Is Scotland on an unstoppable march to leave the UK?
Basia Cummings: Let’s be honest, it’s been hard in 2020 to keep an eye on everything that matters. There’s been coronavirus and the utter chaos of Westminster’s handling of a health and economic catastrophe. Then there’s been Brexit, more chaos as Britain continues on its journey to the edge of a cliff. And of course, there’s been the battle to overthrow Donald Trump sucking the oxygen and the energy out of absolutely everything.
So I think it’s fair to say that overwhelmed and confused have been the signature moods of 2020.
But of course, as you might’ve guessed, there’s something else that we should be paying attention to. This wouldn’t be the Slow Newscast, after all, if we just stuck to the headlines.
It just might be that beyond the chaos, something else, something possibly even more historic has been bubbling away. A story centuries in the making that is building an unstoppable momentum. I’m Basia Cummings and in this week’s podcast we’re going north of the wall and we’re asking: are we witnessing the beginning of the breakup of the United Kingdom?
Because it’s been six years since Scotland said No in a referendum on independence, but so much has changed since then. There’s been coronavirus, Brexit, the arrival of Boris Johnson and the rise of Nicola Sturgeon.
So we’ve been on the road with journalist Dani Garavelli and producer Gill Davies, and we’re asking this: after more than 400 years tied to England is Scotland, finally, actually on an unstoppable march to independence.
[Audio of people chanting: “What do we want? Independence. When do we want it? Now!”]
Basia: Hi Dani.
Dani: Hi Basia.
Basia: So you’ve just got back, I believe from being out and about speaking to people about what’s going on in Scottish politics. Am I right in thinking that?
Dani: Yes, and it’s been such a joy to be out and about rather than on zoom calls, speaking to actual people about Scottish politics.
Basia: I can imagine. So the clip that we heard was from a march in Edinburgh a year ago. So why are we starting there?
Dani: So that was an ‘All Under One Banner’ march, and they say there were 200,000 people there and it was like a sea of Saltires and these marches are massively popular with the grassroots. They give them an opportunity to express their impatience for independence. But they’re sometimes frowned upon by the mainstream who see all that flag-waving as potentially off-putting to the No voters that they want to persuade to vote Yes in the future.
Basia: Okay, so take us back to 2014 because the country was given a chance to vote for its freedom at that moment and, as I remember it, it comprehensively rejected it, didn’t it?
Dani: Yes, Scotland voted 45% for Yes, but 55% for No. And that was largely because of concerns around things like currency, the economy, pensions and the fate of the Faslane nuclear base.
Basia: But a lot has changed since then, right?
Dani: Yes an awful lot. I mean, well there’s Brexit for a start and while the UK voted to leave the EU, Scotland voted very strongly to Remain, 62% and that was the strongest vote in the country. And I think it really reinforced a sense of democratic deficit; here we are, again, being pushed around by Westminster. Here we are being pulled out of the EU against our will.
Basia: So Dani, the Scottish referendum was in 2014, since then we’ve had Brexit. Has that bolstered the Scottish National Party’s fortunes, do you think?
Dani: Well, it didn’t do so immediately. And I think because there was so much upheaval around Brexit, voters felt that they couldn’t face any more upheaval. And that’s how they saw a second independence referendum. So at the point where you were coming to the 2017 general election, Labour and the Tories exploited that sense. And in fact, a third of SNP MPs lost their seats at that point.
Basia: That march we heard came at a watershed moment. It was the start of the 2019 general election campaign, the election which obviously we saw Boris Johnson confirmed as Prime Minister and a huge Tory majority, which is obviously something that Scotland definitely didn’t vote for.
Dani: No, they didn’t. And obviously that increased people’s irritation and their sense that they were not being listened to again.
Basia: Yeah. So it’s obvious that Johnson was never likely to play very well in Scotland, but obviously no one could have foreseen coronavirus. So what impact has that had on Scottish politics?
