Last year, as we’ve done a number of times in the past, we wrote about the dangers of handcuffing the independence movement to a particular narrow political agenda. Conflating a Yes vote with a number of hardline ideological positions which are more or less unquestioned within the liberal commentariat and the radical left, but actually highly unpopular with the general public, is self-evidently a huge strategic mistake.
Many of those positions are ones which this site supports in their own right, such as abolition of the monarchy and the abandonment of nuclear weapons, but our stance has always been that those arguments – like membership of the EU and NATO – are ones which ought properly to be conducted among the people and elected politicians of an independent Scotland in their own good time, not imposed without debate as part of the package of independence.
This weekend the notionally pro-independence Sunday Herald newspaper – as well as taking part in a media-wide Unionist smear campaign against this site and defending a “Better Together” activist who’d written a deeply offensive clickbait Guardian article claiming that Scottish nationalism was racist – carried a front cover and inside spread on the heated topic of mandatory gender quotas, which the paper supports.
As it happened we’d asked about the subject in our Panelbase poll last month.
The results were pretty conclusive.
By an almost 2:1 margin, Scots oppose mandatory gender quotas for politicians. Even among women just 31% backed the idea, with 51% opposed. (Excluding don’t-knows, the figures for women come to 37% for and 63% against, a more resounding outcome than the Remain vote in Scotland in the EU referendum.)
Support dropped even further – though only slightly – when we asked if the idea of increasing the representation of certain groups via quotas should be extended on the basis of other identifying factors such as race, religion or sexual orientation.
And when we asked respondents to look at the matter from a different perspective by suggesting the same logic might be applied to professions other than politics, support fell further still.
We have no interest in having the argument about quotas again. This site’s view on the matter is well known, and happens to concur with that of the public, but that’s not the point of these numbers.
The point is that a subsection of the Yes movement appears to be hell-bent on doing everything it can to sabotage the chances of independence by hanging a lot of heavy and contentious lead weights around the neck of the simple and inherently attractive proposition that the people of a country should choose that country’s governments.
The coming battle over a second referendum will be difficult enough as it is without giving ourselves all manner of extra, and entirely unnecessary, handicaps.