Saturday, February 11, 2017

To what extent will the next Yes campaign be a "Remain" campaign?

There's been a lot of talk in recent days about the UK government 'war-gaming' how things may play out if - as seems increasingly likely - Nicola Sturgeon declares her intention to hold an independence referendum next year.  But I suspect the SNP and their allies will be doing some pretty intense war-gaming of their own, and a lot of it will focus on the extent to which the next Yes campaign should essentially be a Remain campaign.  We know that the focus will stay firmly on the EU issue until the campaign actually gets underway, because that's the casus belli for holding a second indyref so soon after the first.  But I've tended to assume that, once the campaign starts, the Yes side will "pivot" (to use the ugly American buzzword) and adopt a more 2014-style message in an attempt to make it easier for Brexit supporters to back independence.

It's possible I've been wrong about that.  The counter-argument is that, if we believe the BMG poll, almost a fifth of people who voted Yes in 2014 and Leave in 2016 have already switched to No.  Conceivably that's as bad as it's ever going to get (if the last few months haven't put the other Leave voters off, what will?), and yet we're still only very slightly behind.  Instead of obsessing over getting a relatively small group of people back on board, perhaps we should be concentrating on the much larger pool of No/Remain voters, only 8% of whom have so far jumped to Yes.  If detailed polling and focus groups find that a significant minority of that segment of the public strongly prioritise the retention of EU membership and free movement of people, it may well be worth going with an all-out pro-EU message.  Perhaps these people aren't quite yet ready to admit to themselves, let alone to pollsters, that the Britain they believe in doesn't really exist anymore (or soon won't).  For the most part, pro-EU people who voted No in 2014 are better-educated and relatively affluent, and are therefore more likely to turn out to vote.  They're a prize well worth winning, and I'd suggest they're unlikely to be wooed by an "EFTA might do" sort of fudge.

Focusing on Europe is also likely to maximise the turnout among citizens of other EU countries, who as we all know anecdotally have swung very heavily behind Yes.  Quite how big an impact that's going to have is difficult to say, because pollsters don't have target figures for EU citizens.  Most independence polls do weight by place of birth and have a target figure for those born outside the UK, but it's impossible to know whether they're getting the blend of EU and non-EU citizens right.  There may well be something going on under the radar that the polls aren't picking up.  OK, we're only talking about a small percentage of the population, but an extra 0.5% for Yes is not to be sniffed at in a potentially close race.

Incidentally, and incredible though it may seem, BMG don't appear to weight by place of birth at all.  If their online panel is remotely similar to YouGov's or to Panelbase's, it'll have far too many English-born people in it, thus potentially leading to an underestimate of the Yes vote if there isn't weighting to correct for the problem.

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A strange rumour started on Twitter a couple of days ago that the BMG poll didn't interview 16 and 17 year olds.  It then mutated to "they did interview 16 and 17 year olds but excluded them from the final results".  Quite what the point of that would have been is anyone's guess, but suffice to say it isn't true.  16 and 17 year olds are fully included in the poll, and they actually go some of the way towards explaining why the Yes vote is as high as 49%.  In the unweighted sample, just 5 people of that age range answered the independence question, and it looks like they may have broken 4-1 for Yes.  Their responses will then have been significantly upweighted to bring them to the correct target figure for the age group - in other words, five real respondents will have been upweighted to count as dozens of 'virtual' respondents.

So we have two factors pointing in opposite directions - the upweighting of 16 and 17 year olds may conceivably have led to an overestimate of the Yes vote, but the failure to weight by place of birth may well have led to an underestimate of the Yes vote.  It would be a brave person who claims to know what the true Yes vote is - or even whether it's over or under 50%.

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  1. This is all in the assumption that those categories eligible to vote will be as in indyref1.No doubt Westminster may well attempt to exclude some sections that are known to be majority pro Indy(e.g 16-17 years old) from having a vote this time.