Dani: So the tone and messaging around the pandemic has been very different north and south of the border. And this has played to Nicola Sturgeon’s advantage. I mean her approval ratings have soared and a recent poll put support for independence at 58%. I mean, that’s a figure that feels seismic even to seasoned commentators. And now Johnson has called devolution a disaster and Tony Blair’s biggest mistake. I mean, sometimes it feels as if he’s handing it to the SNP on a plate.
Basia: So what happens next? Because you’ve got a Scottish parliament election next year, right?
Dani: Yes, and all eyes are now on that, the Holyrood elections which are in May.
Basia: Is there anything that can halt the Scottish National Party’s upwards trajectory and the journey to independence? And how did we get to the point where the severing of our 400-year-old union looks almost inevitable? To understand what’s happening in Scotland now we need to rewind – quite a long way in fact.
[Audio of Bruce Jamieson]
Dani: That’s Bruce Jamieson, he’s a local historian and former history teacher in Linlithgow. That’s a town between Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s steeped in history from the days of William Wallace and Scotland’s Wars of independence with England, right up to the present day because it’s where Alex Salmond, former leader of the SNP, was born. I met Bruce in a famous historical landmark, where another figure linked with Scottish identity was born, Mary Queen of Scots.
Bruce: Well, we’re standing here in the shadow of Linlithgow palace, not the one that was here during the Wars of independence. It was captured by a group of locals under a gentleman called Binny and his supporters hid in the woods behind us. And his cart went into the entrance and they could not drop the portcullis because the cart was full of straw. He cut the horses loose, his men rushed in and murdered the whole English garrison. So yes, there is a deep, long time connection with Wars of independence here.
Dani: I think you were saying earlier that there were actual statues in the niches above, which are no longer there, dedicated to some of the heroes of independence.
Bruce: They are indeed. Well, Edinburgh Castle has two statues and we’re pretty certain that the empty niches up above us here held William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in them. And of course they are two great inspiring characters. Robert Burns of course said that reading the tales of Wallace filled him with the blood of Scottish freedom that he never ever forgot again in his life. So I think these two gentlemen have inspired many Scots over the ages and Scots have long memories. You know, we do remember the invasion of the English, the suppression of the English.
Dani: So you couldn’t really grow up here without having that sense of nationhood and an awareness of our past, I guess.
Bruce: I noticed it the first time I came to teach here, I taught people like Alex Salmond, Kenny MacAskill, our present member of parliament, Martyn Day, all pupils of mine. I claim no credit for instilling the independent spirit in them, but they were very involved in it.
I remember giving a talk here to the SNP group on local history and this young man stood up at the end and gave a brilliant eloquent vote of thanks; Alex Salmond. Very clever man.
Basia: So Salmond was a critical and charismatic figure, but Dani, another political figure was emerging against a very different backdrop, right?
Dani: Absolutely. And there’s a great story that’s often told how in the 1987 election, a 16-year-old girl knocked on the door to the local SNP candidate in her home village of Dreghorn. And that teenager was Nicola Sturgeon.
It’s a typical wee mining village isn’t it? Former mining village.
We went to Dreghorn on a dreich day, that means miserable, to see where she grew up.
With your old family butcher and some miners cottages, and two churches. We can see Nicola Sturgeon’s former primary school, at some point, it was turned into a brewery.
During a break in the rain we met, Marie Burns the SNP councillor and leader of the opposition on North Ayrshire council. She campaigned alongside Sturgeon in the late 80s and has kept in touch with her ever since. I asked Marie what the area was like back then.
Marie: In the 1980s, we had the advent of Margaret Thatcher and lots of redundancies, job losses, people moving into benefits. So this area, like everywhere else in the west of Scotland and further afield, suffered during the 1980s. Families suffered, there was a lot of poverty.
Dani: That would be the kind of background that would have been influencing your politics, but also the politics of Nicola Sturgeon.
