The first Scottish Independence referendum was in 2014.
As part of the campaign it was suggested the vote was ‘once in a generation’.
This sometimes gets brought up as some sort of solid argument against the need for a second referendum.
Firstly, it is therefore important we have a look at what has actually been agreed.
The Smith Commission that followed the first referendum ending, contained this nugget.
”It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.”
Full Smith Commission linked here, because for some reason it is VERY hard to get ahold of. However it establishes the referendum was not an ’only once, ever’ event.
Secondly we then need to consider ”what is a political generation?”
It would be incredibly useful if we had some sort of example, of a region/country of the UK that could occasionally call upon a referendum to determine its future constitutional status.
Amusingly the Irish have provided for exactly that.
The minimum referendum rerun duration provided for Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and becoming its own country (in this case with the Republic of Ireland) is 7 years. Even better, the precedent of this ‘political generation’ is codified in law.
Northern Irish precedent matters to us, because we are of course as we are often reminded in ”a union of equals – a United Kingdom – ergo what’s competent for NI, is surely the same for Scotland.
Enter the Northern Ireland Act 1998
Some quick math tells us that we are eight years on from the first Scottish referendum.
Using the UK governments own schedule in the Act of Parliament as our precedent, which was established under the widely defended and praised Good Friday Agreement – specifically codified in relation to parts of the UK exiting – we can only conclude the following from following UK government provided information:
A political generation has now advanced, and it is acceptable for another referendum.