    1. Not a chance. That ship has sailed, and they know it.

    2. That's an interesting and encouraging point... may that also be the case with the rest of the Edinburgh Agreement "ts&cs".

  2. James - as part of Westminster's war gaming do you think there might be any dirty tricks coming in the setup of indy2?

    Change of question? EU citizens being excluded from the franchise? Or most fiendish of all, putting in some threshold (say 55%) because it is such a major constitutional change? (ho! ho! ho!)

    I think the last indy2 was framed as a fairly level playing field because the thinking was we couldn't possibly win. That thought no longer applies so paranoia makes me think that the setup of the referendum might be the first battle we need to fight before even the campaign itself begins?

    Any thoughts? Paranoid? Not paranoid enough?

    1. Ian, for those of us old enough to remember, that "putting in some threshold (say 55%)" – has already been done, back in the 1979 referendum:

      "An amendment to the Act stipulated that it would be repealed if fewer than 40% of the total electorate voted Yes in the referendum. The result was that 51.6% supported the proposal, but with a turnout of 64%, this represented only 32.9% of the registered electorate. The Act was subsequently repealed."
      – I still remember that sickening feeling of being in some way cheated.

      I would not put it past WM to try the same again, but the difference is that 1. we have the internet now and 2. people are much more politically savvy (I hope) so they would be less likely to get away with it.

    2. Less than three years ago Westminster agreed the wording was fair and it was right to allow 16s, 17s, and EU citizens to vote. How could they possibly justify changing those rules now? How could they possibly deny accusations of gerrymandering?

      The question, franchise and winning threshold will be the same as in 2014.

    3. Elfstone - that 1979 was very much in my mind. Good point about new awareness.
      Holebender - I am less certain than you are that this will be plain sailing but I certainly hope you are right and I'm wrong. Gerrymandering....that is a Tory speciality.

    4. That was the downfall of the labour government.

  3. Just waiting for Hector and his fash

  4. Kangaroo says
    Simples. Change the question to

    Should Scotland be ruled by Westminster?

    That will the wind them round their maypole. The oldies will never get their heads around the change and will still vote 'NO'. Result -landslide.

  5. You quote 20% of the Yes vote 2014 has migrated to No because of Brexit sympathies.
    I have read this in several pieces by You and others.
    However in the real world and in Social Media I have not come across a single person that admits this.
    Lots of No to Yes stories Eric Joyce ,Simon Pia Mike Dailly but to name a few of high profile.
    Yet our BT friends have not produced a single credible Yes to No switcher.
    As they never miss a trick I find this verging on unbelievable.
    So sorry my suspicion of rigged polls remains I just don't believe or trust them.
    As BBCQT demonstrate every week with their audience selections you can rig anything and fool the public and find lots of willing fools to give their shite credibility.

    1. "You quote 20% of the Yes vote 2014 has migrated to No because of Brexit sympathies."

      You've misread what I said, Ian. It's not 20% of the Yes vote, it's 20% (or 19%) of the Yes/Leave vote - a much smaller segment of the population. As it happens, I do personally know one person who actively campaigned for Yes who is now a strong No. It's not common, but it's pointless to pretend it doesn't happen at all.

    2. Sorry, I meant to say Rod - I don't know why I called you Ian!

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. So , out of 100. How many has/ leave voters were there. And how many change? Thanks

  6. It is a bit of a stretch to imagine that the anti EU independence supporting voters will reject independence because of EU membership and elect to remain in a UK dominated by the UKIP/Tory cabal now in power at Westminster and likely to remain so for generations to come.

    Anti EU sentiment in Scotland may come from the left politically but that is most certainly not the case in England where brexit is almost exclusively a right wing and far right phenomenon.