Marie: Nicola was fortunate in that her mum and dad managed to keep their heads above water and keep working. But she went to Greenwood Academy, which is just down the road and lots of young people there, her friends at school, were really struggling with poverty. So I think that she picked that up like the rest of us, and what could she do about that? And I think that’s what got her involved in politics, she was doing more than her studies. And obviously she was very affected by everything around her, and you could see that when she first came to ask to join the SNP.
Dani: So do you think because the SNP were kind of more of a fringe movement at the time, did you think there was a kind of outsider sense and that built a solidarity amongst you all?
Marie: I think at that time we were a much smaller party and so everybody knew everybody else. And we all felt that we were part of a movement, not just a political party, but part of a movement. And I think when you think of the task that you’re trying to achieve, which is basically to break the British state, that is a huge thing to try and achieve. And I think we all recognised that. And there was a kind of camaraderie in the enormous task that we had in front of us.
Dani: And so what was Nicola Sturgeon like back then? Because she was very young when she first joined wasn’t she? I mean, when you met her was it obvious that she was going to go far? Did she have strengths that you could have picked out at an early age?
Marie: I think probably Nicola at that point might have been a bit of an enigma to some people because she was very shy, socially very shy. She was a teenager of the 80s, and I’ve kind of slagged her off for this at times, you know with the black coat and the Doc Martens and the piercing stare. But she was socially very shy, but her convictions were deep rooted. As I said, maybe because of that, because she was so shy and she spent a lot of time reading books, and I know she talks about that, and she does that now, she did then as well.
I mean, obviously we were very impressed that somebody at 16 with a level of knowledge that she had and the hard determination, because sometimes when people come into politics, especially at that age, they don’t know what they’re coming into. And after a few weeks and months, they’ve kind of had enough and they’re off and those were very difficult times, but Nicola threw herself into it. And while it would be wrong to say that, you know, looking back, we thought she would ever be the First Minister or anything, because obviously we had no Scottish parliament then. So none of us, including Nicola had any particular personal ambitions at that time. But we knew at that time that if she lasted the pace, she would be a great asset to the movement because we could see even then the strength of character and the determination that she had.
Basia: I obviously love the idea of Nicola Sturgeon in her Doc Martens. So Sturgeon was clearly destined for great things Dani, would you say?
Dani: Oh, absolutely. By 2014, she and Salmond had formed a team. He was leader of the SNP and first minister and she was his deputy.
At the same time Sally Pattle was defending the status quo. She runs Linlithgow’s award-winning independent bookshop Far From the Madding Crowd and she’s the local Liberal Democrat candidate in next year’s Holyrood elections. She campaigned with Better Together in 2014 on the side of No to independence.
Sally: I think of myself as Scottish, as British, as European. I feel like we can absolutely have more than one identity. I don’t feel that that’s an issue. And my unionism, I think is born of that feeling that I am British as well as Scottish. And I am proud to be British as well as proud to feel Scottish. And I’m super proud to be European, you know? That’s just something that, I don’t know if that was a factor of my upbringing, but it’s just how I identify. And I’m not ashamed of that in any way.
And sure the economics is hugely important. And I think you’re going to ask me, you know, what are the cases against independence? And I would say that, you know, the economic factor at the moment with everything we’re having to deal with is absolutely the number one factor, because we’ve had so much chaos over the past few years. I can’t bear to think about it in the next few years. I feel like my unionism is just a part of me.
[Montage of audio from 2014 Indy ref]
Basia: Alex Salmond famously said that that was it for a generation. So how quickly did it become clear that this was not, in fact, it – and that it wouldn’t settle the question?
Dani: Oh, almost immediately. I mean, tens of thousands of people have become energised during the referendum campaign and they were not going to be prepared to slink away and lick their wounds.
So Salmond resigned and Nicola Sturgeon took over. She was immensely popular, almost immediately, membership rose, and before long, Sturgeon was packing out rockstar gigs at stadiums across the country.
