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The second No campaign will lack the strengths of the first

NOT FOR the first time, it was David Halliday who nailed it in a couple of pithy tweets. He observed that the independence movement could have been in real trouble by now if the Tories had accepted that the No victory in 2014 was narrow, and had shown respect for Scotland’s right to make its own decisions under the devolution settlement, including decisions the rest of Britain might not care for (such as electing the SNP). But instead they decided to scream “no more referendums!” over and over again, so thankfully there’s no great problem. Paradoxically, though, there is a sort of logic in what the Tories have done.

At some point in the first couple of years after the indyRef – it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment the penny dropped – Ruth Davidson and her team realised that, contrary to popular belief, they didn’t have to be permanently trapped at around 15% of the popular vote in Scotland. There was an escape route open to them, but only if they abandoned long-standing efforts to distance the party from its antidevolution past, and instead became the bad boys and girls of Scottish politics once again. An additional 10-15% of voters, whose disdain or indifference towards the Tories was outweighed by their visceral loathing of a confident Scottish national movement, were out there to be won if Davidson was strident enough in demanding that the SNP get back in its box.

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iScot Magazine
July 2018
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