The next indyref will be absolutely fascinating and totally unlike the contest last time. Last time the unionists managed to ensure that the debate remained a choice between a ‘safe’ ‘continuity’ UK  which they successfully were able to contrast against the ‘uncertainties’ of a future independent Scotland. What was scrupulously avoided was any examination of the risks associated with remaining in the UK. The risks, as we now know, are manifest and an impending reality. Out of the EU, endless Tory rule, billions taken out of our economy, the probable need for visas to travel, a collapsing pound and the flight of business. The staying in the union was then not the risk free option that was so craftily presented.


This is a trick that won’t be afforded to the union side next time round. Brexit has completely turned that on its head. There will be no seamless continuity choice and both sides in the next referendum debate will have to present/defend an opportunity/risk option. Scotland will have to choose on the basis of whether we believe that we will be better off in the new Brexitised UK or an independent Scotland with the risks/opportunities of determining our own future.

Already the Brexit option is becoming more apparent. We now know we will be out of the single market and customs union and that we will end freedom of movement. There are now hints that if/when we don’t get the deal that we want with the rest of the EU we may become some sort of offshore deregulated tax haven. This is going to be difficult to sell in Scotland particularly when it will have to fall upon the Scottish Conservatives to put this case. There is no doubt that the Scottish Conservatives will lead the unionist side in the next referendum. After being enthusiastic Europeans the Scots Tories will now have to sell the virtues of this new isolated Britain. The Scots Tories running the union campaign will also inevitably mean they will bring their own particular political values to the campaign, particularly when there is absolutely no prospect of a Labour Government in the UK. It will increasingly be a Tory union verses a future social democratic Scotland with a Scottish Labour party on the wrong side of this political divide, rendering themselves almost irrelevant.

Scottish Labour Party Leader Johann Lamo

There is already alarm at how the next indyref will be fought from unionists conscious of the coming contest. The attempt to suggest that we will be cut off from the UK ‘single market’ and we will be ‘doubly’ worse off in leaving the UK is their favourite early desperate salvos in a attempt to fruitlessly rerun the economic arguments of the last indyref. They know, though, that ‘economic uncertainty’ will work both ways this time round as we see the ‘real’ evidence of an economy tanking with the prospects of its looming economic isolation.

There is also the key question of what type of country we will want to be? An independent Scotland will now be very different beast from a Brexitised UK. The Faragists and rightist Tories having won the terms of our departure from the EU are now carefully assembling the social agenda of this new UK. It will be one of antipathy to ‘foreigners’, weird nostalgia with a healthy dose of economic chauvinism. Shunned by the EU these Brexiteers are likely to seek solace in a Trumpian embrace. A Brexitised UK pulling away politically, economically and culturally can only seek some sort of new accommodation with this strange new president.

The choice this time will then be huge with massively contrasting options available. The Scottish people will be invited to scrutinise precisely the details of remaining in the UK just as they will consider what would be involved in securing full self Government. We will also have to properly consider what sort of Scotland we want to be. It is going to be so different from last time, as will the outcome.


  1. David McCloskey

    Totally agree, but unless we challenge the media and its blatant union bias and ability to influence the uninformed then we will have a fight on our hands again. Further, the conduct of the vote and counting of the votes needs radically revised with postal voting only authorised when countersigned by a medical professional, police officer or travel agent with supporting documentation.

  2. Peter A Bell

    Pete Wishart is undoubtedly correct when he says that the next independence referendum will not resemble the first one. But his analysis may not go far enough. He notes the economic, social and cultural impact of Brexit on Scotland, and the fact that Scotland is almost certainly going to be subject to an imposed right wing Westminster regime for as far into that dismal future as anybody can look without risking their mental wellbeing.

    He recognises that Ruth Davidson has won the contest to be ‘Queen of the British Nationalists’, relegating Kezia Dugdale to the status of a lickspittle courtier. He clearly foresees the problems that this will cause for the anti-independence campaign in the next referendum. In electoral terms, Ruth Davidson’s strategy of targeting hard-line unionists among British Labour voters in Scotland was very successful. But it means British Labour in Scotland is no longer credible as a front for the British nationalist effort to preserve the union.

