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From: The Socialist issue 908, 29 June 2016: Defend anti-austerity struggle

Search site for keywords: Scotland - EU - UKIP - Austerity - SNP - Anti-austerity - Independence - Dundee

Scotland: Towards a second indyref?

Nicola Sturgeon photo World News/Creative Commons

Nicola Sturgeon photo World News/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI Scotland)

In Scotland, there was a 1.66 million (62%) to 1 million (38%) vote for Remain. The 38% vote to leave was higher than many polls had indicated in the run-up to the referendum. Turnout was lower by around 6% compared to England and Wales. In Glasgow only 56% of the eligible voters took part.

A major factor in the lower turnout was the general disgust among a section of the working class towards both official campaigns who were seen as two wings of the establishment. However, in many working class areas the vote to Leave was higher than the 38% average.

In Dundee, where there was a 40% vote to leave, a left Labour councillor who was campaigning for Remain commented: "There are strong parallels between disenfranchised working class Scots voting Yes in 2014, and working class people across the UK voting to leave (and it's not just in England). "Having spent yesterday in Kirkton [a working class area of Dundee] and then at the count, I saw these boxes being opened and sorted. So, I know the majority there voted to leave."

More affluent areas voted heavily in favour of remaining part of the EU. Students and young people, for anti-racist and internationalist reasons, voted by a big majority in favour of staying.

Another important factor as to why there was a lower Leave vote in Scotland was the disgust with which Farage, Johnson and Gove, the main leaders of the Brexit campaign, were viewed. Much of their campaign was tinged with English nationalism, especially from the Ukip leader Farage.

In addition the SNP, the biggest party in Scotland and still with some authority following the 2014 indyref, ran a major campaign in defence of the EU as a "progressive, job creating" institution. They argued in favour of an "open, tolerant Scotland" and this contrasted with the xenophobic campaigns of much of the Remain side.

The Scottish Greens, Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems, alongside the SNP, produced a joint statement the day before the vote claiming the EU was: "vital for jobs, investment and opportunities for the people of Scotland." Sturgeon also shared a TV debate platform with the Tories in defence of the interests of Scottish and British big business. The SNP's role as part of "Project Fear" will not be forgotten by many working class people.

Despite the unremitting pro-EU propaganda more than one million people, including around a third of SNP supporters, voted in favour of exiting the EU.

Nicola Sturgeon argued that a vote to leave the EU in Britain, with Scotland voting to stay, would be a "material change of circumstance" that would put a second independence referendum on the agenda.

While not committing to a indyref immediately or even definitely proposing to have one, the SNP are using the threat of a second referendum to try and extract from the UK government and the EU an agreement that Scotland can negotiate access to the European single market and for Scotland to continue having a relationship with the EU.

That hesitant position can change if the SNP are refused but they are not keen to move immediately to another referendum. With almost 40% of people having voted in Scotland to leave the EU, and unless and until polls in favour of Scottish independence change markedly, an imminent referendum is not likely yet.

This is an extract of an article available at

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