If at first you don't secede...
March 13, 2017 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has announced that she will seek permission to hold a referendum on independence between the Autumn of 2018 and the Spring of 2019 (speech in full). The lack of consultation with the Scottish Government over Brexit, with Article 50 possibly being triggered within days, is a major factor in this decision, which has come as a surprise to some. A small possibility of Holyrood-Westminster compromise remains open. In 2014 Scotland voted 45% Yes, 55% No. One poll is currently close; the official Pro-Leave website. Previously on MetaFilter. (Title apologies)
posted by Wordshore (137 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
So uh, since we had some big personal news the outcome of this will decide if I leave the US for potentially the rest of my life so now I'm wondering if I should bother painting the walls at all.
posted by The Whelk at 7:27 AM on March 13, 2017 [18 favorites]

With this and the increasingly likely rise of Geert Wilders, it would appear that the end of the EU is nigh.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:27 AM on March 13, 2017

Paint the walls as a stress relief activity?
posted by Wordshore at 7:29 AM on March 13, 2017

Why would Scotland's leaving the UK make the end of the EU more likely? The motivation would be to attempt to stay in the EU.
posted by enn at 7:29 AM on March 13, 2017 [47 favorites]

FPP Pros: excellent title.
FPP Cons: making me look at Michael Gove's face without warning.

I really, really hope she gets it and I really, really hope that Scotland votes for Independence this time. Brexit basically renders the basis of a lot of the previous No votes null and void.
posted by billiebee at 7:40 AM on March 13, 2017 [13 favorites]

Has anyone seen any good analysis of whether Scotland would be easily able to join the EU?

One of the arguments during the last referendum was that various European countries would oppose it, to discourage their own separatist movements — all those Catalans and Bretons and whatnot. But I guess if the UK was outside the EU the situation is different?
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 7:44 AM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

(waiting patiently for someone to successfully tie in Sturgeon's Law)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:45 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I hope that Scotland can join the EU.

The world is going to be a much different place in a few years after the breakup of the US and English empires. I hope it is a better world.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:48 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

(waiting patiently for someone to successfully tie in Sturgeon's Law)

1. 90 percent of everything is crap.
2. If it's not Scottish, it's crap.
3. At least 90 percent of things are not Scottish.
4. QED
posted by selfnoise at 7:51 AM on March 13, 2017 [30 favorites]

selfnoise: "2. If it's not Scottish, it's crap."

No true Scotsman is crap.
posted by chavenet at 7:53 AM on March 13, 2017 [15 favorites]

I wonder what position the Russian bots and hackers will be taking on this one?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:53 AM on March 13, 2017 [8 favorites]

What happens if May refuses permission?
posted by gnuhavenpier at 7:55 AM on March 13, 2017

With Sturgeon's diplomacy campaign in the immediate Brexit aftermath, her timing now, her proposed timing for another referendum, the fact that her adversaries are surprised by her moves -- Sturgeon is clearly operating at a much higher level than any of her contemporaries. Sturgeon is performing such extremely capable foundational work, that she may already have defeated her opponents, although they may not have realized it yet.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:03 AM on March 13, 2017 [33 favorites]

I suspect a border battle between Robot The Bruce and MechaThatcher is a likelyhood.
posted by Acey at 8:03 AM on March 13, 2017 [32 favorites]

I need Rowling to tweet how Harry Potter would vote before making my mind up about this.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 8:14 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pretty rich of Downing Street to accuse Scotland of being divisive.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:15 AM on March 13, 2017 [23 favorites]

> "... the fact that her adversaries are surprised by her moves ..."

Anyone who claims to be "surprised" by this is either an idiot or lying, and much as it'd be comforting to assume to former I strongly suspect the latter.
posted by kyrademon at 8:21 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Scots Wha Hae
posted by mfoight at 8:21 AM on March 13, 2017

I wonder what position the Russian bots and hackers will be taking on this one?

I'd guess they're completely for secession and no automatic admittance into the EU. They'd much rather bully few dozen small nations or pit them against one another than have a large cohesive alliance on their border.
posted by cmfletcher at 8:21 AM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

The gestation period of an African elephant is about 640 days. #Scotref looks like arriving in about the same time period - and the run-up will probably feel every inch as long.

Interesting heat map showing geo-location of support - waves to Iceland and Berlin.
posted by rongorongo at 8:22 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Disclaimers: I grew up in England, but have lived in Scotland for the past 22 years. I voted to stay in the EU, and for Scotland to leave the UK, in the preceding two referenda. Just so you know where I'm coming from (I'm a left-wing euro-federalist who thinks the EU is first and most importantly about ensuring peace in Europe, and would like to reform and rework it as a federal republic).

Firstly, I blame Margaret Thatcher. If she'd implemented Scottish Devolution in 1979, following the referendum that voted for it by a margin similar to Brexit, the West Lothian Question wouldn't be biting us on the bum today—we could reasonably expect it to have been fixed no later than the 1990s.

(Can we agree to blame Maggie? Yeah, thought so. Now, to move swiftly onwards ...)

The nationalist concession in the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum was said at the time to be agreement that things were settled for a generation ...or until a major constitutional upheaval. It's hard to argue that Brexit isn't a major constitutional change, given the magnitude of the can of worms its opened. Nor can we ignore the way the winners of the last referendum (David Cameron et al) back-pedalled on certain promises they made for further devolution in event of a "no" vote to independence.

What the Nationalists see is a backdrop of broken promises made in bad faith, followed by a constitutional change that Scotland voted against by 62:38 but England voted for (and which is therefore being imposed on Scotland in the face of the popular vote). There's also the big picture of a UK likely to remain dominated by the neoliberal right-wing conservatives for the indefinite future in Westminster, despite a significant plurality of Scottish voters wanting nothing to do with it.

So it's hardly surprising that, in the wake of May's complete refusal to bend on the issue of moderating Brexit on behalf of Scotland, the Scottish Nationalist Party is making another run at independence.

England and Scotland basically parted company politically about 30 years ago (thanks, Thatcher!) and as long as both sides were willing to compromise they were just about able to get along. But Brexit is being driven by English nationalism in British drag, and English nationalism has always had a nasty stink of Scottophobia to it, and this is now in the driving seat at Westminster.

As for the economics, yeah, this is a shitty time to go for Scottish independence. Oil is down (and probably never coming back), the budget deficit is too high, there's global economic turmoil, the EU's central banking infrastructure is terrible (see also: Greece).

But IndyRef2 isn't about economics, any more than Brexit was.
posted by cstross at 8:22 AM on March 13, 2017 [97 favorites]

In all seriousness, the British establishment should be afraid. After the farce that was the "Better Together" campaign I can't see this going any way but out. And if that happens, I'll seriously consider emigrating. The British parliament has shown it couldn't give a ha'penny jizz for the regions, and a no vote will keep Scotland under the English yoke for generations to come. Still, it's a massive gamble. Just like the EU will make life hard for Britain after Brexit, England will make life hard for an independent Scotland. Tough decision, but I suspect Scots will not take kindly to being coerced into remaining in an unhappy marriage once again. "But honey, I can change!" That's what you said last time...
posted by Acey at 8:25 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

It's really not clear if Scotland's economy is strong enough to go it alone. Independence seems a lot more plausible when oil is $100/barrel.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on March 13, 2017

Also lol that heatmap is utter data visualization garbage. Maps that look like fuzzy population maps.
posted by Nelson at 8:28 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Scottish question has transited from a largely nationalistic movement to a reaction provoked by the constitutional crisis known as Brexit. The narrative is that the Brexitocrats have broken the promise of democracy and have fundamentally changed the nature of Scottish government, against the wishes of its people.

Now this cannot find parallelism with the Catalan or Belgian questions, which I gather are mostly fueled by nationalism.
posted by runcifex at 8:31 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, there's the whole city of London looking for a new home, if Scotland is allowed to remain. Though it would break my heart to see Edinburgh ruined by those vandals.
posted by mumimor at 8:31 AM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

As for the economics, yeah, this is a shitty time to go for Scottish independence. Oil is down (and probably never coming back), the budget deficit is too high, there's global economic turmoil, the EU's central banking infrastructure is terrible (see also: Greece). But IndyRef2 isn't about economics, any more than Brexit was.

It's really not clear if Scotland's economy is strong enough to go it alone. Independence seems a lot more plausible when oil is $100/barrel.

Scotland has one of the biggest sources of renewable energy in the world in the form of the off-shore wind in the North Sea. There's something like 25GW of economically exploitable generation capacity there. That's almost three times Scotland's demands (which can be entirely met with biomass and on-shore wind). With the HVDC cable between Norway and Scotland being dubbed a project of common interest by the EU, Scotland could still yet see itself be a major energy exporter in the region.
posted by Talez at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2017 [29 favorites]

Every time I think about the looming prospect of Scottish independence, I can't help but think how stunning it is for Britain to transform itself from being the world's greatest imperial power to not even maintaining control over its own island in only a century. That is an epic collapse of a polity. I mean at this point the Tories might as well just absolve parliament and give it all back to the great great grandchildren of Cnut the Great and call it a wash.
posted by boubelium at 8:35 AM on March 13, 2017 [34 favorites]

Wait until the Welsh separatists get emboldened. The cries of "Fe godwn ni eto!" will chill the English to the bone.
posted by Talez at 8:38 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Is basically all of Europe just at the mercy of a binomial test at this point?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:39 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

I don't claim great knowledge of public sentiment in Scotland, but I simply can't see independence being less popular after the Brexit debacle.

