By Kitty Raven
‘This is a once in a generation, perhaps even a once in a lifetime, opportunity for Scotland’ – not my words, but those of our Former First Minister and Independence Cheerleader in Chief, Alex Salmond MP. However, within just just 18 months of this declaration, the SNP are pushing through legislation to try and hold a second referendum – or ‘opportunity’, as they present it.
While many are quick to point out that it is by no means clear that the SNP would be able to hold another referendum without the permission of Theresa May, these people are largely missing the point. Even if the Prime Minister agreed to one, it still shouldn’t be held. The 2014 Scottish Referendum was billed as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and saw a decisive win for the No campaign. While the aftermath of Brexit has shown just how strongly people feel about constitutional issues, it’s worth remembering that the Scottish referendum was won with a much stronger majority – a 55% to 45% win gave a ten point margin of victory to Better Together, as opposed to Vote Leave’s 4 percent. Even now, YouGov findings show that only 37% of Scots back a second referendum. These facts alone show that if the SNP have any respect for democracy and the democratic will, they won’t hold a second referendum.
Furthermore, the financial cost of a second indyref so soon after the first is hard to justify. The Scottish’s Governments White Paper on independence alone cost over £2.5 to publish and distribute. At a time when Scotland’s health service is in crisis, our local councils are facing huge cuts and our educational inequality is widening, a second referendum should not be a priority.
But it’s not just the democratic and financial cost that should give the SNP cause for concern – it’s also the emotional one. At a time where we’ve seen hate crimes rise across the UK and an explosion of populist, anti-immigration, divisive rhetoric, the SNP need to be aware of wider ramifications of holding a second indyref. We saw the first time round how bitterly divided Scotland became, pitting friends and family against each other and realigning Scottish politics not around left or right, but Yes or No. The SNP need to work on uniting Scotland, not dividing it further.
Image by Dimitry B via flickr.