  7. The new referendum campaign absolutely must stick to Independence in the EU - it is where the big numbers lie, among groupos who were alien territory to us in 2104, it is also the better of the two futures actaully on offer for Scotland and we have strong support and warm sympathy building up in the EU for us to do so. This is - as Angus Robertson rightly spotted immediately in June - the single event which has turned the whole argument. It is the change maker and will ensure a really sound majority for YES. Let us remember the scale of the pro EU majority in June was HUGE - 24% and all the signs are that it has grown since and, as the Brexit shambles increases, it will grow still further. This time the fearful and the cautious will see their vote as a choice between a downwardly spiralling isolated UK and a Scotland, surrounded by friends in the biggest market in the world - and vote like canny folk. It will be Safer with Scotland and - in an odd way like 1707 - putting their vote where their obvious self-interest lies. This will be a no-brainer.

    1. Hi Nigel. Morag here. I couldn't agree more. Please please can you get hold of Stuart B. and impress this on him? He was talking at a meeting the other night of canvassing in Tweeddale and "getting a feeling that it's all slipping away" - not the SNP vote which is holding up very well, but the Yes vote.

      He said he was alarmed by the number of people on the doorsteps who, while intending to vote SNP in May, had switched from Yes to vehement No because they were anti-EU. He was talking about Yes having to switch policy to something like EFTA because he thought we'd lose if we went full-fat EU.

      Well you know what he's like, I wasn't going to argue with him, but I couldn't disagree more. I think in our area he's maybe seeing a disproportionate number of such people, and I think he's over-reacting. I agree with James here. I think we need to ditch these voters and let them vote No if they like.

      Our most fertile constituency is the soft-No/Remain vote, which is much larger than the Yes/Leave constituency. For God's sake, Remain got 62% of the vote in Scotland (and I think about 58% in the Borders) last June. We don't NEED the fervent anti-EU types on board.

      If we try to compromise to appease everyone we may end up pleasing nobody. The idea of Scotland cast loose out of both the UK and the EU in these troubled times scares the pants off me quite frankly, EFTA or not. I'd still prefer that to being thirled to Westminster, but I would be worried. I think there are a lot of people like that.

      The call of "stay in the EU" isn't just the casus belli of another referendum, it's its raison d'etre. It would be pretty weird to be shouting, "we demand another independence referendum because we're being dragged out of the EU against our will, but actually if we get a Yes we'll still leave the EU." Try selling that to anyone.

      We need the EU nationals and we need the pro-EU soft-No voters. These people will get us over the line if we commit to them wholeheartedly and are seen to be offering them what they want - EU membership. And that will be best for Scotland too.

      If we betray these people by offering olive branches to the vehement "leave the EU" contingent we risk losing the votes of the people who should be our natural targets. And there are a lot more of them. It would be suicide.

      Fortunately Stuart B. doesn't set SNP or Yes policy, but it worries me when I hear people talking that way.

    2. Hi Morag. You are totaly on the money -and well said "we need to ditch these voters and let them vote no if they like." Stuart seems to have lost the strategic plot because of his too narrow focus as a local campaigner. The large scale considerations are what matter. As you say the EU nationals are now - providing the timid tendency is not listened to - an absolute certainty for YES PLUS there is the whole pro-Scotlanbd narrative running so strongly within the EU. France has never looked so keenly to support a Scotland, that can support her. The massive - MASSIVE swing away from the horrors of Brewxit which is only now gathering pace COMBINED with the huge and increasing support for the EU are the main reasons that the Unionists are so petrified of a new referendum. May's illogical squawks in the house on the subject are utterly revealing. Any turn away from the EU would play into the Unionists' hands - just look how often they, from little Willie Rennie to the Herald, are trying to float such a narrative. Scotland an independent member of the EU MUST be our principle target and with it the message of not risking the shambles and dangers of the Brexiting UK.

    3. Absolutely, Nigel. I hope and trust the strategists who are game-planning this are not listening to the strident EU-haters, or those who have been spooked by them.