    Not that there is any doubt about the British parties in Scotland standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the campaign to deny the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. It’s just that this campaign will be explicitly led by the Tory branch of the British political establishment instead of merely being financed be them. Not even the ominous blob that is Gordon Brown’s bloated ego will be big enough for Ruth Davidson to hide behind.

    Pete Wishart is well aware of the seriousness of the problem all of this poses for the British establishment. But he fails to ask – or studiously avoids? – the obvious question to which this analysis leads.

    How might the British state seek to deal with this problem? What steps might they take to obviate their difficulties? Given what we learned about the nature of the British political establishment during the first independence referendum campaign; in the light of what we witnessed in the British Leave/Remain battle; being aware of how recent UK administrations have behaved in every aspect of its activities, can we really afford to be complacent about their intentions towards Scotland?

    Perhaps the UK Supreme Court’s confirmation of British perfidy and duplicity with regard to the the Sewel Convention should serve as a warning. It may well be that, having got away with that display of casual contempt for the Scottish Parliament and people, the British establishment will be emboldened to attempt further measures to rid itself of this troublesome pocket of democratic principle and basic human decency. Is it not at least possible that the right wing regime in London might now seek to further curtail the powers of the Scottish Parliament and the capacity of the Scottish Government to adequately represent Scotland’s interests?

    Not so long ago, EVEL would have been unthinkable. If the Westminster elite is prepared to go to such lengths to sideline a relatively tiny number of MPs, how much further might they go in their efforts to subdue the tide of democratic dissent risen in Scotland? Devolution was supposed to kill the independence campaign ‘stone dead’. It didn’t! A No vote in the independence referendum was supposed to prompt the disintegration of the SNP and the evaporation of the Yes movement. That really didn’t work! So what might they try next? Surely we can’t assume that they won’t do anything.

    It may be, of course, that the British state is intending to rely on the power of its propaganda machine. Unionists can be absolutely confident that the media will be at their service. If there is scrutiny of the unionist arguments – which there must be – it will not come from the mainstream media. It never did before. Why imagine it might now? But will this be considered enough? And will there not be a concern among thinking unionists (there must be at least a couple) that, as in 2014, the British side might win only to be obliged to watch the SNP walk away with all the prizes other than those that were taken by other pro-independence parties.

    The British establishment is worried. It is scared. I have long warned that it is terrified enough do something really desperate. Up to and not excluding suspending the Scottish Parliament.

    I have long warned that the British establishment was seeking a means to lock Scotland into the union by creating a legal/constitutional bar to further referendums. I have not the slightest doubt that the Smith Commission was seen as an opportunity to slip in some measure that would effectively abolish Scotland’s right of self-determination. I have no absolutely no illusions about the willingness of the British parties in Scotland to collude in such a ploy.

    The election of 56 SNP MPs put paid to plans for subverting the Smith ‘reforms’ to the British nationalists’ malign purpose. But Brexit offers another opportunity.

    My message here is that, while we can have total confidence that our First Minister, our Government, our Parliament and our SNP MPs will do everything in their power to defend Scotland’s right of self determination, we must be prepared to back them to the hilt in this endeavour. It may be that getting #indyref2 will turn out to be more difficult than winning it.

    1. Kininvie

      There’s an opposing factor which I think you underestimate, Peter, and that’s the increasing weariness with having to put up with Scotland which seems to be infecting the English right. I think there’s a lot less concern about Scotland leaving than there was in 2014. With other things on their mind, I doubt the UK government will put a lot of effort into keeping Scotland on board. Which is not to say that if we vote to leave the UK, they won’t do their best to make sure we suffer. But I reckon the establishment is semi-resigned to it. They don’t understand why, but they see no reason why they should go on falling over backwards to ‘placate’ their whinging northern neighbour.

      1. Peter A Bell

        I think the attitude you refer to may be, to some degree, prevalent among voters in England. Or, at least, the few who even give the constitutional issue any thought. But since when did the British political elite reflect and respond to the attitudes of the electorate? The British state is determined to hang on to Scotland regardless. Even if some politicians find it expedient to strike a posture for the benefit of their constituents, within the halls of power there is not the slightest doubt about the economic, strategic and political value of their northern province.

