Scotland results open thread

The current state of play in Scotland is that the SNP is well ahead and will be forming the next government. We don’t know yet whether they will get an overall majority on their own or will need to rely on the Greens for support.

The Lib Dems ended last night on 4 constituency MSPs, with absolutely stonking victories by Willie Rennie and Alex Cole-Hamilton. Alex got the highest ever vote of any MSP in the history of the Scottish Parliament, a record that Willie had previously held for a few minutes yesterday afternoon.

These are huge personal votes of confidence in our amazing MSPs.

Today we learn if we are going to get any list seats. We need 5 MSPs to be counted as a parliamentary group. We made it by the skin of our teeth last time. It’s going to be a stressful day.  We’ll keep you updated but there is unlikely to be any news until much later in the day – late afternoon, early evening.

I will be spending the day at my count in Almond Valley. We got 2.9% in 2016, so actually keeping my deposit would be a major achievement. We just missed out on that yesterday in the other West Lothian seat in Linlithgow where we went up 1.1% to 4.5%.

See you later with some more news…

Well, it wasn’t to be. Rosemary Bruce, our top of the list candidate didn’t make it. We only got 400 or so less votes than  in 2016, but it wasn’t enough.  Then, our 18,444 votes were enough to get Mike Rumbles elected. Today, our 18,051 was about 4700 votes short.

There is not that much change in the look of the new Scottish Parliament. The SNP is up 1, the Tories stay the same, Labour are down 2, the Greens are up 3 and we are down 1.

This means that there is a bigger majority for an independence referendum. It was this subject which dominated Nicola Sturgeon’s speech this evening. But, actually, more people voted for the parties which don’t support independence. I don’t call them unionist parties, because we aren’t unionists. We are federalists.

Lib Dems will no longer be considered a group so they won’t get things like guaranteed First Minister’s Questions slots or be on the Parliamentary Bureau.

After the highs of such convincing constituency victories yesterday, this outcome is heartbreaking.

When you have a crap campaign, the bad result is understandable. It’s ever easy, but you understand why.

In this campaign, we delivered more leaflets than ever before in more places. And they were good quality and had fantatsically positive messages.

So understanding why we had such a good campaign and still lost a seat will be a job for the General Election Review to address.

 

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

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53 Comments

  • Brad Barrows 8th May '21 - 1:46pm

    It looks as though there will be a clear parliamentary majority elected on manifesto pledges of supporting a new independence referendum so by any democratic standard that constitutes a clear mandate. Though the constitution is a reserved matter and not in the Scottish Parliament’s competence, this may not prevent a referendum being held on whether the people support the Scottish Government embarking on negotiations on securing an independence settlement – the UK government may go to the Supreme Court to try to stop such a consultative referendum but they may lose. Interesting times.

  • Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that people who like how she’s handled COVID, but don’t want a referendum or independence should vote for her anyway. Focus group data shows that a decent chunk of people voting SNP are doing so because they don’t expect Sturgeon to hold a referendum.

    The Greens said that people who support environmental policies but don’t want a referendum should vote for them.

    So even if the SNP and Greens get the majority of votes, it’s incorrect to assume they all voted for a referendum. Though the SNP and Greens will act as if they never said those things.

    Then again, the SNP promised class sizes would be reduced to 18, that they’d scrap Council Tax and put hospital waiting time limits into law, and they’ve failed to follow through on those. Not to mention the “Once in a generation” claim in the 2014 White Paper, which was repeated during the campaign, except those times it was altered to “Once in a Lifetime”, so perhaps it’s the voters, not the politicians to blame if people believe SNP pre-election promises.

    It is likely that the SNP and Greens will get a majority of seats, but it’s not certain they’ll get a majority of votes. Between that and polls showing support for a referendum and independence comfortably below 50% it would be reckless to waste time on it – though I accept the media find it appealing as those stories get more clicks for less work that reports on botched ferry contracts.

    The bit about the UK government going to the Supreme Court is pure SNP propaganda. They don’t have the power to hold a referendum, so the onus would be on them to challenge the UK government in court if they wished to do so. I don’t think they have any plan to do so – it’s all about making noise to sustain the culture of grievance that keeps them in jobs and stops them being held to account.

