Let’s nail the ‘once in a generation’ myth

indyref2 voteRuth Davidson is at it again.  In an article published by the Sunday Herald the Scottish Conservative leader, and now the de-facto leader of Better Together Mk II, wheels out one of the well-worn canards that has become the basis for opposing a second independence referendum.

In her article, Davidson writes:

‘Alex Salmond is back touring the TV studios. And today we will hear the calls for a re-run of a vote we held just two years ago. At least one thing does feel a long time ago: the SNP’s pledge that the vote be “once in a generation”.’

The SNP never pledged that a referendum on independence should have been “once in a generation”.  It was a view expressed by Alex Salmond in a TV interview.  The former First Minister added that this was a personal view and not party policy, as the clip below shows.

It’s true that the party line at the time of the independence referendum was that it was a once in a generation ‘opportunity’ or ‘event’.  Indeed Nicola Sturgeon herself confirmed as much in TV interviews as can be seen below.

But believing the independence referendum to be a once-in-a-generation ‘opportunity’ or ‘event’ is not the same as ruling another out for a generation.  At the time of the remarks, and given the historical precedent of the 1979 devolution referendum, it was a perfectly reasonable assumption to make by the SNP.

Respect the result

Running in tandem with the ‘once-in-a-generation’ line from people like Ruth Davidson is the claim that by touting the idea of a second independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon is failing to respect the 2014 result.

It’s a lie that has persisted ever since the Yes movement refused to disappear after September 18th 2014.  Unionists of course want nothing more than to go back to the way things were.  It’s euphemistically referred to as ‘the day job’ by Ruth and her Unionist allies at Holyrood.

Davidson writes:

‘Clearly, this case is still going to be contested over the coming years. The SNP has decided that the case for independence will still be promoted despite the 2014 result. People may wish that were not the case, but it is clear that the Union will be stress tested once more.’

The truth is of course that the result of the 2014 referendum has indeed been respected by the SNP.  Had it not, then the SNP led Scottish government would have declared UDI.

What nobody could have forecast was David Cameron’s ‘English votes for English laws’, the myriad broken Better Together pledges and the unexpected result of the EU referendum.  The 2014 Indyref result also saw the Yes movement consolidate around the SNP and Labour disintegrate.

The first referendum should have been a once in a generation opportunity.  It is Unionists themselves who have pushed it back onto the agenda sooner than expected.  Brexit was the final ingredient in this Unionist Indyref2 recipe.

Writing in her Sunday Herald article Ruth Davidson adds:

‘I do not believe the result in the EU referendum is the “trigger” than the SNP claims it to be. I agree with Jim Sillars’ point that “the SNP Government did not win a majority, nor has it a mandate” for a second referendum. That is why I and my Scottish Conservative MSPs will vote against any referendum bill which Nicola Sturgeon puts before us.’

Ruth Davidson is entitled to argue that Brexit is not a trigger for Indyref2 and to vote against a second independence referendum.  She is also entitled to agree with Jim Sillars.

However what Davidson fails to address is how she will react when she inevitably loses that vote.  Whether she likes it or not, the SNP very specifically included the possibility of Scotland being dragged out of the European Union as a trigger in the party manifesto.  We know the Scottish Greens also fought on a pro-independence platform.  Patrick Harvie will back any proposal for a second independence referendum when it is put before the Scottish parliament.

Davidson concludes her piece with the following:

‘So – I say no to a second referendum on independence. I don’t want to go back to the divisive campaign we finished two years ago today. Rather, I want us to go forward together, building on the history we have written together, to create a new Union that suits us all.’

Here Davidson deludes herself.  The referendum result of 2014 finished that particular campaign.  That is over.  However in the interim we have seen the emergence of another Britain.  It is the Britain of Evel, the Britain of European exclusion … the Britain that backtracked on The Vow.

So Ruth, Scotland opted to remain part of a United Kingdom that no longer exists.  We voted for promises that never materialised, including protection of our European membership.

We respected the result.  It was your party that didn’t.  The new campaign has already begun.  Indyref2 is coming.  Deal with it.

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13 thoughts on “Let’s nail the ‘once in a generation’ myth

  1. Joe McDonagh

    “Once in a generation”? Rubbish. Ruthie should take note that even if Alex and Nicola or whoever did say that as in a ‘set in stone’ policy then they would not speak for me as I did not desire that. Ruthie, come to the realisation that it does not work that way. Politicians will do as WE say and if we want another referendum them by god we will have one.

  2. pivot hedge

    where are these voters suffering from fatigue?? putting an x in a box isnt tiring at all. maybe counting up all those supposedly secret postal ballots in a locked room in london was tiring for her. it will be even more tiring next time counting up the mountains of postal ballots when the turnout is 110% like some shameless third world dictatorship.

    1. Philip Maughan

      Re.postal ballots / vote counting. In 2014 there wasn’t an exit poll because such polls are only deemed useful when you can bench-mark them against a previous poll. However for IndyRef2 we can do an exit poll using the 2014 result as a comparison.

