All arguments against indyref2 show a lack of respect for democracy

Recently, there was a debate at Westminster on the back of two public petitions on the subject of indyref2.

One petition was in favour of indyref2 and one was against it and the debate centred around whether we should hold a second plebiscite or not. In the interest of challenging my views, I decided to read through the transcript to see if there were any decent counter-arguments to my argument for why we must have one.

My case is simple. We should have one because our democratically elected parliament voted to hold one. I can understand why some may not want one but I have yet to hear a good argument for overturning democracy just because you don’t like the result. So, with an open mind, I read the debate.

As suspected, many of the arguments used by the opponents of indyref2 failed to tackle the legitimacy of the vote in Holyrood.

Instead, most of those against holding another vote merely expressed why they don’t like the idea. You will have heard these arguments a thousand times before.

  • The 2014 referendum was divisive and people were really nasty.
  • Having a second referendum would not be respecting the 2014 result.
  • We were promised it was a once in a lifetime vote.
  • Independence stops the SNP getting on with the day job.
  • We should be working together to make a success of Brexit.
  • Independence would damage Scotland as we trade four times as much with the UK as we do with the EU, and we are reliant on subsidies from England.
  • The threat of independence is hurting the Scottish economy as businesses fear uncertainty.
  • Borders are bad.
  • The most honest argument in this category was an appeal to British nationalism as espoused by Paul Masterton, MP for East Renfrewshire.

The historian Tom Devine remarked that all that the Union has going for it is sentiment, family and history. As if that is not enough! Those things are everything. That is the difference. I do not actually think Scottish independence is stupid. I get the arguments; I understand the rationale. In particular, I understand the emotional pull that drives people to that cause. However, I do not think those on the yes side are able to do that in return. They do not seem able to understand that the Union, for me and many in Scotland, is not and never will be about numbers on a spreadsheet. If I could, I would ban that awful phrase “Union dividend”. Britain is not some financial transaction that I endure; it is an identity that I am.

Anyway, all of these are valid arguments that were used in the debate before the Scottish Parliament voted to hold indyref2.

After the vote was held, all these arguments become obsolete. After the vote, the question changes to,
do you believe in democracy or not?
For if you do, you need to either support the right to hold a referendum or come up with a good argument as to why the Scottish Parliament vote is illegitimate?

The parliamentarians did try to do this but their efforts were pretty lame, to be honest.

They suggested the Scottish Parliament should be ignored because of,

  • Opinion Polling.
  • Anecdotal evidence collected on the doorstep.
  • An interpretation of the loss of SNP seats at the General Election even though the SNP got a majority.
  • Percentage of votes in elections compared to who actually won the election via the system as is.
  • That the anti-indyref petition got more signatures than the pro-indyref petition.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a country where these arguments are used to subvert the actual democratic system we have agreed on.

Can you imagine the chaos if every country in the world ignored their parliaments in favour of debatable opinion poll results or anecdotal hearsay? Nothing would ever get done and nations would grind to a halt.

Truth is, those against holding a second referendum don’t have any good arguments as to why democracy should be ignored. I get why they are angry and scared about having indyref2. Still, accepting decisions you don’t like is a fundamental part of living in a democracy. We had that debate and they lost. They must accept this as, if the union they argue for is worth having it must embrace fundamental democratic principles.

Cover image by @defiaye

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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1 Comment on "All arguments against indyref2 show a lack of respect for democracy"

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Robert T
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I agree with what you are saying , moreover even in INDY1 there were never any positive reasons or explanations put forward to encourage people to vote to retain the union , it was downright lies and fear ramped up to the highest level by scum politicians and their mouthpiece media I have stated many times on other sites that INDY2 MUST have independent observers the UN or EU , all parties and the msm MUST adhere to electoral law , which includes financial and purdah rules and ANY infringement must be subject to proper legal consequences, not stupid hand… Read more »
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