  • Here we go again!
    Fiona – and not all Lab abs other voters are against a referendum on independence, so I don’t know what substance your point has. I get it, it’s really contorted for ‘liberals’ and ‘democrats’ to have to argue against a democratic device (referendum). But please, if you’re going to pin credibility on a point that’s devastating to the referendum argument please try to at least find one that has some traction.

    I’ve just overheard Christine Jardine opining on this on tv – I really did think she was a Tory until they put her particulars up.

    My last point – remember how really angry many people were when denied a referendum about Maastricht …. keep denying democracy through dissembling and it will ultimately be the worse for the conservative Unionist position.

  • Fiona – sorry but hasn’t the SNP already bloodied Boris’ nose at the Supreme Court an LD also thereby established recent precedent for the Claim of Right? You remember, the illegal use of the prorogue? I’d advise gently and very kindly to be sure that anyone arguing with the snp on the constitution and Scots Law is fully briefed. Personally I am just in favour of the Scots Parliament finding reason to dissolve the Act of Union and moving on, in which case I’ll be able to rejoin a party in the liberal tradition 🙂

  • @fiona

    “The bit about the UK government going to the Supreme Court is pure SNP propaganda. They don’t have the power to hold a referendum, so the onus would be on them to challenge the UK government in court if they wished to do so.”

    That’s a bit askew as far as the constitutional position is concerned.

    The Scottish Parliament can pass legislation as long as it considers it to be within its competence which the SNP and Scottish Greens will consider to be the case. The sponsoring minister has to confirm that they consider a bill to be within the competence of the SP. The Presiding Officer has to give an opinion as well and may demur but the Parliament is under no obligation to follow the PO’s view.

    If the SP pass the legislation, the UK Government law officers then have 4 weeks before Royal Assent to challenge in the UK Supreme Court the competence of the SP to pass the legislation.

    If the UK Government does not challenge, the law is enacted.

    So the UK Government will have to decide whether to try to overrule Scottish democracy in the UK courts and of course the British nationalist parties in Scotland, including the Scottish Lib Dems, will need to decide whether to support that.

    The other option for the UK Government would be pre-emptive Westminster legislation passed by MPs representing English constituencies to change the Scotland Act again to overrule Scottish democracy.

  • Sir John Curtice projection gives the Lib Dems 4 seats in all, falling one short of the number required to be recognised by the Holyrood Business Bureau ( if so, no automatic questions at FMQs etc)

  • John Peters 8th May '21 - 4:47pm

    @JohnMc
    Perhaps go to the polls with a revoke strategy? What could go wrong.

    The SNP seem to be good at dangling the carrot of independence (14 years now and counting). Pity their delivery falls so far short.

  • Bbc are predicting that the SNP will win with 63 seats with the Tories second, Labour third, greens fourth and Lib Dems with 4 seats… (hope that’s wrong). Not sure why John C has a beef with Fiona, but in regards to votes so far cast…. Pro Union parties are winning. Trouble is the pro vote is split three ways, whilst the nationalist votes are split two. If you take Molly for example, if more labour and tory voters had voted tactically… Then she would have got in handsomely. JohnMc you can either be in the tent pissing out or out of the tent pissing in. If you want change then rejoin the party. I have just done so, realised who my passion is with and I to want a Liberal party of old and happy to work for it.

  • Bbc are predicting that the SNP will win with 63 seats with the Tories second, Labour third, greens fourth and Lib Dems with 4 seats… (hope that’s wrong). Not sure why John C has a beef with Fiona, but in regards to votes so far cast…. Pro Union parties are winning. Trouble is the pro vote is split three ways, whilst the nationalist votes are split two. If you take Molly for example, if more labour and tory voters had voted tactically… Then she would have got in handsomely. JohnMc you can either be in the tent or out of the tent. If you want change the direction then rejoin the party. I have just done so, realised who my passion is with and I to want a Liberal party of old and happy to work for it.

  • Brad Barrows 8th May '21 - 5:09pm

    Current prediction is that the Liberal Democ rats may fall to only 4 MSPs which would mean they would lose their party status in the Scottish Parliament. This could mean that Willie Rennie (or his successor if he decides to stand down) would not automatically get the chance to ask questions at a First Minister Question Time.

