10th May 2021
Those who are opposed to a further independence referendum for Scotland are making the same mistakes as Remainers in the Brexit debates.
On Twitter and social media generally – and in mainstream media – those opposed to a referendum (and thereby to independence) are taking the following techincal points:
– that the last referendum was supposed to be ‘once in a generation or lifetime’
– that there is no majority for the Scottish National Party in the Scottish parliament
– that enabling legislation is outside the legislative competence of the Scottish parliament
and so on.
As a veteran of similar debates over Brexit, these technical – almost pedantic – contentions seem familiar.
There were those who argued that the Brexit referendum had no political purchase because it was ‘advisory’.
There were others who – until quite late in the Brexit process – denied that Article 50 had actually been triggered and sought to make legal challenges on this basis.
The feature of these positions is that they said nothing about the merits – or otherwise – of Brexit.
And similarly the pedantic legalistic objections to a further independence referendum for Scotland also say nothing about the merits of either a referendum or independence.
Indeed, each time one of these pedantic legalistic contentions is made, an opportunity is lost to make a case on the merits of the Union.
As I can aver as a pedantic legal commentator, few if any voters are influenced in their vote by pedantic legalistic points.
The impression given by reliance on such contentions is that they are substitutes for arguments on the merits.
A confident supporter of the Union should say about a referendum ‘bring it on – and let me show you the merits of the Union’ – rather than trying to evade or avoid a referendum on technicalities.
That is if there is a case for the Union on the merits.
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