In 2014, Scots voted 55-45 to remain in the UK. Many of us voted ‘No’ to independence because we were told – by UK politicians and EU officials alike – that remaining within the UK was our only hope of remaining EU citizens. Some of us actually were those very politicians! As it’s turned out, exactly the opposite was true. With Brexit, the pre-Brexit economic and cultural arguments against Scottish independence, which some of us accepted, have been completely undermined. England has gone off on a journey to the political right and to the margins of Europe. Scots now have to choose between that vision as part of the UK, and a social democratic future in Europe through Scottish independence.

Of course, England and Wales have made a democratic choice to break away from the EU and embrace isolationism. They are now proceeding with the mechanics of leaving the EU, just as they fairly decisively voted for. The people of Scotland and Northern Ireland made the opposite choice. Northern Irish appear to be choosing in large numbers to take up dual UK/Irish (and therefore EU) citizenship, with obvious and amazing implications for the future of that island. We simply ask that Scot’s decision, made in good faith, be respected too.

From mid-August, ‘FromNotoYes.Scot‘ will be live. Our aim is simply to help move the figure for Scots supporting Independence to over 60%. We believe this will enable the Scottish Government to deliver a second referendum which will in turn help to assure Scottish independence in Europe before the UK as we know it leaves the EU.

We’ll post at this page until mid-August. Until then, please read us here – and let us have your comments beneath each piece which we’ll cross-post here. We’re also organising events in support of helping people move from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ – do let us know if you’d like to be involved.

For now, here’s some food for thought…..


Scots are faced with a choice of remaining EU citizens or remaining part of little Brexiteer Britain. For many, that choice is straightforwards. The 45% who supported independence in 2014 will likely continue to support it; many Conservative and Unionist voters will not waver in their support for the UK Tory government’s line that the last independence referendum, whilst retrospectively invalid, was the final word. And yet, in between, many people who voted ‘No’ in 2014 are now bewildered about what to do for the best. We’ve not been natural supporters of independence until now, yet we know the colossal harm our loss of EU citizenship will bring to us and our children. With Scottish Labour, Lib Dems and of course Tories continuing to support the Brexit they all previously opposed, and therefore a future dominated by marginalised, increasingly right-wing English Tory Party members, there’s a terrible void in leadership right now.

Of course, some independence supporters do not support our membership of the EU. But it seems likely that they will continue to support independence. And a small but significant minority of SNP voters have heretofore not supported independence. Members of this group are surely now moving towards support for independence?

But what of Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters (and there are still quite a few….)? Many of these folk will remain resistant to supporting the SNP yet will be even more resistant to both leaving the EU and having their lives dominated by the values of by a UK Tory government bent on returning UKIP supporters to the Tory fold. And led by a prime minister determined to remove the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights. Even some Scottish Tory voters will baulk at the way the Scottish Tory leader went in one day from being the Scottish unionist champion of EU membership to being the Scottish unionist champion of Brexit. How credible, after all, is to to call for a continued EU open labour market when the Little Englanders won the Brexit vote on the single issue of reducing the free access to the UK of EU citizens?

Of course, for most the practical party choice in Scotland today is between a centre/centre-left social democratic SNP and an increasingly right-wing Tory party. A Tory party whose leader supports the withdrawal of our rights under the ECHR, and who leads a party dominated by hard-right, hardline Brexiteers demanding extensive withdrawal from EU co-operation even where they actually agree that will harm UK citizens.

But the disarray of the other parties, notably the complete failure of the Scottish Labour Party to respond coherently to the new situation Scotland faces (or much else besides), doesn’t mean everyone will desert these parties over the independence issue. So while it’s natural and realistic that the SNP will seek to grow its already huge support base off the back of Brexit, it’s also important that people who do not support the SNP at the moment are welcomed into the pro-independence camp. This is the way Scotland will move forwards together, and also how the 60% will be most quickly achieved.