  • Jason Pitts 8th May '21 - 5:22pm

    There are many Lib Dem voters who would vote for an independent Scotland in a referendum, I know some who moved up their from England. The SNP is a national party not a nationalist one in that it is outward looking, inclusive and non xenophobic so the usual critique of right wing nationalism does not apply to them.

  • john oundle 8th May '21 - 7:33pm

    JohnMc

    ‘My last point – remember how really angry many people were when denied a referendum about Maastricht …. keep denying democracy through dissembling and it will ultimately be the worse for the conservative Unionist position.’

    Remember a leader of a party that wanted to cancel the result of a referendum in 2019?

  • @Jason – Nicola Sturgeon has spoken to the SNP conference, opening her speech with “Fellow Nationalists”. I appreciate she’s toned that down now that they are distancing themselves from the term, but that is what they are.
    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/nationalist

    @Dan – John has beef with me because he’s here to campaign for independence. His posts on this article and previous have made it clear he’s no fan of the Libdems. Like most LibDems, I welcome a range of views, and this site isn’t exclusively for LibDem members/supporters, but most who want to use it to campaign have the gumption to pretend to be sympathetic towards the party as a whole.

    On the constituency vote at least, 48% of the votes have gone to ‘pro nationalist’ parties. If any people who are sympathetic to independence voted for us, then it’s because they don’t want a referendum within the lifetime of this parliament.

    It’s a shame we lost our NE list seat. Rosemary was a superior candidate to Mike IMO, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have known she were standing if I’d not gone looking. I’m not in Aberdeen, where I expect most activity took place and COVID didn’t help with campaigning across such a large region and attention invested in tactical voting in seats where we weren’t a factor.

    I read that it’s at the discretion of the Presiding Officer whether or not to treat a group of 4 MSPs as a party. It would seem churlish not to when there would be no more parties than last time and it’s likely that when all votes are tallied we’ll have more than the Greens. The SNP may think that a bit of backlash is worth it if they see a long term advantage in diminishing our voice at Holyrood. IMO It would be worth getting legal advice.

  • 4 seats is a very disappointing result overall. Especially when you consider that we got 5 in the middle of the coalition and again right after it.

    The problem we have in Scotland is that our strategy in the last few elections has (understandably perhaps) focused on retaining the held seats.

    We’ve hardly campaigned at all elsewhere and it’s come to the stage today where we’ve lost our deposit in previously held seats. You can’t win lost votes with effectively no votes in 90% of the constituencies.

  • Jim Alexander 8th May '21 - 8:53pm

    Maybe rather than be debating Indy2 as its a Lib Dem forum maybe people should be asking why outside a few Historical Liberal Strongholds the party of become an irrelevance in Scotland

  • Alex Macfie 8th May '21 - 9:10pm

    John oundle; Remember every opposition leader who wanted to cancel the result of the previous general election?

  • George Thomas 8th May '21 - 10:43pm

    One journalist tweeted today that “maybe it would be better for the UK government to persuade the Scottish people to remain, rather than force them to.”

    Currently Tories in Westminster and now in Scotland gain support every time they speak out against independence vote – including threats to deny the possibility – but at the same time their policies push voters to become sympathetic to the idea. It’s now at the point where it’s the equivalent of FPtP in that it’s blatantly bad for the UK as a whole but fantastic for Tories so why should they stop?

    Scotland needs to be able to accomplish vast majority of what it wants to do without leaving the UK and that should include a much closer relationship with the EU than the one being sought currently – a positive case for staying in the UK. Tories are the biggest political threat to the continuation of the union and that should be said far more often.

  • Graham Evans 9th May '21 - 6:49am

    @ Jim Alexander Your concept of history must be a few short years because the only historic seats still held by the Liberal Democrats is Orkney and Shetland. Edinburgh West was a safe Conservative seat from 1931 till 1997. North East Fife was created in 1983, and only won in 1987, but the last time a Liberal represented the former seat of East Fife was 1929!

  • I’m not a Lib-dem (actually I’m a Green), but I am contributing because I do value the distinct liberal voice in politics. But in this election I often didn’t hear it. Tuning into Good Morning Scotland it was often hard to spot the clear difference between what the Lib-dem was saying and what the Labour rep or even the SNP rep u till they mentioned in Independence) was saying. Partly this may be due to other parties moving onto what had been Lib-dem territory, but it seemed to me to mean that there was nothing distinctive about the party. Sure you had some good policies in particular areas – but if Anas or Nicola had said them rather than Willie would they have looked out of place? So the question I would ask going forward is what are the things only a Lib-dem would say?

