One of the major issues ahead of the Scottish Parliament election on the 6th of May 2021 is the ongoing question of Scottish independence from the rest of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to hold an advisory referendum on independence if her party wins a majority in these Holyrood elections, regardless of whether or not the Westminster government permits her to do so.
It is patently clear that the political landscape has shifted enough since the 2014 Scottish independence referendum to render that result (55.3 % No, 44.7 % Yes) meaningless in the present climate and we need to put the question to the electorate again, now that the goalposts have been moved by Brexit.
Seven years ago, the No Campaign were running ‘project fear’ and claiming that an independent Scotland would find it difficult to re-join the EU. We were repeatedly told by Alistair Darling, David Cameron et al, that the best way to keep Scotland in the EU was to vote No.
Plenty of people, including myself, took those words at face value and voted No, fearful of losing our freedom to travel, live and work freely in the other 27 EU member states. Then Brexit happened and Scotland was pulled out of the EU against its will, despite a large majority of the Scottish electorate voting ‘remain’ in that particular referendum.
Therefore, a major tenet of the 2014 No Campaign turned out to be false and many votes were swung by that falsehood. We can’t stand by and let the future of a country be dictated by such a compromised ballot. The only way to put matters right is to ask the electorate again in the light of recent developments. I know I’ll be voting differently next time and I suspect many others will too.
Now there’s no longer any ‘danger’ of losing EU membership if Scotland votes for independence, and I believe that the EU would welcome Scotland back with open arms if it decided to apply to join. Plenty of smaller and poorer countries than Scotland function perfectly well as independent nations, and there’s no reason that an independent Scotland can’t be a success.
Therefore, I hope that the SNP do get a clear majority in May and go ahead and hold that referendum in order to let the Scottish people determine their own future now that Britain’s relationship with the EU has become a bit clearer.
I believe in the value of unions, and the bigger the union, the more beneficial it can be. Therefore, I would value Scotland’s potential membership of the EU over their continued membership of the UK and the permanent Tory government that’s almost guaranteed by our archaic first-past-the-post electoral system since Labour support collapsed north of the border.
The SNP won 63 of the 129 seats in 2016’s parliamentary election, just two shy of the 65 needed for an absolute majority, but they were able to form a minority administration that has endured throughout the five year term.
They have since dropped to 61 seats due to the suspension from the party of Mark McDonald and Derek Mackay (of the Aberdeen Donside and Renfrewshire North and West constituencies respectively), who both now sit as independents.
If they can pick up the extra handful of seats that they require for a majority on the 6th of May 2021, then Nicola Sturgeon will believe that she has been handed a mandate to hold another independence referendum and she should feel emboldened to go ahead and do so. I hope that Scotland gets that chance to vote on its future at the earliest opportunity.