After David Cameron ruled out another plebiscite on whether or not Scotland should secede from the United Kingdom before 2020 (which is a pretty reasonably time scale), Nicola Sturgeon predictably went on the offensive.
“Two questions I get asked often these days – will there be another independence referendum and, if so, when? My answer is simple. It will be if and when the Scottish people decide and not a moment before. No politician can impose a referendum on Scotland, no matter how much some of us would like Scotland to be independent. And it’s worth pointing out that the reverse is also true. If the Scottish people do vote in future to have another referendum, no politician has the right to stand in their way.”
The question that Sturgeon’s quote raises is this: how do we know when the Scottish people actually do want to have another say on independence – if ever? Are we to take away from her words that we should tacitly understand that a vote for the SNP means a vote for another independence referendum? She says “no politician” can impose a referendum on Scotland – and yet that is exactly what she wants to do herself. Perhaps Scotland should have a referendum on whether there should be another referendum or not.
Personally, I think Sturgeon and the SNP all told should just shutup about referenda for a bit. Because while the quest for Scottish independence is a motivating factor for some Scots voting SNP, many others would have voted for them in spite wanting to remain in the Union. With the Tories mistrusted, the Lib Dems tarred by being in government with the Conservatives, and Labour out of favour, the SNP represent to a lot of Scots a sensible yet exciting alternative. If they seem overly obsessed with having endless independence referenda, it will eventually hurt them electorally.
I close with this: Sturgeon always implies that Cameron has no say in whether or not there is another vote on Scottish independence. But this isn’t really true, when you think about it at all. As prime minister of the whole of the United Kingdom, whether one large chunk of it wants to leave said union of nations is sort of under his remit. I’m not saying he can ignore democracy, but we just had a referendum on Scottish independence five minutes ago, guys. One that wasn’t even all that close in the end, really. So Cameron asking to park the issue for at least half a decade isn’t unreasonable. I think Sturgeon should accept that and move on for now.