At present, the tenet of post-independence referendum debate is characterised by an ‘SNP vs Not SNP’ frame of mind. For 60% to be exceeded, however, far more effort needs to be put into the ‘Independence vs Brexit’ debate. It’s those on the side of independence who are inclusive now, and who are on the right side of the intellectual argument. Those who remain anti-independence, especially those on the left, and so who continue to support Brexit, now have to explain why they support shackling social democratic Scotland to a hardline, increasingly right-wing Little England. They need to explain why they want to help the Tories usher Scots out of the ECHR and out of the EU altogether.

Before the Brexit vote by England and Wales (surely the new name of that putative nation, since the notion of a ‘United Kingdom’ is now laughable? Dis-united Kingdom?) it was a mainstay of the anti-independence argument that the economics of independence didn’t stack up. Well they do now, as the very experts whose economic opinions anti-independence movers relied upon have decisively changed their minds. Post-Brexit, the economic argument for Scotland staying in Europe seems manifestly stronger than the economic argument for Brexit self-harm. This, above all, may be the decisive factor for many Scots prepared to consider switching from No to Yes.

If what is left of Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats supported independence now then they would quite possibly be decisive in helping Scotland to a social democratic future in Europe. But there is little hope of leadership there; more likely, they may follow the public will when it’s too late to be of much influence or use. So the better policy for us all, surely, is to step into the breech created by the lack of leadership and help their supporters to the realisation that independence in Europe is, after all, the only sensible way ahead for an inclusive, social democratic Scotland.
Long-term nationalists may say ‘I told you so’, and that seems fair enough. People moving from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ need to be big enough to accept the point, have a bit of humility, follow their lead and work together in Scotland’s interests against the dogmatic voices of the Scottish Brexiteers.

32 Responses to Scottish unionists are all Brexiteers, now
  1. Just listened to your podcast with Derek Bateman, and was impressed by your reasoning. Welcome aboard!

    Surely if Labour was to support independence, and it was achieved, the party political landscape in Scotland would then become a blank canvas – and Labour could hope to restore their credibility and standing.

    If they continue their present line, in a ‘unionist’ Scotland they will be dead?

    • It might be possible for Labour to be restored in future. I’m really not sure. There’ll be space for an opposition in any case and folk should be thinking about the best for the country rather than the best for the present political ‘brands’ as it were. The SNP will endure, I think, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens to the other parties I guess.

  2. Welcome aboard Eric, happy that you’ve joined the campaign.

    Let’s hope you can help persuade the many who where duped by the BT message that Yes is now the way to go.

    Love the blog, keep it up.

  3. Good article Eric. To be sure of success in indyref2 I agree we need to target consistent 60% polling. I believe support for Yes is around 53% (polls, I know). Given we know around 30% of Scottish voters say they will not vote for independence under ANY circumstances, this leaves around 17% of more open minded voters who voted No in 2014 but can be persuaded to Yes given the various changes in circumstance.

    It can be difficult for people to change their mind, perhaps even from a lifelong position, but there is no shame in it, in fact the opposite is true. Only a strong-willed person make the transition of choice on such a fundamental issue.

    Also, it’s clear that No voters in 2014 were also not necessarily ‘wrong’. Many voted for sound reasoning, there is now a new political landscape and it just happens their sound reasoning will now result in a Yes vote.

    The better future we want is for every resident of this country. I would urge all No voters of 2014 to help gain that better future for us all.

    • Yes, I quite agree. When the facts change…. so there’s a very realistic chance of those folk both defending their decision to vote No before and changing that to a Yes now.

  4. Your article highlights the need for the second referendum campaign to be all party and no party. The antipathy of so many on the No side towards the SNP means that iit is now a barrier rather than an enabler.

    I’d like to see a grouping of respected figures leading things, somewhat along the lines of the 1997 Devolution referendum campaign.

    I say this as an SNP member.

