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Should Scotland seek independence?
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The 2014 referendum in Scotland was once in a generation

While Scotland may deserve more freedom in how they govern the country, the 2014 referendum represented a 'once in a generation' vote. Westminster has not minced its words in their denial of IndyRef2 in the near future, so the SNP should begin exploring the more immediate options available to them.

The Argument

In the leadup to the 2014 referendum, both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon framed the vote as 'once in a generation.' Despite statements like this, a second independence referendum, or IndyRef2, is on the table. While Brexit and continued Conservative leadership in Westminster have bolstered calls for independence, it does not substantively change the case for a second referendum. Much like renewed calls for a second Brexit vote, a second plebiscite within only a few years presents challenges to democratic processes.[1] While the electorate has changed slightly, the vast majority of those who voted in 2014, would cast votes again in a second referendum. Additionally, both the UK government and the Opposition have ruled out IndyRef2 within the timeframe that the SNP hopes to hold the vote. Nicola Sturgeon pledged in 2019 to hold a second referendum by 2021.[2] While she has quieted on this claim, it has become quite clear that that pledge is simply not possible. Holding a second referendum within a decade may be too capricious to reflect the 'once in a lifetime' claims of SNP leadership in 2014. The SNP should begin exploring alternatives and more near-term options for Scotland, instead of the unlikely scenario of IndyRef2.

Counter arguments

It is true that the 2014 vote was framed as 'once in a lifetime.' However, the fundamental changes that Brexit has brought to the UK necessitate another referendum.[3] Despite Scotland having its own parliament, its will was not reflected in the Brexit vote; Scotland had a large majority in favor of staying in the EU. With the UK government dragging Scotland out of the EU with it, Scotland must ask itself again whether its place is with the rest of Britain, or as an independent nation in Europe. Opposition to independence will paint this as hypocrisy, but former Prime Minister David Cameron also gave assurances to Scotland that the risk of Britain leaving the EU was low.[4] In light of Brexit, in fact, occurring, the UK government cannot deny that circumstances have changed. There is a new mandate for independence in Scotland.



[P1] The 2014 vote was once in a generation. [P2] A second referendum presents democratic challenges. [P3] The UK government has flatly denied a second referendum. [C] The contradictions of IndyRef2 means that the SNP should explore alternative approaches to more autonomy in Scotland.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] There have been substantive changes to the context of UK politics brought on by Brexit. [Rejecting P2] A second referendum is an exercise in democracy, not a challenge to it. [Rejecting P3] If the SNP gathers enough support for a second referendum, the UK government can't deny its occurrence.


This page was last edited on Monday, 2 Nov 2020 at 23:54 UTC

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