Signs of dramatic Tory revival causes new headache for Sturgeon’s Indyref 2 strategy

From the Sunday Times £

SNP set to lose 11 seats according to shock poll

The Panelbase survey of 1,029 voters in Scotland — the first Scottish poll since Theresa May called a snap election — points to a surge in support that would take the Conservatives to 33%, up 18 points from two years ago.

It amounts to their strongest showing north of the border since the days of Sir Edward Heath’s government in the 1970s before the steep decline associated with Margaret Thatcher and subsequent Tory leaders unpopular among Scots.

With the Tories on course to increase their Scottish representation at Westminster from one to 12, the SNP’s deputy leader Angus Robertson is one of several high-profile Scottish nationalist MPs who could be ousted.

In what would be a blow for Nicola Sturgeon and the independence movement, the SNP on 44% — down six points from its 2015 general election result — would emerge with 45 seats, 11 fewer than last time.

While that would be the SNP’s second best Westminster result, any losses and momentum shift could weaken Sturgeon’s hand in trying to persuade May to authorise a second independence referendum after May said it could undermine Brexit negotiations.

It comes after the SNP’s national executive ruled yesterday not to endorse two MPs, Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry, who now sit as independents, as general election candidates. Thomson withdrew from the SNP whip amid an ongoing police investigation into property deals revealed by The Sunday Times; and McGarry was charged last year over allegations of fraud.

The poll results, which support claims from senior Tories privately that they could win 10 seats, may explain why the SNP has devoted much time in recent days to targeting Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader who enjoys high approval ratings.

She has come under heavy fire for refusing to condemn the UK government’s so-called child tax credit “rape clause”.

Labour, until relatively recently the dominant party in Scotland, faces its worst ever Scottish result. It would lose its last remaining Scottish seat with just 13% of the vote (-11), with the Tories defeating Ian Murray in Edinburgh South.

Coupled with council elections expected to be disastrous for the party in May, it would raise fresh questions about Kezia Dugdale’s leadership.

The Lib Dems on 5% (-3) would see their tally rise from one to two, with former equalities minister Jo Swinson beating the SNP’s John Nicolson, a former broadcaster.

Tory strategists are confident of gains as Scots who voted against independence in the 2014 referendum increasingly turn to their party to safeguard the Union. They also expect a bounce from Scots who voted to leave the EU and Davidson’s popularity.

The Brexit factor is a particular threat to Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader and elections guru, because his Moray constituency polled the most support in Scotland for leaving the EU last year.

With SNP support slipping three points since last month, he is a top Tory target, as are the SNP’s Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart and Treasury spokesman and East Lothian MP George Kerevan.

Support for Scottish independence itself, at 45%, is up a point on last month, but no higher than in 2014.

While, at 48%, the proportion who think there should be another independence referendum within the next few years is down two points.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde university, said: “The Scots Tory revival continues apace – and is now on a scale that could threaten the SNP’s vice-like grip on Scottish representation on Westminster. It is not just the Tory stance on the Union that is attracting voters. So also, it seems, is its tough stance on Brexit.”

Doubtless Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, will be minded to claim that her party’s continuing advance shows Scotland is swinging against Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for independence. However, she would be wrong to do so.

At 45%, support for independence is up a point on last month and in line with the outcome of the 2014 referendum.

Meanwhile, at 48% the proportion who think there should be an independence referendum within the next couple of years is down only a couple of points.

What has been happening is that those who already back the Union have increasingly been switching to the Tories. When Panelbase polled last September, only 44% of those who voted “no” in the September 2014 referendum were backing the party. Now that figure stands at 55%. Conservative support among those who voted “yes” remains almost as minimal as ever.

It is not only the Tory stance on the Union that is attracting voters. So too, it seems, is its tough stance on Brexit.

Conservative support among those voted “leave” last year has increased from 33% last September to 53% now. Among the ”remainers”, it has barely risen — from 20% to 21%.

Scottish politics is becoming increasingly polarised between a pro-Union, pro-hard Brexit Conservative Party and a pro-independence, pro-soft Brexit SNP. And it is a development that is leaving less and less space for an increasingly beleaguered Labour Party.


Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

  • Gavin Smithson

    This is good news but the only poll that matters is on June 8th

    However this shows that the novelty of Scotland’s dalliance with the dangerous and irresponsible mistress of nationalism is starting to wane and that the Conservative party which I wholeheartedly support, is truly reclaiming its rightful mantle of the true party of this monolithic United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  • Obelisk

    It’s great that you can write off the entire independence project on one bad poll.

    Here’s a different take. Even if the poll is true and is borne out, the reason the Tories will make these inroads is by committing wholeheartedly to being THE party of the Union.

    Politics in Scotland will therefore permanently rupture from that in England, along a Unionist-Nationalist axis rather than a Left-right axis.

    Besides, the SNP will still be by far the largest party. Would this result blunt their momentum? Undoubtedly. But for them this is the long game, there will be setbacks, there will be defeats, but they see their goal and they pursue it.

    If you dream that the nationalist genie will be put back in the bottle and the threat to the union removed, then it’s a forlorn hope.

  • Redstar


    A pint of what you’re drinking Gavin!!!

  • Jim Bennett

    As an independence supporter, I take this poll very seriously. The analysis is correct; the unionists in Scotland are coalescing around the Tories as Labour becomes irrelevant in the UK. The amount of gains for the Tories are entirely plausible. However, if they do come to pass, the SNP will have 45 seats to the Tories 10. A revival for the Tories but a comprehensive defeat nonetheless. Only the BBC and their political wing, the Tory Party, could spin this as a win.

  • Jim Bennett

    Gavin, all that is happening is a shift around in who the unionists coalesce around. Support for independence and the referendum is virtually unchanged. The only “irresponsible mistress of nationalism” is based around rape-clause-Ruth and her Brit-xenophobes.

  • Brian Walker

    This Jim, please note, is a Sunday Times story. If you think the BBC is a Tory mouthpiece, what words have you left for them and the declared Tory press?

  • Anon Anon

    It is basically impossible for the SNP to maintain​ all their seats; the opposition was more split last time for a start. If they do it will be the most impressive performance of a party, basically ever.

    However you can’t redefine “win” to “distant second”. If that’s the result, the SNP have a strong mandate. It’s in no one’s long term interest to push the idea it’s anything else.

    As an aside John Curtice didn’t do a great job predicting the last Scottish Assembly election seats. The spread on that result is potentially quite wide.

  • Jim Bennett

    Fair points, Brian!

  • Katyusha

    To be fair, if Unionism in Scotland does coalesce around the Tories, it pretty much guarantees an overwhelming SNP majority in Scotland for the foreseeable future.

    As a gauge of popular support for independence, how does the SNP’s current mandate in Scotland compare to the support Sinn Féin won in Ireland in the 1918 General Election? Something to chew on, and reinforce how Scottish politics has changed over the last decade.

  • Nevin

    I see no mention of the SNP ‘head gardener’ scheme, a scheme that appears to take the ‘nanny state’ to a new level:

    I’d have thought that ‘named persons’ interrogating all children about their parents’ personal relationships would do little to protect vulnerable children; it just looks like a tick-box exercise and may be perceived by parents as ‘big brother’ spying.

  • leoinlisbon

    It does look as though Scotland is moving quickly to a different two party system. A dominant SNP (replacing Labour) with the Tories as the opposition.

    My own feeling is that the SNP will be most vulnerable in areas where they have held the seats for longest. This means the north east of Scotland where the Tories were displaced and Labour fairly weak.

    The SNP will not lose 11 seats but the loss of 4/5 (a posssibility) would be seen as a setback – regardless of the percentage of the vote won overall.

  • Gavin Smithson

    And the SNP’s named person Big Brother anti family policy.?

  • the rich get richer

    Brexit is more popular than people realise . The EU is helping making Brexit more popular . The Remainers are making Brexit more popular .

    Brett seems more and more the correct choice .

  • Obelisk

    This ‘thraness’ of liking something because others are highly resistant to it and critical of the choice that was made is an infantile response which will be a great wheeze for the next two years.

