Saturday, 8 April 2017

Indyref2 is in the long grass, we kicked it there


A short time ago it looked as if there would indyref2 within a year or so. I could feel the tension building within myself, I could sense it coming from others. If there were going to be another vote on independence next year, the campaign would begin more or less now. It would be another long and drawn out affair with the result uncertain to the end. All the old arguments would be repeated with new variants. I dreaded the prospect.

It didn’t look as if anything could be done to stop this. Somehow an idea had developed in Scotland that you just couldn’t say “No” to Nicola Sturgeon. Apparently if you did something apocalyptic would happen. If a UK Prime Minister said “No” it would lead to something like the 1745 Rebellion. The clans would rise and support for Scottish independence would go through the roof.



There is a lot of received wisdom put forward by journalists and others who apparently should be listened to. Much of it turns out to be quite wrong. Journalists often have access to sources that the rest of us don’t, but their ability to think is no better than anyone else’s. Sometimes it’s worse. They’ve been getting quite a lot of things wrong lately.

Few political commentators thought that the Conservatives could win a majority at the last General Election. Perhaps fewer still thought that it was possible that the UK could vote for Brexit. Quite a large part of the media thought that a vote to leave the EU would lead to immediate economic disaster. Instead it has led to growth. Many journalists thought support for Scottish independence would rise, because we voted Remain while the majority of the UK voted Leave. Lots of journalists were until recently writing as if indyref2 was inevitable and it was happening soon. Theresa May wouldn’t dare say “No” and anyway Ruth Davidson would advise her not to.

Now where are we? In First World War terms Nicola Sturgeon made her great push, but it got entangled in the barbed wire. Maybe Ruth Davidson was bluffing all along, but she came out in favour of blocking the latest SNP attempt to break up our country. Theresa May has stood firm. At the moment indyref2 has been kicked into the longest of grasses. Nicola Sturgeon is taking swing after swing, but she doesn’t actually even know where her ball is. Let the SNP spend the next few years looking for it. Meanwhile the rest of us can get on with our lives. The simple of tactic of telling Sturgeon that she would have to wait has proved effective. The UK Government has not said “No” rather they have said “Not yet”. Who knows when we will arrive at yet? It may be after the next Scottish Parliament elections, then again depending on the result it may be never.

Has there been an uprising in Scotland? No. Quite the reverse. Pro UK Scots demonstrated to the Theresa May that we supported her stance. Hundreds of thousands of us signed a petition saying we didn’t want our lives disrupted by indyref2. This was crucial. This made a difference. It made more of a difference than anything I have ever written.

Politics is about public opinion, which is expressed not only at elections. The SNP like to give the impression that they speak for Scotland. Pro UK people must continually show that they don’t. Each of us can contribute in different ways. But every Scot who shows that we agree with delaying, perhaps indefinitely, indyref2 helps Theresa May maintain that position.

Of course some Scottish nationalists will be angry. That is after all their default position. But contrary to some expectations a Tory Prime Minister saying “Not yet” has not led to a surge in support for the SNP, nor has it led to mass demonstrations in the street, nor has it increased support for Scottish independence. Most Scots still don’t want indyref2 anytime soon and polls suggest the result if it were to happen would be the same as last time.

Moreover I have noticed some Scottish nationalists who while maintaining their long term goal of independence have also recognised that the time is not right. This strikes me as sensible. Why not first do what we can to make Scotland more prosperous? Why not work hard to improve our schools and healthcare? Let’s see how negotiations work out between the UK and the EU. We just don’t know what sort of a trade deal we will get. Nor do we know the details with regard to a whole host of other matters that will affect all of our lives. There is enough uncertainty for the moment. I think some of the more rational Scottish nationalists are reasoning in this way and are willing to put off their goal for a few years.

The relationship the UK has with the EU affects nearly every argument for Scottish independence. To debate now is to debate on shifting sands. On all sorts of issues such as the border, the currency and trade we have no idea what an independent Scotland would look like. If, for instance, the UK gets a free trade deal with the EU, would it really be in Scotland’s interest to leave the UK in order to remain a part of the Single Market? After all a free trade deal does not look all that different from the situation we have at present. If on the other hand the UK walked away from negotiations without a trade deal, would it really be in Scotland’s interest to prioritise trade with the EU over trade with other parts of the UK? We trade much more within the UK than we do with the EU. The point really is this. How can we possibly have the debate until we know how such matters will turn out?  