[Audio of Nicola Sturgeon: The tectonic plates of Scottish politics have clearly shifted. What we’re seeing, I think is a historic shift in Scottish political opinion. Labour has been losing the trust of people in Scotland over a period of years.]
Marie: When Nicola became leader. As I said, we already achieved 45% in the referendum, but we were not going to have another referendum anytime soon. So the kind of brashness and confidence of Alex Salmond’s leadership was maybe not what was needed at that moment at the time. I think the conviction from Nicola, I think the desire to show what a Scottish government could achieve, in terms of thing like fighting inequality, I think the agenda changed then. It was less about having a referendum coming up and trying to persuade people of independence. It was more about, you know, let’s work together, there are huge challenges, out there that need to be faced.
[Audio: David Dimbleby: “We can now say the decision taken in 1975 by this country to join the Common Market has been reversed by this referendum to leave the EU.”]
Dani: This of course was not true in Scotland, 62% of the population voted to stay in the EU.
[Audio: Nicola Sturgeon: “If the Tory government insists…promises have been broken.”]
Basia: You mentioned the impact of Brexit earlier. Did this notion of broken promises immediately push everyone towards independence, do you think?
Dani: No, there were people like Sally Pattle, whose support for the union was actually strengthened by Brexit.
Sally: I don’t believe that we should be putting up more barriers. We need to break them down. We need to be more inclusive. I don’t want more division. I don’t want more chaos. I want us to be able to work together. And to me, independence is just a road to decades of chaos, uncertainty, economic ruin. It’s not worth it. It’s just not worth it. It’s not the right thing to do. Definitely not for now anyway.
Dani: But others gradually began to see it as proof that the UK was broken, that England and Scotland had grown apart demographically, culturally and politically, that Scotland’s opinions would always be dismissed. And that the only way forward was self determination. Here’s Rebecca Menzies, she’s from Common Weal, a pro-independence think tank.
Rebecca: We are being taken out of the EU against our will. It was very blatantly obvious that we are treated differently and that our concerns aren’t heard. I think independence for a lot of people is the only way they can see Scotland changing.
Dani: Did you feel a change of opinion around you? And was that largely because people felt very pro-European?
Rebecca: I think I’ve definitely seen a change, I have a friend who voted No, for the same reasons I voted Yes; they wanted to see change, but they wanted that within the UK. But when Brexit happened, they were like, I would actually vote for independence now. I don’t know if it’s necessarily pro-European, although I think a lot of Scots are. But I think it’s also because it was the kind of first time a lot of people seen Westminster just disregarding their vote.
Basia: And then last year, Boris Johnson arrived as prime minister, was that the final straw?
Dani: Well, certainly his ego and his willingness to see the country exit without a deal infuriated people. But it was actually his handling of the pandemic that caused Nicola Sturgeon’s approval ratings to soar and bolstered support for independence I think.
Marie: It’s amazing the number of people who have said, “I wasn’t a big fan of Nicola Sturgeon but the way she’s handled this pandemic has been amazing.” And I think it’s about relatability. We were talking earlier about Nicola growing into herself. With Nicola, what you see is what you get, you know, there are no sides to Nicola. And over the years people have said to me, ‘one thing I like about Nicola Sturgeon is unlike other politicians, she answers a question’ or she at least tries to answer it, you know? And doesn’t duck questions when she’s asked. And I think the fact that Nicola has been willing to do those daily briefings, to put herself out there, to answer whatever questions she’s been asked. I watched the Boris Johnson, was it yesterday? The press conference? Even the way he speaks, doesn’t inspire you with confidence. He doesn’t sound as if he believes what people are telling him. And I think Nicola has always had an eye for detail and she’s got an incredible memory and she likes to know and understand a lot. And I think that’s been very clear. When she’s giving scientific information, you can tell that she’s spent a bit of time trying to understand that herself before she tries to explain it to other people. So I think there’s a confidence there in Nicola that people just don’t have in Boris Johnson.
