Alan – this is a response to your Facebook piece of last Sunday.
I’ve computed the SNP wins in the General Election and the average majority is 10,013 per seat. This is far and away beyond a landslide, particularly when you think that many of the majorities overturned were themselves of the order of 10-15,000, notably in Glasgow. And in view of the majorities in the single seats won by each of the other parties (817 for LD in Orkney, 798 Con in Dumfriesshire, 2637 Labour in Edinburgh South), if 4,500 votes had gone the other way – out of 1.4m – the SNP would have won all the seats in Scotland. Surely this means that if the SNP plays its cards right, the voters will never go back to Labour. I feel very confident of Nicola’s judgment in this regard.
Other statistics I’ve been considering arise from the three-university post-mortem analysis of the independence referendum, at
From this some interesting facts emerge:
1. 52.7% of voters born in Scotland voted Yes.
2. 72.1% of voters born ‘in the rest of the UK’ voted No. Such voters were 344,000 in total or just under 10% of the ‘electorate’.
3. A majority of 16-18-year-olds voted No.
Finally, let me mention the Spanish lecturer at St Andrews University of my acquaintance who voted No – thus cancelling out my Yes vote – because she was opposed to Basque and Catalan separatism in Spain – even though the Spanish government had already ruled out a referendum in those regions in which, say, a Scottish resident of Barcelona might have had a vote. Definitely an illegitimate No, in my eyes. Food for thought in deciding who will be the referendum ‘electorate’ next time round.
Issues we will have to look out for over the next few years are:
- Trident – where the SNP will be outvoted by Lab/Con/Lib, but will gain credit as the only party opposed;
- The in-out referendum on the EU (threatening, but unlikely to result in an ‘out’ vote and the possibility of SNP UDI to stay in the EU);
- the Human Rights Act, where the SNP will have to act fast and firmly to invoke the Sewell Commission and to stop it applying in Scotland.
For my part, I’m hard put to imagine which of these, or which other conceivable event, would constitute the ‘significant change in circumstances’ that Nicola would see as calling for a second referendum. Incidentally, unlike Salmond she did not say, in the 2014 referendum campaign, that the vote was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ decision. It was a random remark by Salmond, and when she was confronted with it later in the same day she looked genuinely surprised and politely disagreed, muttering something about ‘five years maybe’. Only loyalty to Salmond has kept her from recalling this, and it’s still a monkey on the SNP’s back, which all the UK media and hostile parties exploited to the hilt during the campaign.
Another thing – don’t mistake the media for English opinion. I was recently in the south of England for two weeks and I detect a shift of opinion down South on Scottish independence since the referendum. Many more people seem reconciled to the prospect. Some say ‘Good luck to you.’ The idea that Scots are being ‘disloyal’, for whatever force it had, has weakened. Open-minded people are heartened by many of the SNP stances. All in all though, I think that Ed Miliband was still too New Labour to be a worthy partner. After all, he chose to believe the Daily Telegraph smear that Nicola had maligned him to the French ambassador. He chose to do this for opportunistic electoral reasons, instead of waiting for the truth to come out. That makes him unreliable, in my eyes.
Gordon Wilson said on TV that the next referendum would come ‘between 5 and 20 years’. I think he has his ear to the ground – after all, he’s old enough now not to see another 20 years. He also said that the important thing for the SNP is not to hold another referendum, but to win it. But a lengthy good political record by the SNP at both Holyrood and Westminster is definitely a way to ensure that.
Finally, I hope that the steam hasn’t gone out of Common Weal. We must keep going for the long haul.