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What now for Scotland?

(24 Posts)
Granny23 Wed 15-Jan-20 10:12:53

Boris Johnson has said that he will not grant a Section 30 order, mainly because AS and NS had 'promised' that the 2014 referendum would be a once in a lifetime/generation opportunity.

THIS from Fact Check

It is true that during the independence referendum campaign, both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon used the phrase “once in a lifetime opportunity” or “once in a generation opportunity” to define the political stakes facing the Scottish electorate.

Note the foreword written by Alex Salmond to the Scottish Government’s independence White Paper (Scotland’s Future, 26 November 2013): “The debate we are engaged in as a nation is about the future of all of us lucky enough to live in this diverse and vibrant country. It is a rare and precious moment in the history of Scotland - a once in a generation opportunity to chart a better way.”

However, it is abundantly clear from the context of this statement (and with others like it) that Salmond is not agreeing to some alleged, one-off constitutional device – to be used once then locked away in a cupboard for 40 years. Rather he is encouraging the Scottish electorate to seize a particular opportunity (“a rare and precious moment in the history of Scotland”) to oppose austerity and make a fairer Scotland.

Nothing in this statement suggests Salmond is agreeing to close down opportunities in the future to oppose austerity or Brexit, if necessary, and no reasonable person could read that into the quote.


The Scottish Government White Paper states: “It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.” Taken out of context, this could be read as the SNP Government agreeing that there could only be one referendum on independence for “a generation” (Scotland’s Future, Q&A 557). However, when read in context, the meaning is different.

The entire quote reads: “The Edinburgh Agreement states that a referendum must be held by the end of 2014. There is no arrangement in place for another referendum on independence. It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. This means that only a majority vote for Yes in 2014 would give certainty that Scotland will be independent”.

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Ian Murray's claim about independent Scotland joining the EU

In other words, the intent of this passage is to bring to the attention of the electorate that no arrangement had been sanctioned by the Conservative Government for another referendum – or for a dispute resolution mechanism. This lack of a procedure for a second consultation becomes crucial if the vote was disputed or very close.

So, the passage stands not as a timetable rejecting a second vote for a generation. Rather it is an explicit warning to pro-independence voters that securing a majority on September 18 was vital, least the constitutional question be kicked into touch by a London administration. The necessity for such a warning has been proven correct by subsequent events.


In fact, prior to the 2014 referendum, there was a very public debate on the constitutional propriety and political possibilities of a repeated vote – especially if the result of the September 18 poll was close. The day before the referendum, The Guardian published a long piece on the subject including interviews with Vernon Bogdanor, generally reckoned to be the foremost living scholar on the British constitution.

Bogdanor is research professor at the Institute for Contemporary British History at King's College London and Professor of Politics at the New College of the Humanities. He is also emeritus professor of politics and government at the University of Oxford and emeritus fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford.

According to The Guardian, Bogdanor thought “a second vote after a No was not impossible”. Bogdanor offered a variety of scenarios that could trigger a second referendum on independence. First, he suggested that if there was a close No in 2014 but the SNP won “a big majority in [the Holyrood elections] in 2016” (ie a mandate) then the first minister “could say there's an irresistible force in Scotland".

Second, Bogdanor proposed a novel scenario: "Suppose [independence] negotiations aren't complete by March 2016, and, in May 2016 suppose Labour or a Labour-LibDem coalition gets in [in Scotland], it might say the terms are unacceptable and there should be a second referendum”. In other words, the No side could trigger a second vote.

Bogdanor summed up the situation pithily: "As Disraeli said: 'Finality is not the language of politics.'" The point here is that the possibility of a second referendum was clearly aired prior to the September vote.


The legitimacy of a second referendum was originally supported by David Mundell while Secretary of State for Scotland in the Cameron Cabinet. On June 26 2016, he said: "If the people of Scotland ultimately determine that they want to have another [independence] referendum there will be one.” He added: "Could there be another referendum? The answer to that question is yes. Should there be another referendum? I believe the answer to that question is no." These remarks were made on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Politics show and subsequently widely reported in the UK press. Clearly at that point, the Secretary of State’s advice was that there was no “lifetime” or generational block on a second referendum.