Dani: And even Sally is impressed…
Sally: The pandemic has brought a lot of things sharply into focus for a lot of people. I think probably one of those things is that, the people in power in Westminster are maybe not the people we deserve, they’re certainly not the people that we want and I don’t think they’ve handled the pandemic very well. Whereas on the other hand, there’s Nicola Sturgeon, she has been there give her her due. She’s been there every single day, giving her press conference. She is an extremely effective communicator. It might not be being backed up with what is happening in real life, but she sounds good on a podium and Boris Johnson does not. So I think that’s probably helped her cause, enormously. I mean I don’t think she’s handled the pandemic particularly better than the government at Westminster, but I think she sounds like she has.
Dani: And the praise kept on coming on the streets of Linlithgow.
Unnamed interviewees: The questions that are going to Nicola Sturgeon, she answers almost every question. And if she can’t go into the detail she’ll pass it over. You listen to Boris Johnson and the UK government, they can’t answer the questions. That’s my point of view.
Well, certainly there has been a rise in the interest of independence and I think it is due to Westminster mishandling all the devolved parliaments. It’s certainly encouraged it. I had no thoughts about independence, but certainly I’m swithering now about it.
Dani: So the first time round you voted, No. Is that fair to say?
Interviewee: I did vote No first time round. I did vote No, but I’d certainly now be reconsidering my thoughts.
Dani: And what about your perceptions of Nicola Sturgeon? Have they changed over the last six months?
Interviewee: Oh, I think she’s still a nippy sweetie, but, certainly she’s held her own in a very difficult time against a swimming tide, you know? So, let’s just see how she gets on here, but I know that, people are accusing her of being high handed and demanding, everybody just listens to her, but I think she’s got a lot of credence certainly.
Basia: And now is the moment where I sound like the most English person on earth, but I think I’m going to need a bit of translation. Swithering? Nippy sweetie? What do they mean?
Dani: Swithering kind of means you’re on the verge of making a different decision, you’re back and forth, but you’re maybe leaning towards, in this case independence, and nippy sweetie, is an expression that has been quite widely used about Nicola Sturgeon. And it kind of means a woman who has a little sharp edge about them and it’s widely considered sort of sexist and certainly Nicola Sturgeon herself absolutely hates it.
Basia: Dani, what about younger voters in all of this?
Dani: Yes, I think there’s also been a shift in opinion among younger voters. And remember the minimum voting age in Scotland for Holyrood elections and also for any future Independence referendum is 16. And there’s a whole wave of young people who didn’t get a chance to vote in 2014 and who want to have their say.
So we went to the park, it’s 2020, that’s what you do, and spoke to Harry, Charlotte and Lara, who will vote for the first time in May’s Hollyrood elections.
Charlotte: We never get a government that we actually vote for in Scotland here. We didn’t vote for Brexit and we’ve got Brexit. I think we’re very angry about that. And then furthermore, the way Boris Johnson dealt with the coronavirus crisis, I think that shocked a lot of people into realising how useless he is at Prime Minister.
Lara: Yeah, I think with the current cabinet right now, I’m pro-independence, just cause I agree with Charlotte, our government right now, I don’t believe is doing the best that they could possibly be doing. I think they’re a bit incompetent right now.
Harry: Yeah, I agree with most of the stuff that Charlotte and Lara said, I think the way that Nicola Sturgeon how like much better she’s handled the whole coronavirus crisis compared to Boris Johnson just shows that. So obviously, it’d be a lot better if we have independence because we can obviously govern ourselves better.
Basia: So where are we Dani? The momentum seems unstoppable, but there’s a bit of a psychodrama going on between Sturgeon and Salmond, isn’t there? Does that put the whole Indy project at risk?
