Some Unionist commentators are trying to spread some murk around the best way for Scottish independence supporters to vote in the EU referendum. Apparently it’s all terribly confusing, and there was me thinking it was perfectly transparent, as transparent as a Unionist journalist’s attempts to sow discord where there is no need for any.
It’s very simple, so simple that even the most obtuse Unionist journalist ought to be able to grasp the concept. The fact that they are seemingly unable to grasp it means one of two things. Either they are immensely stupid and cannot wrap their wee heids around political strategy, and this would not be surprising from a bunch of bitter enders who firmly believe that political strategy consists of whining SNP bad as loud as their lungs allow and at a pitch that gets higher and higher with every passing day. The alternative is that they are attempting to create disagreements and divisions within the independence movement, although this does mean that they suffer from the delusion that people in the independence movement not only pay attention to what unionist commentators say, but that they also act on their advice. So they are either stupid and arrogant, or arrogant and stupid. Although admittedly those are not mutually exclusive categories.
So here it is, the independence supporter’s guide to voting in the EU referendum. If you believe that the most important question in the EU referendum is whether the UK ought to remain a member of the EU or not, then vote the way you believe. If you want the UK to remain a part of the EU, vote to remain. If you want the UK as a whole to leave the EU, vote to leave. If you wish to approach this referendum as a vote on the status of the whole of the UK, including Scotland, within Europe then the only advice anyone can give you is to vote according to your own conscience and according to what you believe to be best. You should vote to remain if you want all parts of the UK to remain part of the EU, irrespective of what happens in the future with another Scottish independence referendum.
The UK lurches from one political and moral crisis as it is. Even if the UK as a whole votes to remain in the EU and this EU referendum doesn’t create a trigger for another independence referendum, something else will come along sooner or later. Probably sooner, given the ramshackle mess that passes for a UK constitution and the shower of self-serving incompetents who lead British political parties. If the UK as a whole votes to remain in the EU, then Scotland will have dodged that particular British bullet, but then Scotland’s future as long as it remains a part of the UK is going to be one of bullet dodging. Bullets shot at us by a government that only a tiny minority in Scotland voted for.
But if your main consideration is how best to bring about Scottish independence and you’re not overly fussed about the status of the UK as a whole within the EU, and you believe that the EU referendum is best approached as a proxy referendum which can help bring about a second Scottish independence referendum, then you should vote to remain if you live in Scotland, and vote to leave if you live elsewhere. That’s perfectly simple. If you don’t care that much one way or the other who wins in what is, to be honest, a sorry spectacle of a referendum campaign that’s a proxy for a Tory leadership contest, then vote according to the way which is most likely to produce a second indyref. That’s going to be with a remain vote in Scotland, and a leave vote in the rest of the UK.
Even if you believe that an independent Scotland ought to leave the EU, then you should still vote to remain if you live in Scotland, because the best way to bring about a second independence referendum is if the rest of the UK votes to leave but Scotland votes to remain. After all, if Scotland votes to leave along with the rest of the UK then we have no trigger for another independence referendum. The trigger for another indyref isn’t the result of the referendum per se, it’s the difference in results between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Theoretically there would also be a trigger for another indyref if Scotland voted to leave but the rest of the UK voted to remain, but given the very persistent patterns of the opinion polls over the past few weeks that’s about as likely to happen as a Unionist journalist actually grasping an independence supporter’s motivations for voting in the EU referendum.
If you believe that the sovereignty of the Scottish people is hopelessly compromised by EU membership and you want an independent Scotland that is outside the EU, then you’re also going to believe that the question of Scotland’s EU membership is a matter that should be decided by the people of an independent Scotland. It should be up to the Scottish people and a Scottish Parliament to decide whether or not Scotland remains within the EU or leaves it. We shouldn’t be taken out as a side-effect of a Tory leadership contest and a Middle Englandshire turf war between the Conservatives and UKIP. It should be a Scottish government which negotiates Scotland’s terms of exit from the EU, in order to ensure that Scotland gets the best deal.
If Scotland is taken out of the EU as a result of this Westminster inspired referendum what will happen is that Scotland will be taken out of the EU by the Westminster Parliament and under terms negotiated by a Conservative party which is seeking to appease the Tory right and UKIP, and those terms are vanishingly unlikely to be favourable to Scotland. The prospect is pretty awful.
So even if you want an independent Scotland to leave the EU you should vote remain in a UK wide referendum as that brings about the best chance of Scotland getting another bite at the indyref cherry. It maximises the political distance between a Scotland which will vote to remain, and the rest of the UK which may vote to leave. It’s that political gap which will provide the moral justification for another independence referendum. If we can ensure that Scotland votes to remain in the EU by a larger margin than we voted to remain a part of the UK, and the rest of the UK votes to leave the EU, we have an unanswerable case for a second independence referendum.
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