  • We do need to be more distinctive as a party. For example we should be saying that Boris has disrespected the Scottish voice over Europe and should now devolve powers to enable Scotland to pick its own relationship with the EU. This would be a clever move as it would appeal to a large number of people in Scotland who are angry Remainers whilst putting Sturgeon in a very difficult position of having to deal with the same NI border problem in Scotland….

  • Brad Barrows 9th May '21 - 8:40am

    @Christian
    The Liberal Democrats could not make the case that Scotland’s voice has been disrespected because, as a Unionist Party, it does not acknowledge that Scotland voted to Remain in the EU – it argues that it was a UK wide vote and Scotland has to just accept it. I also find it sad that the Liberal Democrats is so blinded by its Unionism that it is unwilling to even acknowledge that the pro-independence side has just won a democratic mandate for a new independence referendum. I expect the Liberal Democrats will just continue to lose votes and elected representatives going forward.

  • Well it was a bad night for us. We had higher expectations because we had a good leader, good leaflets with a clear message “put recovery first”.
    The problem is that we were squeezed between the forces of nationalism and the union. And on the union side we are the weakest of 3 parties except in a handful of seats. It is what it is.

    And yes we are against independence because Scotland has been part of the UK for over 300 years. Politically economically and socially we have more in common than differences.

    Also if we believe Brexit was bad economically of course separation will also be bad. More trade barriers, a branch economy, a higher deficit and no certainty wrt to our currency. No thanks.

  • John Marriott 9th May '21 - 9:20am

    Interesting comment from former SNP politician, Stephen Gethins, now a Professor of something in Scotland. Speaking on LBC (my ‘wake up’ noise), when asked whether the final result north of the border really signified a call for independence, he made that point that, had the election had been exclusively FPTP, that majority might have been much greater. It wasn’t and, given the high turnout, the result was probably a much fairer indication of the state of play.

    I could add more. After all, in most of the elections in England last week, given the low turnouts, quite a few councils and councillors owe their success to a minority of votes overall. We view the General Elections of 1997 and 2019 as ‘landslides’; but, in PR terms, were they really?

    If we accept that Labour and the Tories ‘won’ then, we should surely accept that ‘independence’ won in Scotland at this point in time. So, give the residents of Scotland another referendum; but, instead of just a Yes or No, make sure that ‘Devo Max’ appears as a third alternative on the ballot paper!

  • Peter Martin 9th May '21 - 9:25am

    ” …. Scotland’s voice has been disrespected because, as a Unionist Party, it does not acknowledge that Scotland voted to Remain in the EU ”

    London also voted to Remain in the EU. Does this mean the UK has ‘disrespected’ London too?

    The Scots can’t have it both ways. If they voted in 2014 to Remain in the UK they can’t then expect that every other person in the UK shouldn’t have an equal say with them. Whether or not it goes your way, this is how it has to be.

  • Doug – the Lib Dems did indeed have a clear message of “put recovery first”. But that was exactly the same message as the two bigger unionist parties. Without a distinctive message why would anyone vote for you rather than them – unless you happen to be in one of the 4/73s of Scotland where Lib-dems have an incumbent MSP?

  • Peter Watson 9th May '21 - 9:38am

    @Peter Martin “If they voted in 2014 to Remain in the UK they can’t then expect that every other person in the UK shouldn’t have an equal say with them.”
    We shouldn’t forget that almost 1 in 3 Scots who voted in 2016 did support Brexit, but at the time I wondered what would happen if the Scottish Remain vote was large enough to keep the UK in Europe: would the Tory/UKIP Brexiters be quite so keen on the Union?

  • John Peters 9th May '21 - 9:49am

    @Peter Watson

    I think you will find that English Tories (I am one) are pretty neutral about Scottish independence, having no great feelings either way. That is certainly my view. It is a matter for the Scots alone.

    I do think it needs to be resolved and a new referendum will close the matter. I doubt the SNP want a referendum. They are in exactly the same position they were in in 2016. Lots of blather, no action.

