As Nicola Sturgeon demands more powers, is a second Scottish independence vote inevitable?

Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favour of the SNP in the General Election (Source: Getty)

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, says Yes.

The genie is out of the bottle, the toothpaste out of the tube. Pick whichever metaphor you like, but be sure of one thing: it’s a case of “when”, not “if”. The SNP is simply biding its time, waiting for its chance. As soon as Nicola Sturgeon thinks that she stands a decent chance of another crack at independence, she’ll go for it – especially if she can claim a mandate after elections to Holyrood next year.

Obviously, it’s not totally up to her. Whoever is in Number Ten at the time will have to consent to it. What choice will they have? Scotland’s right to self-determination has already been established by David Cameron agreeing to hold last year’s referendum. Attempting to deny Scots a second bite at the cherry, or even just trying to delay things, would simply boost the Yes campaign when another vote is eventually held. It will happen – and maybe sooner rather than later.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, says No.

The SNP landslide on 7 May was dramatic. But it did not make a second referendum on independence more likely. What will matter is next year’s Scottish Parliament election. If the SNP (together, perhaps, with the Greens) do not win an overall majority once again, there is no prospect of another ballot, because the votes will not be there to pass the necessary legislation. And unlike the General Election, the Scottish election will be held under proportional representation, making it much more difficult to win a majority.

Even then, everything will depend on whether the SNP promise another referendum in their manifesto. They will be reluctant to do so, unless they think they have a good chance of winning. The nationalists cannot afford to lose a second referendum; that would certainly mean the end of their dreams. And at the moment, the polls suggest that there is still a small majority in favour of staying in the UK.

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