      We need to display our pro-EU credentials on our sleeves in order to win the support we need from the other EU states. We need EU leaders and diplomats explaining that Scotland will be welcome in the EU, that negotiations will be facilitated, and the expectation is that a deal will be worked out so that Scotland leaves the EU perhaps only symbolically for a minute at midnight on independence day. This is what is likely to happen, but the waverers won't believe it unless they hear it from EU leaders. And EU leaders are going to go pretty cold on issuing that sort of rhetoric if Scotland signals it's ambivalent about the EU by talking about another EU referendum. The UK one has traumatised relations quite enough.

      It's an insane idea from another perspective as well. England is trying to drag Scotland out of the EU "against its will". This is why we're having indyref2. Can you imagine the negative press if we say, yes, well, but we still might leave the EU anyway? We'd be rightly accused of isolationism, being separatists, and wanting to cut Scotland off from all our markets. It's bonkers.

      As you say, the ordinary, sensible, thoughtful soft No pro EU voters are teetering on the edge. We can expect a significant influx of these over the coming months. James makes a very good point that the Yes-to-No Eu-hating deflections have probably already happened and we're still on 49%. If we throw away our hopes of getting that pro-EU bandwagon to come our way just to woo back these hot-heads, we'll destroy everything we've worked for.

      We need to say to the EU-haters who tell us that they'd rather remain ruled by Tory Westminster than remain in the EU, OK, suit yourselves, vote No, see if I care. We can't win them all, and we don't need to win that demographic.

  8. Referendums work when there is a single issue to be decided. Tying two or more issues together would be a big mistake, IMHO.

    The best way to shoot the Yes/Leave fox would be to promise an EU referendum within three years of becoming independent. We hold indyref2 on the basis that Scotland is and will remain an EU member, but we promise another EU referendum once independent Scotland has negotiated EU membership conditions. That'll also incentivise negotiators on both sides to get the best possible membership deal in place for Scotland.

    1. Agreed. A "ratification" referendum would be sensible and might persuade some, though not all, waverers. There will still be those whose dislike for the EU is so "irrational" they may be willing to sacrifice Scottish independence to get out of it.

      "Me Bungo Pony"

    2. And how do you think that will play with our friends in Europe, do tell? We are very reliant right now on support from within the EU to reassure voters that Scotland will be welcome as an EU member once we're independent, and that the accession process will be a swift formality. If we can secure these reassurances our chances of success in indyref2 will be very good because this will work on the EU nationals and on the pro-EU soft-No voters, who are numerous.

      If we piss the EU around by saying, OK maybe we'll stay but we'll have another referendum on that, just watch the goodwill from within Europe evaporate like dew at noon. They're pretty unhappy with Westminster for holding the 2016 referendum, do you really think that announcing the first thing indy Scotland is going to do is hold a re-run is clever?

      Forget the anti-EU contingent. They are a minority in Scotland in the first place. 38% and falling. And a fair proportion of these will vote Yes in indyref2 anyway, because an independent Scotland is a higher priority for them than being out of the EU. The two Yes activists I know who voted Leave are in that category.

      The Yes-to-No switchers who are doing that because of the EU are a minority of a minority. They're loud and make themselves heard, but we don't need their votes to win. If we try some sort of God-awful compromise fudge in the hope of winning some of them over, we're likely to do far more harm than good.

      We need the votes of the people who want very much to stay in the EU. That's 62% of Scotland. We can't afford to alienate that group by wooing a small bunch of loud-mouth discontents.

    3. We reassure our EU allies by pointing out, as you have, that the EU has the support of 62% of Scotland's electorate (probably more once we include EU citizens and 16 & 17 year olds, who were all excluded from the EU referendum). Is there a problem with following the democratic path of allowing Scotland's voters a direct say on Scotland's EU membership?

    4. No! I don't agree with that. We don't want to be talking about ANY post Indy politics during an Indy campaign never mind an EU referendum. It would inevitably be drawn into the Indy campaign and cause division. The opposition would make hay with it.

    5. Is there a problem with following the democratic path of allowing Scotland's voters a direct say on Scotland's EU membership?