    Now the consequences of Brexit, I’d wager those are going to be a hell of a lot less popular once they start to bite.

  • the rich get richer

    Lets see if the EU survives first . Its very existence is in the balance .

  • Jim Bennett

    I’m all for it, Gavin. The only people opposed are nut case christian evangelists.

  • JPJ2

    If Le Pen wins in France and Merkel is defeated in Germany you will have a point-otherwise this will just prove to be a British Brexiteers illusion

  • Skibo

    The support for Brexit at the moment is more a fact of the British stiff upper lip. There is something that British people gain pride from, the orchestra playing on while the ship is sinking.

  • Skibo

    But if Le Pen loses, will they finally give up on that battle cry?

  • Skibo

    Gavin do you not think it is more of a sign of the pro union vote looking for a single voice?
    Could I suggest the for Socialist voting Labour to lend their vote to Tories to stop SNP will burn them in the end if the extra Tory votes from Scotland make any difference in the balance of power in Westminster.
    Remember this is not just an issue of a strong Brexit vote, what they will be electing is a continuation of austerity for the next five years.

  • JPJ2

    You are exactly right. The Ashcroft polls showed that the majority of Scots think that Holyrood, not Westminster, should decide both if and when Indyref2 should occur.

    The Union would have been much safer if the unionist vote had coalesced around Labour but they now look finished as a major party in Scotland no matter what revival occurs eventually in England.

    The Tories will never defeat the SNP in Scotland (except perhaps, ironically, after independence).

    I do not doubt that a loss of SNP seats will be portrayed as a justification for refusing a referendum by May, but this will be regarded as inappropriate by the majority of Scots (see Ashcroft polling) and will sour relations with Westminster still further.

    Delaying the referendum is a strategic error because of the demographics, as 72% of those aged 16-24 .support independence. No-one reaching voting age in Scotland has ever lived when Holyrood did not exist and they will, in vast majority, see no reason why the Parliament based in another country should overrule their own-tick tock, tick tock 🙂

  • Skibo

    The referendum was voted for within the Assembly which was elected under PR. Anything that happens at Westminster will not effect that.
    SNP hit a royal flush the last time out. It is not often it happens in politics.


    “how does the SNP’s current mandate in Scotland compare to the support Sinn Féin won in Ireland in the 1918 General Election?”

    In the island of Ireland nationalist parties (Sinn Fein and the Irish Home Rule party) received 68.6% of the vote in 1918. Sinn Fein swept every constituency within the present-day territory of the Republic of Ireland save a few which were evenly divided between Irish Home Rulers and the Unionists.

    By contrast the combined vote of the Scottish Nationalist parties (basically the SNP and the Greens) is not likely to exceed 50% at the next election, and Unionist sentiment, whilst obviously most prominent in the Borders, also has representation more broadly around Scotland.

    Possibly a more relevant comparison is which Quebec in the late nineties and early years of the present century, when PQ gradually lost support after running a very close referendum campaign?

  • Skibo

    We need to remember that as the pro brexit vote centralises round the Tories, the Labour vote will garner towards the SNP vote.

  • John Collins

    Did you factor in the fact that 25 out if 104 seats were uncontestad in 1918. If they had been a much higher percentage Nationalist vote would have emerged.

  • The worm!

    This isn’t a surprise.

    The SNP claimed a huge vote at both the last Westminster and Scottish Parliamentary elections by canvassing on the basis that a vote for the SNP WASN’T a vote for independence but then claimed afterwards that it was.

    You can play that hand only once, Ms Sturgeon has used it and gotten nowhere. Her flush is busted!

    Reports of the UK’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, after the next election the UK as a whole will be stronger than ever.


  • Madra Uisce


  • The worm!

    Time will tell!

  • The worm!

    “the orchestra playing on while the ship is sinking.”

    Errrr, I think that’s the EU national anthem mate!

  • Katyusha

    The only realistic challenger to Merkel is Martin Schulz and the SPD. If Merkel is defeated, it will be by the former president of the European parliament, an outspoken and unashamed supporter of the EU and European integration. Hardly a crisis for Europe.


    “committing wholeheartedly to being THE party of the Union”

    There never was much doubt about this, you know. If there ever was, it was answered by the party name.