        There are occasions when the actions of the UK Government seem to suggest that they are resigned to losing Scotland. But the habit of arrogant disdain is deeply ingrained. In its natural state, the Westminster elite is either ignorant of a distinct Scottish dimension or casually dismissive of it. They have to be constantly reminded that we are here, and we matter. When you see what appears to be resignation to our leaving it’s more likely that they’ve just momentarily forgotten Scotland exists.

    2. Ross Patchett

      I agree that it is not beyond WM to dissolve the Scottish Government, however i do not think they can do this before the Brexit negotiations are concluded as it would show their true intentions and scupper their chances of winning another indyref. If she tries such a move once another indyref has been announced (as is expected next month here in Aberdeen) then she would virtually guarantee a result in our favour. Nicola is very cleverly shutting doors in TM’s face which in turn force her to make plays which reveal the thinking behind her “hard brexit” plan. As it becomes clear to more and more people that having access to the single market was never planned by westminster, the desire for independence will swell. Just my opinion of course. 🙂

      1. Peter A Bell

        Perhaps the most significant recent development in Scottish political discourse is the fat that people are openly talking about things like UDI and the suspension of the Scottish Parliament. Eventualities which, only a few months ago, were thought too outrageous to be worthy of serious consideration.

  3. Pingback: Beware British perfidy – Towards Indyref2…

  4. jingsandthings

    I’m quite sure the UK government will stop at nothing to retain Scotland within the UK but such actions will surely undermine their assertions that we are subsidy junkies, too poor to go it alone. Why go to extreme lengths to keep hold of a nation that does not want to remain inside the UK when it is costing rUK taxpayers precious money? The answer will be clear. Because we have been lied to about our wealth and prospects which are required to keep the sinking Britannia afloat.

  5. Mike KIdd

    The willingness of the British Unionists to collude against the Scottish Government and to abandon completely any principles they may have can never be underestimated. I would not doubt the willingness of “Scottish” Labour to be used as a human shield for the Tories in pursuit of British unionism as Brexit continues to expose the fragility of the ridiculous pretence that the Scottish Tories are somehow a separate, nicer brand from the Westminster version under Ruth’s leadership. With stage managed changes of leadership in both Labour and Tory parties in Scotland perhaps, one could imagine a scenario where the Tories would be happy to support a campaign headed by a stridently Unionist Labour party if they were convinced that this brand would be less distrusted in Scotland.

  6. Kininvie

    One unseen thing they are up to already is to lock Scotland into the UK by making it impossible for Scotland to trade anywhere else. This is what a hard Brexit will mean. For example, under a hard Brexit (WTO rules) there will be an 8% EU tariff on imported Salmon. Fisherfolk tell me additional costs (such as health certificates) will add up to 30%. Meanwhile the tariff on Norwegian salmon is 0% The same, of course, applies to most of our food sector.

    So the only place Scotland will be able to trade without these restrictions is…..rUK

    It’s exactly the same thing that happened in the years before 1707. So the timing of indyref2 is crucial – we need to be out of UK before Brexit is finalised.

    1. RabMacPhoto

      Don’t forget that, in the event of a hard Brexit, Norwegian salmon will no longer be tariff-free; being outside the Single Market & Customs Union will see to that.

  7. carthannas

    “The attempt to suggest that we will be cut off from the UK ‘single market’ and we will be ‘doubly’ worse off in leaving the UK is their favourite early desperate salvos in a attempt to fruitlessly rerun the economic arguments of the last indyref”

    “Desperate” it may be, but I think that the constant drip of this type of propaganda and constant SNP-bad stories is having a serious, cumulative, negative effect on some potential indy Yes voters. And is bad for our morale. On the few occasions that I, or someone else, has had a chance to raise this with MSPs, the party don’t seem to recognise this as a problem.

    We shouldn’t be allowing distortions and lies to stand unchallenged. I’m aware of the bias of the BBC and most of the press, and I don’t know what the answer is but some of us footsoldiers would like the hierarchy to try and find one. Even Tony Blair had a rebuttal unit.

  8. Ghillie

    Pete, thank you, and that is an astute article = )

    I wonder, what are the the figures for Scottish ‘exports to England’ that then carry on to other markets?