      Yes, there is. This is politics. That line of reasoning is to some extent what got the UK into the mess it's in now. "Why shouldn't the people have their say? Do you hate democracy?" And now look where we are. The EU referendum was a pure political tool designed to advance the cause of Conservative party unity, not a democratic festival to give the people an informed choice. And it blew up in their faces.

      If anyone in the SNP or Yes is daft enough to adopt this as policy in order to appease a fairly small minority of loudmouthed EU-haters who might on the other hand consider a Yes vote if the result were to be a Scotland cut off from both England and the EU, I'll tell you what will happen. First, the EU themselves will go stone cold hostile to the idea of Scottish independence and will most certainly not issue the friendly welcoming message we desperately need to win indyref2. Second, we'll lose the votes of most of the EU nationals in Scotland and most of the prevously soft No voters who want to stay in the EU. That is FAR more votes than might be won over from the Yes/Leave camp.

      You will most certainly not mollify either the EU or the soft No/Remain vote by saying, don't worry we'll have the referendum and it will be for the EU, and that will be that. They've heard that one before, and they saw how it came out.

      We've had our EU referendum for now. It was 62% remain. There is no percentage whatsoever in talking about a re-run soon after a Yes vote to independence. It would make winning that Yes vote immeasurably harder, and it would seriously jeopardise our chances of a swift accession into the EU as a full member.

      It would be strategically suicidal, so don't come the "are you afraid of democracy" schtick.

    6. "Neutralise the EU issue with a subsequent referendum" doesn't work.

      It aims to fool the Yes/Leave=>No voters with a bit of misdirection.

      The trick is that you tell them "EU membership is up in the air, we are just voting for independence this time. Later on we'll decide on the EU separately", hoping that they don't notice Scotland voted 62% in favour of staying in the EU.

      The targeted voters meanwhile are able to think ahead like actual human beings, and notice that the promise of an EUref is not relevant given the likely result of said referendum - that we'd end up in the EU.

    7. For these voters (whom I disagree with and am very exasperated with), it's like saying "hey, you wanna come and see some puppies? get in the van - I promise you can get out later if you want."

  9. It's opinion only but I think the significance being attached to Yes\Leave now equating to systemic weakness in a future Yes campaign is being seriously over-egged. The long-term Scotland In Europe internationalist approach adopted and embraced by the SNP has greater value than the modest risk of individual voter alienation. It serves the British cause well to highlight 30% of Scottish Leave voters professing to vote SNP. However, the reality is that the populace has never been tested on the question of Scottish Independence from an isolated UK. To use a hypothetical example, Jim Sillars is a fairly passionate pro-Yes Leaver. And whilst we remain in pre-campaign limbo, he will argue passionately for an anything-but-full-EU-membership position for Scotland. But when the call of the ballot box arrives, accepting the SNP will continue to be the principle political vehicle for Yes (and therefore the main determinant for outline terms for a Yes vote), would Jim or anyone like him remotely contemplate voting No?! To stay in a trickle-down, Hayek-Friedman, Trump beholden protectionist UK in perpetuity? Only in the wet dreams of the UK's political editors and right-wing opinionistas is this be something for Yes to fear. Perspective required folks.

    1. I agree too. Only 38% voted Leave in Scotland. A proportion of these are hard-No British nationalists who will never be won for Yes. Another group are indy-first voters who may bitch and moan (I know a couple, and as you say Sillars is probably in that group too) but will turn out and vote Yes to independence on the day anyway. How many voters are there who would vote to remain with Westminster in preference to remaining in the EU, but who might be won round with a promise of a further referendum? I can't say but I doubt if it's 10%.

      As James says, that group seems to have switched to No already (they're noticeably loud and vocal), and even so we're on 49%. We don't need them. Let them vote No. We need to hold firm to the pro-EU strategy first because that's why we're having the bloody second indyref in the first place and it would be utterly ludicrous to row back and say "but we might still leave the EU on a Yes vote", second because that's the only way to get the EU leadership mood music and encouraging semaphore messages we need, and third because it's what's going to attract the influx of voters who haven't quite caught up with events yet but will see where their real interests lie as hard Brexit gets closer.