As for whether the EU lets Scotland in, I really don't see a downside for them. The Tories might not like it, but what leverage do they have at this point? The banks are already evacuating the sunken ship, and it's not like England can threaten to double-leave.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:42 AM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think it was a post in the blue about the 2014 indyRef which first made me aware of Wings Over Scotland. During that time there was just one newspaper in the country that supported independence (there are now 2) - so the bulk of Yes supporters have coalesced online. Stuart Campbel's blog is unashamedly partisan- but it has a readership and influence probably transcends anything else. I'd recommend it for anybody trying to understand Scottish politics.
posted by rongorongo at 8:44 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Given brexit, it is hard to imagine independence not gaining popularity, barring further behind the scenes maneuvering.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:48 AM on March 13, 2017

But IndyRef2 isn't about economics, any more than Brexit was.

I hope they go. I'd like to see the £15b in subsidies that currently goes to Scotland go to the North of England.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:06 AM on March 13, 2017

Oh. I was--I would be--It would be a thing I would like, long term, to live in what is now the UK because there are people there I love. I would immigrate in a hot second to Scotland if it would have me, and I was paying very close attention to the last immigration referendum with an eye towards rumors that an independent Scotland would be looking to draw talent from elsewhere in order to grow its tech and biology industries. The referendum's failure last time made it seem less likely, but then Brexit happened, and.... well. Immigration access is a key Scottish complaint about Brexit, too.

If Scotland wants academic, scientific, or technical talent, now is a great time, with the destabilization of both Brexit and the US political situation sending a lot of academics, scientists, and other fairly mobile intellectual workers into a state of alarm and looking for a safer place to live. (Canada is already capitalizing, too.) I have to wonder, hopefully, if the economic timing isn't as bad as all that, because of the waves of international displacement of frightened American academics and intellectuals I can see on the horizon. The US did very well out of recruiting fleeing scientists and technological workers and refugees from Germany and Europe after World War II, after all. And if Scotland is looking to make itself a renewable energy powerhouse, well, researchers aren't a bad thing to recruit to that.

In that sense, the timing could certainly be worse economically. The same instability that means going it on your own is worrying could also mean that an independent Scotland could be ideally situated to sweep up a lot of economic and technological talent and industry shifts right as people in those industries start looking for a new home as they become less and less hospitable across the United States.
posted by sciatrix at 9:08 AM on March 13, 2017 [19 favorites]

Every time I think about the looming prospect of Scottish independence, I can't help but think how stunning it is for Britain to transform itself from being the world's greatest imperial power to not even maintaining control over its own island in only a century.

Isn't it great? I can't wait for the Chinese navy to show up and demand that England open its ports to opium sales. That may be the point of maximum schadenfreude.
posted by indubitable at 9:14 AM on March 13, 2017 [35 favorites]

I'm imagining the No campaign will be making promises like these, because if they're going to lie again, might as well go the whole stretch.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:15 AM on March 13, 2017

I hope they go. I'd like to see the £15b in subsidies that currently goes to Scotland go to the North of England.

If you believe the Tories will do that, I have a bridge over the Thames for sale.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:18 AM on March 13, 2017 [31 favorites]

As for whether the EU lets Scotland in, I really don't see a downside for them.

If the EU's feeling petty, it would make quite the "ha ha fuck you" to England.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:23 AM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

My British SO who wants to get out of this country so bad he's spitting blood, keeps arguing "don't you want to do political work in a country where socialism isn't a slur?" Thisnis just going to e,Holden him

I quess we should buy land now before everyone else does?
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

For a quick-and-dirty parallel, the fears of Calexit ring true for Scottish independence. It shifts the electoral balance to the right in the rUK, and further fragments the opposition to Russia.

As a left-voting, remain-voting English person, I'm torn between wanting Scotland to forge its own path (hopefully in the social democrat mould of the Nordic countries) and resenting what it might mean for those of us left behind.
posted by mushhushshu at 9:23 AM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

As for Scotland's membership of the EU: that would depend primarily on whether Spain and other members with active secessionist movements can twist themselves into accepting that Scotland's case is now different to that of, say, Catalonia. I think that would require Scotland joining only after the UK has properly left, with all the legal headaches you'd expect from having to negotiate accession while engaged in a squabbly divorce with the rest of the UK.

Oh, to not live in interesting times.
posted by mushhushshu at 9:33 AM on March 13, 2017

> it would appear that the end of the EU is nigh.
What, with a potential new EU member on the way?

> 90 percent of everything is crap.
Except crap. 100% of crap is crap.
posted by farlukar at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It often seems like people are willing to pretend the reasonable English don't exist when discussing the future of the UK.

The reasonable people aren't the ones calling the shots. If you think the petty, small-minded contingent is bigger than the "we're gonna have to use a sledgehammer to break off the Brexit concrete shoes before we hit the water" contingent, you're sorely mistaken.
posted by tclark at 9:54 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Going off some Mark Blyth comments. I'm not sure Scotland, with it's generous welfare state, would like being under the thumb of Germany's monetary policies.
posted by KaizenSoze at 9:55 AM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

What Brexit unleashed is the end of coordinated effort – the 'cooperate' modality of the Prisoner's Dilemma – and we now see growing waves of uncoordinated action.

I've been running numbers on Brexit for some time now, looking at the value of domestic assets in relation to the ongoing disruption of Britain's standing in international financial markets. At the core of Brexit is a troubling dance. A stark reminder of the dangers of financial leverage.

Britain never experienced a housing crisis during the financial crisis as did the United States (or Spain). The British residential real estate economy recovered nominal prices within three years, while the rest of the country took nearly six. Consequently, housing prices appear to have gone continuously up – at the rate of 6%+ per annum. However, that's been matched by the continuous devaluation of Sterling. In 2007, Sterling was worth USD$2.05. Today, it's worth USD$1.21. A depreciation of 40%. For people in Britain, that means that denominated in foreign currency, the housing market hasn't doubled in value over the last ten years, it's gone up 25% – an average of 2% a year, which is generally in line with inflation.

To prop up the property market, Britain made some rather 'interesting' decisions along the way. First was attracting huge volumes of foreign capital that flooded into housing as an asset class. The second was allowing retirees to take bulk cash out of their pension pots, which led to the boom in buy-to-let mortgages, which have largely been powering the mortgage market. The third was help-to-buy, government programmes to get young people into homes.

What that means (in my view) is essentially Britain sought to maintain the property debt market at all costs, and drew home equity (risk capital) from foreign buyers, retirees, and young people. The problem now is that demand for housing is evaporating, for it was driven by the three drivers of domestic demand, inward migration, and foreign investment. Brexit is a direct attack on inward migration. Foreign demand is drying up as investors look to book losses and retrieve capital – a strong sense that they don't see future value of assets outweighing currency risks. The target for Sterling to hit parity with USD is between 2017 and 2020. Meaning there's another 20% downside to contend with. For a foreign buyer, they would have to believe in real estate increasing in price >20% to pump in fresh cash.

That leaves domestic demand. In terms of where that money comes from, the most obviously place is to reduce imports, and increase exports – wholesale devaluation of Sterling. What England must now do at many costs (not all costs) is insure that residential real estate prices maintain their nominal (Sterling values) in the face of falling demand. Failure to do that means that both young buyers and pensions – who both bought near what is now the top of the market – will quickly go underwater on their payments. Thus nominal value has to be supported while both demand from inbound migration is diminished by policy and demand from international capital is diminished by returns.

It is my belief that this is one of the reasons behind the opaqueness of Brexit. There's a very difficult dance to do, which involves 1) maintaining nominal values of assets, 2) manaing interest rates (to keep Sterling attractive), and 3) managing price inflation (currently set to rise significantly this year).

While it's easy to do two of those things, it's hard to do all three simultaneously. Britain needs to:
1) raise interest rates as much as possible without blowing up the housing market.
2) depreciate the pound as much as possible without incurring 8% price inflation.
3) maintain asset values within a reasonable range

All while China and America position for a currency war, and Europe seeks to take high-profit UK finance businesses.

What does that have to do with Scotland?

The "take back the country" vote was obviously a "take back England" vote. Both Cornwall and Wales received far more money from the EU than they're likely to receive from the government post-Brexit. As Sturgeon said in her address, the vote to stay in the United Kingdom was "unless there was a material change in circumstances".

If the future of Britain is continuously devaluing the pound to support domestic asset values, one has to question how that serves Scotland at all.

Again in my view, Brexit occurred predominately because of the flow of capital from London – advantaged by the European Union – into offshore tax havens. A huge amount of money went offshore and now sits in wait. Meanwhile, that shifted social spending from tax revenue to debt markets, leading to the UK's high debt-to-GDP ratio. In a debt situation, one looks to spend as little as possible, rather than to provide social services equivalent to economic contribution.

It's the populism story we see everywhere. Debased currencies, where the majority of the citizens fail to see the economic gains, but deal with constantly rising prices. For a very tangible example, a train ticket from London to Liverpool during business hours was £170. If you're in London earning an average salary of £50,000, that's a very different expense than if you're in Liverpool earning £20,000.