  • David Evans 9th May '21 - 10:15am

    The results in Scotland are almost universally bad. Four seats held, but the NE Scotland Top up lost to the Greens, and in every seat held, a massively lower vote for the party (in the regional list) than for the individual (in the constituency). Molly did well in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross but too few Conservatives switched to us to keep the SNP out.

    Almost everywhere else our vote share fell and we dropped behind other parties in the pecking order (except where we had totally collapsed already).

    The party is in a mess and no-one seems to want to face up to it.

  • Many cases here of ‘the tail wanting to wag the dog’…4 seats is not good no matter how you spin it…
    I can undestand reasons for not wanting an independent Scotland but not for denying a referendum when parties who have made no secret of their intention win a majority (despite tactical unionist voting being the reason that the SNP failed to win an outright majority in a system designed to prevent such)…
    The fact that this party wanted an ‘immediate’ re-run of the UK/EU ref. (and then to cancel it) makes the expression about ‘glass houses’ an understatement..

  • Peter Martin 9th May ’21 – 9:25am:
    The Scots can’t have it both ways. If they voted in 2014 to Remain in the UK they can’t then expect that every other person in the UK shouldn’t have an equal say with them. Whether or not it goes your way, this is how it has to be.

    Indeed. The question on the ballot paper was this…

    Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

    All of us were asked to make a decision for the United Kingdom as a whole.

    Peter Watson 9th May ’21 – 9:38am:
    We shouldn’t forget that almost 1 in 3 Scots who voted in 2016 did support Brexit,…

    Also, over 20% more Scots voted for Scotland to remain in the UK than voted for the UK to remain in the EU (2,001,926 votes to 1,661,191 votes).

  • Mark, I agree we didn’t have a distinctive message, and also as the weakest of the 3 unionist parties we squeezed in all but 5 constituencies. However I said it is what is. I mean give our position even with a more distinctive message and let’s say 1 billion focus leaflets we would still have been squeezed.

    We are not strong enough to set the agenda but obviously the next big turning points will be indyref2. If scotland did become independent then I suspect we would gain more votes since we could recover those liberals that favour independence and of course there would be less reason for nationalist to give the greens their second vote. Tempting but I would prefer to stay part of the UK as I described above.

    In the meantime as you suggest all we can do is try and promote a more distinctive image based on liberal values at least to attract more members if not voters. It would certainly help if our leadership promoted more balance and compromise. Continual sniping at the SNP hasn’t exactly worked.

    Finally of course we should not oppose the right of the SNP to call another referendum, but imho we should oppose separation and their divide hateful politics which many people in England just dont appreciate.

  • George Thomas 9th May '21 - 3:10pm

    Until it’s recognised that Tories in Westminster are as big a threat to union as the SNP (if not more so) then it will be extremely difficult for Libs or Labour to win a majority in Westminster and extremely difficult for any other unionist party to cut through in Scotland.

    I wonder how many conservative voters are unionist voters in reality? Wasn’t there a poll that showed majority were willing to lose Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales from the UK if it meant getting brexit done? And currently very few people in mainland UK care about what is happening in Northern Ireland.

  • @ John Marriott. Stephen is not a professor of something or other. He is Professor of International relations at the ancient university of St Andrews, currently ranked above Oxford in the ratings but, you will be pleased to know, narrowly just behind Cambridge in the ratings. I have to declare an interest.

  • It is worth viewing the Wikipedia ‘Opinion polling on Scottish independence’ to see why Nicola Sturgeon is unlikely to call an Independence Referendum any time soon:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_on_Scottish_independence

    Even though the Scottish electorate obviously wants her as their First Minister – it is far from certain that they would support Independence if a referendum were held – in fact, as things stand presently, the reverse is more likely.

    NS cannot afford to hold a referendum and loose – this is Boris Johnson’s ideal scenario as he would not have to stir up nationalist ire by refusing to act on its outcome and why Gove did not imply that the UK government would ban such an event when he was on Marr’s show yesterday.

    NS will of course keep raising the issue of a referendum as this keeps her in the spotlight and as a continuing irritant to BJ – but she knows that if she does hold a referendum and looses she will be a spent force and will not be able to raise the issue again – this time probably for a generation.

    The change in the popularity for independence seemed to take place after NS’s interview with Andrew Marr which highlighted the fact that a hard border with England would be required if Scotland joined the EU and the ramifications of this. Also he raised the issue of a financial loss to each Scot of something like £3000 each if Scotland left the UK.