  3. Mark

    Regardless of what Alex may or may not have said in whatever context , it did not say on the ballot paper it was a one time only ballot for this generation nor did it state that in the Scotland Act signed by the FM and the PM. Alex was an MSP and FM of an SNP party and government respectively, he did not speak for me or the wider indy movement and nowhere does it say a voter cannot change his/her mind on a vote at a later date and seek another ballot

  4. Dr Jim

    Democracy, something the Tories of all colours abandoned a very long time ago
    In the case of Scotland or indeed any country which purports to support democracy, if the will of the people is such that a desired outcome be pursued it is the duty of government to attempt to fulfill that desire, to not do so would be dictatorship and as the SNP are a democratic political party and represent the largest political support in Scotland they are duty bound by this, and certain commitments contained within their manifesto on which they were elected

    Once again I say, the SNP are not Tories who would, and do subvert the will of the electorate or indeed misrepresent that will to favour their own financial outcomes and not to favour the benefit of the country

    If the Tories or Labour had been in power in Scotland and had commited to not having a referendum on anything but the majority of the electorate decided otherwise, that electorate would have to wait and vote for a party at the next elections who would commit to such

    Unionists are only peeved by the fear of losing as they clearly came so close the last time, and it’s puzzling from these parties who confidently repeat their mantra that nobody in Scotland wants a referendum on self determination so what are they worried about

    It can’t possibly be that it somehow is a distraction from “the day job” as the opposers say it is as Scotland output and data figures NHS Housing Building Sector Tourism Food and Drink and just about every industry in Scotland is indisputably booming so the SNP must be getting something right considering never in the history of Scotland has any other party come even close to the numbers the SNP achieve and the co opreation they receive from business, for goodness sake Scotland is at the forefront in the world on climate change and has been lauded for that very thing which of course is against a backdrop of Tories at Westminster forsaking Green Issues once again to pursue financial personal gain on Nuclear stupidity

    No, sorry NO voters you really don’t have a leg to stand on unless it happens to be a sectarian bigoted “Ruth Davidson for a strong opposition party” leg which was so embarrassed by her own party she couldn’t even mention the word Conservative, however Murdo Fraser managed to get in his sectarian football references in with the famous queens eleven Tweets naughty naughty Murdo you little bigot you

  5. DW1

    We have a new generation anyway in political and cultural terms.

    Pre and Post Brexit.

    Leaving the EU is the biggest political change in decades. We could lose our freedoms to travel, live, trade, study or work anywhere in Europe without restrictions.

    1. jdman

      Of course you know the difference between winning and losing was in fact 5% +1 not 11%! but you knew that didnt you?
      if 11% had swtched from no to yes we would have won by 56% to 44%

  6. Marcus

    You people are delusional. Regarding indy1, Salmon and Sturgeon have twisted the “once in a generation” comment to say it was only a personal view and not in any SNP policy.

    The EU referendum however, was factual. The wording on the paper was absolutely crystal clear.

    As a reminder, the wording was Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the the European Union, or should the United Kingdom Leave the European Union.

    It’s a simple easy to understand question. I’m not sure what part the SNP doesn’t understand.

    It did not say but if the majority of people in Scotland votes to remain then Scotland can have another Indy referendum.

    But anyway, if the Scottish people are that stupid that they will vote to leave the United Kingdom, then I for 1 will wish you good luck with that and hope you enjoy your new destination of being dictated to by Brusselles.

    1. Brian Allan

      It’s good of you to offer wishes of good luck but I’m not sure it’ll be needed. I gather that you’re not Scottish. That being the case then may I point out that there is a big difference in outlook from a Scottish perspective. Your view is of someone withdrawing from external rule. The stupid Scot however, will always be ruled by Westminster until Independence is achieved. Obviously, most Scots can hack ‘rule’ by Europe more than rule from Westminster. As an Independent Country, that is their stupid prerogative.

      Good luck to you btw. I think you may need it more than the ‘Stupid’ Scottish People

  7. Molly's Mum (@SNPsoosie)

    I am a YES campaigner – I voted for a pro-independence party in the GE15, the SP16 and in the EU ref because they were standing for Remain and I wanted to remain in the EU. Next year I will vote for that party in local elections. That party, of which I an active member, is the SNP.

    if the SNP suddenly decided they were no longer a party of independence for Scotland I wouldn’t vote for them, but they stand on that manifesto. As they keep winning elections, it looks like a lot of other folk like me voted for that manifesto too.

    Who is Ruth Davidson to tell me I can’t have another referendum if I want one ? I voted for it – if I’d wanted tory policies and ideology, and no second referendum, I would have voted for her party. But I didn’t.

    It’s not what Nicola or Alex says about the 2014 referendum being the “once in a lifetime, or generation” or whenever, although it is well documented that those words have been taken out of context again and again. But even if they HAD said them, no matter – I want a second indy referendum and no-one, not Ruth, nor Kezia, nor the SNP will me deny this if it is the WILL OF THE PEOPLE. And at the moment the people are voting SNP, or they are voting another pro-independence party (Scottish Greens) and it looks like they might just be wanting another referendum.

  8. Lee MacDonald


    But anyway, if the english people are that stupid that they voted to leave the eu, then I for 1 will wish you good luck with that and hope you enjoy your new destination of being dictated to by everyone else.

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