I was watching coverage of the BBC’s papers coverage the other day. Two journalists (I believe) were with Clive Myrie, and he raised the YouGov poll showing 47% Yes. Apart from some cringeworthy querying of the breakdown of Don’t Knows 2:1 for ‘Yes’ (‘I mean they are Don’t Knows, so how can they say?!!’), the most painful moment was – after some patronizing prefacing remarks about how they were not sure that people had ‘seriously thought about it’, because – wait for it – “the decision is forever – and that’s a long time!”
Groan. Again and again we get this fed to us – and yet, I find myself strangely unconvinced by that argument. The ‘No’ campaign are determined to portray this as a one-way decision for ‘Yes’. However, I feel that the reality is that (were their dream scenario of Scotland somehow uniquely as a country in the world failing to look after itself, to come to pass – via whatever apocalyptic criteria they dream up for that) the UK would be only too happy to have Scotland back with its mass of resources, innovation and educated populace at any time, at the drop of a proverbial hat. There is absolutely nothing ‘irreversible’ about the decision whatsoever – save for refusal of both parties to do it again. No, the only thing that makes this a one-way decision with a Yes, is statistics – of the almost 60 countries that have become independent from the UK, none have requested to rejoin. Therefore it seems highly unlikely that Scotland would want to, either. Even just last year, when a poll was conducted, asking if respondents would, as an independent country, vote to give up control of taxation, welfare, defence and oil revenues in order to join the Union, only 18% said Yes (55% ‘No’). Having made the decision, I think it would be an even less popular option to go back than staying is now, and things would have to get significantly worse, even than they look like getting in the next few years under the Union.
A ‘No’ vote, though? Now THAT is far more of a one-way answer. This was a question that was never meant to be asked – Westminster has seen just how much work they have had to do, and how much money they have had to spend, to try and ‘persuade’ Scotland to stay – and it is fair to say that they do not ever want to go through this again. It’s easy enough for Westminster to rescind powers to the Scottish Parliament – indeed, the House of Lords (the 775 member second largest unelected parliamentary body in the world, after the National People’s Congress in China) did exactly that in December 2013, without any prior discussion whatsoever with the Scottish Government.
So. In a post-‘No’ scenario… can you guess what powers might be going? Perhaps the power to do it again?
Furthermore: can you imagine what it would be like to be in Catalonia’s position, trying to have a referendum that Westminster next time (having had a narrow escape and a bit of a scare) will simply refuse to recognise?
For all these reasons, September 18th really does seem to be the One Opportunity we will ever get to say ‘Yes’.
“Power devolved is Power retained” (Enoch Powell)