There’s an interesting wee interview with the Scottish Secretary in the Sunday Herald today:
Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael said September’s ballot will be a now or never moment for the Yes side […]
Rather than a “neverendum” — where a No vote only led to further ballots — he said a No vote could prove a so-called “neveragaindum”, in which the independence issue was permanently settled.
Carmichael said Westminster had learned the lesson of Quebec, where botched reforms led to a second ballot on independence 15 years after the Canadian province rejected the option.
In the interview, Carmichael does give the impression that he simply doesn’t think there will an appetite for another referendum because of demographic change and the impact of further devolution.
However, if further devolution ends up delivering a mixture of Devo Nano and a removal of some powers from the Scottish Parliament in return, and it becomes abundantly clear to a large majority of people in Scotland that they were lied to by the No side in the referendum campaign, it’s easy to imagine a huge majority for independence in 10-15 years’ time.
What does the bit about having learned the lesson of Quebec mean then? It sounds like a thinly veiled threat that Westminster will take steps to ensure another referendum becomes an impossibility. This could for instance involve changing the electoral system for Holyrood or enacting legislation to make independence referendums illegal.
I might be wrong, of course, and all Carmichael means is that the nice Westminster politicians will teach the Scots to love the Union after a No vote, but it sounds like an unnecessary risk to me.
I’ve heard people saying they think the referendum came a bit too early, and that they would have preferred waiting a few more years before voting for independence. They should heed Carmichael’s warning. This referendum is quite possibly the only chance we’ve got for a generation or more. Nobody should vote No to get independence in ten years’ time. Because No means No.