… for a considerable time.
- Getting a proposal through Holyrood would be impossible without the support of the Greens, who’ve made it clear they’ll only support one if there’s a popular demand, which there isn’t – see 9. below.
- Neither the UK government or parliament are likely to agree to another referendum given the binding Edinburgh Agreement in which both sides said they’d respect the once in a generation opportunity.
- In the highly unlikely event that they did agree it, the UK would most likely insist on some changes to the 2014 arrangement e.g. different wording/question; no EU citizens to have the vote, a threshold before any vote would be admissible etc. etc. None of these would play to the separatists’ hand.
- Without UK agreement to another referendum, the only chance of a democratic test of the appetite for separation would be an informal referendum which would be challenged every step of the way up to the supreme court.
- ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ None of the economic fundamentals that played such a big part in the defeat of separation in 2014 have improved, some have got worse, notably offshore oil and gas. Most people are not stupid and if they don’t know this now they would soon become aware of it in any referendum campaign.
- Scotland’s public finances would be stuffed. We are, in effect, subsidised to the extent of £9 billion a year by the UK Treasury (the so-called ‘effective fiscal transfer’). The SNP have no plan to replace that sum or explain which taxes would have to be raised or public services cut to plug the hole.
- The EU membership the SNP so crave is not a foregone conclusion and would most likely be extremely challenging to achieve (check Spain/Catalonia, Belgium/Flanders …).
- EU membership would bring with it unpalatable commitments – on the Euro and the reduction of Scotland’s deficit. What currency would Scotland use until it got sucked into the Eurozone?
- Despite the SNP being in power at Holyrood since 2010 they have still not persuaded a majority of Scots to want separation. Indeed, the polls on Yes/No have shown a continuing trend away from Yes since 2014:
Wiser heads in the SNP will understand all this, whatever they say in public, where they need to keep the pot of discontent simmering.
Less wise heads will understand none of it and will fall into the classic trap of confusing noise and flag waving with majority support for their minority opinion.
Footnote: I’d recommend And another thing to see the excellent Ian Smart’s creative and eminently sensible proposal for the UK government to stop another separation referendum in its tracks.