That's the same story told around the EU. While life in Germany has improved massively, many non-Parisian French tread water, while life in Southern Europe is materially worse.

The most telling indication was the offer of £350M to Scotland in the UK budget last week. There was laugher in the chamber. If I have ever seen a blatant bribe offered, that would be it. Given the threat of another Scottish referendum, the answer was to offer a nominal sum, equal to £70 of government spending a person. When that happened, I fully expected to see another Scottish referendum. The payoff was so blatant, however it's an offer of £350M in a currency that has depreciated by 40% against the dollar in the last ten years. Given the uncertainty about Brexit, how can you gauge what that figure is even worth on the open market? Hence, the real statement in the budget priced the value of a second Referendum to the average Scottish person at an addition £70 – of depreciating currency.

Thus, if I'm Scotland, I see a few big risks and a few big opportunities.

The greatest risk is that the UK government does not appear to be making rational decisions.
The referendum was conducted around questionable circumstances – as its obvious that the Leave campaign had no agenda to follow through on the 'promises' made. Since the referendum, not only has there been a massive currency shock but also the country and the government sit strictly divided. At a time of tremendous international upheaval, the United Kingdom barely engages with the outside world. It's completely inwardly focused on Brexit.

Finally, the messaging around Brexit is that the United Kingdom is embracing great future uncertainty based on the fact of a non-binding public vote that barely counted a majority. This is not a strong vision of the future – a destination ahead which is filled with likely prosperity. Rather, it's "the people voted, and now we will execute their will... regardless of cost."

At that point if I'm Scottish, I would be extremely concerned as to the priorities of my country and communities. There will obviously be constraints moving forward. Difficult budget decisions and a reckoning to be had. After all, to this point given all of the upheaval of Brexit, nothing has yet changed in law. This is all the opening act of the show.

If I'm Scottish, Britain essentially decided not to play cooperatively with the European Union, yet now expects me to cooperate with Britain. It's a hard ask to be made in a Prisoner's Dilemma scenario. One prisoner just ratted on the other, and in the next iteration, says now trust me.

If I'm Nicola Sturgeon, I have no choice but to call for a referendum, because the context has completely changed. England now acts only in England's best interest, and therefore, Scotland now has to assess if that interest is the same as Scotland's. It would be quite concerning in fact if Scotland did not call a referendum, given that UK economic policy is likely to be shaped in part by the home prices in London and the South East.

Further, there is the risk to Scotland that by staying in the United Kingdom, it falls outside of the European Court of Justice and back to the law of the United Kingdom. That amplifies the above problem, which is whereas before UK law was constrained by European law, now the deciding parties will be in London. Back to the previous question – to what degree to I trust London, being that the government is reshaping the country's future based on a marginal win of a vote conducted by a campaign of people who openly lied about the prospects of the country after the vote.

Then, there is the opportunity. If Scotland stays with the United Kingdom, it is subject to whatever trade deals and future economic management as London decides. Scottish people trade in a market of 500 million people stretching from the Arctic circle to Africa, for a market that extends five and a half hours South.

Further, there will be a flight of EU businesses from London to other capitals within the Single Market. Right now, Dublin is making a strong push. Why not Edinburgh? Perhaps Scotland starts to see itself adopting the Scandinavian version of Europe. Country with 5-10 million people, focusing on a few key industries and exporting heavily across the single market.

The only reason for Scotland not to stay with England as this point would be a belief in the fragility of the European Union. However, as Sturgeon said, the goal of the next referendum is after the dealing is done, and before the final vote ratifying Britain's exit. While the EU has a number of structural problems, the greatest threats will be known / resolved by the end of this year.

At the base of the issue with Scotland appears to be that Britain was a world power for long, it doesn't appear to be capable of operating in a way outside of that belief system. In choosing to leave the EU, Britain's global relevance collapsed from a key leader of an international community of 500M people – with a vibrant young Eastern front – to a quickly-aging country of 65M people who's only way forward seems to be through further depreciation of its assets.

The only 'colony' left is Scotland.

If I were Scottish, it wouldn't even be a choice to have a referendum given the state of play today. If Europe collapses, that's another matter. But assuming that Europe remains stable in a year's time, the Scottish need to see exactly what England is planning on doing – beyond the £70 a per person per year in depreciating currency – and see if that outweighs going to the Euro when the two hit parity, and then pitching as the most obvious destination for British businesses, post referendum.
posted by nickrussell at 10:00 AM on March 13, 2017 [106 favorites]

Oil is down (and probably never coming back).
Brent crude is pretty much at its current average price - if we look back to the 1980s. The Oil and Gas industries Business Outlook reports that operating costs in the UK have halved in the last couple of years. There are some pretty significant unexploited reserves - Clair Ridge has an estimated 8 billion barrels for example. Scotland's oil may fail to be quite the economic mill stone that some have predicted it to be.
posted by rongorongo at 10:04 AM on March 13, 2017

winterhill: Nationalism in all its forms is something we don't need right now.

There's a big difference between nationalism of the 'we are the best, fuck all the rest' and the sort of nationalism where you want to be independent from a country which you perceive to have had held power over you for generations to your disadvantage. If Britain still held colonies no-one on MeFi would be making arguments that they should stay in the empire since we're better together. Scotland is not in the position of India a hundred years ago but it is clearly on the end of a power differential wherein despite voting one way for decades they frequently get a government which does not reflect their desires and which has often used them as a test ground for unpleasant policy initiatives. I think its fair to say the left in Scotland has done a lot of work to try to make things better for all but its not apparent that this has not led to the desired result. I don't think we can blame the Scots for wanting an end to it and I say that as an Englishman who can see the very negative effects of the Government it will mean down south if Scotland leaves the union
posted by biffa at 10:05 AM on March 13, 2017 [24 favorites]

Winterhill, when it came down to it, Scotland didn't vote for balkanization. It voted to stay. Twice, in fact -- once to stay in the UK and once to stay in the EU. And then a majority of England and Wales said, "Haha, that's great, we're going to BALKANIZE THE HELL OUT OF EVERYTHING AND DRAG YOU DOWN WITH US!" A vote for Scottish independence now is a vote *against* balkanization and nationalism.

Everything you said about "wouldn't it be better for the left to remain and work together with etc." applies just as much to the EU as it does to the UK. England and Wales are the ones who are leaving. Don't get pissed at Scotland if they end up deciding they'd rather stay in the EU.
posted by kyrademon at 10:05 AM on March 13, 2017 [31 favorites]

My (aspirational) prediction: Theresa May is unable to deliver on her threat/promise to trigger article 50 without looking like the most psychotic PM the UK has ever suffered, thereby making herself and brexit toast. Cooler heads prevail. UK is embarrassed but stays in the EU, a diminished and less bolshy member.

I would not like to be proved wrong.

Sturgeon has just stymied her calling it this Tuesday.
posted by davemee at 10:20 AM on March 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure I understand your point, there.
posted by kyrademon at 10:24 AM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Going off some Mark Blyth comments. I'm not sure Scotland, with it's generous welfare state, would like being under the thumb of Germany's monetary policies.

Not having seen the comments, I don't know his argument. But the Nordic countries are all doing fine within the EU monetary restrictions, and we had welfare all over lasts I looked (ten seconds ago)

Brexit is such a tragedy, and I cannot understand the British government. They seem to hold some completely unrealistic assumptions about the UK's status within the world, and to imagine they can get away with making the South of England into a giant tax-haven and abandon the rest of the Kingdom into squalor. Well, maybe they can get away with it, because racism is a powerful drug, as they say over in that other thread.
posted by mumimor at 10:25 AM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

nickrussell, thank you for your wonderful comment. I wish mutant were still around commenting—he used to share nice insights into what the City was actually thinking and doing.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:28 AM on March 13, 2017 [11 favorites]

It often seems like people are willing to pretend the reasonable English don't exist when discussing the future of the UK.

This is a point well worth re-iterating, I think.

Scottish independence is a fundamentally depressing thing for me in the same way as it is for Winterhill - it represents a mass-disappearance from the body politic of a whole bunch of people who think like me. That's profoundly selfish of course, and I fully support the right of the Scots to make the decision to go their own way, but lets please avoid pretending non-Tory, brexity English people don't exist.

Or, to put it more bluntly - there were about 2,262, 274 'Remain' voters in London (about 59.9%). In Scotland there were about 1,661,298 (62%).

So percentage-wise there are almost as many of us sitting here in the capital - and quantitatively more - feeling under-represented as their are north of the border right now. And for many of us that extends into general politics as well. And that's before we add in the fact that even in the West Midlands (the strongest pro-Brexit area) 1,205,885 voted to remain (40.8%).

If Scotland wants to vote itself out of the UK now, then I completely understand that. But supporters of independence pretending that England was some kind of homogeneous Brexit-loving group is something I could really do without when this whole debate kicks off again.

The reality, as always, is far more nuanced than that. Scottish exceptionalism (of the lazy 'the only lefty in the village' variety) is just as tiresome as English exceptionalism.
posted by garius at 10:33 AM on March 13, 2017 [15 favorites]

> Brexit is such a tragedy, and I cannot understand the British government.