Dani: Well there’s a tricky question. As most people will know Salmond and Sturgeon are no longer allies. And earlier this year, Salmond was on trial for alleged sexual assault. Of course he was cleared on all charges, but he now claims he was the victim of a plot to prevent him from returning to frontline politics. He’s pledged revenge and a hard-line faction has sort of gathered around him. And this has all come to head at a parliamentary inquiry into how the complaints were first handled. It’s also investigating what Sturgeon knew and when. And there’s a separate inquiry going on at the same time investigating whether she breached the ministerial code when she held a series of meetings and phone calls with Salmond about the allegations.
Basia: Okay, and how’s it all going?
Dani: Not well so far, civil servants have suffered repeated memory lapses, and there’s been a lot of criticism of the Scottish government for not handing over documents as requested. And you know, it’s not impossible, Sturgeon could be forced to resign.
I mean one way to look at the fault lines within the party is this, if you’re for Salmond and you think he’s the victim of a plot, then you’re also more likely to think that Independence is moving too slowly. And that the SNP is going too far on issues like #MeToo and the trans debate. But if you’re for Sturgeon, you’re likely to be on the opposite side on every one of those issues.
Basia: Okay. So it’s politics, it’s personality, it’s identity, and the destiny of the country all rolled up together.
Dani: Yes. And also some of the more contentious issues such as currency and the economy have not been resolved. And now Johnson appears to be building up military presence in Scotland. The UK’s entire submarine fleet is to be based in Faslane and £65 million has been spent on an ammunition jetty at Loch Long.
Basia: So all of that Dani, the military presence, the submarines, is that so that the UK government can rekindle Project Fear?
Dani: Yes. Well, let’s just point out that earlier this month The Economist ran the headline, “How Scottish independence would threaten Britain’s defence”. So that certainly suggests they’re ramping up the fear factor again.
Sally: This is just not the time. I mean, if we are talking sensibly, we need time for recovery and we have to work in partnership to do that. This is just incredible times. It’s almost unbelievable what has happened to us in the past four years since Brexit and then this year with the pandemic. I sometimes still can’t believe that this is all happening.
Dani: Sally believes another Independence referendum at a time when the country is in economic free-fall would be an act of madness.
Sally: This is not the time to be playing party politics. This is not the time to be thinking about, ‘oh, how can I cause more chaos’ with an independence referendum within a year of the Holyrood elections’? That’s crazy to me. It’s utterly crazy. We need to be responsible. We need to focus on recovery. I run a business. This has not been an easy year. So to me, an Independence referendum? Are you joking? We need to focus on recovery. That’s what we need. And it can’t just be for six months. It needs to be for years because that’s how long it’s going to take to sort this out. We are on a really, really shaky foundation at the moment. And I just, I’ve said it, but I can’t bear to think about it. I can’t bear to think about the fact that time and energy of people who have power will be focused on an Independence referendum when, what they should be using that power, that knowledge, that experience is on making our country better for everyone. That’s what they should be doing.
Dani: But for others, the pandemic has shown how urgently Scotland needs to take control of her own destiny. And they’re looking to the SNP to sort it out. With no effective opposition, it seems as if the SNP is heading for a big win in May. And of course there’s another ingredient in the mix now.
[Audio: football commentary]
Dani: Scotland’s mens team have qualified for the Euros, their first international football tournament in 22 years.
[Audio: Scotland’s players celebrate]
Dani: Can you imagine the surge of national pride that will accompany the opening matches just a few weeks after that Holyrood election. The heat will be on Boris Johnson.
Basia: So what happens if the SNP gets a massive majority, but Johnson just says no and refuses a second referendum. What happens then?
Dani: Some hardliners are arguing for a plan B, which effectively means a referendum held without the consent of Westminster. And remember, this is what happened in Spain, when Catalonia held its unofficial referendum. So some people, as a result of that, are afraid there will be violence, but they also believe that for Scotland’s independence to mean anything, it really has to be internationally recognised.