    • Thanks, Andrew. You’re dead right. It’s quite right for the SNP to take the credit for what I hope will be a Yes vote in due course. But for the moment, the folk who will swing it will be those who aren’t necessarily prepared to see support for Indy and support for the SNP as the same thing. I must say, I’m finding SNP folk pretty open to that idea. I suppose a thing which might concern them is that they might fear a resurgence of Labour under independence, but I really think the SNP would dominate a new indy parliament for years, tbh. And I suspect that there would be a big realignment of the opposition in any case.

      • As an SNP voter for 40 years, I have only ever voted for them because they were the only party arguing for independence. I have no problem at all with a Labour revival in an independent Scotland. Indeed I am of the view that the only thing that will revive Labour’s fortunes in Scotland is a switch to a policy of independence. That said, they would have a devil of a time persuading folk of their sincerity, given their having nailed their colours so strongly to the unionist Tory mast.

        • Yes, you’re dead right. The longer Labour is linked to working with the Tories the less likely they’ll be a viable brand in an independent Scotland. There’s no doubt there’s a perceived commonality of interest in places like Edinburgh South and the recent by-elecgtion in Nicola Sturgeon’s Dad where Tories are voting Labour to help the unionist cause. The quid pro-quo, it will be assumed, it Labour folk voting Tory in places like Perth.

  5. It’s wonderful you’re joining yes, Eric, and I too want to welcome you. Scotland’s place in Europe cannot be a party political affair, and after independence from the UK there will still be socialists who will want their own party. I hope that people like yourself and Henry McLeish will bring the bulk of Labour over to yes, and then be willing to form a strong pro-Scotland socialist party later.

    • Yes, I think that’s right. For now, non-SNP folk should embrace independence and worry about what comes later after that’s been achieved. Henry and I are definitely yesterday’s story, though! We can help with a bit of commonsense at this point, though, and I hope that’ll help folk swing across to Yes.

  6. Very good piece, I made the journey from no to yes just in time for the independence referendum. I formerly always voted Labour and took solice that there was a labour for independence movement as i found it hard to give up my loyalties. i was shocked how lfi were treated. Have you thought of starting a new Scottish Independant Labour party? – I think many traditional voter want to support independence but feel they are being fisloyal – this way they could be comfortable with their choice?

    • If Scottish Labour doesn’t come over to Yes quite soon then I guess they’ll have it forced upon them. There are so many great folk there and I really hope they can make their leadership see sense – I must admit to not being all that optimistic in the short term, though!

  7. Welcome aboard the Independence campaign Mr Joyce.

    It’s heartening, that someone such as yourself, who was such a vocal unionist supporter, now sees the benefits of Scotland having her rightful place in the world as an independent country.

    • Thanks, Jeanette. I’m not the first but I hope there’ll be many behind me in the coming months.

  8. As a committed nationalist-internationslist (I believe in the nation state as the most effective construct yet for maintaining security and the publíc good; but I also believe in international solidarity and co-operation) I don’t do schadenfraude either. We were all Labour once; so welcome to the Big Yes Tent. Though gutted at the No result I always recognised that the No side was a spectrum, and that many No voters had laudable reasons for their vote, such as the principle of wider solidarity; I just didn’t agree with their perception of reality. England is a Tory country, and five million of us social democratic Scots can’t save fifty five million of them from their Tory madness.

    • V well put. England is a Tory country now – although I hope not forever. Scotland really mustn’t be expected to hitch our wagon to a Tory England which, outside the EU and with 85% of the UK population, would leave Scotland’s social democratic culture completely marginalised.

      • That was my main reason for voting Remain; the prospect of being trapped on an island with a bunch of Tory nutters pursuing isolationism in charge forever. The EU isn’t perfect, but at least if Ukania f***s up and goes down the swanney you could escape to another 27 EU countries. Now there’s no escape – except indy.

  9. I wish you lots of success with this and can’t wait to listen to the podcasts, hopefully the tide is turning and I welcome anyone who switches, it doesn’t mean they were wrong but more that the information promised at the time was either fiction or has not come to pass in any shape of form (EVEL).