For your sanity, don't try.

Snark aside, this is what happens under one-party tyranny. And also Snooper's Charter, the proposed ECHR-Exit, and the arrogant opposition to Brexit act amendments. No effective opposition == no democracy.

I only hope the SNP, in independent Scotland or not, wouldn't go down the same path of one-party rule. I'm not saying they will, but the temptation is there.
posted by runcifex at 10:41 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Winterhill – a few comments:

There is a massive question-mark in my mind over how much of the Scottish independence movement is about actually trying to create a better future, and how much of it is petty, small-minded "let's fuck over the English".

I find it very strange to say that comment right after Nationalism in all its forms is something we don't need right now.

Would it not be better for the left in the whole of the UK to work together to make the whole country a better place to live - more compassionate, kinder, better equipped to deal with the challenges of the present - rather than for one slightly left-leaning part of the country to sod off and do its own thing and leave the rest of us at the mercy of the Conservative Party?

Please see my game theory description above. England now makes plans to leave the European Union despite, 1) the problems of the campaign, 2) the slight margin of win, and 3) the collateral effects on destabilising Europe. I recall watching a television interview on the BBC as Europe asked the British to vote Remain. The person interviewed said, "it's our country, we have to make our own decisions." Which is now exactly what the Scots are saying.

It amazes me how many people on here - Americans in particular - seem to see the economic decline of England as something to have a bit of a laugh about, to look at with schadenfreude.

I am an American in England, and I'll give you a bit of perspective on that. I came ten years ago because London felt like the capital of Europe. Bringing the best people from the continent, and the values of the continent together. It was forward-looking and open. Me – and many people, both American and others like me – came to this country to be a part of (what felt like) one of the world's most vibrant economies. It's our lives, our economy, our future, and our families too.

Let's talk about the Europeans who came here thirty years ago now being denied permanent residency. Or the lost earnings through the financial crisis. Or the lost asset values in the last 10 years. Let's talk about the wealth transfer from immigrants and investors to native Brits. Those that sold their houses to move to Spain, and now consume huge resources from the Spanish healthcare system. Or those people who bought assets here, and are now being rejected to go home with a 20% hit on their asset values since last year.

One of the biggest problems that I see in England is that there is no outrage. There is no protest. I sat a dinner with ten Brits at the weekend, and felt very awkward. There's little discussion, rather generalised acceptance. I am the only one who it will effect existentially – for I am the only one with the option to go (back) to America. Yet, they face huge risks. Some were for, some were against. But there is no outrage. There is no movement.

There are ordinary, decent, liberal people in this country - millions of us - but that's inconvenient when you want to feel better about yourself in comparison to us.

That is highly unfair. When Trump passed the Muslim ban, Americans came out in force and sat in airports helping people. There are routine protests in America against the policies of Trump. People who are not targets protesting for the people who are targets. During the protest against Trump's state visit in London, I recall wanting the Brits to protest against Brexit. 'Stop protesting my president and protest your own referendum,' was my exact thought.

Yet there is no outrage. There is no one here defending the immigrants being sent back. American net migration has fallen 60% since the election, and it looks set to reverse quite soon. We're the ones that the country wants – the entrepreneurs, financiers, and scientists. And there is support for Americans to stay. Apparently, we're the most likely to get our visas renewed.

A lot of people are being hit and not defended. People who will truly struggle. Where is the outrage? Where are the lawyers lining up to help them?

It's not that we feel schadenfreude toward Britain. For many of us, it's our homes and we've dedicated huge swaths of our life to it. But it's not ours to stop. It's not us who voted for it.

It's yours to stop. And while you did not vote for it, you had a vote to be cast. I do find it difficult because how can you even begin to say Scotland should not have the same option? You call for unity with Scotland, yet you are not fighting for unity with Europe. Why should anyone fight for you, when it looks to me by and large like the country has already accepted Brexit? While I do not agree with the election of Trump, I do recognise the legitimacy of the party win. Yet, I also see people protesting. Constantly. I see people investigation. People fighting.

Here, I see the average English person who voted to Remain now waits patiently to Leave.

It often seems like people are willing to pretend the reasonable English don't exist when discussing the future of the UK.

Again, I don't see anyone pretending that the reasonable English don't exist. Rather, if you want to stop it, then it's your decision to stop it.

Personally, I see that one of the great problems with England is that it cannot grieve. Sadness is held in private, and transmuted into a placid calm in public. I fear there are many, many people suffering in silence around the country. Afraid. Unhappy. Alone. Yet I see no public movements. No outrage. Hence, to the rest of us maybe it looks like complicity and agreement.
posted by nickrussell at 10:56 AM on March 13, 2017 [59 favorites]

Just a note to muh fellow Auld Reekian Mefites - there's an Edinburgh meet-up tonight in the city centre, where I have no doubt aspects of this thread will be chewed over...
posted by Devonian at 11:01 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

If Sturgeon could accommodate some kind of North Britain setup, I'm confident a resurgent Northumbria might rise again. Just don't tell the Midlanders about it or they'll want some too.
posted by mushhushshu at 11:04 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Little noted among the tumult: *still* no-one cares about what happens to Northern Ireland in all this. Disgraceful.
posted by Wordshore at 11:18 AM on March 13, 2017 [13 favorites]

Alt Clud resurgent, eh?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:22 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

For a quick-and-dirty parallel, the fears of Calexit ring true for Scottish independence. It shifts the electoral balance to the right in the rUK, and further fragments the opposition to Russia.

Given that the UK right seems to have its rulership pretty well locked down even with Scotland as a counter-balance, why not let Scotland go and pursue their own conscience? Why force them to suffer under the rule of a bunch of self-destructive assholes they didn't vote for?

The argument here sounds a lot like telling a passenger in an airplane that's being flown into a mountain that they shouldn't grab a parachute and bail out because they have a moral obligation to rap on the cockpit door and politely ask the pilot to aim for a different bit of the mountain.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:23 AM on March 13, 2017 [9 favorites]

I wonder what position the Russian bots and hackers will be taking on this one?

Russia's view is usually that nobody gets independence ever, how dare those plebes.

Nationalism in all its forms is something we don't need right now.

Hm, it's s huge difference between seeking independence for reasons of sovereignty and representation, and actual nationalism that results in ethnic cleansing, for example.

In other words, it was nationalism (and anti-immigrant feelings) that fueled brexit, and Scotland has a right to say they want no part on that BS. In a way, Scotland is striving to continue the EU agenda of cooperation, so they are against nationalism.

History is littered with powerful countries telling their territories it's not a good time for independence, you can't just lump all such movements together and dismiss them.
posted by Tarumba at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2017 [15 favorites]

I quess we should buy land now before everyone else does?

are you sure you have enough tweed
posted by poffin boffin at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

It often seems like people are willing to pretend the reasonable English don't exist when discussing the future of the UK.

Are the reasonable English the one telling the Scots that now is not the time for slightly smug independence that's really just about fucking over the English anyway?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:29 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Can we really not get into an English vs Scots thing right now?
posted by mushhushshu at 11:31 AM on March 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

I wish the best to luck to Scotland and all Scottish people. I think this is the right path for their country, and the rest of the United Kingdom.
posted by Emma May Smith at 11:52 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Loved that comment, nickrussell.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:58 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's OK, they'll have hundreds of years to get into English vs Scots things in the future.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:01 PM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

As a lefty, desparately pro-EU Mancunian with Scottish friends on both sides of the issue, I am urgently so!iciting support for a plan to just saw off the SouthEast along a line from the Severn to the Great Ouse
posted by runincircles at 12:29 PM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

posted by Happy Dave at 12:33 PM on March 13, 2017

But IndyRef2 isn't about economics, any more than Brexit was.

It's always about economics. That's the role of government. Brexit was about those who gained the most financially from EU membership being the least affected by it. Simultaneously those affected the most, gained the least or lost.

I was bitten by a cat and need meds from A&E on a Saturday night. I drove to Homerton. A&E wait 4 hours. Drove to Walthamstowe. A&E wait 5 hours. Drove to Central London. Done and dusted in 45 minutes. That's within Central London -- a radius of maybe 10k. Completely different distribution of services. The A&E in Westminster taking <20% of the time. Staff in Hometon overworked. I questioned the quality of care. In Central, there were extra staff. Two nurses /handling the cat bite.

And that's all Zone 1-3 in London. Imagine as you radiate outward from there.

The U.K. has developed a rather bizarre economy. Where there are extreme differences co-existing in close proximity. Maybe it's always been like that. Maybe that's a natural feature of London and cities like it. Yet the differentials in price mean that while there's not expressed barriers to public services, there's tacit inequalities in distribution. Consider the North got £200M for transit last week, while London is about to open £2.5B cross rail. It takes hours to get between cities in the North. We're going to shave 30 minutes off Redding to the City. Better yet, Liverpool Street to Heathrow.

There was a great quote about startups from an AirBnB founder. "VCs tell you the winner gets the money. The reality is the one who gets the money is the winner." It makes sense to say London powers the economy, and so London gets £3.5B for a new tube while you guys can share £200M for the region. Yet that kind of continual feedback loop ends up with an NHS in Central London with no wait for a cat bite, while people in the rest of the country get turned away to give birth. It's not like the immigrants in the midlands had it any better, they just didn't have a basis for comparison.