Rebecca: I think if you look at what happened in Catalonia, I think with the current UK government, if we’d done it, they would just say it’s illegal and just dismiss it. They would probably just laugh at it to be honest. They don’t have much regard for Scottish people anyway. So I think holding an illegal referendum, just plays into their hands. I think it needs to be down a legal route and something that’s going to be binding. I think as well, we’ve seen with referendums, they’re very toxic and they can cause so much disruption, it needs a careful plan before we do it.
Dani: What more should the SNP be doing to put pressure on Johnson if he denies the Section 30, where there is a mandate?
Rebecca: I think that what they really need to do now is have a strong, credible economic plan that they can’t argue against. And I think if they had plans on currency and all the kind of unanswered questions that we still don’t have answers to. I think they need to have a proper plan on that and build support behind that. And if it’s a credible plan and he still says no, that puts more pressure on him because if it’s something that’s going to work and it shows that it’s going to be better for the people of Scotland, the people of Scotland won’t take it. And I think the world would be watching.
Marie: Nicola can see the bigger picture. You know, it’s not just about getting a referendum, we need to get referendum, but then we need to win it. And then we need to get independence and you know, that’s not going to be easy. I think Nicola’s focused on other things, you know, before the pandemic, she was spending a lot of time with other countries, with EU countries, you know, trying to build support for Scotland as an independent country. So I think Nicola is getting on with that and yes, sometimes when you look on Twitter and you see people having a go, it’s depressing. But I think it won’t stop her. She will keep going and keep doing everything she can. And one of the things that annoys me the most is when some of these people who should know better saying the ‘leadership doesn’t want independence anymore, Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want to independence, she’s quite happy in a well paid job.’ It’s just utter nonsense and people who say that don’t know her. She spent her whole life working towards this. For a reason, again, she’s not a flag-waver. She really does want to make people’s lives better and she thinks that independence can do that.
Basia: So looking back on the people that you’ve met, where do you think the country will be in five years time? Independent? Back in Europe? Or still stuck in this really quite loveless marriage with England?
Dani: Well, personally I think that if the polls are correct and the SNP get their majority at Holyrood in May, there’ll be an Independence referendum within a year, and let’s say another couple of years to uncouple from the rest of the UK and maybe another three or so years to renegotiate our position in Europe. I think by 2030, we could be an independent country standing on her own feet within Europe, but that’s not the only opinion. So here’s Sally to tell you what she thinks.
Sally: I just don’t feel like independence is inevitable because I feel like the case with the union, I mean it’s 300 years of shared history. There’s more to Britain than just hating the English. That’s not what I feel about as a British person. And I think it would be an incredibly sad day if we turned our back on our friends, our neighbours, our families, and the other nations in the UK. I just feel like in these uncertain times, we need to be coming together, not putting up more barriers.
Dani: So what would be your vision for Scotland in five years time?
Sally: I would like to see us at the heart of a new way of working within the UK. And I don’t know if that is a series of devolved regions, each having their own parliament. I don’t know if that is a federal UK, but I would like the conversation to start now, because I think it needs to start now. And I’d like us to obviously still be together as a family of nations, equal partners, in this United Kingdom.
Dani: Do you think we’ll be independent within five years?
Rebecca: I would hope that we would be. I think with the polls going up and I think if we had a plan from the government, an economic plan that would kind of show the people who are on the fence, it would kind of bring them over. I think we could be. And I think we need to be, if we want to kind of tackle the climate crisis in a way that’s going to benefit working class people. But I think there needs to be more done from the leadership to make that happen. And more of a grassroots movement from below as well.
Dani: So do you think we will be independent in the next five years?
Marie: Yes. I definitely think that this time we’ll not be looking at a long referendum campaign. People don’t want that. I think people want something to happen and happen quickly. So I think there’ll be a referendum within a year of the Holyrood elections, especially if we have a majority in the parliament and then independence as quickly as possible after that.
And work has already been done on some of this. So, I think we’ll move to independence as quickly as possible after that.
Reporter: Dani Garavelli
Host: Basia Cummings
Editor: David Taylor
Producers: Gill Davies, Tom Kinsella