The Point
Last updated: 27 June 2022. sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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An Inconvenient Truth: Why YES shouldn't place all it's indyref 2 eggs in the EU basket



An open letter to all YES supporters and Independenistas


We hope the meme-pic accompanying this post/article at least gave you pause to think.

Perhaps you are already committed to the idea of independence in Europe and genuinely believe there is a binary choice between being ruled by Westminster and remaining in the EU.

Perhaps you are one of those who believe Scotland should be independent of both Westminster and Brussels.

Perhaps you are the part of a lesser heard majority, who don’t hold a hard and fast position on the EU, but believe Scottish Independence should come first and foremost, and that other issues should be sorted out later.

Whichever of these groups you belong to…and we believe every part of the YES Family should be respected, because all of these views are sincerely held within YES …we hope our wee meme has given you pause for thought.

Why?  Because every strategist, platoon commander and foot-soldier trying to win a war, let alone a battle, should be prepared to review their position when new information becomes available.

If they don’t, they risk setback and, possibly, in the worst case scenario, defeat.

We have always argued that it is both a mistake strategically, and a mistake in principle to base the winning of Scotland’s independence on retaining membership of the EU.

It’s a mistake strategically because more than 1 in 3 YES voters voted to Leave the European Union. A campaign to win indy based on staying in the EU is, therefore, by simple mathematical calculation, a very risky strategy indeed.

It’s a mistake in principle, because, in principle, the Scottish people are sovereign. That’s what all of us in the YES movement are fighting for, isn’t it?  That the sovereign Scottish people should decide on the things that matter. Yet how can they decide these things IF KEY MATTERS ARE DECIDED FOR THEM prior to them becoming sovereign in an indy Scotland?

Our meme-pic is important because – up until now – some of those within the SNP and the wider YES family have said that the Brexit referendum held by the Tory UK Government in June last year had already decided these things. 62% of Scots voted to stay in the EU, they said. The matter is decided. Get over it.

For our part we pointed out that 62% had voted FOR THE UK to remain in the EU, but that many had done so because either they thought they were being tipped a nod and a wink by Nicola that such a vote was needed to trigger indyref 2, or simply because they were voting AGAINST Farage and UKIP, rather than positively for the EU.

We also pointed out that the vote was a vote for the UK to stay in the EU…and that the question of whether an indy Scotland should be in the EU had never, in fact, been put to the Scottish people.

62%...62%...62%...voted to stay in the EU was the mantra thrown back at us.

And yet – as the meme-pic that accompanies this post indicates - at the very first time of asking, this week’s Ipsos Mori poll for STV shows that less than half the Scottish population (48%) wants an independent Scotland to be part of the EU, and that 44% want Scotland to be outside the EU, either as part of the single market like Norway (27%) or not even part of the single market (17%).

Even more importantly, the poll indicated that a higher percentage of the population wanted independence than wanted ‘independence within the EU’.  This is an astonishing statistic when you consider that all of the Establishment parties in Scotland (Unionist and pro-indy) backed Remain, and that Scotland’s foremost pro-independence party, the SNP, has enthusiastically promoted the idea that staying in the EU is the primary concern of most Scots and some kind of Golden Path to delivering victory in indyref 2.

These poll results show a somewhat different picture – one in which we can see that a campaign to win indyref 2 on the basis of ‘staying in the EU’ is very risky indeed.

However, as those who have followed our regular posts on this know well, we have never just been negative nay sayers on this issue. We want a strategy for indyref 2 that can win, and that can unite ALL YES voters and potential YES voters, regardless of how they voted in the Brexit referendum and feel about the EU.

To that end we have consistently put forward a simple strategy we believe is capable of uniting the whole YES family – and potential new YESSER’s – on a path towards victory.

Firstly, let the next indyref campaign be about ALL the good reasons for supporting independence and not just a single issue campaign around membership of the EU. By all means stress the democratic deficit shown up by the Brexit result. By all means highlight the Tories dirty and dishonest plans to use Brexit to undermine the devolution settlement. Just don’t make it solely (or mainly) about the EU. Trident, poverty, illegal foreign wars, austerity and public sector cuts, land ownership, Tory Government’s we never elect imposing their class hatred and greed on the Scottish people…all of these and more are reasons we can build a winning YES vote around, next time around.

Secondly, let’s recognise the sovereignty of the Scottish people and the power of mass direct democracy in our new independent Scotland.

On key constitutional issues, like the EU, that otherwise might divide the YES movement we put forward the idea that we should them aside to be decide by a referendum of the Scottish people AFTER independence is achieved.

Concretely, we are campaigning for the idea that the Scottish Government promises the Scottish people a three question referendum within the lifetime of the first elected Parliament of an independent Scotland.

That three question referendum could then decide on important constitutional issues that might otherwise divide our fledgling YES vote.

We suggest the referendum could consist of the following three questions:

1)      Should our independent Scotland be a member of the EU – YES or NO?

2)      Should our independent Scotland be a member of NATO – YES or NO?

3)      Should our independent Scotland retain the monarchy or become a republic?

 Monarchy or Republic?

The exact wording of the questions can be argued back and forth and agreed by consensus, of course, but the basic principle remains.

By promising to let the people decide these issues in an indy Scotland we free our energies and our potential vote to rally behind YES.

We signal that in an independent Scotland the people will be truly sovereign and that key existential and constitutional matters will always be decided by direct democracy.

We show that voting YES is about gaining our democratic freedom and not just about the politics and vision of any single party.

We show to everyone that, whatever their view – on EU, NATO or anything else - they will have a direct stake and the ability to argue their case in an indy Scotland.

What’s not to like?

It is our believe that this simple two pronged strategy, taken up by the YES movement, taken up by the Scottish Government, would have the ability to move the pro-YES vote in the polls from 50% to 60-65% - and help us all complete the journey to the independent Scotland we all want and desire.

So let’s look at the new information and open our minds to the possible.

We have nothing to lose and an independent Scotland to win.


Steve Arnott, March 10th 2017



Other articles by Steve Arnott in The Point include:


Arthur C Clarke: A Very Modern Odyssey


A Tribute to Neil Armstrong... or 'Where's that f*****g space elevator?


The European stem cell research ban – why and how we should fight it


Enriching Scotland’s Common Weal through Scottish Inventions and Innovations


(science and ideas)




The Conspiracy of Doves I – Darwin, Marx and The Conspiracy of Doves


The Conspiracy of Doves II - Socialism and the selfish gene: A tale of quiz shows, game theory and natural selection


The Conspiracy of Doves III - The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, part one


Postcapitalism: An Overview – Part One


(Darwinist-Marxism, evolution/revolution, post-capitalism)




In Praise of Beethoven


Teaching Tom…and Dick and Harry and Jane: A Personal Reply to Tom Hunter on Scottish Education


The Culture: Iain Banks’ Greatest Creation


(culture, education, The Culture)




Reversing privatisation and PFI using a ‘windfall’ financing model


2013, A Year to Go: Independence and Raising the Game in Phase 2


Achieving gender balance in an Independent Scottish Parliament (co-authored with Liz Walker)


Taking back what’s ours: Why we need a Public Commission on Public Ownership


Max the YES: Tactical Voting for Holyrood 2016, Yes or No.


(independence, socialism, progressive policy ideas)


On seeing Orcas in Burra Sound


(poetry, verse, fiction)


Steve’s novel, Pilot of the Storm, First of ‘The Star King’s Proxy’ trilogy, is also available to buy or rent at…


External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left


The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

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