Referendum Campaigning and the Future of Scotland

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Transcript Referendum Campaigning and the Future of Scotland

From 1979-2014: Referendum Campaigning
and the Future of Scotland
Smith Art Gallery and Museum 17th May 2012
Peter Lynch
Key Themes
• referendums unconstitutional - but
practice emerges
• partisanship
• referendums - opposition-generated
• importance of process, procedure
and format
• divided campaigns
• timing
• referendums not always what they
should be about
British Referendum Experience
• 1975 European Community
• 2011 Alternative Vote
• 1979 Scottish Assembly
• 1997 Scottish Parliament
1979 Format and Context
• question and rules - 40%
• no public information
• timing - closeness to UK
general election
• economic crisis
• partisan issues
1979 Campaigns
• 8 Yes campaigns
• No campaigns founded in 1976
Helen Liddell
‘We will not be soiling our
hands by joining any
umbrella Yes group. We
will be fighting for
devolution only with the
Scottish TUC and the Cooperative Party (A Labour
(Bochel, Denver and
Macartney 1981: 17).
Michael Connarty
• Collaboration, here? Oh my
goodness no. Remember I
had set out to take a seat
off an SNP councillor in
1977 and win the council off
them in 1980. No it was a
war zone, it just was, it was
not a place where there
was a great deal of scope
for working together.
1997 Format and Context
• 2 question - separate
parliament from tax and
refer to ‘tax-varying
• Honeymoon period after
UK general election
• Tories obliterated at
general election in 1997
1997 Campaigns
• three Yes parties
• cross-party unity
• Scotland Forward - from
1996, researched campaign
messages and approach
• One No party, isolated and
unpopular - Dalyell much
less active, Labour MPs
Strategy for the Campaign
‘If we had an outbreak of arguing, either about independence or about
people as individuals. Basically the Scots would stay at home, they
would not vote No but they would stay at home and we would not get
the decisive result that we needed. So the whole strategy rested on
two ideas. One was that there was already – that the Scots had
already settled that there had to be a change. And secondly the only
thing that would prevent us getting there was an outbreak of
argument between the two principal parties and that was the strategy’
Nigel Smith SPA/753/1
(Chairman Scotland FORward)
2014 Referendum Format
One question independence
• Yes/No
Two question devobetter + independence
• Yes, Yes
• No, Yes
• Yes, No
• No, No
• Unionists want Binary choice to defeat SNP
• SNP might like second choice fallback position
• Second options - devo-max and Devo Plus, Labour and Lib
Dems and others working on independence alternatives.
The Scottish Parliament and Government would take
on more responsibility for domestic matters and for
raising, collecting and administering all (or the vast
majority of) revenues in Scotland and the vast bulk
of public spending.
The UK Government and institutions would continue to
macroeconomic policy and defence, but the Scottish
Parliament and Government would have a greater
range of measures available to them to support
sustainable economic growth (Scottish Government
2010: 12).
2014 Campaigning
• Unionist unity? Between Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats problematic due to general election and party interests
• SNP, Greens, left and non-party groups - more united.
• official versus unofficial campaigns
• Yes campaign up and running since October 2011 - with money and
• will the No campaign really campaign on the ground?
• Stephen Maxwell question - who will campaign for a devo-max
• Where are civic groups, newspapers, business, etc.?
2014 Timing
• practical timing - need for consultation, legislation,
preparation, etc.
• closeness to UK general election - Conservative
• economic recession to recovery?
• persuasion time?
• preparation time for parties?
• 1979 and 1997 were quick sprints - 2014 is a