On September 19 2014 – the day after the referendum - prime minister David Cameron announced that Lord Smith had agreed chair an all-party commission to decide on increased devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament; ie to implement the so-called “Vow” made by the leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties made on the eve of the referendum. On 27 November 2014 the Smith Commission published its consensus report.

Chapter 2, section 18 of the final report clearly states: “It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose”. This unanimous verdict of the Smith Commission was an implicit agreement that a second referendum vote was constitutionally valid. It is hard to see the necessity of publishing such a finding if the members of the Smith Commission – a bare two months after the first vote – thought the matter had been kicked into the long grass for a human lifetime to come.


Davidhs Wed 15-Jan-20 12:37:10

What a long post, if Scotland does get independence and that is not likely to happen in the next 5yrs, it will be just the start.
If they deviate too much from the rest of the UK there will have to be a border, is that really what they want.

If I had a vote I would say, go, have independence because I don’t believe it would make much difference to the rest of us. With the present Brexit changes it would be much more sensible to wait and see what deals are done, if the outcome is bad, campaign then for a referendum.

Granny23 Wed 15-Jan-20 13:44:25

Ah but David it is important that Scotland informs/proves to the EU that it is intent on dissolving the Union, during the Brexit Transition period. After all a large majority of Scottish voters voted to remain in the EU. If Scotland leaves or is on the point of leaving the UK during the transition period then it will remain a member of the EU, without the need to reapply.

jura2 Sun 19-Jan-20 12:27:38

And now Scotland has been told it would be completely excluded from any discussions on the future relationship with the EU. How discriminatory is that? And what a red rag to an angry bull?

Granny23 Sun 19-Jan-20 12:35:03

I find it incredibly difficult to understand How? Why? some people who describe themselves as "Proud Scots" can meekly accept being dictated too by this hostile Westminster Government.

Parsley3 Sun 19-Jan-20 13:06:52

I don’t think they are meekly accepting it, granny but biding their time until the outcome of Brexit is fully known and then a final decision will be made. It will take time but it needs to.
The Westminster Government poorly serves all of the UK and I don’t understand why England is not challenging this instead of putting the blame on the EU.

paddyanne Sun 19-Jan-20 14:29:42

Parsley3 can you give me your opinion on Lisa Nandy's statement about "looking to Spain for how to treat nationalists".Are you prepared to see thugs in uniforms beat innocent people just because they dont have the same political ideals as you...or see them thrown in jail for daring to want democracy to work FOR them? The evidence of the brutality against the people of Catalonia is overwhelming and shocking.Scotland is attempting Independence without blood being spilled...please dont stand back and watch Westminster send in thugs to spill it.Its not as if they haven't done it before to countries who wanted to throw off the shackles....Ireland for instance .I have that first hand from my granny .

Wheniwasyourage Sun 19-Jan-20 17:04:33

Welcome back, paddyanne!

It's disappointing to see that both Jess Philips and Lisa Nandy have very little knowledge of, or interest in, Scotland, when the Labour Party will need Scottish MPs if they ever hope to be in government in the UK again.

jura2 Wed 22-Jan-20 09:40:36

agreed paddyone, the prospect is dreadful.

As for Devolution - Ian Blackford is right in saying that Devolution has no meaning if the clear wishes of Scotland, NO and Wales are totally ignored- at the same time as shouting 'we have Democracy back'?

Jane10 Wed 22-Jan-20 11:01:55

Scotland has fallen down into the bottom half of the latest index of social and economic wellbeing. Below Eastern European countries like Estonia and the Czech republic.
That about sums up the reasons why the majority of Scots have no confidence in SNP based on its dismal record in government for more than a decade.