  • Johnroffey, as is common with many a Home Counties Lib Dem, forgets that Scots also pay income tax, vat, corporation tax etc., these contributions help to pay for HS2 £ 100 billion and rising, cross rail £ 20 billion and rising Plus Trident which I for one don’t want and will get no benefit from. They also forget that Holyrood doesn’t have borrowing powers which sovereignty would bring.

    I’m afraid the Scottish Lib Dem leadership seems to have gone down the Unionist rabbit hole and embraced Conservative domination of the Uk.

  • John Roffey 10th May '21 - 1:44pm

    David: There are many English voters who are against HS2, CrossRail and Trident – so I do not see that this argument has much validity.

    I do agree that the Scottish Lib/Dems – and the whole Party for that matter – do themselves no favours by following Tory policy – they need a distinct policy of their own. However, in my view this should be that any referendum on independence would require a 60% majority at least to be successful – as significant constitutional changes require in the US Senate. It seems to me that the SNP are trying to take unfair advantage of a shoddy piece of legislation.

    It is presently accepted that should a Scottish independent referendum succeed by just a handful of votes – that would lead to independence – a permanent change. This appears extremely hard on Unionists who within a short time of independence may once again become the majority – with no built in mechanism to return the nation to being part of the UK – should this be the case. A 60% majority is likely to ensure that there remains a majority for this change for at least a generation.

    I do believe that this should have applied to the Brexit referendum – however, the polls that I have seen show that the majority of ‘Remainers’ have now become ‘Leavers’ as a result of the EU’s shoddy vaccination program.

    Perhaps this is a case where the rogues are politicians living in Scotland rather than London – as was the case when Robbie Burns wrote his beautiful poem in 1791 regarding the event that occurred about 100 years earlier.

  • nvelope2003 10th May '21 - 2:44pm

    I don’t think Boris Johnson cares if Scotland leaves the UK. He sees that Nationalism helps to keep keep the SNP in power whatever they do and expects that it will keep the Conservatives in power now they have the support of many traditional Labour supporters. If Scotland goes they will not have to worry about losing an election as there will soon be only a small opposition. Labour might be rejected in England as it has been in Scotland.

  • John Barrett 10th May '21 - 3:00pm

    Most comments about the Scottish result above and in the media say that the people of Scotland are split 50-50, for and against Independence.

    Actually following the recent election, the people of Scotland are actually split equally; one third for independence, one third against and one third who did not express their opinion, as they did not vote.

    It cannot be assumed that the one third, who did not vote, would support either, or neither, of the alternatives on offer, but someone in the media or the political arena, hopefully with a strong voice, must start to point out to Nicola Sturgeon that the election result does not mean the pro-independence parties speak for the people of Scotland, when in fact they speak for one third of the voters.

    Nicola Sturgeon often uses the word “absurd” to describe the possibility of the UK Government denying the SNP and the people of Scotland another referendum. I would suggest that it is equally absurd to think she has been given a mandate to move towards taking the people of Scotland out of the UK with the support of one third of the voters.

  • @John Barrett

    “I would suggest that it is equally absurd to think she has been given a mandate to move towards taking the people of Scotland out of the UK with the support of one third of the voters.”

    The manifesto commitments of the SNP and the Scottish Green Party were that in the course of this parliament the voters of Scotland should have the ability to decide whether to remain in the UK following the material change of circumstances of Brexit (and the consequent ongoing destruction of devolution) or to become independent.

    The voters of Scotland using a quasi proportional voting system have elected 72 MSPs on those manifestos which is a majority of 15 (about 12% of the Scottish Parliament so equivalent to a 78 seat majority in the House of Commons).

    The question now for the unionist parties in Scotland including the Liberal Democrats and the UK Government is whether they accept and respect parliamentary democracy in Scotland or not. If not, the question then becomes what is the peaceful democratic route for the 50% or so of Scottish voters from polling who currently want independence?

  • @ John Roffey With respect, John, it was you who raised the issue of the Barnett formula. The equivalent of ‘sending shedloads of money over the border’ (a Farage quote) comment came from you. My point is it’s more complicated than that given Holyrood doesn’t have borrowing powers.

