I spoke to 8 Canadian radio stations this morning about the independence referendum. Here are the sorts of points we discussed. If any relate to Quebec, I relied almost completely on notes provided by Professor Nicola McEwen at the SCCC.
- It’sanailbiter. What are the latest polls saying?
- The ‘poll of polls’ continues to show 52 No and 48 Yes if we remove undecided
- Undecided was once over 20%, now down to a few % in some polls
- There was one poll last week with Yes on 51%.
- It appeared to produce panic among the No camp
- Now, we are back to the small lead for No
- Women and older people more likely to vote no
- What’s fueling the “Yes” campaign? How longstanding is the Scottish desire to separate?
- Long history since union in 1707
- Scotland maintained separate institutions (education, law, religious organisation) and you saw indicators of nationalism when they were threatened
- Post-war period saw high attachment to the UK and welfare state
- As that diminished, SNP support rose
- 1970 breakthrough in Westminster
- 1999 presence in Scottish Parliament
- Key: 2011 majority government allowed it to have a referendum
- By the last interview (Vancouver), I realised that people were also asking me about the Yes campaign, so we talked briefly about national identity, but also the big arguments by parts of the Yes campaign – the appeal to social democracy, the prospect of a more prosperous country, an appeal to protect the welfare state, and to have a country in which people did not receive a Conservative government.
- What are the strongest arguments for the “No” side?
- Big focus on uncertainty
- Economic consequences – currency union, loss of Bank of England, capital flight and businesses moving, smaller budgets, North Sea oil running out
- Smaller focus on positive aspects of the union, although the ‘lovebomb’ by UK party leaders has now begun, with cancellation of PMQs and trips to Scotland
- Then, there is the Gordon Brown factor – don’t leave your comrades behind
- If no, ‘guarantee’ of further economic devolution (some taxes, borrowing, some social security benefits)
- Canada has had its own experiences with Independence votes. We’ve had two of them in Quebec. To what extent, if at all, has Scotland learned from the Quebec example?
- We hear about the Yes lead in 1995 but a No win in the polls
- Some talk about the ‘neverendum’
Bigger comparisons (provided by Nicola):
- Not the same language or culture issue
- Relative absence of grievance in Scotland about the idea of ‘repatriation of the constitution’
- Scottish parliament less powerful than Canadian provinces – taxes, benefits, energy policy, etc. – So, if Scotland votes No, there is still a lot of road left on the devolution journey.
- Devolution not federalism. England makes a federal solution difficult.
- Quebec sovereignty would have created a big physical hole in the middle of Canada, separating Atlantic Canada from the rest. Scottish Independence doesn’t pose the same geographical threat to the rest of the UK’s continued unity
- In the event of a “yes” win…what happens then?
- Scottish Government talks about 18 months of negotiations
- Stay in the EU until legal process sorted, which could take longer
- But in both their interests to be quick, to calm the markets and appear competent
- Big negotiations – currency union, Scotland’s share of debt, Trident
- Constitution building in Scotland – interim then ‘civic society’ promise
- Less change in institutions like the Scottish Parliament and likely to be a lot of policy continuity in already-devolved areas.
- It must be tense there now…what’s the mood like in Scotland in the lead up to the referendum?
- Bizarre atmosphere
- The 51% yes poll was like a shock to the system
- Very hard to predict what will happen
- Big focus, quite exciting, after long boring campaign
I also did Canada morning TV recently:
I follow up on most of these issues in a large number of blogs here – https://paulcairney.wordpress.com/indyref/