Should there be a second referendum? First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set a date to decide Scotland’s destiny – again. But some are fighting to make sure the vote never happens. It was a historic vote. On 18 September 2014, the Scottish people voted on whether to leave the United Kingdom and strike out on their own. The results were close: 44.7% for Yes to 55.3% for No. Scotland would remain part of the UK.
Scotland launches new war of independence
It was a historic vote. On 18 September 2014, the Scottish people voted on whether to leave the United Kingdom and strike out on their own. The results were close: 44.7% for Yes to 55.3% for No. Scotland would remain part of the UK.
Many hoped the question would be laid to rest for a while. But Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has fired the starting pistol on a new vote. On Wednesday, she calmly announced a new referendum will be held on 23 October 2023.
Sturgeon's opponents have been quick to claim it is too soon for another vote. British prime minister Boris Johnson is among them. He said: "The people were assured then that it was a once in a generation consultation. I see no reason now for the politicians to go back on that promise."
Many argue that Sturgeon has chosen the worst possible moment to act. Britain is facing rising inflation, a new Covid-19 wave, the economic shocks of Brexit and a climate crisis. A referendum might distract from these issues.
Others caution against holding a simple yes/no referendum on such a complicated issue. The Brexit referendum promised a clean break. But it has been followed by division and disruption.
Nine years is a very long time in politics. Scotland today seems increasingly at odds with the UK as a whole. Britain voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. In Scotland, however, the vote was split 38% to 62%. Every single Scottish area voted to remain.
In the last election, Scotland rejected the Conservatives that govern Britain. Currently only 10.2% of Scottish MPs are Conservatives. Johnson has a -71 approval rating in Scotland. As Sturgeon claims: "We have a prime minister with no democratic authority in Scotland." She believes that the Scottish deserve to govern themselves.
Should there be a second referendum?
Yes: Democracies are meant to represent the views of the people. Referendums are the fairest way of doing this, giving everyone a say in their countries' future. If anything, we should have more of them.
No: Heed the warning from the Brexit referendum. That vote spawned enormous anger and disagreement. The separation of Scotland after 315 years would be far more dramatic - and lead to even more discord.
Or...The UK government will not allow the poll. The verdict of the Supreme Court is up in the air. Sturgeon cannot proceed without breaking the law. The real question is not should but can a vote be held.