People watch Made in Chelsea and see teenagers buying diamonds and £20 cocktails. They go to the GP or A&E and are told we can't see you. People don't get treatment. Their babies die. At the same time, they see immigrants. Floods of people from Eastern Europe who will do £7 an hour jobs. They all wait at A&E. they all suffer. Meanwhile, the English person sees the immigrant and says it wasn't like this before you got here. Nigel Farage repeats it on television.

Meanwhile in London, a private equity partner registers his company in Guernsey. He creates a subsidiary in London. He wins contracts to trade Eurobonds. Four more small traders open around him. They trade each other EuroBonds. They're all registered in Guernsey. They bill from Guernsey and remit expenses to the London company. The London company generally always operates at a loss, so it pays little tax. The principles are taxed on what they bring in to live on. So they create a trust, the trust owns the house and pays the mortgage from Gurnsey, and they remit £60k to the U.K. Paying £12k tax on millions in earnings. Impossible without th Single Market and passporting.

Meanwhile, they push their politicians to keep A&E times down in their districts. They lobby against HS2 and for cross rail. They pay little tax but massively influence decision-making. Meanwhile, in the countryside, both the English worker and immigrant sit on housing benefits. They share schools and hospitals. Roads, transit. And they hate each other. Both see the other as entitled. Each seems themselves as more deserving. Then they watch Made in Chelsea and know that less than two hours away, the world is different. They each start to give up. The English person has nowhere to go -- they speak no other languages and can't afford to set up somewhere else. The immigrant makes just enough to send home. Just enough not to stay. Although the collapsing pound to euro makes it constantly less attractive. Costs rise. Budgets are cut. Another tax year.

Meanwhile, Britain had an antagonist relationship with Europe. The largest country to control its own currency and migration patterns. The English are not in a true alliance with Europe, but financially a competitor to it. It issues its own bonds, and has its own tax rules. As Europe gets stronger, it forces Englands hand. Membership is membership. It started with merging the U.K. line at passport control with the EU line. Then freedom of movement. Then the European Court of Justice.

England was always an isotope. Orbiting higher than in the natural order, supported by previous momentum. The problem with isotopes is they're unstable. In order to destroy the Labour Party, it looks like the Tories created the Brussels scare. Ever encroaching European regulation. Threatening Britishness. The immigrants. Stealing your services.

Meanwhile the tax havens heaved. Citizenship for sale. Housing prices going through the roof. But Brussels, fuck Brussels. Dirty beauracrats.

Meanwhile the European Union rebuilds Cornwall and Wales. Launches Horizon 20:20 and funds huge volumes of European venture capital. Yet the remainder continues. "Immigrants are destroying your communities. Your way of life."

Meanwhile, English people sit in Guernsey counting the days they are in the mainland to maintain non-dom status. People live on small I slands for a reason. UK GDP heaves. London gets new transit. New trains. New train stations. New neighbourhoods. The more it produces, the more it consumes. That's right after all isn't it. Then Brexit.

The final solution to the European Court of Justice and limits on bank bonuses and agrressive policies on tax and social welfare. They immigrants ruin the country. Take it back. People don't see tax shelters or Eurobonds. But they do see the disparity between their A&E and other A&Es. They do see the disparity between where they are and London. It costs more to take a train to London than a flight to Spain. Then they see the immigrants. They decide the angry banker tells the truth. They vote against the immigrants. They vote for independence. They vote for England.

And now they've won! Right? The immigrants aren't yet leaving but less are coming. They didn't get £350M a week for the NHS, they got £1B a year. Which is 5% of £350M a week. The house prices aren't falling - so the paper says - but then no ones selling. Those that do lose 15%. But then it's a silly time to sell isn't it. Gas is up from £1.03 to £1.21. That's nearly 20%. But it won't last. Will it?

We took the country back right? England!

Only Nigel Farage is in America with Donald Trump. The pound keeps falling. People aren't coming now. Tourists are. But they don't buy houses or tax. They stay at hotels in London and go to chain restaurants...

No talk of tax havens. None of the Leave promises kept other than immigration. The problem with government it is likes to solve problems.

Meanwhile the rest of the world looks on in shock. They stop buying Sterling. They sell their option on a Battersea flat. They're going to Berlin this year. The American tech companies are announcing new offices. New factories. Only they're doing that because the currency is down. It's cheaper to hire British workers. All the fanfare of opening a factory in India. Cheap talent.

The PM resolves to exit. Old PMs come out in force to disagree. Legal battles every step of the way. The party is shaken and the nation divided. Racists attacks up. Food prices start rising. UK consumers spend 1% more for 1% less. Most retail prices are set 3-12 months in advance. Prices haven't really started rising except on fuel. Consider that prices could go up 8-12%. Then consider your paycheck. How do the maths work?

From the courts, we go to Parliament. After months, a greenlight. Now, Scotland.

Basically everyone who can say no, is saying no. And the government is plowing through because this is the will of the people. The leader waited in state for an opportunity. They would have never been PM without this disaster. Now they have the chance and it's such a sweet opportunity to save the country. To put it right. A legacy. Meaning.

Meanwhile, banks make plans to move abroad. Europe conducts a future without the U.K. Immigration starts falling. So do house prices. People cancel holidays. They're going to stay local this year.

But we are going to exit goddamnit, because we had a 2% win margin created by the lies of a man who now works with Trump and Assange. The flail of ego.nthe opportunity to be someone who did something. Who saved England. Only by all the numbers, Brexit is bleeding the country. £4B in investment property redemption here. £4B in currency outflow there. But the FTSE is at a record high! Only in Sterling. It's down in nearly every other major currency.

And the lines at the A&E aren't any shorter. After inflation, 5% new investment works out to basically break even. So after all that, middle England is likely to find that all the new investment announced is consumed by rising costs. So basically all of this for break even. Only now the country is ruled by London, not Brussels.

There's a reason US states often separate government capitals from economic capitals. The collocation of finance and govenment is extremely efficient at whatever it does. Good or bad.

How is that not economic?

If I'm the Scots, I'm like WTF OMG England bye Felicia.
posted by nickrussell at 12:34 PM on March 13, 2017 [74 favorites]

As an Englishman with no citizenship options I say bring on the opium
posted by doiheartwentyone at 12:41 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Little noted among the tumult: *still* no-one cares about what happens to Northern Ireland in all this. Disgraceful.

This part of Brexit is one of the most mystifying to me. It sure seems like Cameron and his cronies really did not consider that they might rekindle The Troubles after less than 20 years of relative peace after the Good Friday Agreement. The Republicans and Unionists bombed and killed each other for decades after Irish Independence--it's so damn hard to get people to knock that shit off once it's begun. I can't imagine many good things happening if the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland reverts to how it was 30 years ago.

Similarly, if Scotland leaves the UK, it would seem to give some wind to the sails of Sinn Féin and Plaid Cymru for leaving as well. What happens if Scotland leaves the UK, and there is then heavy-handed border enforcement between England and Scotland? Not saying that these groups should or shouldn't leave the UK, but damn, the Tories really, really did not think this shitty Brexit plebiscite idea through.

What a goddamned mess. David Cameron go down in history...as That Guy Who Royally Fucked up the United Kingdom.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 12:59 PM on March 13, 2017 [10 favorites]

What a goddamned mess. David Cameron go down in history...as That Guy Who Royally Fucked up the United Kingdom.

He's got form; before he screwed the pooch over Brexit, he was due to go down in political history as That Guy Who Fucked A Dead Pig's Face In Public.
posted by cstross at 1:20 PM on March 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

are you sure you have enough tweed

I'm in a real bringing coal to Newcastle situation over here
posted by The Whelk at 1:38 PM on March 13, 2017 [8 favorites]

I care as much about the future of Scotland as the Scots care about the future of England.

Your comment assumes an equality of political power and representation which does not exist.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:41 PM on March 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

But we are going to exit goddamnit, because we had a 2% win margin created by the lies of a man who now works with Trump and Assange.

You know, Farage being in so deep with Trumpy and Assange implies interesting possibilities, such as just how long has he been working for the Russians?
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 1:48 PM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

(Putin is certainly on the list of people who would benefit most from a weaker EU...)
posted by tobascodagama at 1:54 PM on March 13, 2017

Yet I see no public movements. No outrage. Hence, to the rest of us maybe it looks like complicity and agreement.

As an EU citizen living in the UK, this (and your whole comment) is exactly how I feel. I was fucking livid after the anti-Trump protests here, precisely because of how it highlighted and made apparent the utter lack of will to oppose Brexit. And all the other shite - Cameron's "deal" for Remain involved throwing us under the bus too - but nobody cared. EU citizens stopped being counted as habitually resident in the UK if they haven't been in self-supporting employment in the last six weeks - meaning no housing benefit for those in marginal employment (hello precariat!) and no benefits of any kind - not even council tax exemption - for those unable to work due to illness or disability. No protests. No media campaigns. Nothing. Then they made it that the ability to confer citizenship to a spouse was reserved for the rich, or those earning above the national average anyway - no outrage, nothing.

