We argued in the independence referendum for Scotland and England to BOTH have the sovereign right to make their own decisions - Martin's side rejected that logic, and put forward the "family of four equal nations" logic as the alternative.  All Sturgeon did was pursue that logic to its natural conclusion, and then waited to to see whether opponents of independence destroyed the legitimacy of their own victory by reacting with fury.  They couldn't have been more obliging.

Why are you so angry, guys?  Because the idea of little faraway Scotland being an equal partner to England is so self-evidently absurd?  Why did you base your whole referendum campaign on that premise, then?  Ah, so now you're saying that Scotland is an equal partner - but its consent isn't required for a major constitutional decision?  How does that work?  Are you saying that Scotland is only equal in theory but not in practice?  Shouldn't you have clarified that point BEFORE polling day, or was it in the small print in your leaflets?

The more thoughtful response would have been to say that of course an equal partner in the UK can't be forced to leave the EU against its will, and therefore to head off a terrible dilemma for those who believe in the union it's vitally important to make the case in England for continued EU membership.  But no, they just couldn't help themselves from sneering at Scotland's "delusions of grandeur", as they always do when they're caught unguarded.  To put it mildly, it's been noticed in Scotland that the No campaign won a hollow victory on the basis of arguments they don't actually believe in, and that's doubtless why today's Ipsos-Mori poll shows an overwhelming 58% to 39% margin in favour of another independence referendum taking place within the next five years, regardless of circumstances.  Whisper it gently, but people don't generally ask for a repeat referendum if they anticipate that the result will be the same.  1-0 to Sturgeon.

By the way, in case you think all of the above is an academic point, here is the latest YouGov polling on how people would vote in an in/out EU referendum...

Scotland  -

I would vote to remain a member of the European Union : 47%
I would vote to leave the European Union : 33%

Great Britain -

I would vote to remain a member of the European Union : 35%
I would vote to leave the European Union : 44%

Doubtless Murdo Fraser or Kenny Farquharson will be along in a jiffy to tell us that those numbers are "pretty similar really".


  1. FPT - since it has direct bearing on the whole patronising 'why don't they just shut up now' attitude from the westminster bubble unionist media.

    The good news just keeps right on coming for little Ed and the out of touch westminster bubble twits.

    STV poll: Two thirds of Scots support second referendum within ten years

    Two thirds of Scots would support another independence referendum within the next ten years, according to a STV News poll.

    Of those asked by Ipsos Mori, 66% said they would support the vote taking place in the next decade regardless of circumstances.

    Just 31% would oppose a referendum in the next ten years.

    Eggpocalypse Now! :-D

  2. strikes me that we voted 55/45 in favour of being part of something...GB, UK, EU whatever...and if we Scots are anything we're definately not separatists; it's not a case of stop the world I want to get off , it's more a case of we want to get on.

  3. Jesus Christ.

    What were the numbers in 2011 that wanted a referendum?

    1. Support for having the first referendum was around 80%.

      YouGov asked a similar, but leading, question in May 2011: (question 4)

      It found 67% support for a referendum with only Scots residents voting (which is what happened). The question was very leading, trying to elicit a response objecting to excluding expat Scots. The actual opposition to having any referendum was only about 19% (i.e. Tories).

  4. "strikes me that we voted 55/45 in favour of being part of something...GB, UK, EU whatever"

    Is that some sort of spoof comment? If not, how do you explain the fact that UKIP and the BNP were both campaigning for a No vote? The percentage of pro-independence campaigners who want to leave the EU was tiny by comparison.

  5. Would be very interested to know the answer to Chalks' question.

  6. I don't have the exact figures to hand, but there was always overwhelming support for a referendum - Alex Salmond made that point repeatedly when the unionist parties thwarted a referendum in the 2007-11 parliament.

  7. There was a lot of non-sense and scare scare stories put about during the Scottish Referendum, but one of the biggest was "uncertainty". In particular, the uncertainty about Scotlands membership, or at least automatic membership, of the EU. If membership was conceded as anything ranging from inevitable through to danm near certain the bogey man of the terms was raised and so of course we were subjected to a fall-back position about uncertainty about the terms of membership. I believe that a small but ultimately signficant number of people were persuaded to vote "no", for no other reason than the possibility that Scotland could find itself excluded from the EU on some legal/techincal issue or that of some pretext occassioned by the domestic politics of an existing member ( rUK, Spain ....etc etc).
    What had the policy positions of UKIP or the BNP have to do with how Scots voted in the referendum? I doubt if 1 in 10,000 voters knew or cared, I doubt if 1 in 100,000 were in anyway influenced.

  8. Point being these are the jawdropping numbers a mere month or so after the first Indyref.

    The out of touch westminster twits have excelled themselves and made their posturing rhetoric about there never being another Indyref look spectacularly foolish.

    Give them another six months to keep fucking up and we'll see just how bad things can get for them.