      If circumstances change and say ten or 20 years down the line there's a strong clamour for Scotland to leave the EU, then another referendum at that stage would be entirely legitimate. But the idea of wrecking our chances of getting in right now by blowing lukewarm about Europe during the independence campaign is howling-at-the-moon insane.

  10. The concern I have with a commitment to EU membership from day 1 is that it's similar to the 2014 currency union issue - it's out of our hands to an extent. The No side will weaponise that. I think we need a strong commitment to the single market, but with EFTA as a possible stepping stone to full membership.

    1. Not the same thing at all. Our EU membership in all that matters to the EU already exists. Verhofstadt has already mafde it clear that it is not an issue. The currency was in the hands of our opponents. The EU (a) we already have and (b) it is in the hands of our friends who cannot wait to keep us on board.

    2. Well, there's the 3% deficit rule. The No side will use that against us. There's also the rUK trade argument, whereas EFTA would allow an indy Scotland to agree a free trade deal with May's "global leader of free trade" rUK. EFTA does provide answers to some of the No side's likely key arguments. It also doesn't rule out eventual full EU membership should the Scottish electorate favour that.

    3. To Colin.
      Scotland's current 'deficit' is a result of accounting done as a member of the UK. After Indy a new set of accounts would be prepared by the Scots Government based on its budget and the results of post Indy negotiations re who owns what, how it is split up, and how much debt Scotland takes with it when it leaves.

      What you read in the YOON media re rUK refusing to trade
      with an Indy Scotland is nonsense. If Scotland is in or about to join the EU, trade between Scotland and England will be governed by whatever deal arrives between the EU and rUK. The latter would not embargo Scottish trade because if it did the EU would embargo trade with rUK. Also, rUK would be isolated and desperate to do deals with ANYONE not to mention the fact that rUK's trade with Scotland is more Than vice versa.

    4. Colin, "eventual full EU membership" - what sort of crazy talk is that?

      Here we have a golden opportunity to retain our current EU citizenship, our right to travel and study and reside in the EU, and take our seat at the top table in our own right. We get a direct Scottish voice in EU affairs, and our veto, and our turn at the presidency and everything. We haven't had these last things up to now. You can have no idea that they'd be bad for Scotland, because they're out of our experience.

      You want to throw that chance away, snub the EU leaders who seem ready to welcome us rapidly to remain in the union, and switch it for a position where we pay in but don't have any direct say in decision-making. With the caveat that maybe we could think about taking them up on their kind offer some decades in the future? What are you smoking?

    5. So yesterday was the first time I'd commented on here and it's already clear a couple of people aren't capable of calm debate. Not a great start. If this is how you respond to pro-indy people who you don't 100% agree with, I dread to think how you engage with the folk whose minds we need to change.

      To be clear, I am not arguing that EFTA is a better solution than full EU membership. I voted remain and I would favour an indy Scotland being a full EU member. But this is about winning indyref2, and we need to be smarter than last time, where our opponents were able to scream "plan B?" for months. Which, like it or not, worked. For every friendly hint from Brussels that we'll be treated favourably, there will be some EU beareucrat giving a technical answer which the media will lap up. We need to present credible options. We need answers to the follow up questions that we had no answers to last time, or we'll lose again.

      As much as I agree there's doubt over how GERS figures can be extrapolated to an indy Scotland's situation, a blank argument that it is irrelevant will not win over previous No's. Surely I'm stating the obvious here?

      The argument that we'll trade with rUK based on whatever deal they agree with the EU also concerns me greatly. If you're an undecided and your main concern is trade with rUK, the worry would be: if it's a bad deal, what will the economic impact be in an indy Scotland? On the other hand, if it's a good deal, maybe indy isn't needed? These are the questions that need clear, convincing answers, not just assertions. I believe the electorate is smart enough to be able to understand a more nuanced approach, where options are laid out, and I believe some previous No's would take more kindly to that than to the "there will be a currency union"/"there is no deficit" approach, which had already seen us fail once.