    I don’t recall anyone putting a 60% threshold on the Brexit vote so any attempt to do that now in Scotland will be seen for what it is. Just forget it. In the last four years the Lib Dems have tied themselves in knots supporting and then not supporting referenda unless it suits their immediate short term purposes.

    As an Englishman living in Scotland I’ve got used to hearing patronising comments about Scotland’s ability to run itself from south of the border. Look at New Zealand, Denmark and Ireland if you want examples of countries of a similar size that function perfectly well running themselves without all the Imperialist posturing of Johnsonian indulgence when he is economical with the exactitude and with his Churchillian fantasies of ‘the flag and greatness’. Holyrood has much more democratic authenticity than Westminster given the current electoral systems.

    Yes I do know some Rabbie Burns and you mischaracterise him. Read ‘A Man’s a Man for a’ that’ to see what’s wrong with the English establishment and the politicians (including some Lib Dems) who scurry after honours and knighthoods.

    ‘The parcel of rogues’ back in 1707 had no democratic mandate other than their own small selfish interests. Don’t muddle them up with a sophisticated modern country well capable of running itself in a more socially democratic/internationalist way than what emanates from gun boat diplomacy Westminster – including alas the stuff that came out in 2010-15 with Lib Dem participation.

    As a Liberal for near on 60 years I can see why the party has withered and died in Scotland and lost its radical cutting edge to the Scottish Greens.

  • John Roffey 10th May '21 - 4:44pm

    David: I am not doubting Scotland’s ability to govern itself and it is very likely fervent nationalists would much prefer self government – even if their standard of living dropped significantly. However, I do believe that it is shoddy legislation that allows nationalists to create a permanent split on the basis of a tiny majority – a minimum 60% majority at least would, in my view, be seen as a sound judgement along with a distinct policy for the Party.

    Since the Lib/Dems were against Brexit, it would allow them to advance this policy based on a fairly close ‘leave’ victory on the grounds that many Remainers still do not accept the result. If the victory had been above 60% – it would be very difficult not to do so.

    I did know that the 1707 circumstances were of quite a different magnitude compared to today, but this version of the song continues to be one of my favourite pieces – and I could not resist the temptation :-).

    From what I have read it appears that BJ is concerned that the Union is not broken on his watch. Personally, I do believe there are defence implications that have not been highlighted sufficiently. The security of an island is that it is surrounded by a large expanse of water.

    If an island is divided – this security is lost. Much in the the same way that if a political party is divided in its opinions – it has little chance of success.

  • David Evans 10th May '21 - 4:56pm

    @David Raw – while agreeing with you on the facts of the Barnett formula, there are a lot of very relevant facts out there you are missing. One particular one you note is that Scotland doesn’t have borrowing powers, but of course, as we both know, neither does Cumbria, the North East, the North West , Yorkshire, the Midlands, the West country etc etc. None of them get extra for their services – indeed they get much less, because it is all sucked into the South East.

    That is why I as a Liberal am agin it.

  • Charles Smith 10th May '21 - 7:37pm

    Final results of Thursday’s election showed the SNP winning 64 of the 129 seats in the Edinburgh-based Scottish Parliament. The result extends the party’s dominance of Scottish politics since it first won power in 2007.

    Other results from Super Thursday’s array of elections across the U.K. emerged Saturday, including the Labour Party’s victory in the Welsh parliamentary election. Sadiq Khan, also from the Labour Party, was also widely expected to be reelected mayor of London.
    https://worldabcnews.com/scottish-national-party-wins-parliamentary-election-plans-2nd-referendum-on-independence/

  • John Roffey 10th May ’21 – 1:44pm:
    …in my view this should be that any referendum on independence would require a 60% majority at least to be successful…

    Referendums effectively already have a built-in super-majority in the form of Status Quo Bias. This is the disproportionate propensity for people to vote for things to remain the same…

    ‘Status Quo Bias in Decision Making’:
    https://ideas.repec.org/a/kap/jrisku/v1y1988i1p7-59.html

    Most real decisions, unlike those of economics texts, have a status quo alternative — that is, doing nothing or maintaining one’s current or previous decision. A series of decision-making experiments shows that individuals disproportionately stick with the status quo. Data on the selections of health plans and retirement programs by faculty members reveal that the status quo bias is substantial in important real decisions.

