Newspaper/Magazine Articles Politics Scotland

When Yes Means No – Daily Mail Article – March 15th 2017

Trigger warning:  This is another article about Scottish Independence and Brexit.

Comfort warning:   I suspect to many peoples relief, I don’t intend to post much more about Indy Ref 2 and Brexit (I can’t promise nothing!) but to be honest I’ve said enough and I’ve other things to get on with.  Unless there is something new and some actual debate I don’t really see any point in being involved in the endless sloganeering and soundbites.  Its already doing my head in!    I regard IndyRef2 as a supreme waste of time for the government and a complete distraction – and I very much doubt it will happen for several years, if at all.  If May is who I think she is, then she will not permit it until after Brexit and if the SNP continue their current trajectory they will lose the almost absolute power they have in the Scottish parliament.  But even if the opposite happens and Scotland ends up out of the UK and out of the EU, and then back in the EU, I don’t intend to waste my time speculating any more, or just adding fuel to the fire.   There is enough division as it is.  For the moment I leave you with my article in Todays Daily Mail which explains why I will be voting No.  I think I’ll emigrate for the next five years!   The headline is not mine and the full text of the article is below:


When Yes means No

Article for the Daily Mail – 15th March 2017

You could sense the excitement. As our First Minister spoke and thousands signed into the live feed, the responses were ecstatic. “I’m so excited….go on say it….Yesssssss”. And when Nicola finally said that she wanted a second Independence Referendum in 2018/19 the joy went off the scale. It was like a religious revival.

However it was not a joy that was shared by all – including those of us who are still (just) true believers in the cause of independence. I was a strong Yes voter and now I will certainly vote No – if the referendum ever happens. I feel so strongly about this that a couple of weeks ago I placed a petition in the Scottish Parliament petitions committee that has already received hundreds of signatures.

The SNP are very keen to parade the odd celebrity who is so in love with the EU that leaving the UK is a price worth paying. But what is largely going unnoticed are the large numbers of yes voters who are going the other way. Let me explain why we feel this way.

Firstly we are opposed to this because we believe that Scotland should be an independent country. The idea of withdrawing from the UK in order to become dependent on the EU is an irrational position for any self-respecting nationalist to hold. Any one who believes that a country should govern itself, make its own laws and control its own borders cannot seriously argue that leaving one political union of 60 million people, to join another of 400 million, is in any sense rational. The EU is undemocratic, bureaucratic and failing. It is not the progressive nirvana that the fantasists of the Europhiles keep telling us. Just ask the people of Greece!

I am opposed to a second referendum because it is not a referendum about Scottish independence but rather a referendum about Brexit. The only reason for it being held is in order to try and keep Scotland in the EU and the Single Market. For me it was an astonishing moment when Nicola Sturgeon offered to give up on a Scottish Independence referendum, if only the UK or Scotland were allowed to stay in the Single Market. Imagine that. An SNP leader giving up on independence from the UK in order to remain dependent in the EU! I am disappointed at the narrow vision of the SNP whose Europhile approach cannot see beyond European borders into the wider world and at the same time risks alienating us from our nearest neighbours and biggest trading partners.

A second independence referendum will be harmful to the people of Scotland and indeed those in the rest of the United Kingdom. We live in a time of great political and economic upheaval and flux. Another referendum at this moment in time will only add to that. Whatever the result. There are significant problems within Scotland (education, the NHS, the economy) that need the full attention of the Scottish parliament. We cannot afford to be distracted by another lengthy, divisive and bitter campaign. Neither can the UK government afford to be distracted by an internal referendum whilst trying to work out the complex details of Brexit. Until the Brexit negotiations are complete there will be both uncertainty about what we might be leaving, and even more uncertainty about where we might be going.

It is not wise to seek split apart the United Kingdom at the same time as the United Kingdom, including Scotland, is leaving the EU. For Scotland, leaving the UK for an uncertain destination is a leap off a cliff that makes the UK leaving the EU seem like a dune jump in comparison!

We were promised that this would be a once in a generation referendum. That promise should be kept. Or are we going to spend the rest of our lifes on a Neverendum?