We're a politically safe football at this point - kicking us generates hurrahs from the Brexit set, and at no cost, no meaningful opposition from anywhere.
posted by Dysk at 2:05 PM on March 13, 2017 [32 favorites]

Independence seems a lot more plausible when oil is $100/barrel.

War with Iran and Trump getting dragged into the Syrian quagmire should settle that, for a while.
posted by meehawl at 2:08 PM on March 13, 2017

Every time I think about the looming prospect of Scottish independence, I can't help but think how stunning it is for Britain to transform itself from being the world's greatest imperial power to not even maintaining control over its own island in only a century.

Oh, but there's still Commonwealth Day, where you celebrate how former colonies independent countries all over the world, united by the English language, British history, and British culture, decided to join hands and dream of liberty.
posted by effbot at 2:19 PM on March 13, 2017

Look, I know it's still hypothetical, and a long way off even if it does happen, but I'm laying down my marker right now: when Scotland gets its independence, I have first dibs on Darien Scheme jokes. You're all on notice.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:26 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think Dan Davies probably called dibs on those years ago.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:42 PM on March 13, 2017

It took me until the morning of the vote to finally make my choice during the last independence referendum. I walked down the road to a voting station in the shadow of a Cathedral, hestitated in the shadow of the voting booth, then finally put a cross in a box. It seems a funny thing that a decision so driven by interconnected complexity must be expressed in such a binary fashion. The feeling in the lead up to the election, and indeed on election day itself, was strangely energised. Tense.

Like that election, there are many opposing forces at play here. The precipitating event here is the attempt to stay in the EU, but doing so would leave Scotland divorced from its biggest trading partner. The "Yes" movement is energised around internationalism, and is very outward looking. However the very deed of cutting itself off from England, Wales and Northern Ireland seems less internationalist.

As with any borders, the folk of Dumfries and Galloway share much more than they differ with the folk of Carlisle and Cumbria. Those of Northumberland share much with the Borders. They commonly work and celebrate together. Hell, Berwick-upon-Tweed's football and Rugby team play in Scottish leagues.

There are folk that claim that Scotland is more socially liberal, less economically liberal. But let's not forget that both Michael Gove and Liam Fox, who currently sit on the Conservative front bench, are Scottish born. Or the history of the Kirk, and the strong hold that it had on this country. Or Adam Smith.

The history of Scottish lairds and the incredible problem of land ownership shows a society that was and is unequal. To those in the Northern Isles, Edinburgh and Holyrood is a much more provocative far-away power than is London.

All these things push and pull. Scotland is fairly aware of the influence independence would have on Northern Ireland, and indeed on the potential consequences for portions of England.

I think given all of that, Sturgeon is playing this well. She is a pragmatist, and desperately does not want to call a referendum here, when she's not as confident as she'd like ot be that her side will win. If she loses, she'll probably resign as a politician (which would be bad news for Scotland and the United Kingdom). However, she needs to balance the demands from the more stridently independence minded of her party as well as the possibility she might be seen as a leader who let her country get hit hard without taking steps to prevent it.

Dressing it as she has leaves some room for manoever.
posted by sarcas at 3:39 PM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would also say that one of the many positive things to come out of the last independence referendum was an engaged civic society. The "Yes" campaign tried to ask and answer important question: "what kind of country do we want to be?" Both sides of the EU referendum would have done well to ask and attempt to answer that self same question.

A variety of groups carrying thougts on the matter. As media, Wings Over Scotland was mentioned above, and there's also Bella Caledonia, both of which wear their opinions openly. Women for Indy do incredible work.

I've been particularly struck by the Common Weal's recent white paper project. Particularly this on creating a second chamber for the Scottish parliament, made up as a Citizen's Assembly. They are attempting to explore the greater issues of what an independent Scotland could look like and how to get there.
posted by sarcas at 3:56 PM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

Since 'devo max' I've said we need to see the Republic of Scotland, Northern England and Ireland. Climate change ain't gonna be cheap, home counties.
posted by davemee at 4:22 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Labour's position(s):
Mr Corbyn said: "Labour believes it would be wrong to hold another (referendum) so soon and Scottish Labour will oppose it in the Scottish Parliament.

"If, however, the Scottish Parliament votes for one, Labour will not block that democratic decision at Westminster.

"If there is another referendum, Labour will oppose independence because it is not in the interests of any part of the country to break up the UK."
posted by Catseye at 5:24 PM on March 13, 2017

However the very deed of cutting itself off from England, Wales and Northern Ireland seems less internationalist.

Cutting yourself off from the petty closed-minded, closed-border little-England nationalism of Tory England (which is what we've got down here, existence of sensible Brits or no - the chance at any sort of reform of the voting system was pissed up the wall by the Lib Dems in - guess what? - another referendum!) is very hard for me to see as anything other than internationalist. Northern Ireland and Wales are tied to that sinking weight, doesn't make it wrong for the Scots to cut themselves loose.
posted by Dysk at 5:50 PM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

I can't claim any expertise but my sense of things is that there is no shortage of young people in the UK who view brexit as a huge and awful blow to their future. These are people who, I think, feel maybe a bit more european than older generations. I guess I'm saying that there may be a lot of young Scots who would feel like they're voting to stay in the EU more than they're voting to separate from the UK, if that makes any sense.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 6:01 PM on March 13, 2017 [8 favorites]

Canny move from Sturgeon, easily one of the most talented politicians in the UK.

I feel bad for the English Left, but I don't think it's fair to ask Scotland to give up self-determination in order to go down with the ship. I love England, lived there for several years, and have English friends. If I could wave a magic wand, an internationalist UK with fair representation for all regions as well as a commitment to EU membership would be great. As it is, we have increasingly isolationist England, a first past the post electoral system, and an opposition in freefall. It just doesn't make sense to stay.

Incidentally, this isn't an announcement on independence. This is seeking a second referendum, and I think Yes and No supporters would at least agree that we are in a very different world from the innocent days of Indyref 1.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 6:18 PM on March 13, 2017 [8 favorites]

Come to think of it, the Brexit vote provides the perfect illustration of the "reasonable English": the Lords. Amends the Brexit bill to include some fairly milquetoast guarantees - a parliamentary vote on the leave deal (remember how this was really all about parliamentary sovereignty? Nor do parliament.) and nebulous guarantees for EU citizens already resident here (with no language to address the actual issue of the tortured and arbitrary definitions of "already resident" the government use in practice) - only to be told "fuck off granpa" by commons, at which point the Lords collectively respond with "oh all right, let us just rubber stamp that for you then". There's no standing up for any principles, there's just a token participation in symbolic dissent, and then an apathetic shrug. How reasonable.
posted by Dysk at 7:41 PM on March 13, 2017 [15 favorites]

I have first dibs on Darien Scheme jokes. You're all on notice.

I have literally a state estate agent or whatever they're called, Scottish real estate is weird on call and my demand is "I want a place Oscar Wilde would've retreated too between publishing The Importance Of Being Earnest but before Lord Douglas called him to London" like something his wife owned.

Look if I'm leaving the city and country of my birth I want FINE HISTORIC DETAIL AMD GEORGIAN FURNISHINGS okay?
posted by The Whelk at 10:06 PM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think given all of that, Sturgeon is playing this well. She is a pragmatist, and desperately does not want to call a referendum here, when she's not as confident as she'd like ot be that her side will win.

I think many commentators miss this aspect of the decision: coercion by events over and above opportunism. Sturgeon has been pushed to act by her party's (far sighted) manifesto commitment to another referendum if Scotland looks to be dragged out of the EU. But also partly because of of a feeling that she has to be democratic. As she said:
"If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding – completely unilaterally – that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come what may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be. That should not be the decision of just one politician – not even the first minister. It will be decided by the people of Scotland. It will be Scotland’s choice."
There is definitely an element of "Welcome tae your gory bed, Or tae victory" going on here.
posted by rongorongo at 1:30 AM on March 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Thoughts the next morning:

Theresa May came out swinging against IndyRef2. Well, of course she would. (Whether she's got any constitutional basis to deny it if Hollyrood votes a bill through requesting it is ... well, let's leave that to the lawyers.)

It has been pointed out that an IndyRef2 campaign overlapping with Brexit negotiations is a nightmare scenario for Downing Street. It means explaining to the voters, on the one hand, why separating from a larger union of nations is bad and wrong, while explaining to the voters on the other hand, why separating from a larger union of nations is good and right. Remember, Brexit will happen in Q2/2019 (if Article 50 is triggered shortly), and there's a UK-wide general election at the end of Q2/2020.

IndyRef2 would subject May's party's policies to two years of destructive interrogation, then a one-year period during which the actual effects of Brexit would become evident, culminating in an election. That's the kind of thing that breaks political parties for a generation. Right now the Tories are riding high (Labour being in chaos) but they still have the capacity to throw it all away.

If she can kick the inevitable—Scotland holding IndyRef2—down the road until after Brexit, then she can minimize the damage to her own party by portraying the independence position as ungrateful Scots taking exception to English dogged go-it-alone spirit and fleeing back to Nanny Deutschland, and good riddance. (Meanwhile campaigning to keep Scotland in the UK.) But an IndyRef campaign during the Brexit negotiation process? Pure poison.
posted by cstross at 2:52 AM on March 14, 2017 [13 favorites]

This morning's Guardian live politics feed quotes the Times:

The Scottish National Party needs Westminster’s approval for a legally binding vote and last night Mrs May’s allies made clear that she would not allow a referendum during exit negotiations with the EU.