Parsley3 Wed 22-Jan-20 11:05:51

paddyanne my opinion on Lisa Nandy’s statement is the same as yours. She, like most non Scottish politicians, has no understanding of Scottish Independence. As I say, the Westminster Government serves no one well.
I am not standing back, far from it, and I am not meekly accepting anything. However, to my dismay, Brexit has to happen and when it has the case for independence will be clear and compelling.
And to be specific, so that there is no misunderstanding, I deplore what happened in Catalonia and Nandy’s ignorance is appalling.

paddyanne Wed 22-Jan-20 11:37:10

we are in the main "governed" by Westminster Jane 10......our devolved powers are limited so if we#re going down the pan because of budget limitations and being held back by the "scottish" office then things can and will improve when we can make our OWN decisions about our own country.Recently our answers to the escalating drug problem were thrown out by WM ...its their way and we have no choice and the same is the case in many instances .Scotland is the ONLY part of the DISunited kingdom that exports more than we import .Our GDP is many times that of England ,why do you think we cant survive and thrive without WM? Cant you see that the 10billion cost to us of HS2 and the cost of London Crossrail and London sewers and Big Ben etc etc etc are whats draining our recourses of fund that could be better used at home.Not spent on things MOST Scots wont ever see or use .THAT spending by WM is of course the reason for the GERS figures,its not our debt its the one they give us after spending our money !!

SirChenjin Wed 22-Jan-20 11:56:48

I stopped reading your post a few paragraphs in Granny - if you want people to engage copying and pasting screeds of text isn’t the way to go about it.

NS and AS used hyperbolic statements like ‘once in a generation’ in an attempt to galvanise support and rouse the army - it didn’t work because the arguments for independence didn’t stack up. Now they’re backtracking and trying to claim that wasn’t actually what they meant, when of course we’re all very aware that these are two politicians with a good grasp of the power of rhetoric and as such knew exactly what they were saying.

Going forward, they’d do well to listen to Jim Sillars who has rightly pointed out that until Brexit is through we have literally no idea what we’d (as in the majority of Scots who voted and still plan to vote no) be voting for in an independence referendum, and as such aren’t likely to change our minds and enter many more years of political and economic uncertainty and wrangling.

It’s not to say I don’t think independence is a possibility but the SNP have to get their house in order before I (and others) will vote yes. Establish exactly what Scotland’s position is with regards to EU membership and start to work on putting forward a realistic plan for economic independence - waving saltires and putting forward half baked suggestions for indicative referendums isn’t going to cut it.

Granny23 Wed 22-Jan-20 12:18:43

It is correct to point out that the vast majority of laws, finances, benefits, taxes, etc pertaining to Scotland are imposed from Westminster rather than Holyrood.

Today's news that Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff have ALL rejected Boris's Brexit Deal illustrates where the power lies. Another example is that the devolved governments (and LAs) are unable to set their budgets for the coming year timeously because Westminster has postponed their Budget announcement. The devolved powers have currently no idea how much their settlement for 2020/21 will be, nor what changes to UK wide expenditure/taxes they will need to factor in. Also the Brexit Deal would allow Westminster to claw back powers from the devolved parliaments.

How on earth are you supposed to plan ahead, set aside monies for future projects etc. when you are NOT in charge of your of your own money, cannot borrow, and must hand back any underspend?

paddyanne Wed 22-Jan-20 12:37:53

granny23 the head in the sands brigade cant see whats going on because they're so wrapped up in their beloved butchers apron and ANYTHING Westminster says MUST be true whereas those upstarts at Holyrood haven't a clue.....its the SNP BAD thing regardless of the good they've done in a decade.Think of the mess the labour party made here with PFI funded projects that have left councils paying huge portions of their budget on interest on buildings that will be demolished before they've been paid for.The equal pay fight for women when the unions funded Glasgow city council 's fight AGAINST paying equal pay ...for years .The bedroom tax that has been mitigated by the Holyrood government so people who NEED an extra room for a carer or medical equipment aren't financially punished ,Loads more the SNP have done that the unionosts choose to ignore.They also ignore the FACT that once we gain independence they can vote for a party of whatever persuasion they want ....even TORY ...because a Scottish tory will be accountable to SCOTTISH people not WESTMINSTER .Money isn't the main issue with independence but surely its clear we would be much better off not handing BILLIONS to WM to spend on English projects when it should be spent here .