    I see a lot of people assuming that the remaining Labour/Lib-Dem supporters will switch to SNP rather than fall in behind the Tories if forced to choose. This misunderstands the degree of antipathy towards the SNP amongst the remaining suporters of the smaller unionist parties.


    If this were true, it would have already happened since it’s been obvious to many that Labour are finished in Scotland for some time now. Instead it looks like the remaining Labour/Lib-Dem voters are the ones who can’t stand to vote SNP whatever.


    “The Tories will never defeat the SNP in Scotland”

    There’s no reason to assume this is true forever. There’s only so long the SNP can harp on about Thatcher before people notice that they’ve been in power in Scotland for 10 years and have a spotty record. No-one can govern forever in a democratic system – eventually people demand change.

    As a measure of where the SNP are right now, they’ve already gone more than a year without introducing any new legislation.

    It’s also worth noting that Scotland hasn’t always been anti-Tory. As late as 1979 Thatcher got 20+ seats there, and back in the 50’s the majority of seats were held by the Tories.

  • Skibo

    Most Brexiters are of the mindset of our Unionists. Every election is a crisis while Nationalists look at it as an opportunity.

  • The worm!

    The Germans as a nation will never contrary the EU concept.

    Firstly, they gain too much financially by having the Euro to trade in.

    Secondly, they are so hamstrung by the guilt of their own past nationalist extremes that many would probably sacrifice themselves to prop up the EU as we have indeed seen already.

    However, Germany cannot single-handedly keep the good ship EU afloat indefinitely. It’s already dodgy “credibility” is rapidly evaporating and a strong Le Pen showing will be another body blow with plenty more to come.

    Those clinging to it’s coat tails look increasingly foolish with every passing week.

  • 1729torus

    Scottish Unionists are in worse demographic condition than Ulster Unionists, they’re more concentrated in the over 65s and over 55s.

  • Skibo

    Le Pen’s voting is coming in around 22%. Macron is sitting possibly two points ahead. Two of the other three have already admitted defeat and thrown their weight behind Macron.
    Next election on 7th may then we can stop all this BS about the EU being on the verge of breakup.

  • Skibo

    Unfortunately both those groupings are strong voters. SNP needs to make sure they get the young vote to the ballot.

  • The worm!

    It needs a lot more than another EU sympathetic French President to save it, even if that does happen.

    It’s ultimate demise is inevitable, it’s only the rapidity of it which is still a matter of conjecture.

  • Fear Éireannach

  • Anon Anon

    Their manifesto was pretty clear. Actual support for independence or a poll hasn’t shifted. This looks like a Brexit effect – small shift of Leave voters away from SNP. For now, at least.

    I’d say that the UK’s demise has been written off too soon. Scotland still doesn’t have a majority for Independence in most polls. But more United? The Tories have built their revival on hardcore loyalism. This is the Orange Card 21st Century style, and the consequences on Scottish politics will be long lasting and ugly.

  • Anon Anon

    Yes. To win elections is to go in the road to losing them. However, parties can stay in power for very long stretches; Scandinavia has a very good examples. There is is also the idea of the “natural party of government”. That looks like the SNP in Scotland now.

    Plus, the Tories are in power too and liable to do.mastier things with it. That affords the SNP more leeway.

    But it looks like Scotland has split down Nationalist / Unionist lines. If that calcifies then politics will be quite different there.

  • Skibo

    Could it be now that the EU will have lost the most Euro sceptic of members, could it go from strength to strength?
    The financial crash that was the sub-prime mortgages hit all countries, just some were stronger than others to overcome them.
    Every time that the EU gets another weaker country to join the Euro, the euro devalues and German produce becomes more competitive. Win win situation for Germany and the smaller countries will continue to want to join the gang.
    A stronger more antagonistic Russia will ensure eastern European countries will make closer links with the EU favourable.

