Imagination: Scotland after Brexit


I’ve now published over 100 blog posts, something that I never expected when I started in January and I still have no idea what I’m doing.

Monday night proves my point; it was a publish and run on my last post as I was meeting friends to attend a talk on post-Brexit Scotland.  As I sat down, I check my phone and see tweets pointing out mistakes in my blog which I then can’t access for the next 2 hours. And the room is completely full so there’s no way I can get out and back in time for the start of the event! Gah! Stress.

To make matters worse, a friend asks for a full report on the event. #NoPressureThen 🙂

It’s times like these I wish IndependenceLive attendance was compulsory at all events, it makes life so much easier because – as always –  I am fighting the urge to put everything down. I’m not a journalist and writing a rant is so much easier than trying to avoid putting words into other people’s mouths – especially when you know one is a legal expert.  I spent a large part of yesterday just staring at my notes wondering just how to do this.

The event at the Glad Cafe was hosted as part of Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas. Titled Imagination: Scotland after Brexit it was chaired by Gerry Hassan with a panel consisting of Andrew Tickell,  Michael Gray,  Sarah Beattie-Smith, none of whom should require any introduction.

The panelists agreed that they felt disorientated after the vote, and that the leadership shown by Nicola Sturgeon – especially in comparison to Westminster – was much needed.

The support for EU nationals and indeed anyone who may be faced with racism was a major theme throughout the evening. SB-S stated that wearing a safety pin is not enough, that we must actively call out racism/stand with it’s victims.  The point was made that people in UK  having been investigating and applying for Irish nationality after 1 vote going wrong, how does that compare to the bombing in Syria etc.

AT said at this current time there are 3 main questions

  • Do we want another IndyRef?
  • Will we win it?
  • If we don’t where is Britain going?

The result of the EU Ref had come as a shock to many people, especially those “metropolitan middle classes” who voted No in 2014. Now they have to decide which union is more important to them.

EURef raised questions in England on what is it to be English, whereas we’ve already gone through this process.  The unequal partnership between Scotland and England may be why English nationalism = BritNat. Does Scotland identify less with empire, even though there were strong links at the time? There was a nostalgia raised during the EU referendum for when England/Britain was thought to be a “strong” military country.

It was seen as the first chance for many to “kick establishment” even if it wasn’t the establishment that maybe they should have wanted to kick. SB-S commented it is difficult for people to get excited about EU, which is seen as a huge bureaucracy, even though changes are already occurring. Is this due to lack of knowledge? She felt we need to stay in to fight against TTIP and for Greece and that another Europe is possible.

The level to which Scottish people feel strongly about the EU is unknown and that we cannot go by the opinion of newspapers or columnists. Do we as a nation see ourselves as European more than British? There is still a risk to people’s quality of life, as Scotland is not a “busted country” and the “vote Yes you have nothing to lose” is not applicable to many.

MG pointed out that there is an increased confidence in Scotland with the first international diplomacy taking place for 300 years. As Scotland still only classed as a sub-state it is historic that any discussions at the EU take place.

Everything will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future.  So much is dependent on who the next Tory Prime Minister is, when Article 50 is triggered and how any negotiations take place. There is even the chance that Brexit negotiations may result in new treaties that are good for the UK and Scotland (it could happen, not saying it will.)

[I did get the impression that the general feeling in the room was that IndyRef2 is inevitable but not immediate, however this may be part of the oft-mentioned echo-chamber effect.]

The timing of IndyRef2 and whether it could be done within Brexit negotiation timescales was raised. EURef was seen as very quick compared to IndyRef1, however AT pointed out Cameron first promised it in January 2013, he hadn’t expect a Tory majority government to be formed and expected a LibDem partner to block it.

The need for a broader based campaign next time was discussed, as was the degree to which a left wing alternative should be pushed. As for the old arguments of trade, currency & borders MG pointed out these would not insurmountable issues as the situation will be similar to what ever is put in place with regards to Ireland.

It was agreed that UK politics could be entering an ugly stage, as all Tory leadership candidates are much further to the right of Cameron, the Leave voters will be expecting change to happen soon and the internal collapse of the Labour party has undermined any opposition.

The role of the media during IndyRef1, the years of implicit racism and lack of scrutiny with regard to the effects of Brexit, and subsequent bias in any future IndyRef2 was raised a number of times.

