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Indyref2 analysis: Are we being transported back to 2012? …Definitely not

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It is fast becoming received wisdom that we are being transported back to 2012 for the start of a two-year independence referendum campaign.

That is a lazy logic and it is patently untrue. Undeniably the next 18-24 months will be dominated by the economy and Europe, just like last time.

True believers on both sides will, as per September 2014, scream at each other while those who are more agnostic about the constitution wonder why there’s no such passion about, for example, schools suffering from a chronic shortage of maths teachers.

While much of the campaign will feel like groundhog day, the very fundamentals have changed.

There were 41 Labour MPs, for a start. Plus 11 Liberal Democrats and just the six SNP members. For balance, it is worth noting David Mundell is still flying the Conservative flag by himself.

Now the pro-Union parties have just three MPs between them and no obvious leader for a cross-party campaign.

It doesn’t matter who leads the official pro-independence campaign, it will be Nicola Sturgeon’s show, just as it was Alex Salmond’s last time round.

Who she faces off against is another matter, and it could prove crucial to the result. There’s no one from Labour left.

Ruth Davidson has already intimated she doesn’t want the job.

Plus she’s a Conservative, which is still a divisive tag and her UK leader, Theresa May, shoulders much of the blame for getting us here.

Showing a touch of ankle towards the Scottish Government’s post-Brexit plans before kicking them into the long grass only made the path towards a second referendum much easier to see.

The economic argument for independence has nosedived along with the oil price in the past two-and-a-half-years.

Yet we are heading out of Europe, lacking a credible Labour Party, with no one stepping up to lead the opposition to independence.

What happens next will be different to anything we’ve seen before.

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