… now the debate has been settled for a generation or as Alex Salmond has said, perhaps for a lifetime. So there can be no disputes, no re-runs – we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.But the outgoing SNP leader stated:
… the majority of Scots up to the age of 55 voted for independence, and a majority of Scots over 55 voted against independence … When you have a situation where the majority of a country up to the age of 55 is already voting for independence then I think the writing is on the wall for Westminster.And his likely successor, currently his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, was quoted by BBC News as saying when launching her bid to replace him:
… the country could only become independent if the electorate backed the move in a referendum. But she did not rule out the possibility of the SNP including a commitment to hold a second referendum in a future election manifesto.The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, subsequently warned that:
The SNP lost. Scotland demonstrated her sovereign will. And yet, people at the top want to run this race again as soon as possible. They want Scotland locked in a cycle of neverendum.So it’s worth looking again at the actual result on 18 September:
|Fig 1: Referendum results|
The polls were not startlingly accurate in their predictions in the run-up to the 2014 vote. In March this year a post here looked at one particular Ipsos-MORI opinion poll in detail. It had shown that at that time those certain to vote were divided 32% Yes, 57% No and 11% undecided. As the September vote approached, opinion polls started to indicate that the Yes/No balance had shifted to be much closer – closer in the polls it turned out, than in the actual result. Afterwards Professor John Cutis in his What Scotland Thinks blog concluded that there had been a systematic problem of underestimating the No vote beforehand. However, two essentially retrospective polls were carried out on referendum day by YouGov and Lord Ashcroft Polls and these had overall results close to the outcome and also provided a breakdown of voting behaviour:
|Fig 2: Opinion polls post-voting|
|Fig 3: No voters by age from polls|
Q.8 If it turns out that a majority has voted NO in the referendum, for how long do you think the question of whether Scotland should be independent or remain in the UK will remain settled?
|Fig 4: answers to Q.8 by age|
|Fig 5: From Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland|
|Fig 6: Possible effect of movements to and from Scotland in Fig 5|
The ‘natural increase’ of 909 conceals much larger underlying population flows. Figure 5 from the Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland shows the facts of life and death:
|Fig 7: From Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland|
|Fig 8: How 'natural change' might affect No vote|
So even if the emerging voters were Yes enthusiasts, it seems likely that a substantial number of those who voted No in 2014 would have to change their minds for Yes to get a majority in 2024. What might lead them to do so? This really is peering into the Scottish mists, but an unsatisfactory 'Devo max' (further devolution to Scotland as promised post-referendum), a successful Eurozone, a sovereign area solution for the Clyde naval base (keeping jobs and not antagonising NATO) all might help, as might Catalan independence.
On the other hand, the concentrated location of the Yes vote in 2014 is now well understood and the Yes vote might fall in those parts of Scotland not green in this map:
- not everyone in Scotland may warm to the prospect of being governed from the Republic of Glasgow.