It is I think for this reason that some of the more sensible SNP voices have been taking the long view. Most Scots whether they want independence or not are content to wait. It makes sense. For this reason whereas a few weeks ago it looked like we would have indyref2 soon, now it doesn’t. It’s important however, that we don’t all go to sleep though. There may not be a new campaign for the next few years, but we should do what we can to prepare for one. Pro UK Scots working together at the grassroots level is crucial. The Scottish media rarely puts forward the crucial arguments that help us to defend the UK. Too many are defeatist. Too many share the assumptions of the SNP. But by working together grassroots campaigners can get that message across.  

There are local elections coming up in May. We should think about how we can use them to show Theresa May that we welcome her decision to tell Nicola Sturgeon “not yet”. Ruth Davidson has become I think the most effective defender of Scotland’s place in the UK. Now might be the time to show our support.

I will continue to point out what I think are the disadvantages of Scottish independence. I will also, no doubt, write about the developing Brexit story. The key, I think, long term is to tell a better story about the UK than the Scottish nationalists can tell about an independent Scotland. Being positive wins. For this reason I am going to look forward with hope to how the UK will change for the better in the coming years. How we can become more prosperous and democratic. I will point out that inevitably the Scottish Parliament will gain more power because of Brexit as will every other Parliament in our country. I will tell a story about an open minded European country called the UK that will get on well with our neighbours and continue to welcome many, many people from elsewhere. If you are Pro UK like I am, I suggest that you join in with this story. It’s the one we need to persuade our fellow Scots who disagree with us.

30 comments:

  1. Your voice of reason should be given a more open platform. I feel exactly the same but not been able to put it so eloquently into words. There will be a surge again at the Arbroath Declaration 2020 but why does Scotland read its own history and realise that it was written because Scotland was excommunicated from Rome (EU) and could not trade or have protection. It was co written by Robert the Bruce who could not put his name to it as he was also excommunicate. This is a repeat of what is happening today and was nothing about freedom but coming back under the yoke of the Holy Roman Empire who controlled everything. The parallels are quite scary. I may have this wrong but like any good historian both sides of an argument must be explored and not be blinkered to only reading what supports your argument.

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    1. The idea that people would wish to break up a modern, dynamic, proud and wealthy nation because of a bit of paper that was signed by some Norman French overlords almost a millennium ago is quite scary. But there are lots of dumb people out there. I don't know what the answer is to that - promise to buy them a happy meal if they vote the correct way, perhaps.

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    2. I'm not sure, Evelyn, if the anniversary of the DoA will do the independence cause any good - because people might actually read the thing, and realise that, rather than being the red-blooded call to nationhood of myth, it is actually a rather pathetic plea by a bunch of toffs for the Pope's help in the event of England coming north again and trying to take their stuff - which included most ordinary Scotsmen and women, who were pretty much all serfs/slaves of the landed aristocracy.

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    3. Scotland was excommunicated by Rome because of Corrupt Scottish clergymen! It's what destroyed the Scottish Monachy! But it wasn't just that! The Darrian Scheme is what eventually saw Scotland amalgamate with the British Union

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    4. "amalgamate with the British Union "

      Surely Scotland and England became the British Union.....Amalgamate ?

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  2. It could have been so different for the SNP if 10 years ago when they first started to get power. If they had then decided to put Independance in the long grass and concentrated instead on turning Scotland into a powerhouse by bringing all sides together. If they had done this and it had worked we would now be independant. What we have now is a deeply devided country with exactly the same problems as Quebec. It is quite a legacy the SNP have created

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    1. My Canadian cousin said they had only 1% difference and a year later they did a follow up and a vast majority were glad it did not get independence.

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    2. Did they Evelyn....ooohh well. If that's the case I think I'll just vote Tory.

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    3. Not this week I couldn't .... Wee Ruthie seems to have went a bit too far....

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  3. As a previous commentator said it was the Scots that created Britain 300 years ago and you yourself suggested Theresa May just say's no to Sturgeon last year. Spot on.

