The issue of independence or maintaining the three-century-old Union continues to dominate the politics of Scotland and is likely to be one of the defining post-COVID-19, post-Brexit topics for the whole of the UK. Polling shows the constitutional question is the most important consideration in the forthcoming Scottish parliamentary election in May. Regardless of the outcome of the election, the issue will not go away. It is possible that after that election, or at some other point in the future, there is a clash between the mandate of the Scottish electorate on the one hand, and the laws of the United Kingdom as a whole on the other, over the question of whether to hold a further referendum (in 2014 Scottish people voted to remain in the United Kingdom by a margin of 55 to 45 per cent).
This potential clash of laws and votes is not the only hotly debated topic. Other questions abound over the rules of any future referendum, what prospectus should be put forward by the pro-independence and pro-Union sides about what happens if their argument triumphs, and what reforms are possible that might increase support for Scotland remaining in the Union above the precarious levels shown in recent surveys.
Ciaran Martin, Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations at the Blavatnik School of Government, will present a paper entitled ‘Resist, reform or re-run: Scotland and independence referendums in the long and short term’, in which he delves into the constitutional issues related to the referendum, drawing on direct personal experience from the 2014 referendum and the negotiations preceding it. A conversation with Sir Tom Devine, Scotland’s leading historian and Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Ngaire Woods, dean of the Blavatnik School, will follow.
For more information and to register, visit the event webpage.