Furthermore, despite their protestations to the contrary, the SNP have no mandate for such a referendum. SNP MP Tommy Shepherd declared on the BBC yesterday that this was not a referendum about Brexit but rather one about ‘respect’. But the SNP does not have a good record on respect for the votes of the people. The Scottish people voted by 2 million to 1.6 million to remain in the UK. And the people of the UK (Including 1.1 million Scots) voted to leave the EU. The SNP are claiming that they were elected on a manifesto that promised a second referendum if Scotland were taken out of the EU. Indeed Nicola Sturgeon tweeted this yesterday “I was elected on a clear manifesto commitment re ScotRef”. That is the kind of dishonest sleight of hand that gives politicians a bad name. I read the SNP manifesto before voting and it made no such promise. It argued that the Scottish Parliament would ‘have the right’ to call a second referendum. This was a false statement because of course under the devolution settlement the right to call a referendum is reserved to Westminster. But it was also disingenuous and seems to think that we are too stupid to recognize the difference between ‘will have the right to’ and ‘will’. A manifesto which says ‘we have the right to increase tax by 5p’ is not the same as one that says we ‘will’ increase tax by 5p. It is in no sense a mandate.

But perhaps some will argue that Scotland voted to remain in the EU and the SNP are just speaking for the people of Scotland. But again that is non-sense. 1.6 million people (out of an electorate of over 4 million) voted for the UK to remain in the EU. We didn’t have a vote about Scotland and the EU. We voted as a United Kingdom – a United Kingdom which the people of Scotland did vote to remain part of. It seems that when the SNP speak about respect they are using that word in exactly the same sense as Tim Farron, Tony Blair and Ken Clarke use it when they speak of ‘respecting’ the Brexit vote. They mean the opposite.

Finally as a Christian let me reflect on the Christian position on all this. The Church of Scotland seems to think that there is one. Apparently God is for membership of the EU, neutral on Scottish independence and against Teresa May blocking IndyRef2. Either I don’t share the same hotline to the Lord or we are reading a different bible, because my bible says nothing about Scottish independence, the EU or referendums. Christians will disagree on this, as they will disagree on other political subjects. The Christian position is that we must pray for our nation and its leaders, whatever their views and genuinely respect all human beings made in the image of God. Perhaps in these confused times that’s not a bad place to begin! I’m off to pray for Nicola, Teresa, Ruth, Jeremy, Tim, Willie and St Patrick!

David Robertson


  1. 1 Great article.
    2 It’s a relief you’ll write no more about it. (Is that a manifesto pledge?)
    3 Emigrate – you’d be welcome in England, though many Scottish Preachers seem to have been lured to the US.
    4 More important things – certainly. A Scottish friend, born and raised in Edinburgh has no time for the SNP or Independence as he nears the end of his life in a Hospice. It’s a privilege to speak to and listen to him about his hope, funeral, things eternal, the Lord, Salvation and read scripture to him. Matters of eternal significance.

  2. I was disappointed to read your change of heart on this! So often I agree with you David, on the direction of the church in Scotland and on politics, so your blog is a regular read. At least your decision (as is usual for you) is well reasoned and thought out and I have sympathy with parts of your argument. I nearly voted the same way as you on Europe – for much the same reasons – but eventually went Remain for two reasons: I was able to speak with MEP Alyn Smith a couple of weeks short of the vote about how the EU is governed and along with further research decided that while far from perfect it is a more democratic institution than the press would have us believe. I also was concerned about how, given the raising of immigration as an issue in the campaign, a vote to Leave might be interpreted as an endorsement of the far right. The apparently UKIP-influenced hard line on such matters from the UK government since hasn’t been encouraging in this light.

    I respectfully disagree with a couple of your points above:

    “Firstly we are opposed to this because we believe that Scotland should be an independent country.”
    I know you’ve made the point before that the EU and UK are similar unions but they are far from it. The UK is the sovereign nation state – it has ceded powers to the EU, and it has devolved powers to Holyrood. If it wants, it can unilaterally take them back, as it is planning to do on both fronts. There is a big difference between sovereign states working together on continental scale issues like the environment and the current refugee crisis, and a national government overruling a devolved administration. Thanks to the creeping privatisation of education and health down south, and the corresponding cuts to Scotland’s budget, we will ultimately have to follow their line if things continue as they are.

    Furthermore, the idea that voting no this time because it’s not quite the right kind of independence on offer is akin to those who voted no in 1979 to get a better devolution. Of more concern to me than leaving the EU just now is the direction that the UK seems to be going in since the Leave vote. An increasingly isolationist, individualist, capitalist one which doesn’t look like the country I want to be a part of.

