Looking at the official results of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and Ballot Box Scotland’s quick mockup of the recent Ashcroft Poll is illuminating in some ways. Obviously, the place the work needs done is “Scotland.” But let’s have a wee bit of fun.
Obviously we can’t be sure that this change, if representative of the result in a speculative independence referendum which happened right now (which, it should be noted, omitted 16 & 17-year-olds and EU citizens, two small but crucial demographics who you’d imagine would push Yes even further into the lead), is as clear cut as a uniform swing would suggest: as with the first referendum, places expected to vote No at the start of the campaign voted Yes, and the reverse – so it’s certainly possible that some places that voted No by a fair margin in 2014 might show a much bigger change.
Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, Dundee, & North Lanarkshire all seem solidly Yes, and to a greater degree than in 2014. These places will be crucial as bases for “Get The Vote Out” (GTVO), where we have to get as many independence supporters to register & vote to bolster the national result. We cannot allow a repeat of 2014, where low turnout in the two biggest Yes constituencies undermined the national result. With pro-independence-led councils in all but one, we should have a better shot of increasing the turnout in the four most pro-independence constituencies.
In addition, a uniform swing suggests that the knife-edge of my home Inverclyde & the close-run result of my good neighbours North Ayrshire & Arran are now well into the 55%+ threshold. That both these constituencies displayed some of the biggest swings to the SNP outside Glasgow in the 2015 & 2016 elections, as well as some of the highest Remain votes in the whole of the UK, adds further evidence of a Yes majority in these constituencies. Unfortunately, both constituencies are controlled by anti-independence councils (albeit minorities), so our work will still be tough: even when a pro-independence party was had the greatest percentage of votes, it isn’t enough when the anti-independence parties team up to help each other out.
Rounding out the areas that could vote Yes in a uniform swing are Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Midlothian, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Fife, Angus, the Highlands, and Na h-Eileanan Siar. Of these, Clackmannanshire, East Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Fife, Falkirk, & South Lanarkshire have pro-independence-led councils, while Angus, Midlothian, West Lothian, & the Highlands have anti-independence-led coalitions. Na h-Eileanan Siar, being their usual selves, have a council peculiar to their isles.
Now we move to the places we need to convince. Argyll & Bute, South Ayrshire, Stirling, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Aberdeen, and Moray are all just short of the Yes line. We have a good shot in places with independence-led councils like Edinburgh, South Ayrshire, & Stirling, while the anti-independence alliances in Argyll & Bute, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Perth & Kinross, and Moray will make things more difficult.
Finally, there are what I call the Occupied Territories – East Dunbartonshire, Perth & Kinross, Aberdeenshire, Orkney, Shetland, East Renfrewshire, Dumfries & Galloway, and the Scottish Borders. These are the places which are deeply rooted in Scottish History which have been hijacked by anti-independence forces (i.e. the UK Government Party & their cohorts).
It sickens me to the core. East Dunbartonshire, home of Thomas Muir & Tom Johnston, the easternmost stretches of the Lennox and the border wall between Freedom and Empire; Perth & Kinross, site of Scotland’s most ancient capital & the heartland of Alba; Aberdeenshire, realm of the Northern Picts & northernmost reaches of old Alba; East Renfrewshire, the eastern marches of William Wallace’s own homeland; Orkney, centre of prehistoric Caledonian religion; Shetland, window into Scotland’s prehistoric past; Dumfries & Galloway, so formative to the lives of Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns; the Scottish Borders, who had to fight harder than any other Scottish people to remain Scottish against the depredations of southern kings.
It is disgusting & perverse to me that these places so vital to Scotland’s identity, who contributed to so much to our collective soul, have been targeted & controlled by those who seek to exploit & undermine our nation. And why shouldn’t they? The most effective way to control a populace is to take command of their genius loci, the points of political, economic, and cultural power. The most “Scottish” places in Scotland are in the hands of those who’d deny our national self-determination.
We can’t just abandon them, leave them to the UK Government Party and their minions. We have to take them back. It’s as simple as that.
I often recall that anecdote from the early days of the Yes Campaign: you won’t get Inverclyde. Best you can hope for is to shore up as much support as you can to contribute to the national result. All eyes were on the big cities, the SNP strongholds, the places people expected to vote Yes. This approach simply isn’t good enough. We must aim to get every constituency in Scotland over the line – including the Islands, including the Borders, including the North East. I don’t particularly care if folk say it’s impossible, it can’t be done: if that’s your attitude, it will stay impossible. Shoot for the moon, and all that. Plus, we know that it is possible for every constituency in Scotland to vote as one.
Manage expectations, absolutely. But our aim is to get as many people on the side of Scotland as we can, no matter how difficult or unlikely it is. Don’t put an upper limit. Don’t abandon parts of Scotland which are there to be saved.