    What would it mean to the future Scottish economy for those exports to be attributed, rightfully to Scotland? And then add to that the growth to the Scottish economy of those exports leaving from Scottish ports? What figure can be put on a reinvigorated ship building industry in Scotland? The development of suitable ports? The support jobs around all of that activity?

    What about the benefits to the Scottish economy (and ecology!) of imports to Scotland arriving at Scottish ports and airports?

    That’s just a wee bit of it. So many questions the unionist politicians will, I imagine, not want to be asked.

    A contributer on one of my favourite sites made the point that Scotland is in fact, too big, too rich and too clever for the UK Government to let us go. To that I add, so beautiful and so kind = )

    As for the kind of Scotland we want to be? More of the same please. Welcomed abroad because we respect and are ready to learn from whoever we meet. A welcoming, loving nation. A nation that is happy to grow, honouring our roots and happy to add many new hues to the fabric of our nation. A family of folk, throughout history of different origins, who look after their own while reaching out where our help is needed. Many a Scot loves Scotland as well as loving our World.

    We have a job ahead of us. We are rested, continualy keeping ourselves informed, and well and truly ready to go = )

  9. FatCandy

    This is why we’ll lose: https://antidotezine.com/2017/01/22/trump-knows-you/. Irrespective of the validity of the arguments for Yes or the absurdity of the arguments for No; Yes will be crowdfunded by people like me putting up money here and there versus the might of the UK government’s propaganda machine specifically targeting undecided and soft No voters with very carefully tailored propaganda.

    The only way Scotland will achieve independence is through a democratic vote in the Scottish Parliament and a declaration of independence.

  10. proudcybernat

    Peter Bell: “Is it not at least possible that the right wing regime in London might now seek to further curtail the powers of the Scottish Parliament…”

    So what you’re saying, Peter, is that they’re taking back our powers over road signs?

    ‘Rood Almighty – The Most Powerfullest and Bestest Devolvednessed Parliament in the Whole of the Known Yoonivers, Omniverse and Beyond – EVER!!

  11. twathater

    I agree with everything you said Peter, the Britnat establishment will do everything in their power both legally or otherwise to retain and subjugate our country , they have already done so. When filling in my response to the SG re a new indyref I added that as a SOVEREIGN Scotsman I DEMAND that the SG recruit the services of independent EU observers alongside the electoral commission , to ensure that ALL legal processes are being observed , and postal votes are secured and counted correctly. Let’s not forget purdah breaches or tory leaders postal vote celebrations. Everything must be done by the SG to ensure that Scottish dreams are not stolen or subverted

  12. ambrose (@Tdrinker2)

    Media control the world view. Is there a reason we don’t have our own TV station, are our law lords working on legislation for a SBC, Will corruption be curbed, unlike the 2014 election “count”, when all we could do to complain was send a full force of SNP MPs to Westminster.

  13. George Rix

    Given that I think we will do really well out of the EUs clutches I beg to differ. Scotland’s coastal communities and fishermen mean nothing to the SNP do they?What about the many, many people of mixed blood…disown them? We British are a nation of nations, don’t disturb it.

    1. Peter A Bell

      A unionist is someone who hasn’t yet learned to question the union. A British nationalist is someone who insists that the British state should never be questioned.

      As Richard Feynman said, I’d rather have questions without answers than answers I’m not allowed to question.

  14. James hood

    Most enlightening comments indeed and so refreshing to read balanced articles.
    One wonders, of course, when our government is going to tackle the currency issue for an independent Scotland. Given that this very issue caused so much difficulty for our politicians and so much concern for our citizens, one would have thought that we would be well on our way to either establishing our own currency or coming up with something tangible to alley the fears of so many last time around.

  15. kiltedsplendour

    The Unionists will fight tooth and nail to retain the union, and for 3 important reasons.
    1. The end of the UK could mean the rUK losing it’s place on the UN Security Council.
    2. Trident. They don’t really want to house it in England because that’s a little too close to home and will be resisted by the English electorate.
    3. Money – Scotland is a net contributor to the UK economy.
    I’m inclined to think that a Unilateral Declaration of Independence is what’s needed and would be interested to see what reaction would come from that.

Comments are closed.