Arc of Prosperity

Scottish Independence within the EU – with a Scandinavian Slant

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Back to the Future: Scottish Independence

"You and Jennifer turn out fine. It's Scottish independence, Marty! Something's gotta be done about independence!"
“You and Jennifer turn out fine. It’s Scottish independence, Marty! Something’s gotta be done about independence!”
Because today is Back to the Future Day, I’ve been having some fun with fellow tweeters discussing how we’d achieve a Yes in the 2014 referendum if we could go back in time to 2012 or so.

It’s actually quite an interesting question. To formalise it a bit, imagine you could go back to any point in 2012, and you could speak to one person for an hour. You could show them evidence such as photos, newspapers or videos, but they wouldn’t be able to keep it. Who would you choose to talk to, and what would you tell them?

Would you try to convince Alex Salmond that his currency stance wasn’t credible and that he needed to publicise a Plan B?

Or would you try to convince him that Blair Jenkins shouldn’t be made the head of Yes Scotland? (I presume he was chosen because of his links to the BBC and STV in order to achieve favourable media coverage for the Yes campaign, but of course this didn’t work out.)

Or would you convince him to step down and hand over to Nicola Sturgeon much earlier? That could have backfired badly, however, if it was seen as a sign of weakness.

Perhaps you would instead talk to Angus Robertson and show him his own advice, namely to “harness the powers of younger voters to persuade grandparents and grandmothers that it was not just about an older generation but about future generations and voting for the future of the country”.

However, I think I’d go back to early 2012 and talk to Douglas Alexander. I’d show him a video of his concession speech from May 2015. I’d explain to him in no uncertain terms that practically all Labour MPs were going to be kicked out if they campaigned against independence together with the Tories. Although Douglas Alexander wasn’t the leader of either UK or Scottish Labour, I believe he was influential enough in both that he would have been able to change things. Perhaps he would even have been able to save Scottish Labour, but I believe a Yes vote would have been a consequence of this.

Would would you do?

6 thoughts on “Back to the Future: Scottish Independence

  • I suspect warning Douglas Alexander would just risk helping the No campaign win adjust to still win without decimating Scottish Labour to the same extent. But I have no suggestions. I think the referendum probably wasn’t winnable due to ‘the facts’ of Scotland’s economy. Still, it served a purpose in Scottish politics and has advanced the argument.

    • Well, that’s always a danger when changing the past, isn’t it? Perhaps I would have got run over by a bus during the celebrations after a Yes victory, for instance, so achieving a Yes could potentially be disastrous for myself. You’ll never know until you do it, so you need to be brave (or perhaps even foolhardy) to change the past.

      But I fundamentally disagree with you. I believe enough in the fundamental chaos of life that I think most outcomes are possible if only you knew how to achieve them. It’s possible Douglas Alexander could have saved Labour while achieving a No, and none of my suggestions might have been pointless. However, I’m sure something could have swung it for Yes, even if we’ll never know.

  • The currency argument was a trap. We should never have committed to a plan. Currency would have happened and it would have been based on the strength of the Scottish economy, not on any preplanning. The Scottish economy would have been an argument we would have one.


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