Author Mark Fairlie
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced back in March this year that she planned to trigger a second independence referendum on Scotland’s membership in the UK. Up until now, it has been common belief that the Scottish people did not support this idea, but new research suggests otherwise.
In the Brexit vote, 52% of the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU, yet Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain. In fact, every council in Scotland saw Remain majorities in the referendum.
Many felt the Leave outcome was not representative of the overall Scottish opinion, once again sparking political talk of Scotland leaving the UK.
The original referendum for Scottish independence took place in September 2014 and cost the government just over £15.8million. With the highest turnout of voters for an election or referendum in UK history, 84.6% of the Scottish electorate answered the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
The ‘No’ side won by a 55.3% majority, with the main campaign group stating the UK was “Better Together”. First Minister and leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, Sturgeon, was a leading supporter of and campaigner for the ‘Yes’ vote which only won in four councils.
Following the Brexit results, which went against the expressed Scottish will, it seems another referendum is on the cards.
The First Minister has stressed that she must “respect” the views of those cautious of Brexit before calling another separation vote. However the Scottish Nationalist Party’s deputy leader, Angus Robertson, recently promised at an SNP conference in Glasgow that there “will” be another referendum “as soon as” possible.
Do the Scottish people really want Indyref2?Sturgeon and the SNP have received a great deal of backlash from critics for wanting to run a second independence referendum, with many feeling the results of Indyref fell on deaf ears.
Former Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, currently starring in ITV’s “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!”, stated that the threat of an unwanted second independence referendum was “dead”. She continued to say that the suggestion of Indyref2 was just “the first minister digging her heels in, putting her fingers in her ears, and pressing on regardless.”
Dugdale feels that Sturgeon is not listening to popular opinion, saying “the people of Scotland sent her a clear message at the general election: get on with the day job.”
Similarly, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson believes all plans for another referendum should be cancelled. She also said Sturgeon “should just give the country some certainty and take it off the table for the rest of this parliament at least.”
However, new research goes to suggest that the First Minister has not been misreading the mood of the Scottish people entirely.
A study commissioned by the Scottish Independence Convention has found that people in Scotland will, in fact, be ready to vote again by early 2020.
The research, carried out by associate professor in marketing at Heriot-Watt University Dr Iain Black, contradicts popular belief. Despite the results of the first Indyref, voters will be ready to consider leaving the UK again “in about two to three years’ time from now”.
Dr Black said the key thing he found from the research was that “Brexit would have to have started to bite and that it was starting to make an impact on people’s lives.” Using a series of focus groups with Scots from both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides, Black formed a view of the overall feeling toward another referendum.
He also said the research showed that “people are not going to see independence as a way out of Brexit until they had seen the impact of Brexit,” but once people understand how Scotland will be affected, they will be more open to the idea of a referendum.
Prime Minister Theresa May rejected Sturgeon’s initial pleading for a second referendum, stating “now is not the time”. And now, it seems the Scottish people would agree. According to Black, Scotland should be ready for an Indyref2 as early as 2020.