“The prime minister has said this would mean a vote while she was negotiating Brexit and I think that can be taken pretty clearly as a message that this timing is completely unacceptable,” a government source said. “It would be irresponsible to agree to it and we won’t.”

Another ally indicated that Mrs May was prepared to be more explicit in coming weeks and say that preparations for an independence referendum would undermine Britain’s negotiating position with the rest of the EU ...

Evidence that May knows she can't argue for and against independence at once.

My (inexpert) guess is that Sturgeon's announcement is driven by a number of reasons. She's pushed by her manifesto pledge and by how Westminster are behaving in the light of how Scotland voted in the Brexit referendum. She also knows full well that May can't argue in favour of leaving the EU while telling Scotland that independence is not in their interest - that's possibly the biggest spanner anyone can chuck at the public perception of Brexit or at the government's private negotiating tactics, so might be seen as her best bet at nixing Brexit.

Another thought: Should Scotland be able to vote on independence, which may be legally unclear right now, and should a Scotland that's voted for independence also seek to stay / rejoin the EU (also up to lawyers and to MEPs from countries with their own regional independence issues), then perhaps another goal is to become the new first choice for all the financial firms currently looking to relocate from London to the EU mainland, establishing Edinburgh as a bigger financial powerhouse? That might help to address the economic issues of Scottish independence that are related to low oil revenues and Scotland's comparatively generous welfare state.

As someone who lives in the south of England (though not in the South East), it would be interesting to watch the seat of financial power move north of the border and the resulting change in the balance of power, should the financial implications of Brexit be as bad for England as some recent reports of treasury predictions have been saying.
posted by dowcrag at 3:45 AM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seeing a lot of grumbling and whining from the shires that it's "too soon" after the last referendum, which ignores:

1. It'll be over four years between the two referendums. You know, the time length you get between when you vote in elections - in the shires.
2. Since then, Brexit has upended everything.
3. The promises made by the Westminster government at the last referendum haven't exactly come to pass.
4. Oh, and combining 2 and 3 means that Better Together 2.0 will have some awkwardness in wafting away pretty much all of what Better Together 1.0 said...
posted by Wordshore at 5:08 AM on March 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm an EU citizen living in Scotland. This morning I got an email from my MP with whom I've been in lengthy contact. I thought it might have been in reference to the IndyRef2, but it was merely a personal apology for the Brexit Bill being pushed through without any amendments guaranteeing my rights. I'm cynical enough to know that my MP is trying to paint his party - SNP - as my saviours, but I appreciated that he sent me an email after what happened last night.

The mood is different on the ground compared to 2014. Last time was about optimism and hope; this time it feels very much like it's the last chance Scotland has to escape a sinking boat. A Better Together friend lashed out at me yesterday when I pointed out that this referendum will be as much about Brexit as it will be about independence - I think her reaction foreshadows how hard & tough the next two years will be.

I'm tired and weary and wish I didn't have to live through history. Another friend said that the 2010s feel like an endless scream. I co-sign this.
posted by kariebookish at 5:26 AM on March 14, 2017 [12 favorites]

Its better than my MP, she rocked up at my place of work and told a room with quite a lot of EU staff that it was a priority to enable them to stay, since that date she has voted not to let them stay a further two times, bringing her total to four.
posted by biffa at 5:36 AM on March 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

My MP doesn't have the temerity to actually see constituents, nevermind ones who can't personally vote. His voting record is certainly reason enough to be ashamed to face the public.
posted by Dysk at 5:47 AM on March 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Back in the closing days of the last referendum, we had The Vow, in which the Lib Dems, Labour, and Tories agreed "at the eleventh hour, on 'a process' and 'a timetable' to deliver extra powers." I'm sure it swayed more than a few wavering voters, who may have thought full federalism was on the table - although it's hard to say how much difference it made. Maybe Scotland would have voted No even without The Vow.

Even at the time, commentators noted that the signatories of The Vow "had not agreed, and still do not agree, on the powers themselves," and "busy briefing that "the vow" did nothing more than re-state the party's commitment to implement the proposals contained in its Devolution Commission report published in March 2014."

Anyway, by Sept 2015, only 9% of Scots believed The Vow had been kept. Perhaps their memories will be short, but I find it hard to believe a Vow 2.0 will be as convincing as the first one was.
posted by adrianhon at 5:58 AM on March 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

My MP doesn't have the temerity to actually see constituents, nevermind ones who can't personally vote.

My previous MP was certainly of this school. We only saw her twice: once at the polling station during the last election and once when she surveyed some land local people wanted to save from bad housing developments (she was on the side of the property developers).

My current MP - Patrick Grady - has no such problems working for me even if I cannot vote for him personally. He even hosted an open surgery (akin to US town hall meeting) for EU constituents and their families in which he took questions.

I know this has been said many times and it's hard to understand for people elsewhere, but there is a genuine and strong sense that if you've chosen to make Scotland your home, then you are a Scot no matter where you were born. In an increasingly xenophobic world, this feels like a rare gift.
posted by kariebookish at 6:12 AM on March 14, 2017 [16 favorites]

kariebookish, that welcome was very strong for my daughter, even as she was only an exchange student in Edinburgh. It's so unusual in today's world, and lovely.

Something I don't see has been mentioned is that SNP seems to be the only real opposition in the UK nowadays. Labour seems weaker now than even during Thatcher. As many have said above, Sturgeon has no choice but to do what she is doing, but if there was a strong Labour on the Remain side, there would be a different discussion. And one of the reasons SNP is so strong is that Labour has self-destructed.
posted by mumimor at 8:57 AM on March 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just checked a few bookies as an indication where the money is currently going, and they are all making a YES outcome a narrow favorite.
posted by Wordshore at 10:28 AM on March 14, 2017

The post-Brexit UK economy is widely predicted to be dire - perhaps as much as a ten percent drop in GDP. It is likely that in those conditions, Westminster would have little hesitation in cutting the cash it sends to Scotland - so the definite loss of this in the case of independence is not the relative negative it would be otherwise. Neither scenario is toothsome, but if that's the price that will be paid, why not buy something worthwhile with it?

Another intriguing question, which I haven't seen discussed anywhere, is what would happen if May denied a referendum on Sturgeon's timetable, but the Scottish government went ahead and held it anyway? Obviously it would have no legal power to bind Westminster - but then, the Brexit referendum was not legally binding either. WIll of the people, and all that. I doubt this would happen, but it is hard to predict how public feeling in Scotland will move over the rest of the year as Brexit itself comes into focus and - without any doubt - May's attitude to Scotland will harden.

My feeling at this point is that independence is likely and it will be harsh, but staying in the union while being punished by a combination of the right wing's usual ineptitude at managing the economy and its active hostility towards the uppity Scots will be harsh too. And I'd much rather live in a country which respects all its people and wants to be open and progressive - and has the power to act on those wishes: in its handling of Brexit, the UK as led by May has demonstrated clearly that it is very much the opposite.
posted by Devonian at 2:08 PM on March 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

Have been discussing this with folk I know back in England and it's really, really striking how the perception of Sturgeon and the SNP outside Scotland differs from what it looks like up here. To a lot of people elsewhere they're just this ragtag collection of independence-bellowing activists in the guise of a political party, who aren't really capable of doing any serious political things and who have just lucked into some kind of power because Scotland's weird about nationalism. (Or in other words: my university's student SNP society, circa 1998.) And I like discussing politics with these people (...mostly) and they are genuinely interested, but wow have they missed a lot about the last twenty years.

Of course I don't expect everyone in England to be breathlessly following everything in Scottish politics over the past few decades. Why would you, really, if it doesn't affect you? (Although every move UKIP makes gets covered breathlessly in the news despite UKIP having one MP who they don't even like but, sigh, anyway.) And the SNP's merits are something reasonable people can disagree on, of course. But if you've managed to entirely miss the events of the last few decades where they became a mainstream, serious political party who have by this point got pretty good at politics, then it's... maybe worth a bit of a refresher before getting stuck into this phase of UK politics? And brush up on Sinn Féin while you're at it, because I suspect you're going to be hearing some more from them fairly soon as well.
posted by Catseye at 2:58 PM on March 14, 2017 [10 favorites]

I swear I was NOT trying to predict the near future in the last UK constitutional crisis thread- because in my mind these crisis were a bit farther off into the future.

It's important to note that just signaling a Scottish referendum forces everyone* in Scotland to develop a position, and forces the issue to the top of the agenda - even if it is blocked temporarily with procedural maneuvers. Just saying you want a vote makes that vote a political reality- it brings to the surface the underlying issues and forces behind independence, which can't easily be put aside or ignored.

*everyone important anyway
posted by zenon at 7:25 PM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have been discussing this with folk I know back in England and it's really, really striking how the perception of Sturgeon and the SNP outside Scotland differs from what it looks like up here.
I always thought that the tendency to provide in depth reports from far off places was an appealing aspect of British media - a hangover from the days of empire. For example "From our Own Correspondent" is, this week, offering material on Libyan shopping trips, Chinese dance competitions and Romanian Abattoirs; all delivered from reporters who have spent enough time in these places to be able to convey a feeling for them. That is pretty amazing.

