Friday, March 03, 2017

What will be the next seriously anti-establishment vote?

A few months ago one of my university friends, Martin Warne, whose views on Brexit and on Donald Trump are not exactly favourable, wrote a tweet along the lines of

"Let's see who's next to vote for something really stupid. France and Le Pen, anyone?"

I realise that there may be people reading this in the USA who voted Trump and certainly will be people reading this in the UK who voted "Leave" and I am not setting out to insult or criticise either viewpoint in this post but I think what we can all agree on is that both the people who voted to take Britain out of the EU and those who elected Trump were aiming to completely shake up the status quo - and did so, upsetting many on the left and right alike.

(Incidentally one of the last descriptions you would normally apply to Martin would be to call him a supporter of either the establishment or the status quo. One of the ironies of 2016 is that being anti-establishment could mean shaking things up from very different angles and some of the people who were horrified by certain "Anti-status quo" votes would certainly not be considered to be supporters art of the establishment, or, on most issues, of the current ways of doing things.)

A vote for Marine Le Pen in France would in some ways be an even bigger shock to the status quo, though I do not believe it is likely to happen.

A vote to take Scotland out of the UK would be a greater shock still - and I do not think those of us who believe in the Union can afford to discount the possibility that if the SNP play their cards well and their opponents don't it could happen.

Of the fifteen Scottish polls since the Brexit vote which have tested support for Independence, onlt the three conducted immediately after the EU referendum have suggested support for Independence. At the moment a narrow but form majority of Scots  do not want another Independence referendum and would vote "No" if there were one.

More details at

Most of my friends in Scotland who voted "No" and "Remain" (which is nearly all of them) are certainly not minded to change their opposition to leaving one Union because Britain is leaving another - one of them described this as reacting to a damaging act of self-harm with a catastrophic one - e.g. losing a finger and responding by chopping your arm off.

On the other side of the quadrant, the SNP will have a problem as and when they make come up with a clear prospectus to withdraw, as they will have to make clear whether an Independent Scotland will apply to join the EU or not. Scotland's admission will not be a done deal - there is a serious possibility that at least one EU member (Spain) would veto their entry. But if the SNP are promoting "Independence within Europe" then those who support Scottish Independence from both the UK and EU (a much more consistent position than the official SNP view) may be very torn if voting to get out from Westminster's control puts them back under that of Brussels.

Ruth Davidson is almost certainly right in her view expressed this week that if a second Independence Referendum were called now,

Unionists would win by a larger margin.

But it should not be taken for granted that this situation will continue indefinitely. Sooner or later we will get another recession, which the SNP will blame either on Brexit, the UK government, or both.

If the SNP manage to call a referendum to during a period when the Scottish people are particularly unhappy with the Conservatives and don't like the idea of Labour incompetence landing Scotland with a Conservative government for a very long time, all bets could be off.

There is a good analysis of the situation by Alex Massie which you can read at

And as he rightly points out, Brexit makes Independence look like a far worse idea economically, yet may make the possibility of a vote to leave the UK more likely.

That's not to say it will happen. But friends of the Union should prepare for an even tougher and nastier fight than the last one.


Jim said...

"Let's see who's next to vote for something really stupid. France and Le Pen, anyone?"

Yes, Me, As I have previously stated, that is exactly what I think is coming next.

Jim said...

well that is if the economys of the world can hold out that long. With the Dow Jones at 21,000 then its certainly on shaky ground.