Why we don’t need another divisive independence referendum

Willie Rennie will probably be disappointed that he didn’t actually get to scrap a car when he visited a scrap yard in Fife this morning. He went there to say that the Liberal Democrats would “scrap the SNP’s plans for another divisive independence referendum.”

He did, however, manage to look disapproving:

He said:

The Liberal Democrats are clear that we want to scrap the SNP’s independence referendum.

The news this week that Scottish education standards on literacy and numeracy have dropped right back shows why it is important.

It is clear to me that if we can stop the SNP’s independence referendum then we can force the Scottish Government to focus on education instead.

The last thing Scotland needs is another divisive independence referendum. It must be scrapped.

There is actually very little appetite, even from some who voted Yes last time, to go through another independence referendum. The divisions from that time are only just starting to heal for some. And as soon as Nicola Sturgeon made her announcement in March, my Twitter timeline was full of the old invective from the cybernats. The rancour invades even the most random areas of our lives, as my husband’s experience shows.

As many of you will know, he was very ill last year and was lucky to come through it with just a recovery from open heart surgery to think about. He joined a group on Facebook that was supposed to be a support group for people who had had heart problems. Within a couple of hours, there was unchallenged misogynistic abuse of the First Minister. He challenged it and copped a whole load of abuse for being a nationalist. He isn’t. He just isn’t willing to put up with sexism anywhere.

Within the same few days, he came across an argument on a Facebook friend’s wall about independence where people who were in favour of staying in the UK were referred to as “deluded, inbred scum.”

It’s hardly surprising that people don’t want to go through it again. Of course it’s mutually convenient for both the Tories and the SNP to be in a state of high dudgeon with each there about it for the next five years to try to distract people from the mess they are both making of running the country. With the chaos of impending Brexit and the crisis in health, education and farming in Scotland, which is entirely the responsibility of the SNP, that won’t wash with people for long, if at all. And all the chaos we see with Theresa May’s ridiculously confrontational negotiating style on Brexit would be repeated should Scotland ever vote for independence. There is no appetite for it in Scotland as repeated polls have made clear.

And before anyone tries to point out an apparent contradiction between our position on this and on the EU, there isn’t one. We want a referendum on the Brexit deal to give people a chance to say whether the government has enacted their wishes in a manner that meets with their approval. It is only polite to do so.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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18 Comments

  • “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

    and all the SNP have in common is independence, so everything looks like a reason for Indyref2, indref3, indyref infinitum.

  • paul barker 12th May '17 - 6:36pm

    We do find ourselves in the odd position of opposing a Referendum on Scottish Independence while demanding one on UK “Independence” from Europe. It would be much easier to sell a simple “Stop Brexit” message.
    Surely if we are the only Party to gain votes in June while UKIPs vote collapses, that is a pretty clear Vote against Brexit, however many Seats The Tories get ?

  • Nom de Plume 12th May '17 - 7:04pm

    Paul, I consider both “Stop Brexit” and “second referendum” both to be political gestures – indications of intent, but unlikely to happen. I think it would be better for the Party to sell itself as a pro-EU opposition which is prepared to scrutinze government dealings with the EU, as well as pointing out the consequences of government decisions.

  • I understand where Willie and Caron are coming from, and why they are doing it now. I also understand all the stuff about the internet trolls..

    Of course the dynamics of politics do move on……….. one wonders how things will be perceived when the full horrors of a Tory landslide start rolling out. The choice might become the Union with a hard Brexit – and a Scotland in Europe with a social democratric administration.

  • John barrett 12th May '17 - 8:20pm

    As someone who voted Yes at the time of the last Independence Referendum, I do not want another Indyref and am happy to accept the result of the last one.

    I also accept the result of the EU Referendum and do not think that pushing for a second vote on the result of the negotiations is anything other than a clear contradiction in our policy position.

    We either accept the result of a referendum or we don’t.

    Those who say we accept the result, but want to have a chance to reverse it, are just like those in the SNP who continue to push for the result they want, despite it having been rejected by a clear vote of the people.

