A great deal of controversy has surrounded the SNP’s decision not to rule out a second referendum. Indeed, many saw last year's vote as a once-in-a-lifetime event that would seal Scotland’s fate for at least a generation.
However, the nation did not come together in common solidarity following the result of the referendum. Instead, many in Scotland began to question whether or not they had made the right decision.
Then came the Smith Commission. Nationalists and Unionists alike hoped that the Commission would recommend devolution to the Scottish Parliament akin to the ‘Devo Max’ proposals so widely discussed in the aftermath of the vote. Ultimately, we were offered an insubstantial settlement that satisfied few.
In the weeks following the referendum, the SNP, Scottish Greens and SSP all saw their memberships increase. Indeed, the SNP became the UK’s third largest party in terms of membership. It was expected that, following the referendum, the raucous SNP would be muffled by the renewed strength of Unionism. In fact, the opposite occurred. In addition to its burgeoning membership, the SNP returned 56 MPs to Westminster following the 2015 General Election, an increase of 50. This signaled the earnest frustration that many Scots harbour over the outcome of the referendum.
Even so, the SNP has downplayed talk of a second referendum and has instead focused on combating austerity in the UK. Nevertheless, the SNP has failed to rule out another referendum. Nicola Sturgeon even said in July this year that there will be another referendum on independence "if and when the Scottish people decide." This is evidently a coded message from the First Minister: “If the SNP wins the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016, we will push for a second referendum.” With polls indicating a third term for the SNP and another landslide victory for the party, we can safely assume that independence will be at the centre of the SNP’s agenda again in the near future.
A second referendum will thus surely take place before this Westminster Parliament ends. Subsequently, the Scottish people will, having realised that the Tory lie machine fooled them, choose self-determination for Scotland. The Scottish people awarded the Westminster establishment a final opportunity, not an eternal free pass, in 2014. Through a second referendum, Scotland will ensure that its trust is not abused again.