Explaining to those outside Scotland the ongoing desire for a referendum on independence is not a straightforward task.
There was a referendum eight years ago and No won, albeit by a slim majority. Perhaps it was David Bowie’s request for Scotland to stay that tipped the balance. (It wasn’t.) In the intervening years, the debate has not stopped. It has intensified. The extremes are vicious about each other, and those towards the middle still have it always in mind.
The question that comes a lot is why. The argument put forward frequently by the Westminster government is that, at the time of the last referendum, it was claimed as a once-in-a-generation vote so it should be left alone. Aside from questions over how long a generation actually lasts, that’s a pretty flimsy counter. Eventually you will say – the clock has ticked round and it is time now. Following that thought through, the next question can be, why not actually RIGHT now?
Another argument put forward is that polls currently show there is an almost even split still in Scotland between for and against. Sir John Curtice is such a constant on particular news shows that he presumably has his own mug by now. But again, that is not a sustainable position. Polls can shift as campaigns kick in. They did the last time.
The strongest argument against it at present is that it is a diversion from the necessity of all functions facing down the cost of living crisis. The massive ruptures across society require focus and unity and not separation. That, again, isn’t washing in Scotland.
And that is because many of the problems with governance and disastrous financial decision making can be laid at Westminster’s doors. No amount of muttering about Barnett consequentials or insistence on Better Together can extinguish perception, especially perception that has become reality. The absentee landlord hand of Boris Johnson played into the SNP’s narrative. Liz Truss’s financial incontinence was a Christmas present of untold bounty. Added into the mix is the B word. Scotland didn’t vote in favour of Brexit. And yet there the nation sits, dealing with its consequences.