    6. I believe the electorate is smart enough to be able to understand a more nuanced approach...

      I honestly think there's a problem with that. Of course many people do understand a nuanced approach but I think thoughtful people aren't going to be so hard to persuade anyway. But there are many many people who latch on to a single point and decide on that. They're difficult to reason with. I do believe the number of people who will grab on to "stay in the EU" and vote Yes on that basis is way larger than the number of people who might vote no to that but who are potentially amenable to being talked round by "nuanced" arguments about EFTA.

    7. I'll say again. If Scotland starts blowing lukewarm on EU membership, talks about EFTA instead or having another EU referendum after a Yes vote, all goodwill from the EU will evaporate. We'll be fighting the indyref against jeers from the unionists about calling a referendum to stop Scotland being dragged out of the EU and then proposing jumping out of the EU anyway, and against frosty, hostile rhetoric from the EU countries.

      I see no prospect at all of winning in that situation. We know there is a substantial majority in Scotland for staying in the EU. We need to work on getting as many of these people on board for Yes, not throwing away that advantage.

  11. " "EFTA might do" sort of fudge"

    Heaven forbid that the YES campaign uses this fudge. Considering both EFTA and EU as alternatives during Indyref2 would be disastrous, leading only to splitting our vote and giving Project Fear the opportunity to instill confusion. And remember the EU hierarchy are bending over backwards and showing welcoming signs to an Indy Scotland. It would be ridiculous to throw away that goodwill.

    This time round we want nothing in the Indyref2 campaign which relies on anything the rUK owns or might be resposible for. And that includes any nonsense about claiming the £ as the Indy currency. We must go into the campaign firmly on the back of a new £scot, pegged to either the euro or £, and the YES campaign should have researched the matter thoroughly to provide plenty of arguments against an expected onslaught from rUK.

    We must be vigorous, challenging and dismissing the arguments of rUK. And we must try to set the agenda. No pussyfooting around delicate matters. And I am glad to see Nicola doing that at the moment.

  12. The many intelligent comments above have crystallised something for me. We tend to think of the anti-EU group currently agitating for a swift Scottish EU referendum as if they're all going to vote No unless they get this undertaking. They may well be telling the pollsters and the canvassers that that's exactly what they'll do, at the moment. But will they?

    Some will, of course. Those for whom a Yes vote in 2014 was cast more because they believed the Better Together lies about Scotland being forced out of the EU on independence, than because they support independence as such. But frankly, I think most of them won't.

    Right now the anti-EU lobby is to some extent using the debate over indyref2 to try to push their own position. They want another EU referendum and they see this as a way to engineer a commitment to that. They must on no account be pandered to, or we're toast. But what will they do then, when a strong pro-EU campaign has been run and they're in the polling booth?

    I venture to suggest that not very many of them will actually mark the No box.

  13. Great comments and I'm with Rolfe all the way. Excellent stuff, clearly argued. On the EFTA thing, there are additional reasons why it's a non-starter, as Arc of Prosperity makes plain.

  14. James,
    turnout in the eu ref was much lower than in the Indy ref.I feel this must be important but I'm not quite sure how and why.Do you have any views on this?

  15. James,

    Thanks for clarifying the 16 / 17 year old issue. Whilst I am no statistician or the like, is a sample size of 5 reflect the views of all 16 / 17 year olds? Seems too narrow a data set to reach any conclusions from.

    Best wishes, you run a fascinating web site.

  16. The Scottish Government has correctly focused on single market membership, as that is the absolute in necessity to avoid the economic damage of Brexit. Plus it guarantees the four freedoms.
    It's the "big tent" option which unites the desires of people who want EFTA, EU or (like me) aren't bothered. Big tent = maximised Yes vote, surely? We all want to win a Yes vote!

    There are some very vehement comments above, but shouting doesn't convert anyone.