SirChenjin Wed 22-Jan-20 13:10:38

OK - let's leave aside the insults and meaningless CAPITAL LETTERs for a second.

Under the 2016 changes the Barnett formula was guaranteed till 2022 so no reduction in funding. Furthermore of course, the SG has tax raising powers which it can use to raise funds as it sees fit - and they keep every penny of that (on top of the BF).

The SG does have the ability to borrow money under the terms of the settlement and any underspend does not have to be sent back (the significant amount of underspend is v clear).

According to the SH White Paper we should have - in an Indy Scotland - we should have had a ten billion tax take from oil revenues. If I’m not mistaken that figure is nearer 700 million.

What conversations has NS had with the EU? Has a pathway to membership been established in light of both Brexit and our deficit? I'm certainly not aware of anything - so either I'm not well informed, she's not communicated the outcome of this monumental meeting or there hasn't been one.

SueDonim Wed 22-Jan-20 13:20:27

I see we’re back to being shouted at on threads about Scotland. Persuading anyone of your case is never going to work by shouting at them. hmm

paddyanne Wed 22-Jan-20 14:45:19

Isee the weans belive that capital letters are shouting and not simply emphasising a point .Is't your child benefitting from free tuition at university/med school.Didn't you qualify for a bus pass at 60 are Nurses in Aberdeenshire not still getting bursaries and having them increased to £10,000 this year and much much more.Carers allowance -up Police and teachers pay -up far more than the rUK apprenticeships -up .A government who is looking out for all the people not just the top earners...

Riverwalk Wed 22-Jan-20 14:52:15

Granny23 when would you hope for another referendum to take place?

Presumably there would be a better chance of an Out vote once the reality of Brexit has taken hold.

SueDonim Wed 22-Jan-20 14:52:28

And NHS provision worsening, student debt tripled, eduction now going down the pan, roads in an appalling state.

My dd is thinking of taking her free education to England, where she’ll be paid more money and less tax.

SirChenjin Wed 22-Jan-20 14:54:16

Calling posters weans does you know favours paddyanne. If you want to have a rational, adult discussion about independence then fine, I’m happy to do that, but I won’t engage with silly insults.

janipat Wed 22-Jan-20 14:55:09

Internet etiquette is usually that putting a word in bold is emphasis, capital letters are shouting. Maybe some weans (or would that be posters ?) are just more polite than others.

Granny23 Wed 22-Jan-20 16:27:31

For goodness sake - The Devolved Governments are being ignored and stripped of their powers. Everyone now realises that Brexit is going to cause a decrease in living standards, shortages of essentials, and a drop in the UK's influence in the world, at least in the short term. Not to mention a massive rise in intolerance of anyone perceived as 'other'. We are at last realising that humankind is destroying our only home - The Earth. Meanwhile trying to come to terms with the enormous swing to the right in the UK.

And Gransnet's response? Endless threads where people tell us what THEY think the Royal Family THINK, A thread about an important topic which has been deleted because of a silly joke which generated umpteen posts branding a poster as racist, and here on this thread? Umbrage taken and a huge stooshy created because a poster used/uses CAPITALS to emphasise her point - a method approved by the stern women who taught me English Grammar, which predates any 'Internet Etiquette' trivia.

SirChenjin Wed 22-Jan-20 16:42:24

Maybe Gransnet isn’t for you if posters and posts don’t meet with your approval or irritate you as much as they appear to? I’m sure there are nationalist echo chambers somewhere you could post on.