    You are correct in suggesting that many people who did not support independence last time around just couldn’t help but see it as voting for the SNP rather than voting for what’s best for YOUR country, hopefully the lines will be drawn over brexit and what’s best for the country.

    I would think the majority of the 45% would welcome anybody who chooses to switch to yes for whatever reason (there my be a few exceptions from certain higher profile media & their friends shall we say).

    The biggest challenge to winning indyref2 is the same as last time around, the media and the fact it is so biased, whether radio, TV, papers or news channels, they were only talking to 55% of the population last time around hopefully that figure is slowly dropping.

    • Interestingly, I think some of the mainstream media may be moving over in some cases. Here’s hoping….

  10. There is indeed much to do. I have been astonished at some of the people in my own circle of family and friends who are making the journey from No to Yes – I can hardly believe it. But it’s hard for them – it’s almost a bereavement. We have to understand that. And the Unionist establishment, which knows full well how much it needs Scottish resources in its new state of dire economic self-harm, will fight viciously to prevent us becoming independent. The last referendum I remember as a joyful, carefree celebration of hope. This one must be typified by a grim, steely and indomitable determination to finally put ‘Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands’.

    • It’s harder now for non-Tory folk to accept the unionist argument, now that it’s essentially owned by Ruth Davidson. Hopefully, that will help people see how much the new situation has changed to favour independence.

  11. Welcome your article and all those who we should encourage to support being an inclusive independent nation within Europe for sake of all our kids and future generations. Just bit bewildered why more labour thinking people can’t join us and make this happenasap as British Labour is finished as far as i can see.

    • Well, the aim is to get those very folk to move over regardless of whether they think Labour has a future. I think there’s room for a bit of optimism that enough will. Here’s hoping…

  12. Well done, Eric. Glad to see you taking the initiative.

    People like yourself are in a stronger position to point out that was then and this is now and can make a big difference.

  13. If there is to be any chance of reaching 60%+ in favour of independence, then there needs to be a major exercise to help people understand the “real numbers”. The work of Prof John Robertson on media bias and the Brexit campaign were prime examples of manipulation and disinformation which depended for their effectiveness on an ill-informed public. If indyref2 is to succeed the propagandists must fail.

  14. This is a very good piece however , as a long time nationalist , I will not be saying ” I told you so ” rather I will say ” welcome , now let’s work together ,for there is much work to be done .”

    • Thanks, Sheena. I totally didn’t mean to say that most nationalists would be full of schadenfreude (although a wee bit would be fair enough….!). It’s really nice to have such positive encouragement, and I take your point about there being such a lot of work to be done yet! best, eric

  15. Good, we need former Unionists like yourself Mr Joyce to now show leadership in this altered political landscape in Scotland.

    You have outlined the position the Unionists now find themselves in soberly and clearly. It’s a simple choice: Scotland is either a region or a country. Our independence secures our nation status, our remaining tethered to the Brexit little England ship ensures we drown in a sea of isolationism.

    Those from the No side who wish to still cling to the old arguments from the indyref1 campaign have either genuinely not understood what has just taken place or are wilfully ignorant and ideologically driven.

    There is no UK left. There is no chance now of a Labour government for the foreseeable future either, which leaves those politicians with any progressive socialist values from Slab or SLibdem only one direction to head toward: to form independent parties in Scotland. Those who vote for those Unionist parties have to let go of mother England and embrace the new paradigm.

    We must come together not as disparate party tribes vying for ascendance in the Scottish political firmament, that can happen after independence, no, we must come together as one Scotland, one voice and we must take our own path in the world now.

    Your essay goes some way toward reaching out to those very people who have to now face this new landscape and for that I’m grateful.

    • Thanks for this, K1. You’re right that Scots, especially of the left, arguing for Brexit now are driven by terribly outmoded ideas. I think some just can’t leave their antipathy for the SNP behind, even at the expense of slipping into incoherence and pointlessness.


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