  9. I can understand that Sturgeon is bidding high by demanding a veto for each nation, but I think that would go to far. I think needing a consensus across the sub-divisions of a state is important to act as a double-majority. For example constitutional changes in the US have to be ratified by 3/4 of all states. It means that you need more than bare support (50%+1), but it also means that one difficult place can't block the whole proposal.

    If people are demanding consistency between this proposal and any future Scottish independence referendum, a similar analogy would be that a certain percentage (say 2/3) of local authorities would have to vote in favour, as well as the total being above 50%. I think the argument for saying that just having 50% +1 would have been a weak basis for creating an independent state had some legitimacy.

  10. James : But nobody is arguing for that equivalence, and it would be absurd to do so. The Yes campaign didn't say "Scotland is a federation or near-federation of 32 local authorities". It was the No campaign that argued that post-No Britain would be a near-federation of four equal nations. As we keep saying to them : Words Have Meanings.

  11. I am interested to note that the analysis of the poll results (on news bulletins, at least) is paying no heed to the fact that some of the scare stories use to push for a No vote (banks removing jobs being one example) have happened in rapid order anyway. This may well have a role to play in explaining what some people are now saying regarding voting intentions, but is being stuideously ignored by analysts on TV as far as I have seen.

  12. I think the whole 45 thing allows Westminster and its followers to ignore those of the 55 who only did so in the hope or belief that Westminster would make good on it's vague promises of something better. If there really are 2/3 in favour of a revote sooner rather than later it's the 66 they need to worry about.

  13. Were the replay of an indy ref figures not much lower during it? I recall a poll being done about it before ballot day.

    Would suggest as we all suspect that the floating no voters atemt happy....

  14. Various rumours about polls asking if No voters have regrets. Might be interesting to hear the results of these.

  15. I have no regrets

    And I believe the irony of lego-head is in her saying a simple majority isn't enough for the uk to leave the eu, but it would have been enough for scotland to leave the uk.

    So, if we have another referendum it should be on condition that all parts of scotland that vote to leave

    capisce, losers? :-)

  16. @WeSaidNoToYesMen 10.22pm

    "So, if we have another referendum it should be on condition that all parts of Scotland that vote to leave"

    Perhaps you ought to learn how to read and write before you post comments.

  17. Clearly some No voters fell for Brown and the Home Rule more powers mantra. The MSM did have an effect.
    BBC still calling debates Prime Ministerial is bizarre as Michael Crick explained, it was merely a technique to stop the SNP being involved. Now UKIP with 1 MP and no representation in Scotland save a Euro councillor are in the fact SNP are heading for 40 plus seats means there is no excuse.
    The problem is that labour need the "wasted vote" line to scare people into voting against Tories, yet having been let down by them and seen them patting each other on the back the situation now is finally the working class realise Labour will do nothing for them and are similar on some key policies to Tories, or at least not different enough to vote negatively against Tories for labour rather than voting positively for SNP.
    If BBC want to have a PM debate between Cameron and Miliband fair enough; but the other debates decide who else will get seats and at this stage bookies would suggest UKIP and LIbs combined may have less than the SNP on their own.
    As we are in UK and "equal", their term, then whether all seats are in one part of UK should not be a factor. No Tories in Scotland did not stop Tory conferences both Scottish and UK being beamed into Scottish households in the 90's.No UKIP MP will not stop UKIP being beamed into Scottish homes whilst SNP are ignored. That is farcical and requires legal action.
    Solution is just to broadcast English subject debates on health and education etc into England and have a UK subject matter debate including SNP for defence etc.
    At present BBC and ITV do not differentiate, avoiding the whole question of devolved matters by talking about English matters only on a pan-UK broadcast. That should be illegal at election time as of now, or if they insist on broadcasting about another country's policies into Scotland then stating in captions this relates to England and/or Wales only where applicable as the minimal requirement to its Scottish audience..
    That legitimacy would of course add votes to the SNP overnight so will be avoided at all costs.

  18. We also operate a double majority system here in Australia. In order for a referendum to be successfully carried it not only must it be approved by a majority of voters, it must also have the backing of at least four out of the six states. That's why only a handful of referenda have been successful. (The 1999 referendum on the Monarchy being an obvious exception!)

  19. I presume cameron et al will be looking for an eu wide referendum on the uk staying in/out in that case?

    No? Thought not.

  20. A double-majority could lead to significant anger among English voters who will feel their vote in an EU referendum is "worth" less than the Celtic Fringe. The people of England already feel disadvantaged by the union (this feeling is in some respects justified and in some respects not)

    Under such a scenario, even if everyone in England, Scotland and Wales voted to leave the EU, a 50% + 1 majority for staying in in Northern Ireland (pop: 2 million) would override the wishes of everyone else.

    We may be, officially, 4 equal nations. But we are also all, officially equal, citizens of the UK. In a UK-wide referendum that will result in the entire UK either staying in or leaving the EU, it makes more sense to me that the principle of one man, one vote applies if we are to be truly equal.