Scotland politics

Blair Jenkins: Second referendum will happen but probably not before 2021

The man who led the "Yes" campaign in last year's Scottish independence vote believes a second independence referendum will happen but probably not before 2021.

BBC Scotland has been talking to him as part of a series of radio interviews with key figures from last year's campaign.

In the second of our interviews marking the anniversary of the independence referendum, I spoke to Blair Jenkins, chief executive of the "Yes" campaign.

He reflected on a result in which he turned out to be the loser, but where he came a lot closer to winning than most people thought possible when he took the job.

And taking up the job was a fateful step for Jenkins.

As a journalist who had worked for both the BBC and STV he talks about how difficult it was to step over the line from being a reporter of events to a participant.

He explains why, based on internal polling and focus groups conducted by the "Yes" campaign, he was always confident the referendum would be a close run thing.

"I always thought that things would move our way," he says. "I wasn't just maintaining a blind optimism… we were seeing a lot of things in our own polling that gave us confidence.

"There were a number of definite trends. What we knew was that every time we sampled public opinion the average score kept moving up."

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And in reply to criticism that the "Yes" campaign simply acted as the mouthpiece of the SNP on issues such as which currency an independent Scotland should use, he says there was little choice.

"Yes Scotland put forward the view that the Scottish government's position on the currency was a tenable position. I think it would have been a big mistake for the official Yes campaign to say 'we take a different view on the currency for an independent Scotland'."

So what should happen next? Jenkins thinks there will be another independence referendum, although probably not before 2021. But he also thinks there should not be another referendum unless the opinion polls show a sustained, substantial majority for independence.

"I think you'd want to see something like a settled majority view that independence was the right thing for Scotland. You'd want to see that over a long period of time. Ideally you would want as big a majority as possible."

The full interview with Blair Jenkins was broadcast on Sunday on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme and is available on the BBC iplayer.

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