There is a reason for British nationalists’ desperate and dishonest efforts to minimise public demand for a new independence referendum – apart from the rather obvious fact that they regard that referendum as a threat to the Union, which must be defended at any cost. It relates to the questions of what constitutes sufficient demand for a referendum. Unionists are tying themselves in knots trying to make demand for a fresh vote look negligible because it doesn’t have to be 50%+.
It is fundamental to democracy that the default position favours the voice of the people. The assumption must always be in favour of a vote. Demand for a referendum need only be substantial. Precisely what that means, in percentage terms, is open to debate. A debate which takes due account of the context. It would not be unreasonable to argue that 33% takes us into qualifying territory, depending on the issue being addressed.
It goes without saying that anything in the region of 50% would make demand for a referendum undeniable. And that’s why every effort is made to split the vote.
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