    “We were promised that this would be a once in a generation referendum.”
    I’ve heard this many times, but this promise was never made. We were told it was a once in a generation *opportunity*, but this is different. The chances that a pro-independence majority would happen again at Holyrood so soon were not good – the received wisdom of the time would have suggested that after a no vote the SNP would fall back.

    I join you in prayer for the people of our islands just now. May the debate be peaceful and gracious, those in leadership make wise choices, and the public come to a good decision for each and every vote.

  3. I can’t shake the thought that Nicola Sturgeon chose the worst time to make her demand on purpose, counting on Theresa May to veto it.
    That way La Sturgeon keeps her cred with her party and the cybernats, AND becomes a heroic victim of English oppression. She knows she wouldn’t win a Ref2, but devolves onto Mrs May the thankless task of stopping it.
    Rather like a mum letting the children think SHE would love to give them a pony, but mean old dad won’t hear of it :-s

  4. Interesting article and point of view, however here’s how I see it:

    1. Scotland voted to remain in the EU and to remain in the UK, where both are no longer possible post Brexit. A referendum to determine which union we stay in seems a logical position.

    2. There is no doubt that becoming independent would pose challenges, however Brexit is also leading us down an unknown path. The IFS stated that independence could cost £1k per head, and that Brexit could cost £2.9k per family. Regardless of which path we choose in IndyRef2, Brexit has guaranteed the road ahead will be bumpy.

    1. How accurate have been previous forecasts issued by the IFS? In my days as an Economics teacher I found most forecasters had a pretty poor track record.

  5. Supposedly voted “Yes” in 2014. Now writes an article for the xenophobic, right wing “Daily Heil” Think shame, David Robertson, for your traitorous utterances. You are a disgrace.

    1. Crikey. Do I detect a slight prejudice or three? Is this the face of tolerant, inclusive Scottish nationalism? Obviously people are neither allowed to think for themselves nor deviate from the party line in the brave new world espoused by some Scottish nationalists.

  6. Never mind emigrating!! Every morning as I look at the news, the state of the world, the parlous state of morals in western civilisation plus the current discrimination against Christians and the overall condition of the Christian Church (with some notable exceptions) I feel like leaving for another planet! I cannot believe where our society has got to …

  7. I’m off to pray for Nicola, Teresa, Ruth, Jeremy, Tim, Willie and St Patrick!

    For one moment I thought that you had finally been converted to the Catholic faith but then I remembered that not even Catholics pray FOR people who are already in heaven. And then I realised that the St Patrick in question while certainly green is not, perhaps, so heavenly.

  8. Very good article. Today I read this from the BBC on Gordon Brown’s proposal for a ‘third way’ for Scotland – as Labour’s logical alternative to being stuck between a rock (intransigent London-centric Tories) and a hard place (SNP). Basically he is proposing a fully Federal UK outside the EU –

    This sounds imminently sensible.

    What do you think? Time to support Scottish Labour?


  9. A statement of the views you have already expressed, which is fair enough. I disagree with most of it, but there is one point I agree with absolutely, namely that the Bible makes no statement at all about referendums, the EU or Scottish independence. Theresa May stated that her Anglican background (I don’t think she actually said faith) informed her political position. I am grateful that you do not say that. Unfortunately I can see that one or two comments above are over the top; one drivelling about ‘cybernats’ and another making the absurd claim that your statements are ‘traitorous’. Believe it or not I actually do sympathise with you on this matter of personal abuse. Please, everybody: let’s get rid of all these stupid pejorative clichés that both sides use – ‘CyberNat’, ‘BritNat’, ‘traitor’ etc, etc, etc. They prove nothing and mean very little.

  10. All respect to your own petition but there is another petition on the UK Parliament website: ‘Another Scottish independence referendum should not be allowed to happen. Now approaching 205,000 signatures, it currently ranks 4th in open petitions (another 7.5k before it is 3rd); top on main page for collecting signatures per hour; and almost six times greater than the SNP effort.

    I’m a much more ardent Unionist than you, but you still might find something of value in an essay I wrote on the subject, ‘Whither Scotland?’ (If nothing else, you could find some useful sources from my Points 2 & 3.)

    (Matthew 12:25 and Luke 11:17 FTW.)

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