  • Barneyt

    So would you class yourself as s British nationalist? Unionism is not an antithesis to nationalism. The British union is by no means an international or internationalist collective

  • Old Mortality

    Then what? Macron’s new party still has the problem of trying to gain a presence in the National Assembly in June, let alone a majority. Macron will find it very difficult to advance his more radical proposals and France will continue its torpid decline.The Euro-fanatics in Brussels would be wise not to get too complacent on the back of Macron’s inevitable election.

  • Enda

    Why do you support a party that you cannot vote for?

  • The worm!

    “But more United?”

    I didn’t say that, I said stronger. Pro-UKers throughout have gotten a dose over this last while of just how bitter and disruptive nationalism largely is, and how important it is to take a stand against it at every ballot box right across the UK.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Any increase in support for the tories in Scotland will only benefit an Independence referendum. It will act to galvanise waverers into support for indy, while the reality is that the tories will still only be a minority party, and the SNP will still have an overwhelming majority.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    That’s right. It is just the die-hard unionists who were formerly Labour who are shifting. They would vote for a pig if it had a red, white and blue rosette, (and in some cases that’s exactly what they will be doing). But, as I say above, this will cause an opposite reaction in many.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Won’t be seen as a setback by the SNP. The voting system was designed so as not to let any one party dominate, and the SNP have done so anyway. It would be next to impossible to sustain that position. The tories are doomed to be a polarising minority party in Scotland, and this polarisation will work in the SNP’s favour.

  • Anon Anon

    I’m not sure how you can have a less United yet somehow stronger UK.

    If Scotland and England continue to grow apart, long term there is only one outcome.

  • Cináed mac Artri

    The Euro has indeed been a “win win” for the German economy. A modern Deutsch Mark would certainly not been trading anywhere near the Euro today.

    I’m not convinced the current situation is a good thing for a healthy EU. I expect a few Greeks might agree with me.

  • Cináed mac Artri

    Macron will be embraced by the the socialists, amongst others. His ‘independent’ profile is almost as bogus as the billionaire Trump and the mega-rich he has surrounded himself with standing up for the common man in the American Rustbelt.

    Macron served as François Hollande’s Finance Minister. He is from the French elite.

    That being said the most worrying aspect of the French Presidential first round vote in 2017 is that more than one in five voted for toxic nationalism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hardly the Orange card surely? Seems something quite different. Seems to me anyway from the outside that Scottish politics since the 2014 ref was called has become dominated by the independence issue. This cast Labour in terms of being a unionist party, losing a lot of the “f*** England” part of its vote which now goes to the SNP; it was also associated with the worst of machine / entitlement politics. Parties who do what they say on the tin are generally benefitting these days (thanks The Week In Westminster for that insight the other day) and the Tories in Scotland have that clarity – and a leader who seems likeable, sensible and modern. “Hardcore loyalism” seems wide of the mark.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    And that outcome is the growing closer together again. They are tied with elastic. If they come apart for a bit, they soon come together again. Even if there was Scottish independence, it wouldn’t necessarity be forever, taking the very long view.

  • Katyusha

    Macron’s new party still has the problem of trying to gain a presence in the National Assembly in June, let alone a majority. Macron will find it very difficult to advance his more radical proposals and France will continue its torpid decline.

    He doesn’t need it to. His new party is essentially a vehicle to propel him into power free from the stigma that had built up around the Socialist brand. He can also draw support for his economic reforms from the republicans, which will be supportive of them despite their wish to torpedo him out of spite, because they are the only way to pull France out of its stagnation. The republicans still have a lot of support despite the toxicity of their presidential candidate.

    In most political systems, the leader will find it difficult to implement their more radical proposals and will have to strike compromises. Macron is no different.

  • Anon Anon

    I think it’s spectacularly unlikely that they come back together again after independence are looking at century plus timescales. It just doesn’t really happen.

    They may well come together again in post Brexit Bliss. It’s certainly not impossible. But I think your outlook is colouring your view. It seems more likely that Scotland will bear the scars of this argument either way. There already seems evidence that Soctland is splitting under Constitutional rather than economic lines. Longer term it’s politics starts to look more like ours, if that’s the case, particularly in the Union.

    The best outcome for Scotland would be to accept that it has voted for contradictory things – to be in the UK and to be in the EU, and the first was helped by the expectation of the second.

