Game theory — and Scottish independence — Alex MacMillan:

  1. Oppose the referendum outright;
  2. Accede to the referendum; or
  3. Delay.
  1. Oppose ~ 1. The Government pleases its political base by supporting the union, but risks antagonising the Scots;
  2. Accede ~ -2. The Government would be seen as failing to uphold its commitment to the Union and would set in train a risk of the breakup of the UK.
  3. Delay ~ 2. The Government avoids the politically and constitutionally dangerous territory of Scottish independence, hopefully until the political landscape has shifted in its favour.
  1. Oppose. The SNP can rely on this as evidence of Westminster’s oppressive conduct, and can litigate with a reasonable chance of winning on this point of constitutional law, which the Supreme Court would have to rule on.
  2. Accede. The SNP have a second bite at the cherry with a referendum; given the fallout from Brexit (a constitutional decision taken without the democratic assent of the people of Scotland) there is a reasonable chance that the outcome of a second referendum would favour independence — but it would without doubt be a close-run thing.
  3. Delay. The SNP can accuse Westminster of frustrating Scotland’s mandate, and may try and take steps to arrange an advisory referendum in any event, which may lead on to scenario 1 above. But there is some risk that the political landscape will shift and the optimum moment for a referendum may pass.

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Alex MacMillan

Alex MacMillan

Barrister at Law - employment law, statistics, coding, decision analysis, Bayes’ theorem, Monte Carlo method