Wings over Scotland is asking how we can prevent Yes-Leave voters from becoming No voters and suggests that the SNP should promise a referendum on EU membership post-independence:
We’re increasingly coming to the view that the answer is for the SNP to commit to a second EU referendum in the event of Scotland becoming independent.
Now, we can hear a lot of people sighing already. FOUR national referendums in the space of about five years (we’re not including the AV one, which nobody cared about) would be an awful lot of democracy and an awful lot of campaigning.
But we can see no other way to cut the Gordian knot of the electorate coming to decisions that contradict each other.
I fully understand the reasoning, and it’s an argument that has crossed my mind, too. However, I think it would be a bad idea.
Firstly, I fear it will put off many No-Remain voters, which is the very group we need to convince to obtain a Yes vote next time. We’ll need to argue till we’re blue in the face that the extra referendum of course is a formality that will of course be won by the pro-EU side, and that’ll turn off the exact voters that the referendum was designed for.
Secondly, as I’ve argued in another blog post, there simply aren’t that many Yes-Leave voters left in the Yes camp. There are many, many more No-Remain voters that could be convinced by a Scotland-in-the-EU campaign than there are Yes-Leave voters who might vote No because they hate the EU so much.
Thirdly, all signs are that the negative consequences of Brexit will become much more visible over the next year. It would be foolish to have committed to a Scottish EU referendum if Brexit turns toxic.
Finally, we mustn’t forget – as I’ve said before – that we cannot win a referendum by appealing only to Yes-Remain and Yes-Leave voters. Those two groups together add up to about 45% of voters, as Indyref1 showed. We have to win over a sizeable chunk of the No-Remain voters. As the Brexit referendum demonstrated, Yes-Remain plus No-Remain add up to 62% of the Scottish electorate. That’s the way to win Indyref2. Chasing Yes-Leave voters is a dead end, and especially so if doing so means turning away No-Remain voters.