Ruth 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.
Salmond later explained that another referendum could be held if another mandate was won at a general election.
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.
‘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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