SB-S commented that during the EURef campaign she had contacted both broadcasters re Green policies, but that neither were interested. AT responded that the media prefers personalities not technocratic discussions, an example being C4’s Europe: The Final Debate where Robert Paxman interviewed celebrities on their views.

MG (unsurprisingly) said it was important to support alternative media, to give other viewpoints a voice. [He forgot to mention Independence Live, so here’s a quick link to their current fundraiser]

In addition to the implicit racism pushed by titles such as the Mail & Express, the rise of similar dialogue from the main two parties were noted, such as Labour’s immigration mug & British jobs for British people as well as the Tories “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?”

An additional point raised was the gender gap in EURef discussions, with Loughborough University’s research was referenced.

Only nine of the thirty people were women (30%) with only one (Priti Patel) making the top ten. Their combined appearances made up 11.6%, only just beating George Osborne who had 11.5%.

Top thirty media appearances (6 May – 22 June)

Position Name Number of appearances % of items in which they appeared
1 David Cameron (IN) 499 24.9%
2 Boris Johnson (OUT) 379 18.9%
3 George Osborne (IN) 230 11.5%
4 Nigel Farage (OUT) 182 9.1%
5 Michael Gove (OUT) 161 8.0%
6 Ian Duncan Smith (OUT) 124 6.2%
7 Jeremy Corbyn (IN) 123 6.1%
8 Priti Patel (OUT) 65 3.2%
9 Gordon Brown (IN) 52 2.6%
10 John Major (IN) 47 2.3%
11 Jacob Rees-Mogg (OUT) 35 1.7%
12= Chris Grayling (OUT) 33 1.6%
12= Gisela Stuart (OUT) 33 1.6%
14= Theresa May (IN) 29 1.4%
14= Donald Tusk (IN) 29 1.4%
16 Nicola Sturgeon (IN) 28 1.4%
17= Bernard Jenkin (OUT) 24 1.2%
17= Sadiq Khan (IN) 24 1.2%
19 Liam Fox (OUT) 23 1.1%
20 Jean-Claude Juncker (IN) 21 1.0%
21 Alistair Darling (IN) 20 1.0%
22 Alan Johnson (IN) 19 .9%
23= Amber Rudd (IN) 18 .9%
23= Ed Balls (IN) 18 .9%
25= Norman Lamont (OUT) 17 .8%
25= Harriet Harman (IN) 17 .8%
26= Angela Merkel (IN) 16 .8%
26= Sarah Wollaston (OUT then IN) 16 .8%
26= John McDonnell (IN) 16 .8%
30 Angela Eagle (IN) 15 .7%

As an aside, Angela Leadsom (yes her) had commented during the campaign (8th March) that women weren’t as engaged, however the BBC Reality Check page said the difference was minor and that women were taking longer to decide.

The final point were that there are a lot of groups ready for in any future IndyRef2, and that campaigners must get out of the echo-chamber, onto the street and be confident.













2 thoughts on “Imagination: Scotland after Brexit

  1. Cheers. I’ve already started “the conversation” with my customers ” how did you find the EU vote” Shocked, “would you consider another Indy Ref” Most likely, “how did you vote last time if you don’t mind me asking” YES/NO ” “how would you vote this time” YES ( mostly, inc previous staunch NO voters which surprised me)
    I work in Aberdeen and the Shire, 65k people have been laid off, house prices have collapsed etc etc people are now realising (up here at any rate) that WM has done absolutely nothing to help and they’re angry about it, I don’t know how long they will be able to sustain that level of anger and if it will subside to acceptance that there is little they can do about being unemployed and stuck with a house reducing in value by the day.
    We need the youth, we need them to be going to Granny and Grandad and asking them how they feel, then pointing out that the future belongs to the young, “Granny I’d love you to vote YES for my future, I’m a European and I want my country to be European, please think about it, I’ll pop in past next Saturday to see how you guys are doing, can we chat again ?” it needs to be done gently, older people ( nae me obviously cos I’m only 56) need time to think things through and lots of time to change their minds. good luck everyone and a huge thanks to “leave “voters, you just gave us back our country AND we will have EU membership too.


  2. What a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that, once Article 50 is invoked, the following 2 years will be spent negotiating Brexit- UK *cannot* negotiate new trade deals while still officially a member State.

    This means that it will take at the very minimum 3 years (but more likely to be 4+) before they start trade talks. Hard times ahead.


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