Here’s David Mundell on Sunday Politics earlier today:
It’s a pretty uncomfortable time. But it could have been a lot worse.
Andrew Neil let Mundell get away several times with saying that Scots voted in 2014 while knowing that they’d subsequently be getting a referendum on EU membership. But as we’ve clearly established previously on this site, that’s complete nonsense. An EU referendum was conditional on a Tory majority in the 2015 general election, and in 2014 almost nobody thought that was going to happen.
According to UK Polling Report, in the month leading up to the indyref vote there were 39 polls of UK voting intention conducted. Exactly two of them gave the Tories a lead over Labour, both times of just a single point, with one dead heat. The other 36 all put Labour ahead, by as much as 8 points and with an average lead of 4%.
The Tories had been at those odds or longer all year. In a televised debate a week later, just 16 days before the referendum, even Ruth Davidson made a point of saying that the Tories weren’t looking likely to win, and therefore an EUref was a long shot.
“It’s disingenuous of Patrick [Harvie] to say that No means out and Yes means in, when actually the opposite is true.
No means we stay in, we are members of the European Union. And yes, IF the Conservatives win the next election – which frankly isn’t looking likely by the polls, but we’re trying our best – we will allow people to have their say.”
So Mundell was flat-out lying when he told Andrew Neil – who’d questioned him in the context of “Better Together”, not the Conservatives – that:
“There was going to be an EU referendum, that was made very clear throughout that. People voted in Scotland, and voted decisively to remain part of the United Kingdom, in the full knowledge that there would be an EU referendum.”
When Neil put it to him once more that the No vote had been won “on the assumption we would also remain part of the EU”, Mundell lied again:
“No, I don’t accept that analysis, people were aware that there was going to be a vote on whether the United Kingdom remained in the EU.”
There’s no wiggle room there. Mundell’s assertion simply isn’t true. People were aware that there was, at that time, less than a 50% chance of an EU referendum, as Labour had categorically ruled one out and they were expected to win the election, or at the very bare minimum deny the Tories a majority. (A hung Parliament was odds-on.)
Mundell was a blustering, stuttering mess for the rest of the interview too. He claimed that the Scottish Government “have not adhered to” to the Edinburgh Agreement in terms of respecting the indyref result, although he couldn’t specify any way in which they hadn’t done so.
(He wouldn’t say whether the UK government would block a second indyref if one were to be brought forward, which it hasn’t been, which would in itself seem to disprove the notion that the 2014 result hadn’t been accepted. The only practical means we can think of by which the Scottish Government could have refused to respect the result would be to declare UDI, which we’re pretty sure they haven’t.)
He also refused to confirm whether Brexit would mean control of fishing and farming coming back to Holyrood, although politicians and pundits routinely insist that they would. (Mundell was evasive, refusing to even acknowledge it as a default position.)
It’s the rewriting of history over the EU that most strikingly characterises the No side’s ongoing panic about the prospect of a second indyref. They simply hope that if they tell the lie stridently enough for long enough everyone will forget the truth. But we’d give you a lot more than 3/1 on that happening.