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  4. Totally agree that we should be telling our United Kingdom story as something positive and something to be proud of. So look forward to your future writings, Effie. One thing though: the nationalists never stop campaigning, they never rest or take a break from the whinging, the complaining, the grievance mongering. That is why we must always be ready to stand firm with our positive telling of our story. Unfortunately, we have been badly served in the past by politicians and religious leaders who wanted to downplay the benefits of our United Kingdom in case it offended anyone. As the last few years have taught us it would only offend those who are perpetually offended and who want to destroy the Union, and thus our country, anyway. So let's get the positive story out there.

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    1. http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/leicester-fans-clash-spanish-police-10213716

      So very proud of 'our' culture in the United Kingdoom....it really is unique...Lets get the positive story out there.

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    2. And Scottish culture has no flaws in relation to football? Because I can think of one pretty major one right now, lol.

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    3. Certainly but its not being whipped up by olde worlde Empire nonsense.

      In any case sectarianism in Scotland is a British import, it keeps us fighting each other rather than the real enemy in London.

      Divide and Conquer, its a long term Empire tactic

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    4. I'm not a big history expert but I suspect that sectarianism in Scotland came to the fore when Irish Catholic immigrants came during the 19th century to live in a strictly Protestant Presbyterian Scotland. The two sides didn't exactly hit it off.

      So, Scots vs Irish then. England and Wales had nothing to do with it - though I see that doesn't stop you trying to have a go at them again, surprise surprise!

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  5. I hope Alex Massie reads this.

    ..being the head boy of defeatist journalists that he is.

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  6. Excellent summary of the current situation Effie. I think the key is to put it beyond the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections: No SNP/Green majority equals no referendum.

    I am much more optimistic about the future. A cloud has lifted. It's great to have some certainty back - and a path to their defeat. But you are right - we shouldn't get complacent. Their anger and hatred and plotting will continue. We must counter it. I've joined the Scottish Tories and have began donating money to their anti-indyref2 fund. I would advise others to do the same - forget about the 1980s, start thinking about the 2010s.

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  7. Aldo if history serves me correct this would be their 5 th attempt. From early 1920s to 70s and 90s plus 2014. You are correct we need to stand up and not be afraid to say how we feel but the grace and dignity.

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    1. I don't always do the grace and dignity part :0)

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  8. Well said and well written. As a proud Scot who had the temerity to marry an Englishwoman and to live in North Yorkshire, I frequently found myself frustrated by the illogical and irrational approach of the nationalists, be it on the matter of independence or the type of relationship with Europe in a independent Scotland.

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  9. I agree with everything in your article except the use of the word "independence". As we (Scotland) are not a colony then what we are talking about is separation, in the same way that the UK is separating from the EU under Brexit. Keep up the good work.

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  10. Can you please change the narrative a little. It's the people of Scotland, not Scots alone that will help keep Scotland in the UK. I'm English not Scottish but live in Scotland. A great article though.

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  11. ...If you guys think this is a done deal you are dumber than I thought....I read the comments and its all just wishful thinking.

    Do you honestly think Sturgeon will just sit back and say OK, its a No. The letter sits on May's desk. She needs to answer, a real answer and not with soundbite rhetoric on TV.

    Scotland is a colony, its disguised but its a colony.

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    1. Sorry to disappoint you RM, but people just aren't that bothered. We had a vote on this and now - as far as most sensible people are concerned - the result is being upheld. Where are the protests? The strikes? The mass civil disobedience? Where are the polls showing yes 20 points ahead? There has been a petition, but the pro-union one dwarfs it.

      Your leader has badly misjudged this situation. Never believe your own hype.

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    2. Happy to put a wager on it.....

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    3. Okay. If you lose, Scotland has to stay part of the UK ;0)

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    4. I'll take that as a no then Aldo....speaks volumes

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  12. Alex Massie's accent would fit right in here....

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  13. Some more thoughts on the Sec. of State for Scotland's 'brexit process'.

    If it takes 2 years to do the divorce proceedings - assuming no hold up (big assumption!) and then we have a transitional period of, say, 4 years while a trade agreement is negotiated (its usually about 7-10 but we'll cut it back by a few years to account for existing economic integration and goodwill). Then, a bedding in period of two years for the entire UK to get used to the new arrangements. By that estimate, that's 8 years before a Scottish indyref can be held (2025). Through one Holyrood election and almost at the next one again. Any slippage in those timings could mean that we go through two Scottish elections without this getting resolved. But the original referendum was for a 'generation' so anything up to the mid to late 2030s is acceptable.

    How I do enjoy winding up the seps! ;0)

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