How should Yes voters vote this Thursday?

By Russell Bruce

This Thursday 22nd May we have the European elections. Literature has been tumbling through the letterbox in mass distributions and targeted mailings. The volume from the Lib Dems suggests they are worried about their only seat in Scotland, with good reason according to the opinion polls.

The editorial policy of this website in non-party, but we do see these elections as an opportunity for Yes supporters to influence the result as turnout in European elections is normally very low and Yes voters are highly motivated.

What is most noticeable about the unionist parties’ mailshots is how they have linked staying in Britain and staying in Europe as part of a Better Together strategy. They then proceed to claim that other pro-union parties are not as well placed to offer that outcome. Well they would say that wouldn’t they.

In fairness, on the Yes side, both the SNP and Greens have candidates in the European elections and there are policy differences. The SNP make a simple appeal ‘Make Scotland’s mark in Europe’ It is an uncluttered and direct message and they do not take a swipe at the Greens.

The problem with the unionist parties’ proposition is they are confusing this election with the Referendum. None of the Westminster parties can realistically claim a vote for them will keep Scotland in Britain. That will not be decided by our votes on Thursday.

Equally they cannot claim that a vote for Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem on Thursday will ensure Scotland will remain in Europe in the event of a No vote. David Cameron has promised an in out referendum in 2017 and Ed Miliband has agreed if there is a treaty change. Opinion polls and surveys indicate England is currently in favour of pulling out of Europe and Scotland in favour of continuing to be a EU member.

This scenario would be massively disruptive to our economy if Scotland were to be pulled out of the EU by votes south of the Border.

As a political junkie, I am intrigued by the dilemma of Labour and Lib Dem supporters committed to a Yes vote. Where do they put their cross on Thursday? With the unionist parties having made such a strong ‘Better Together’ pitch in their election material, I understand why some supporters will find it difficult to vote Labour or Lib Dem, when as supporters of independence they have aligned themselves with the Yes vote.

It is not the purpose of this editorial to offer advice to those who may be feeling they face this dilemma. Thursday’s election is not the Referendum and it would have been wiser to keep them apart.

Scots have a history of voting strategically. It will be interesting when the results come in and analysis done to see what the effect of the unionist parties’ strategy has achieved. If it is not to their liking, they will only have themselves to blame for conflating the European Elections with the Referendum.

The only recommendation this editorial offers is go out and vote on Thursday. Given historical turnout at European elections, your vote will have a value equal to between one and a half times and twice the value it would have at Scottish and General elections.

I will make a prediction of the result. It is that the outcome in Scotland will be very different from the result south of the Border. Scotland is a different country and increasingly asserting political difference with our English friends living south of the Border.

About russellbruce

Writer, journalist and blogger. Worked in advertising and publishing. Former board member Loch Lomond National Park Authority, Chair of Borders Writers' Forum
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