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How will indyref2 compare to 2014?

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By James Cook
Scotland editor

Dust off the placards. Unpack the soapbox. Grab your cagoule.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has fired the starting gun in another referendum campaign — so here we go, right?

Not so fast.

Many supporters of independence describe the run up to the 2014 poll - when Scotland voted to stick with the UK by 55% to 45% - as exhilarating and optimistic. Plenty of their opponents recall feelings of exclusion and sadness.

Either way, it is hard to deny that politics came alive that year. For a while the nation crackled with energy as campaigners for and against independence debated poverty and pensions in the nation's parks and plazas.

Some of that enthusiasm persists in regular pro-independence marches and the occasional show of solidarity for the union but the nation is no longer in full-on campaign mode.

And even if the Scottish government is able to persuade the UK Supreme Court of its right to hold a referendum - a long shot according to some eminent legal scholars - an exact repeat of 2014 does not seem very likely.

Too much has changed.

For a start both teams, for and against independence, have splintered.

Labour's reputation was damaged by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Conservatives in the Better Together campaign to keep Scotland in the Union. It is very hard to imagine such a cross-party coalition being formed again.

Their opponents in the Yes Scotland camp have fallen out too, about vision, strategy and tactics, a divide most obvious in the rift between Ms Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond who now leads a separate pro-independence party, Alba.

It's not just the players who have evolved since 2014 though. So has the script.

A pandemic, a cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine and Brexit have all scrambled the discourse about Scotland's future.

While the UK voted to leave by 52% to 48% Scotland voted to remain by 62% to 38%.

The first minister contends that being removed from the European Union against Scotland's will strengthens the democratic case for........


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