Yes Edinburgh North & Leith Blog
Remember the respect agenda? You know, way back, when the UK Conservative Prime Minister did what his advisers told him, bit his tongue, visited Edinburgh, accepted the inevitability of a referendum on independence, shook hands with all and sundry and made a big play about the "respect agenda". Scotland as a political entity could look forward to a bright new future, we were assured, a brand new era of being treated as equals by the rest of the UK. Come what may. Ringing any bells?
Almost everybody who worked for a Yes vote, or observed the referendum impartially, would say that the reality of the No campaign was somewhat different, somewhat less edifying and respectful. Few dictionaries include fallacious slurs and constant bombardments of unfounded fears in their definition of respect.
Yes campaigners were "respectfully" called "separatists", "blood and soil nationalists" and even "Nazis". The people of Scotland were going to "respectfully" lose our currency, jobs, health service, pensions, education system, prosperity, etc. In reality though, most of that was made up and spouted by home-grown Scottish Unionists rather than the UK government.
Down Westminster way, the depth of the respect for Scotland, not to mention the other parts of the UK, was trumpeted from the pavement of Downing St. the morning after the referendum, when the Prime Minister addressed the pressing issue of day. No, not how The Vow to the people of Scotland would be fulfilled as soon as possible but English Votes for English Laws.
Some might claim that this lack of respect for Scotland led more or less directly to a record number of SNP MPs in Westminster after the last UK election, but Mr. Cameron – emboldened by his new absolute majority – has pressed on with his somewhat unconventional definition of the term.
So what does the Brexit referendum mean for independence? Much has been said about what happens if the vote is to leave but Scotland wants to stay. But what might happen to support for Independence if the vote is to remain? David Cameron has, I believe, in his narrow mindedness, given the Yes campaign a gift wrapped opportunity for us to persuade a vital few percentage of No voters that voting Yes is the less risky option.
I suspect that if we vote to stay, then the No campaign, let’s call it "Honestly We Are Better Together" next time round will say that Indy remains the main threat to continued membership. They will say that the question has been answered and the UK’s position in Europe is assured. But if Cameron thinks he will unite the Tory party once and for all behind him with a Remain vote he is more a fool than he appears to be. The sentiment will not go away, the Out faction of the Tories and UKIP will lick their wounds and continue to agitate and that agitation will continue to get news headlines, UKIP will continue to win seats and get an unbalanced amount of press coverage.
BT's strategy first time (and all the evidence suggests they would revert to it next time too), was to show the risks that Indy could bring, and to provide a solution to the fear they created by highlighting the safety of the status quo and what was known. What they did well regarding the EU was contrast the safety of the known with the fear of the unknown. After Brexit, even if Remain win they will not be able to rely on that again, they will have associated voting No with a very real fear of being taken out of Europe. They have, to use a wonderful expression - pissed on their own chips.
What Brexit will do is teach EU voters concerned about their future, that voting No was not a way to reduce their fears, it was in fact the opposite. Whilst the threat posed by Yes was a hypothetical one, one the voters were invited to imagine, Brexit makes the threat posed by No, much more powerful, it makes the fear very real and concreate. It will be a fear and uncertainly that the pro Europe No voters will now have experienced on a daily basis about their future as they listened to the news, heard the opinion polls and endured endless debates but crucially were powerless to do anything about as they could not vote.
When the second independence referendum comes round, we can confidently say that voting No is no guarantee of staying in the EU, and unlike the first time, the voters will know this to be true as they will have their own emotional memory to rely on and remember how powerlessness and scared they felt. They may not believe us that we will definitely stay in, but unlike the first referendum, neither will they believe that voting no will definitely keep them in either. One of the main pillars of the attraction of the status quo has been removed, not by us, but by our opposition.