    ‘The Status Quo Bias in Direct Democracy: Empirical Results for Switzerland, 1981 – 1999’:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255596026_The_Status_Quo_Bias_in_Direct_Democracy_Empirical_Results_for_Switzerland_1981_-_1999

    …mobilisation is much more effective against than in favour of a proposal. This at least is clear evidence of a status quo bias in the Swiss political system. But it is open for discussion whether this bias should be evaluated positively or negatively.

    In any case, the Council of Europe’s (Venice Commission) Guidelines require referendums to use a simple 50%+1 majority for the reasons explained in their ‘Code of Good Practice on Referendums’:
    https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2007)008rev-cor-e

    The effect of Status Quo Bias on Referendums has been considered before on LDV…

    ‘How referendums are the most effective way to maintain the status quo & what it means for Lords reform’ [May 2012]:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/referendums-status-quo-house-of-lords-reform-28667.html

  • Thanks for that Jeff – however, the ramifications differ in each circumstance.

    Are you suggesting that previous discussions on LDV of a general nature, or even of a specific issue, prohibit further discussions indefinitely?

  • John Roffey 10th May ’21 – 10:23pm:
    Are you suggesting that previous discussions on LDV of a general nature, or even of a specific issue, prohibit further discussions indefinitely?

    Not at all. I was merely drawing attention to Steven Tall’s article, not least because of his informative research into previous UK referendums. I also thought it interesting that four years before the EU Referendum there was at least one person on here who was aware that, due to Status Quo Bias, a 51.9% vote to leave would be a safe decision.

    1. A good rule-of-thumb is that the public will vote for the status quo when asked in a referendum. Put simply, voters tend to dislike change (no matter what they may tell pollsters when asked an abstract question). It’s a variation, I suspect, on the ‘loss aversion’ explanation of human behaviour: people prefer to avoid losses than to make gains;
    2. The exceptions to this rule-of-thumb being when the change proposed in a referendum is backed by a coalition of most/all the major parties.

    And that leads me to the following tentative views on the two contentious issues currently the subject of debate on whether we should hold referendums to settle them… First, an in/out referendum on British membership of the European Union would almost certainly result in the ‘in’ side winning.

  • John Roffey 11th May '21 - 6:10am

    Jeff: With every respect to Steven Tall – it seems to me that in the case of both Brexit and a Scottish independence referendum – opinion is likely to flipflop between yes/no for some time after a referendum is held.

    To obtain a secure outcome – a 60% majority can be viewed as a responsible approach to the issue – as it would be a nonsense for referenda to be held every few years and their results acted upon.

    This is demonstrated by polls since we left the EU:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/987347/brexit-opinion-poll/

    It seems to me, from a Lib/Dem prospective – that thought should be given to the 60% majority concept – as it does seem a mature approach. It also separates the Party’s policy from that of the Tories – a policy that should prove popular among Unionists north of the border.

    Defence is an additional feature that might be highlighted – specifically the effect on the outcome of WW2 – if an independent Scotland had allied itself with Germany!

  • John Roffey. “If an independent Scotland had allied itself with Germany in WWll”.

    This is getting absurd. As a matter of fact Scotland had twice the number of combat casualties proportionately as England dId in WWll. And what stopped Canadians Australians New Zealander’s allying even though they had independent Dominion status ?

  • David Raw: I think you are aware that I was simply trying to demonstrate how the natural defences of an island can be lost – if administered by two unfriendly governments.

  • @ John Roffey “I think you are aware that I was simply trying to demonstrate how the natural defences of an island can be lost….. ”

    No, John, please stop digging. I don’t know what you were trying to demonstrate other than a vivid imagination and not paying heed to a democratic election outcome based on PR and universal suffrage from the age of 16….. something in short supply in the deepest south. In years gone by (when Liberals were radical) they would have given a positive welcome.

    PS. I can reassure you. To the best of my knowledge Jacobites have not seized Faslane and they don’t intend to sail Trident south to tie it up to Brighton pier – not yet.

  • John Roffey 11th May '21 - 5:09pm

    Did you see the lunchtime news David? When MPs from the Tories, Labour and the SNP were asked what they thought of the Queens Speech…

  • Is somebody going to dare mention the Aidrie by election yesterday. 1% of the vote for the party, even an SDP candfidate nealry got more than we did.
    Can anyone remember any results as bad as this?

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