Tag Archives: indyref

The (literal) death of the No vote in Scotland

20 Sep

The referendum was won by Better Together but only by 5%, nothing like the 60% or 70% projected at the start of the campaign and even in the last year. In terms of actual numbers of voters, the Yes campaign would have needed to convince around 220,000 people to vote with them in order for Scotland to have become an independent country.

Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that large numbers of No voters will be disillusioned with Westminster’s failure to deliver more powers in the coming weeks and months, turning to the pro-independence movement, which is by no means finished. Aside from this likely shift to support for independence, given the generational differences in terms of support for independence and looking at Scotland’s current death rates, a story can be told about the future scope for winning a future referendum.

The No vote made up 73% of the over-65 age group who voted. There are an estimated 892,700 people aged over 65 in Scotland in 2014, based on the 2011 census and taking into account the annual death rate. Given that around 82.5% of the voting-age population voted, this puts the No vote in that age group at around 537,600 and the Yes vote at 198,800.

In 2013, around 55,700 deaths were reported in Scotland. 82% of these were of people 65 years old and over, so that’s around 44,900 in total. The death rate is pretty stable in Scotland although it did decrease 0.4 percent between 2012 and 2013. Based on these figures, the projected number of deaths of over-65s who voted in the referendum would be 36,700 in 2015; 36,500 in 2016; and so on.

If we stick with the rough figures above and the split in the vote of 73%-27% within this age group, it is possible to project what would happen to the support for independence in the coming years. For example, in 2015 one could estimate that 26,800 No voters would pass away along with 9,900 Yes voters; in 2016 the estimate would be 26,600 No voters and again 9,900 Yes voters (these numbers are rounded to the nearest hundred hence the similarity).

Taking the deaths of Yes voters and No voters, all other things considered to be remaining equal which of course they aren’t, it can be argued that overall support for No will fall by a certain number of voters every year. In 2015 this could be project as a difference of 16,900 voters, in 2016 16,700 voters. Based on these statistics alone, the 220,000 difference between Yes and No, recorded at the referendum, would be met in around 15 years.

So by 2030, based purely on looking at the numbers of No and Yes voters among the over-65s and the death rate in Scotland, the No vote will quite literally die out. This doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that those under 16 now will be able to vote in coming years, 16-18 year olds voted 71% for Yes and in general those under 55 voted overwhelmingly for independence. Nor does it take into account the fact that as Westminster fails to deliver on its promise of increased powers for Scotland, many will regret their decision of voting No and turn to a pro-independence stance. Furthermore, it doesn’t take into account the fact that by 2020, for example, a large number of some of those currently in the 55-64 bracket will be in the over 65s bracket and seeing as 55-64s voted 57% for No, this would also change the overall results.

Looking at demographic trends alone, the No lead would be likely to be eroded much sooner than 2030, but the fact is that the strong opposition to independence has its hardest core among the over-65s and through natural causes, this core of support will disappear leaving the Scottish electorate much more predisposed to independence. This is a rather morbid point to make but it does show that over time, support for independence is likely to rise.

Anthony Glees’ comments on Scottish independence

8 Sep

The Scotsman reported this morning that there was a ‘“Scottish independence link” to ISIS Scots hostage’ David Haines. The short article was made up almost entirely of quotations from Professor Anthony Glees of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham.

Glees’ comments seem to originate in an article in the Sunday Post in which he says that ‘ISIS are masters of propaganda and realise the impact of selecting a Scot. They will hope by showing the UK is weak and unable to defend its citizens it will drive Scots to embrace independence.’

He goes on to argue that ‘One of the UK’s big selling points in remaining together is the strength of the UK on the world stage – their sword and shield. If they can no longer strike hostile forces who attack their citizens, the UK is clearly in danger of being a spent force heading towards division. And a weakened UK is exactly what the ISIS wants.’

It is interesting that Glees gives absolutely zero evidence for his argument aside from the supposedly logic leap from Haines being Scottish to ISIS aiming to influence the independence referendum. Indeed, it is questionable whether Haines being Scottish and having family in Scotland is of any interest to ISIS at all. Glees’ appears to be building his argument on attributing motivations to ISIS that there isn’t really any evidence for.

As Glees highlights, ISIS are masters of propaganda, so it’s strange that they have completely failed to mention that Haines is Scottish. The video in which they threatened to execute Haines as they have done James Foley and Steven Sotlof makes no explicit reference to Haines being Scottish and the this fact is something reported in the press based on their own investigations and not on information provided by ISIS. It is tenuous at best to argue, as Glees does, that ISIS is deliberately trying to influence the outcome of the independence referendum.

What is less tenuous is the argument that Glees, in contributing to the debate around ISIS in this way, is trying to influence the result of the referendum. Glees has made perfectly clear on his Twitter account that he is opposed to Scottish independence, posting several messages like these over the last few weeks:

Glees’ comments then, far from being an unbiased, academic contribution to the debate based on his experience as an scholar of intelligence look instead to be a concerted attempt to introduce the prospect that by voting Yes Scots are playing into the hands of ISIS.

From what I can tell, the argument has been met with the derision it deserves on social media, but nonetheless Professor Glees should be called to account for such inflammatory and groundless accusations that, one could easily claim, exploit the shocking executions by ISIS for his own interest in seeing the UK remain a single state.

feigeleh

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