    Then have the argument out in the same spirit as last time. Its a winnable argument for Unionism. Blocking a vote, or tricks by anyone on any side is likely to cause longer term problems. The problem is that Unionism fears losing.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Unionist gin – it leads to delirium.

  • Anon Anon

    A quick look at some of the candidates that the Conservatives are standing would put paid to that.

    Source is a pro-Indy paper but the facts are as they are.

    More than that though, the Tories have went all in on Unionism. Council elections? No indy ref. First Ministers Questions? No Indy ref. Ruth Davidson opens her mouth – no IndyRef.

    That’s been extraordinarily successful in pushing up the Tory vote. I’ve seen tweets from people “Last time they called me a red Tory, now I’m an actual Tory”. They aren’t doing that because of economics. They are doing it because Ruth is strong on the Union.

    That’s fine, but it has a cost on Scotland’s politics. There is no hope of Indy Ref 2 being done in the spirit of the first. It’s going to be ugly, and there will be some ugliness whatever the result, I guess.

  • The worm!

    ………and where did I say “less united” either? You really seem to make a habit of misquoting just to falsely concoct a counterpoint!

    However, anyone Pro-UK now realises they need to stand up and be counted, literally!

    Therefore, stronger union.

  • The worm!

    So are you seriously trying to claim that a “union” thus constructed would be a strong durable entity.

    As I said previously, even Germany cannot prop up the EU single-handedly for ever.

  • Stifler’s Mom

    Macron is also an ex Rothschild banker, which means he will follow the orders of the globalists in the EU. That’s disaster for France. Demographic suicide by mass immigration will continue.

  • Anon Anon

    That seemed to be the implication of what you are saying. Apologies if that was incorrect.

    In any case, I’m not sure people “standing” up for the Union makes it stronger, if the response is more people standing up for independence, or for a United Ireland. It’s a brittle kind of strength, the type that can easily shatter given the right shock. The ideal situation for any country seems to be were the constitutional status is take as an assumption rather than something actively fought for.

    Plus you need to be careful that the Union (or independence or whatever) doesn’t something different from what you originally valued; that you cease to campaign for the benefits but for the thing itself, right or wrong

    That point past a long time ago here. Its in danger of happening to Scotland too.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They are doing it because they saw that a lot of Scottish people, including even some SNP voters, are baulking at the idea of another Indie Ref so early after the last “once in a generation” one. It’s a weakness for Sturgeon and they are trying to get the credit for being where the Scottish people are on that. Seems to be working.

  • Anon Anon

    Little evidence for that. The poll that gave the Tories their theoritical 12 seats showed a slight rise in independence sentiment, static values for a pool now or in a few years and static on the question of who should decide – the Scottish Parliament.

    Can’t find a link right now, but the Tory Council and Westminster leaflet released today has Ruth with a giant “We said No. We Meant It” on it. A strange choice for a people fatigued with Constitutional arguments, no? Ruth has majored in this since the IndyRef.

    The truth is the opposition to a poll is so fierce because Unionists worry they’d lose. Rightfully – polls are tight, a good campaign could swing it. It’s a reasonable, if potentially destructive strategy. But spare me the false pieties.

    You can once in a generation all you like but Brexit happened. It is an Earthquake in constitutional and political order, easily seen in polls all around. I’m sure you profoundly disagree with Scottish Independence. But you must surely see how someone who passionately believes in Scottish independence as Sturgeon would feel morally obligated to offer Scotland the choice. I doubt she really wants one that carried a huge risk of losing.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes I was talking very long term. Regions of the world with some common interests and some differences find reasons for uniting and reasons for dividing again – circumstances change over the very long term view. It’s the same thought Irish nationalism is based upon.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “A strange choice for a people fatigued with Constitutional arguments, no? Ruth has majored in this since the IndyRef.”
    It’s a natural choice for a people reluctant for a new referendum campaign.

    Opposition to a poll isn’t all fierce. Most of it seems rather wearied from what I can glean. It’s not set in stone though and could shift, Prof Curtice was suggesting – and I don’t doubt he’s right. But there is some initial reluctance there, and it’s reasonable for unionists in Scotland to make some political hay from that, at least while the sun shines.

