The Scottish Referendum

  • Peter Emerson
  • Scottish Affairs, May 2016, Edinburgh University Press
  • DOI: 10.3366/scot.2016.0127

What is it about?

The article critiques the two-option nature of the 2014 Scottish referendum; after all, the (simple or weighted) binary vote is the most ancient and most inaccurate measure of collective opinion ever invented.

Why is it important?

Binary voting is divisive, adversarial, and in the worst case scenarios, it can be a cause of war. In regard to the 2014 referendum, the word "Scotland" was quoted in Donetsk, at the time of that region's growing separatism. And "all the wars in the former Yugoslavia started with a referendum," (Oslobodjenje, 7.2.1999).


Peter Emerson

The UK's Electoral Commission refuses to consider multi-option voting. Hence the nonsense of the 2011 referendum on the electoral system, in which countless supporters of PR were uncounted. And hence the nonsense of the UK's referendum on the EU, which also failed to identify the "will of the people", some of whom wanted the UK in the EEA, but not other supporters of 'leave'. In a word, majority voting is often a pretense and, at times, a dangerous nonsense.

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The following have contributed to this page: Peter Emerson