Arguing for Independence

Arguing for Independence


Evidence, Risk and the Wicked Issues

Stephen Maxwell

ISBN: 9781908373335

Binding: paperback

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Shortlisted for 'Polemic of the Year' at The Paddy Power and Total Politics Political Book Awards 2013

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Back cover text:

Independence: a nation's right to effective government by its people or for its people

Evidence: interpretation of facts

Risk: likelihood that outcomes will not be as predicted

Wicked issues: problems perceived to be resistant to resolution

What sorts of arguments and evidence should carry the most wight in assessing the case for and against Scottish independence? Given the complexity of the question and the range of the possible consequences, can either side in the argument protend to certainty, or must we simply be satisfied with probability or even plausibility? Are there criteria for sifting the competing claims and counter-claims and arriving at a rational decision on Scotland's future?

In Arguing for Independence author Stephen Maxwell opens with a chapter on The Ways We Argue before exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments for independence under six main headings:

the democratic case
the economic case
the social case
the international case
the cultural case
the environmental case

He also provides his own concise answers to some of the most frequent 'Aye but' responses to the case for independence.

By offering an assessment of the case for independence across all its dimensions, Arguing for Independence fills a longstanding gap in Scotland's political bookshelf as we enter a new and critical phase in the debate on Scotland's political future.


Stephen Maxwell has a positive, left-wing case for independence.  Scottish Left Review

Maxwell was an intellectual, a thinker, a writer, a civic activist, and a dedicated servant of Scotland’s voluntary sector.  Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

Maxwell has done his homework assiduously. The key historical, social science and political sources on the subject have been marshalled with skill and to good effect...The author writes in coherent and lucid prose so even complex economic arguments can be reaily understood and absorbed.  Sunday Herald

This is a book of profound thought, intelligence and wit. To my mind it is the best book on the need for Scottish Independence and it certainly should be read and cherished by all of us who hope to contribute to the campaign. Stephen stimulated many of us for years, but this is his final and most powerful work. As Owen Dudley Edwards says in his Preface: “This book lifts the entire debate on Scottish independence to a new intellectual level.  Paul Henderson Scott

By offering an assessment for the case for independence across all of its dimensions, Arguing for Independence fills a long-standing gap in Scotland’s political bookshelf as we enter a new and critical phase in the debate on Scotland’s political future.  Scottish Review of Books

Maxwell’s is a volume of great utility and importance.  Scottish Review of Books

There are many intriguing insights in the book, and many presentations of material which has been gathered together for the first time in a comprehensive manner.  Scottish Review of Books

Every young person in Scotland should read for themselves how Stephen defines and analyses the state we’re in (pun entirely intended) before intentions are firmed up towards the Independence Referendum.  Margo MacDonald

It is a wonderful book… and it’s a great legacy for him to have left Scotland at this time.  Elaine C. Smith

It stands as a fine contribution by a fine man.  Alex Salmond, The Week

Table of contents:

Preface by Owen Dudley Edwards


Ways of Arguing
The Democratic Case
The Economic Case
The Social Case
The International Case
The Cultural Case
The Environmental Case
‘Aye, but…’ 

Select Bibliography
List of Acronyms