    There are a number of Project Fear scares about the EU. True or not, they work. Why not simply sidestep them? "Spanish veto"? Pfft. "Queue" pfft!

    Robin McAlpine's point about what is possible in the time available is a good one. Say we have, and win, a referendum in Autumn 2018. We will have at best seven months to complete the institutions of the Scottish State to a standard that would allow seamless EU membership. It's not possible.

    Therefore we will be out of the EU even if for a few years. We absolutely cannot be out of the single market. It seems obvious that the bridge must be EFTA.

    Austria, Finland and Sweden have all trod the EFTA to EU route. Yes we would need to vote on it but what's to fear from democracy?

    And. We must win in Shetland. Being out of the Common Fisheries Policy is the key to that. RUK will attempt Partition if they think they can get away with it.

    Out of the CFP even if we then join the EU thereafter is a much stronger negotiating position. We have to win Shetland. Clair Ridge folks.

    1. With respect, we don't have to win Shetland (it has less than 0.5% of the population), and we almost certainly won't win Shetland no matter what we do. The aim of the exercise will be to cut the No lead there. "Partition" can't realistically happen without yet another referendum in Shetland on whether to leave Scotland. I'm very confident that a) it would never get to that point, and b) such a referendum would have the right result.

    2. 35 years being brought up and living in Shetland. 10 of which were actively spent campaigning and twice standing for the SNP does not lead to quite as much confidence. I know people who will vote No to Independence because of the CFP and who would be persuadable if we are out of it, even temporarily.

      0.5% of the population, but how much of the territorial waters? I've never tried working it out but maybe 30%. And how much of the oil reserve. Nearer 70%. It matters.

      But above all this is not about what scenario might play out. But about reducing the ground our opponents have to scare and smear.

      We need a much sharper offer than in 2014, and to minimise areas which are open to whataboutery.

      We will have a Scottish currency
      We will have a central bank
      We will take no debt share without an acceptable asset share
      We will remain in the Single Market

      Just yesterday there's auld Brillo pad twittering about the "queue" to join the EU. Comments on the famous "Spanish Veto" abound. It's mince, but it works. Which is why our opponents use it.

      Sidestep the lot.

    3. The amount of sea territory that would accrue to Shetland if it was an enclave of England in Scotland's territorial waters is pretty small and doesn't have any major resources in it.

  17. Morag

    That can be read as an imperialist view. It irks me, and I've been in the SNP for 30 years. Not a great way to maximise the vote.

    I observe Faeroe is moving towards full independence. That's a 200nm EEZ, to median line, not 12.

    We need to win by persuasion and an offer that has positive attraction, not by threats

    1. I just think this is all wrong. There's no question of "threats", but realistically, it is simply a fact that we're not going to win in Shetland. I doubt if there would then be a push for Shetland to leave Scotland, and if there was, I doubt if it would succeed. You disagree, and as you're a Shetlander and I'm not, I have to accept there's a chance you're right because there's no polling evidence available. But even if you are right, I don't see what we can do about it. It certainly wouldn't make sense to adopt a European policy in a doomed attempt to win Shetland if that was going to cost us votes elsewhere.

  18. The thing is - I don't think it will cost us votes elsewhere. At the very least there is no polling evidence either way. Despite everything that has happened the polls haven't moved that much. Hopefully the 49% will be confirmed elsewhere, but that's still a minority, or a tie.

    EEA/EFTA neatly deals with a substantial number of scare stories, which have been, are being and will be used. One of them is even true - A49 requiring a majority vote. Why would we not explore an option that removes the ability for our opponent to muddy the waters with endless scares? Why would we not explore that?

    Quite apart from this Robin McAlpine is correct that there almost certainly isn't time, or a mechanism, to maintain seamless EU membership between any Yes vote and the date of Brexit. We are going to be out, and we need a suitable holding pen or bridging option in order to maintain single market access for however long it takes to rejoin the EU.

    It seems blindingly obvious what that option is. And if it increases the Yes vote, even better