    I think you’re right, Sturgeon does see herself as obliged to act in this situation. I posted on this a few months ago, I think she wants this a lot less than she tries to let on. Brexit has forced a timing on her that she didn’t want. She knows it’s too early for a lot of Scots. She will try and not have the referendum until she feels she can win it. But she has to go for it fairly soon after Brexit, now she’s committed to that. So whether she is successful now depends largely on how well or badly Brexit goes and how negatively she can credibly keep the commentary on it.

    As a big Remainer myself I’ve noticed my own attitude to being in the EU changing since the vote. I still want to be in, preferably. But if we make a decent fist of leaving, will our future be a disaster? Actually probably not, life will go on not that differently from before. I think Brexit will make Britain less good than it could have been; and the country has changed a little for the worse already; but it becomes just the new reality. Our national fortunes and sense of ourselves have dipped, but won’t go over a cliff and haven’t been destroyed. If (and it’s a big if) we make an economic success of things, then to be honest I won’t be that bothered about us not being in the EU any more. I am a European – and prefer us to be in the EU – but my European identity isn’t political or linked to EU institutions, it’s cultural. I think quite a few other Remainers will adjust to that way of thinking before long, including some in Scotland. Never underestimate our pragmatism on these islands!

  • Anon Anon

    If you think it’s just weary, you are fooling yourself. Unionists certainly have the right to make hay, a but as I said, mind the cost. Divisive politics will cause damage not easily be fixed after.

    Sturgeon must have a referendum in the timescale she’s outlined. She’s literally no choice. Any later timescale will cause drift between EU and UK legislation and massively complicate independence. Unionists want to delay so they can be the entrenched status quo, with all the advantages that entail.

    You are a Unionist more than a European. You will convince yourself that it’s the right thing no matter what. You are minded to identify with the UK, see the possibilities rather than the downsides. Not all of us are. I’m borderline radicalised off it. If I was still living in Belfast rather than just working there, I’d probably be joining a political party.

    It’s likely that any economic impact of Brexit will be small changes adding up over many years. There may be an initial penalty of a recession. It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility the UK economy strengthens either. I’d view it as unlikely, but certainly possible.

    But socially, it’s already a smaller, nastier place. I worry the next decade or more of Tory rule will make Thatcher’s look like Atlee.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    God knows I want the Tories out, but actually I’m expecting May to be less divisive socially than Cameron and Osborne. I think she gets the fact that the country isn’t working for everyone as it should, to be fair to her. And yes I think there will be a huge cost for Brexit, but mainly an opportunity cost – we’ll grow, just not as much as we would have. And we will be a different, less relaxed country. However, we will still be overall a generally tolerant place because there are too many of us like that for that not to be the case. We haven’t gone away – and actually we’re in most of the real positions of power and influence in society, business and government. And after Brexit, the petty-minded bigots won’t necessarily be empowered, they will return to the sidelines, muttering curses to themselves. The open-minded will go back to running the country and trying to save it from the worst effects of what the idiots of have consigned us to.

  • Christopher Mc Camley

    If Scotland essentially ends up dividing on Nationalist/ Unionist lines, then that ultimately boosts the SNP so long as they stay ahead of the 50%. It was nice for them to pick up Labour votes, but winning a load of seats is meaningless if there aren’t referendum votes behind them.

  • Anon Anon

    Well that’s an optimistic take.
    Thatcher opened with “Where there is despair may we bring hope” and proceeded to gear the social fabric apart. Tories going to Tory. All evidence to date has had May as autocratic. With Henry VIII powers coming to boot.

    Tories polling at 50% in the UK. Poised to win Wales; ex Miners going to vote Tory, because foreign are coming to take things from them. England is a complete mystery to me. Racism up, hate crimes up, nastiness up, jingoism up. I’ve never identified with “British”, but I’ve never felt so far alienated and different from it as now.

  • Anon Anon

    Scotland has been independent for longer than its been in the Union. On a 300 year timescale, maybe.

