On Wednesday June 28th, Good Morning Scotland broadcast a discussion between the host of the programme Gary Robertson, and his BBC colleague Glenn Campbell.
The discussion centred on a statement given to the Scottish Parliament the day before by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on her plans for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Below is my own analysis of this interview together with relevant segments from the interview. The full interview can be heard at the bottom of this article. The analysis begins with the intro from Gary Robertson’s co-presenter, Hayley Millar.
1. Abandoned plans
Really? This is news to me. The First Minister has delayed legislation required to formally hold a second indyref but that doesn’t mean a Spring 2019 ballot has been scrapped.
2. Nicola Sturgeon’s timetable delayed
This is unclear to the point of being misleading. Nicola Sturgeon did indeed give the timetable as stated, but this timetable wasn’t because she wanted it, it was determined by statements provided by Theresa May.
Indeed in terms of delay, any second referendum has always had a built in delay. It’s just that the corrupt Scottish media preferred to portray the timetable as one of Nicola Sturgeon’s choosing and that was rigid.
Glenn Campbell makes two key leaps here in order to justify his claim that a second independence referendum will be delayed by a year or more from Autumn 2018. The first is that it will take six months for legislation to be prepared. The second is that this legislation must have been cleared for at least six months before the referendum.
Campbell ignores the fact that the required legislation has already been worked on for almost a year. It is unlikely that this will differ much from legislation used for the 2014 indyref. Passing this legislation in the Scottish parliament should be a formality.
Also the Electoral Commission merely recommends that legislation be in place for six months before any ballot. It is, as yet, not a legal requirement.
In its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on a second referendum last year, the commission said:
“We recommend that in planning for any future referendums the Scottish Government should manage the development and approval of legislation for future referendums (including any secondary legislation containing detailed rules for the administration of the referendum poll and regulatory controls) so that it is clear at least six months before it is required to be implemented or complied with by campaigners or electoral administrators.”
Moreover, given that an independence referendum is not an unknown quantity it is reasonable to assume that the commission would take a pragmatic approach in terms of lead time should time be of the essence.
4. Left the EU
There is no ‘indyref-ometer’. Nicola Sturgeon was answering a question from Brian Taylor and simply refused to be drawn when the BBC reporter asked if a referendum was still highly-likely. This isn’t surprising as she tries to move the debate onto Brexit.
Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t abandoned her “preferred timetable” because it was never her ‘preferred timetable’ to begin with. The original timetable was always the most likely timetable based on comments at the time from Theresa May.
Campbell claims a second independence referendum will only now be held once the UK as a whole has left the European Union. This claim was also made by Sarah Smith on Tuesday evening. There is no justification for saying this. There are several scenarios that might allow a second independence referendum to take place after the Brexit negotiations conclude but before the UK formally leaves the European Union.
5. Rejoin EU
Nicola Sturgeon has indeed mooted the idea of Scotland joining the European Free Trade Area but only as a way of keeping Scotland in the Single Market as part of the UK.
Speaking to the Scottish Parliament’s convenors group in November last year, the First Minister said:
“I’ve set out very clearly I want the UK as a whole to stay in the single market and so to the extent that we can wield any influence UK-wide we will try to help steer the UK government away from a hard Brexit towards staying in the single market.
“But if the UK is intent on a hard Brexit and coming out of the single market, I want to look at how we could, and I’m not for a minute saying there wouldn’t be challenges associated with this, but whether we could find a way of protecting Scotland’s place in the single market.
“And of course models like EFTA, Norway is in EFTA, EFTA countries apart from Switzerland are also in the single market through the European Economic Area.
“So, of course, these are models that we’re looking at and we will, as I’ve said previously, publish some proposals and an option, or perhaps different options, about how this could be achieved hopefully before the end of the year.”
Of course if Scotland can secure its Single Market membership then, as Nicola Sturgeon herself has already said, the ‘Brexit Indyref’ comes off the table.
What Glenn Campbell has done is extrapolate what he says will be a significant delay in legislation, added on the European Commission recommendation of six months before a referendum can be held and come to the conclusion that the next independence referendum cannot be held until Scotland is completely outside the EU.
He uses this to inject a scenario that sees the SNP holding its own EU referendum. This is complete fantasy masquerading as impartial analysis. He finishes off by insisting that this EU referendum is something the SNP is going to have to consider. Really?
6. Nothing has changed
This is the most ironic section of all. Glenn Campbell has pretty much accused Nicola Sturgeon of altering her whole second referendum stance, yet here he is citing Willie Rennie who says nothing has changed. They can’t both be correct. Did Willie Rennie hear a different statement to the one Glenn Campbell is summarising? One of them is talking crap. I know which one my money is on.
7. Indyref tomorrow
Who in the SNP is asking for a second independence referendum tomorrow, next week or even next month? The answer is nobody. Where this question came from is anyone’s guess.
Glenn Campbell seems to be making this stuff up or relying on educated guesswork. I have yet to find anyone linked to the SNP who was anything other than very happy with the First Minister’s statement.
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