A few days ago the Scottish Government proposed a new Draft Referendum Bill which will allow Scotland to proceed if necessary to a fresh Scottish Independence Referendum.
As part of this draft Referendum Bill they are seeking public consultation on various questions.
The first question in it is as follows:
for independent testing in the usual way.”
It is a question worth pondering over for various reasons, and perhaps the question should be changed to something like “Should Scotland remain in the UK”
In effect: Should YES become NO? Should NO become YES?
I am sure that there will be very many who wishing to carry on the original YES campaign into a YES2 campaign that will wish to retain the original question.
I am equally sure that there will be those who are against Scottish Independence who will wish another question entirely, as they will not have been comfortable with all the negativity of the NO campaign and wish something more positive to try and hang their Better Together on.
I would argue that there is a good reason for YES to become NO.
By asking the question ” Should Scotland remain in the UK” the emphasis changes to something more akin to asking would Scotland want to be in the UK ,and by inference would you be prepared to give up your Independence to be part of the UK?
With that change of emphasis the focus switches from it all being about Scotland and allowing the same incessant stream of questions and negativity about Scotland which is about all the Nae Sayers really have, and it makes them instead actually defend their position!
Given the massive amount of uncertainty which they have now inflicted upon everybody with Brexit, means that they have very little at all positive to say about Britain and trade and relationships to Europe and the rest of the world.
It allows therefore for the Independence side to really get stuck in about them, and it makes it much harder for them to justify their position.
Of course the Independence side will still have to make a positive case for an Independent Scotland, but we can engage in our own examination of the opposition with a vengeance.
I am sure also that you will have noticed that over the 2 referendums that have taken place the NO side have won, and they have won on the basis of fear and uncertainty.
I have no doubts that they will attempt to follow that same formula again, so by making them YES it becomes somewhat harder for them to do similar to the same extent.
They will be forced into attempting some positivity and to back it up with facts, I am not at all sure that they are particularly capable of it. Despite many attempts to ask them previously to give us a positive case for the Union, they have to date failed miserably to answer that simple question. By forcing them to argue for Remain, they will be left with little option but to state that positive case.
The alternative question of whether Scotland should remain with the UK to some extent takes the EU out of the debate, it will still play a major part I am sure, but it allows for leeway to leave the EU question for Scotland till another date. There would be room now to examine the options which would include EFTA rather than the EU solely. This change of emphasis reduces the arguments on the Independence side for those who are pro independence but anti EU.
Finally, and this is simple psychology.
In general when people are faced with 2 choices between YES and NO on a matter of Important change, significantly if they are at all in doubt, they will err on the side of caution and say NO.
I lost count on how many people I heard during the YES campaign saying ” My heart says YES but my head says NO” and they voted with their heads.
People are by nature risk averse, so by focusing the questions of risk onto the UK, if the undecideds are in doubt, on this occasion they may well choose to say NO to remaining and see the more stable governance in Scotland as being a safer bet.
Perhaps then we should be saying…. Let your YES say NO