  • Skibo

    10 countries currently pay more than they receive. I have not included the UK but as they will be paying for a few years yet, maybe I should. The greatest is Germany followed by France. France pays slightly more that the UK.
    What the EU is trying to do is develop the weaker countries that they will progress and grow their economy and in doing so become larger markets for the main countries to export to.
    The EU will be as durable and stable as the UK.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes I was thinking in that sort of timescale; but who knows maybe sooner. If the EU fell apart into a looser organisation of member states, for example, relations between Scotland and the rest of the UK might change again; then there are large scale population shifts, global warming even … things could look very different again in 50 years, let alone 100.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well I was born British and this is us for better or worse. I agree I don’t like it when the country moves to the right. But the changes aren’t always as dramatic as depicted. And actually I think May will negotiate something as close to single market membership as possible and with fairly open borders. We will still be, in our cities at least, one of the world’s great mult–cultural societies. But more divided between what David Goodhart labels the Anywheres and the Somewheres. Only a social democratic government can really close that gap and properly unite the nation.

  • Anon Anon

    Labour are going to face a disaster worse than the one it took 20 yeas to recover from. Whatever happens, the Britain you know is as dead as the one in 1979.

    I think May’s manifesto will.promise an end to free movement with all the consequent impact for the single market. And access is no longer in her gift, anyway.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes she’s said as much already. The hope is that what she goes for (and who knows, even gets) ends up being as close as possible to free movement and single market membership as damn it.

    I could be wrong but I think her game is to give the Brexiters the minimum she thinks she has to to credibly own Brexit. She judged immigration controls to be the real thing the public most wanted when they voted Leave. (Btw I think she’s probably right. The EU really wasn’t a big issue for most people, the vote was a proxy for other things. Actually I think it was really about a feeling the country is run by and for a young and young middle aged metropolitan elite and not middle Britain or less affluent Britain or older Britain. People felt like the country had changed in ways they didn’t want.) So the single market wasn’t on, in her judgment. However, she knows economically we need it, or something as close to it as possible. So my guess is she will seek to create a series of deals, possibly sector by sector, that create pieces of quasi-single market access. Put together, they will be not far off having single market access in effect; and we’ll have lots of immigration still; but she still be able to say we have “control” of our borders because in theory the agreements will be temporary and finite. In reality they will run on and give large degrees of free movement and freedom of trade.

    That’s the theory anyway. We can only cross our fingers.

  • Anon Anon

    There will practically have to be a transitional arrangement because the consequences of not having one will ugly for a concerned.

    If a hardline on free movement is in the Tory manifesto, assume things will not go well. And there is zip chance of the EU allowing a salami sliced deal, is to carve out things that help France or Germany or anyone else.

    As I said elsewhere on here, soft or hard is now a mirage. The majority that May is going to get will give large leeway to the Executive. The hard right will be pissed on somethings, the centrist Tories on others. But it’s the Executive shaping the deal, to the extent it can. As powerful an Executive as has existed since at least WW2.

    And that Executive is about as right wing as we’ve had since Thatcher. The country will be in that image. The Tory modernizers – centrists, disciplines of Blair – lost when they lost the referendum. Moderate left wingers telling themselves stories about how it means it be a softer exit is the sound of the Overton window shifting.

  • Katyusha

    It’s very amusing. No one can quote agree if socialism is killing France, or global capitalism is killing France, only that France is dying, and Macron will kill it. Doom and gloom everywhere. May I suggest that a nation that has seen off as much turmoil in its history as France has is unlikely to be much affected by whatever today’s champagne socialists or globalists have to throw at it.

  • eireanne3

    brexit – a titanic success!!!!

  • Stifler’s Mom

    You could suggest that, but it wouldn’t be true. High tax and high benefits socialist policies might cripple the economy and business. This is actually Le Pen’s policies. Macron the globalist will allow businesses to leave France and / or set the laws to their advantage, and will also continue to flood the country with 3rd world Muslims. Businesses and the economy can always recover, but once the population is replaced with a majority of Muslims from middle east and Africa, then that is the end of the French nation permanently. It will be within peoples lifetimes who are alive today unless Le Pen gets elected and stops and reverses the project of population replacement.