It’s fair to say that 2021 has not been the most uplifting year. The emergence from Covid restrictions has been difficult and now delayed by the dominance of the Omicron variant; Brexit has brought serious economic damage in its wake and undermined our relationship with our European neighbours; fuel bills have gone though the roof; Scotland is still waiting for its chance to vote again on its independence.
But there are reasons to celebrate this Christmas as we look back on those events which have inspired optimism about our future.
Public support for independence
Independence remains essential to Scotland, and never more so as we look to rebuild our economy after the pandemic and prepare to seize the opportunity to create a stronger, fairer and more progressive country.
A poll published on December 1 showed a Yes vote back in the lead, at 55%
Support for independence is still strong and grew stronger still over the past 12 months. Earlier in the year a successive series of polls showed a majority support for independence. That dipped slightly later in the year but a poll published on December 1 showed a Yes vote back in the lead, at 55% with undecided voters excluded.
Support for the principle of holding indyref2
Polls have also shown that Boris Johnson is increasingly out of step with public opinion when he attempts to block a second vote on independence.
Earlier this month a Savanta ComRes poll found that 37% of people in the UK support Scotland holding a referendum before 2024, with 31% opposed. That equates to 54% supporting and 46% opposing with undecided voters removed.
The poll also found that 50% of 2019 Labour voters in Scotland would support an independence vote being held, with only 23% against. Two-thirds of Labour voters expressing a view backed a referendum, in direct opposition to Labour’s UK leader Keir Starmer and Scottish leader Anas Sarwar.
It followed other polling which showed the majority of Scots wanted indyref2 to be held within five years.
POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR INDYREF 2
The Scottish elections in May returned a majority of MSPs in favour of independence. With 64 MSPs the SNP is just one short of an overall majority but is by far the largest party and was able to form a government after the election. The party has recently agreed a power-sharing agreement with the pro-independence Scottish Greens, who have seven MSPs.
Both parties want a second independence referendum to be held within the current parliamentary term and preferably before the end of 2023. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeated that preferred timescale in interviews throughout the year.
A RETURN TO CAMPAIGNING
Clearly the pandemic has restricted physical campaigning throughout most of 2021 but that doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening.
We hope you’ll forgive us for highlighting the important role Believe in Scotland has been playing in that campaigning.
We staged a successful Day of Action for Independence in September which saw activists set up stalls all over the country to spread the message. More than 100 Yes organisations took part, some of them rebooting their activities after a lull to play a role in the day.
The day of action was held in partnership with the National Yes Network and the Scottish Independence Foundation and The National newspaper was media sponsor.
We also produced two special newspapers targeted at convincing those voters still to make up their minds that independence offers the best future for our country.
Our Open Minds supplement was packed full of information showing how Scotland could thrive with independence.
And our second newspaper was a team effort bringing together Believe in Scotland with the SNP and The National to produce a publication which was delivered to one million homes all across Scotland.
We ended the year with our Week of Independence Action, an online drive for Yes which saw the unveiling of two new digital campaigns involving new leaflet and billboard designs.
Boris Johnson will stumble shambolically from one crisis to another unless his party acts to get rid of him
Bring on 2022
The next year will be full of challenges. The fall-out from Brexit will continue to grow. Boris Johnson will stumble shambolically from one crisis to another unless his party acts to get rid of him. And we don’t yet know the full implications of the rapid spread of Omicron. But the Yes movement is back in gear and Believe in Scotland stands ready to play its part in ramping up the campaign in whatever ways are possible throughout a vital year for Scotland’s future. Happy Christmas.