As you say, it would be unreasonable to ask consumers of media in England to be au fait with every aspect of Scottish politics. But that does not excuse the news outlet who are supposed to inform them - including the big grown up ones. I find it ironic that I could expect somebody who has been following Scottish news in the American, French or Irish media to be considerably better informed than anybody who has been depending on the BBC.
posted by rongorongo at 11:23 PM on March 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

The FT article "What Nicola Sturgeon conjured from constitutional thin air" is interesting. It highlights some of the constitutional issues from a UK perspective. If we consider that there are also additional Scottish constitutional issues then the gnarliness of the obstacles that Sturgeon has in the path of May's plans for brexit become even more apparent. The EU will want to know exactly who she is speaking for and how many of the bargaining chips she actually controls.
posted by rongorongo at 1:09 AM on March 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

On the bright side, the imminent breakup of the United Kingdom into its constituent nations should mean that UKIP no longer has any reason to exist.
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:48 AM on March 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Phantom Power films have been issuing an interesting series of films featuring those moving "From no to yes" - such as this one from this morning (from an American resident in Scotland).
posted by rongorongo at 2:55 AM on March 15, 2017

Another intriguing question, which I haven't seen discussed anywhere, is what would happen if May denied a referendum on Sturgeon's timetable, but the Scottish government went ahead and held it anyway?

Denying the vote would almost certainly boost the vote for independence, which is a good reason for a union-minded PM to allow it.

But then May keeps making bad moves (I can't decide if she's wedded to the extreme right of her party or is just politically clumsy), so I wouldn't be too surprised if she wanted to block the vote.
posted by mushhushshu at 3:00 AM on March 15, 2017

Two things:

1) the case for Scottish independence is not just one made by the SNP. The Scottish Greens are also strongly pro-independence and they wield more power in Scotland than the Green Party does south of the border.

2) Sturgeon is a trained lawyer; May studied Geography at Oxford before working in Financial Services. I know they have a tonne of civil servants behind them and that they've both worked in politics for years, but Sturgeon may have a simple advantage here.

Anyhow. We'll see what happens. I hope for some sort of certainty towards the end of this long, long decade.
posted by kariebookish at 3:56 AM on March 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

But then May keeps making bad moves (I can't decide if she's wedded to the extreme right of her party or is just politically clumsy), so I wouldn't be too surprised if she wanted to block the vote.

Have you considered the possibility that May herself is just batshit right wing, rather than doing irrationally stupid things for the sake of politicking or others in her party? I mean, she's a fucking Tory - there's a hard limit to her savvy and political sense.
posted by Dysk at 4:59 AM on March 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

So, speculation that Theresa May will agree to a referendum if the SNP get a majority in a Scottish Parliament election in 2020. Which I suppose from her perspective is not a bad strategy: delays until after Brexit negotiations, plays nicely to a lot of England who can see it as her Talking Tough and will bear the message that the SNP are a minority government without knowing the background, makes a very tough task for the SNP to get a majority in a proportional voting system designed to prevent majority governments. OTOH, they managed it in 2011 and they're only a few seats short now.

It would be awful for those of us in Scotland though if the 2020 elections end up being explicitly designed as a single issue thing on independence, though. It's bad enough with the local council elections - "vote for me and send a message to the SNP that we don't want another referendum!" Yeah, that's not your remit. Wheelie bins is your remit. Tell me what you're going to do about my wheelie bins.
posted by Catseye at 6:38 AM on March 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

(Also, we are surely not due another Holyrood election in 2020 but I definitely heard 2020 mentioned as a date. Misreporting? Early election? Extra Bonus Fun Election? Hmm.)
posted by Catseye at 6:52 AM on March 15, 2017

Have you considered the possibility that May herself is just batshit right wing, rather than doing irrationally stupid things for the sake of politicking or others in her party?

Unlike the overtly batshit wing of her party, she doesn't spend a lot of time saying batshit things. That's not disregarding her tenure at the Home Office or the things she's done since becoming PM, but there's a distinct difference between her behaviour and that of IDS, Redwood, etc. Tories don't tend to be retiring when it comes to fringe views, after all.
posted by mushhushshu at 8:04 AM on March 15, 2017

It's such utter bullshit to demand that the SNP get a majority in the 2020 elections. Even if we were to entertain this notion, shouldn't it be for a pro-referendum coalition? In which case... don't they have one now with the help of the Greens? FFS.
posted by adrianhon at 8:47 AM on March 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

there's a distinct difference between her behaviour and that of IDS, Redwood, etc.

There's a certain difference in their rhetoric, in how careful or measured they are with the press, perhaps, but I see no evidence of any meaningful difference in their actual actions as politicians.
posted by Dysk at 9:48 AM on March 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Things are about to step up their level of interesting for Tautology Theresa as a stack of allegations about illegal election spending have just made their way formally to the Crown Prosecution Services, relating to an 'election bus' that already is tarnished with the suicide of an activist under a regime of bullying.

Buses and Tories never seem to go well... Her own brand of transportation-and-sloganeering was another example of astounding bad judgement and impotence.
posted by davemee at 11:06 AM on March 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

There have been solidarity with migrants protests in the UK since last June, the largest of which was probably One Day Without Us. There is a protest in London on Saturday 25th March too.
Not saying that there shouldn't be more, but they do exist.
posted by asok at 12:30 PM on March 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

The election expense fraud files implicate up to 20 Tory MPs, considerably more than the party's majority.

Maths is fun!
posted by Devonian at 5:15 PM on March 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

And the Electoral Commission has fined the Conservatives £70,000 for numerous electoral expense sins - bad or missing documentation, funds misuse, overspend, etc. Its also recommending criminal charges against the party treasurer. It might look like a small amount - it is - but it's historically high and the Commission is very limited here.

Meanwhile, Tezza has said 'no' to Indyref2 - 'now is not the time', 'we must work together', etc. And that it would be 'unfair to the people of Scotland' to be asked to vote on something where they didn't know the consequences of the outcome.

Yeah. She said those words without her head actually turning into a giant glowing clump of hypocritium.

What part of 'working together' do you not understand, Theresa? Oh, just about all of it. (That link is a tax wonk talking about how Westminster refuses to provide the Scottish gov with the data it needs to do its job - a huge problem across the board, which I expect to be much more widely discussed soon.)
posted by Devonian at 6:27 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

How soon isn't now?
- we shall of course wait to hear if May will actually block a section 30 order.
posted by rongorongo at 6:51 AM on March 16, 2017

Nicola Sturgeon just now on Twitter (welcome to Scottish politics, this is how we roll):
.@scotgov is not proposing #scotref now...but when the terms of Brexit clear and before it is too late to choose an alternative path. 1/4

2/4 a section 30 order must be discussed and agreed now to enable that timescale.

3/3 If the Tories refuse to do so, they would effectively be blocking Scotland's right to choose when the Brexit terms clear...

4/4 this would be undemocratic given @scotgov clear mandate and also proof positive that the Tories fear the verdict of the Scottish people.

One last point - if PM thinks we won't know terms of Brexit by autumn next year, she must think her own timetable will fail.
posted by Catseye at 7:00 AM on March 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

May will want to wait until a such a time that any EU citizens in Scotland are not allowed to vote in any referendum.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 8:55 AM on March 16, 2017

The Scottish government sets eligability for voting in Scottish elections and referendums.
posted by Devonian at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Trap Springs
(Derek Bateman's assessment here is the same as Ian Dunt's above - but he writes from a Scottish perspective). The notion of both parties attempting to pull the carpet out from underneath each other is a gift to cartoonists, I think.
posted by rongorongo at 10:36 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the somewhat heartening info Devonian.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 4:53 PM on March 16, 2017

The difficulty with any crowd funded/unofficial referendum is that it will be easy to boycott and make illegitimate. So one of Sturgeon's options is to resign with no deputy in place, and trigger a Scottish parliamentary election. This could easily be campaigned as a "Stay in Europe" vote, and if done before Scotland leaves the UK might have some legitimacy in the eyes of the EU.

It would be a drastic gamble for Sturgeon, but would be honourable and allow the Scots to have their voice recorded. Yes, it might result in independence - but it wouldn't be Scotland walking away from a viable union.
posted by scruss at 11:30 AM on March 18, 2017

There;s aooarently going to be a poll in the Observer tomorrow putting Yes at 47 to 44, and others show the SNP's support among voters on the rise too. Add to that figures that show UK voters as a whole think Brexit will break up the UK and are OK with that, and the momentum is starting to build.
posted by Devonian at 1:06 PM on March 18, 2017

Talking about UK stability, media twitter is full of rumors about May calling a snap election in early May.

(Labour, while horribly behind in the polls, might be willing to go along with it, after all their new "word of mouth" fighting technique is unstoppable, sources say.)
posted by effbot at 3:48 AM on March 20, 2017

Wait wait, I thought that Now Is Not The Time for huge national votes on the country's future?
posted by Catseye at 4:12 AM on March 20, 2017

Mike Russell on Twitter just now:
Thank you @BBCNews for letting JMC members like me know that #Article50 is to be triggered next week. @GOVUK somehow forgot to inform us.
posted by Catseye at 6:20 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

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