  • Caron, for the sake of argument assume that there is a referendum on the deal, probably this would be under a Conservative government.
    I assume from previous comments you would want remain to be an option on the ballot, would you want the same terms and conditions as last time or would you campaign for some changes.
    Should it be advisory or mandatory? Should it be decided by simple majority or minimum threshold? Should some of the groups who were not allowed to vote last time be allowed to vote in any future referendum how would all this be decided and who would have the final say?
    Imagine we could successfully resolve the issues raised above and remain won but the 27 demanded any or all of, the removal of the rebate, the U.K. to join the Euro, the U.K. to join Shengen, would this be grounds for a further referendum?

  • Paul Barker, no it isn’t . A collapse in UKIP support will be because our country trusts Theresa May to honour the referendum result. She supported remain but unlike some is true democrat.

  • Martin, how could Theresa May be. True democrat if she intends to win a majority on less than half the vote?

  • I will just point again to the inconsistency between this stance against national self determination, and the preamble to our own constitution.

  • Andrew Tampion 13th May '17 - 6:57am

    As is often the case Cllr Mark Wright has made the point I wished to make better and more succinctly than I could have done. Dare I hope for Mark Wright MP on June 9th?
    Try an also make a valid point and one that I have also made elsewhere that in order for a referendum on the deal to be meaningful we must know on what basis we as a country would be allowed to stay in or rejoin the EU.
    Paul Barker should reflect on the current polling data which shows the Tories 10 percentile points up on the result of the 2015 General Election whereas we are up about 3 percentile points. There is a long way to go but unless things change dramatically then the current Governments policy on the EU will have been clearly and decisively endorsed by the electorate.

  • Johnnie, PR is not necessarily any more democratic than FPTP because it usually leads to coalition governments where no one gets what they voted for.

  • Nonconformistradical 13th May '17 - 8:05am

    @Martin
    “Johnnie, PR is not necessarily any more democratic than FPTP because it usually leads to coalition governments where no one gets what they voted for.”
    But FPTP where there are more than 2 parties is leading more and more to a situation where one party gets everything based on a minority of the vote while the majority – who voted for other parties – gets absolutely nothing. It’s the late Lord Hailsham’s ‘Elective Dictatorship’ – e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elective_dictatorship

  • On an ‘independent’ Scotland, Burke’s, ” good men to do nothing” comes to mind…

    The SNP just need to “do nothing”….Five years of May’s ‘vision of Britain will make a vote on independence a certainty….

  • Willie’s right. As a supporter of devolution and the Scottish Parliament, I’d like to see our politicians at Holyrood do what they are paid to do, and to work to use the powers already available to them to improve the lives of ordinary Scots. Instead, the separatists are ignoring those obligations to treat their positions as a convenient campaigning tool for their ultimate goal of independence.

    We shouldn’t fall into their trap, but I urge the non-Scottish LibDems to please be a bit less flippant with the future of Scotland. If you think Brexiteers were naive to believe that leaving the EU would be easy, and we’d suddenly be richer, then why believe the Scottish nationalists when they say the same?

    Of course Scottish nationalists will be against a referendum on the terms of Brexit, because that would set a precedent. Scottish Nationalists, like Brexiteers, ran a campaign of blaming Westminster/Brussels and talking about taking back control, with those who questioned whether we’d really be better off on our own dismissed as unpatriotic and/or quislings.

    I had hoped that Scotland would be healing by now, but politics is still dominated by separating people into Nationalists and Unionists, and everything else, such as the education of our children, is less important. Child poverty seems to be a price some Scots are prepared to pay, so long as it helps the long-term goal of separation. Keeping things bad means keeping the leverage for damaging constitutional change.

    Of particular concern to me, the sectarianism that was dwindling, and mainly restricted to parts of the West coast, has reappeared with bells on, and shows no sign of dwindling so long as there is the threat/promise of another referendum on the way. At the local elections it was clear that many voters wanted to first know the views of candidates on Scottish independence before deciding whether they’d be any good at organising bin collections.

  • “There is actually very little appetite, even from some who voted remain last time, to go through another european referendum. The divisions from that time are only just starting to heal for some.”

    Scottish party is gifting our opponents nationally this very line.

  • Nonconformistradical, could be an argument for French style second ballot or extending supplementary vote to Westminster elections?

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