That’s a message from me to the SNP.
Between quagmire of Brexit and the inevitable omnishambolic results of the UK government getting involved in Syria, primarily, you suspect, as a distraction from the former, a sense of urgency has developed within me.
Sure, it’s a selfish urgency. Brexit will happen. Syria is beyond fucked. So what is it?
Well, the chances of Scotland voting for independence are unlikely to be greater than during the next year.
And securing a Yes vote before Brexit would ensure not only independence, but afford us the possibility of avoiding it altogether, replacing it with a fast-tracked re-integration into the EU as the UK’s replacement. Sure, it’s doubtful, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Hey, maybe you’re a fan of independence but not of the EU? With independence we could also have a referendum on EU membership, where our votes would actually matter and be decisive. If we rejected membership you’d suspect we’ll do so for reasons that actually benefits Scotland economically, not a conflation of the creepy, moronic, jingoistic, xenophobic, EDL, Pound Shop Enoch Powell rhetoric, gross misinformation and weak minds that lead to Brexit.
Which brings us to the problem – the SNP haven’t been agitating for a spoil, but they should be.
Given the divergence of opinion between Scotland and the rest of the UK on Brexit it’s hard to imagine the SNP having a better justification for acting than it does now; they hold majorities in Holyrood and among Scottish constituencies at Westminster, with the UK government clearly prepared to sell out Scottish industries in the Brexit deal, the projected economic realities of Brexit for the Scottish economy, the phantom threat of future hard borders within the British isles being undercut by the EU’s firm stance on there being no soft Irish border without the UK remaining in the Custom’s Union, over sixty percent of Scotland’s population voting for EU membership two years ago, support for independence remaining stable at forty-five percent (if psephology does anything for you) and of course the lie that devolution is ring-fenced, powers can be withdrawn, are threatening to be, and Holyrood can be abolished at any time.
It’s a worrying hypothesis – that the SNP’s inaction to date is an adoption of the generic pro-independence hand wringer’s reticence, one predicated on waiting for ideal circumstances (whatever that means) to arrive that will guarantee independence (let’s wait for Godot shall we?), and the fear of another referendum defeat proving fatal for independence. The latter concern is at least reasonable.
Regardless, independence faces a legal impediment – Westminster needs to approve a referendum. Consultative referendums (either stand alone or via an election mandate) have little validity and therefore no jurisdiction. Considering the current context, it seems perfectly reasonable to announce the preferential date for a independence referendum in early 2019, citing the proposed compromises in the Brexit negotiations (which would be confirmed by then), and the threat to Holyrood and its devolved powers, as just cause. Submitting a Section Thirty request puts pressure on Westminster to either reject or accept the request. Optically it’s just good realpolitik. The SNP can’t lose, they will be doing their ‘day job’ by attempting to secure a better Brexit deal for Scotland by pressurising the Tory government during negotiations, and should a request for a binding referendum be rejected dismissively along parochial lines, does anyone believe this wouldn’t strengthen support for independence among undecided voters?
Simply sitting and waiting when Brexit’s economic infarction, and if the Tories have their way, possibly without a devolved parliament, is all but a guarantee, seems like abject failure when the Yes movement and SNP have come this far. It would also be a betrayal of self-determination; believing that Scotland should be independent is dependent on trusting that the majority of Scotland’s populace are rational, that the strength of your arguments will convince them, and when a chance presents itself to put it to the test, seizing it. There’s one now.
No matter what the SNP do or don’t do the hard-line Unionists won’t change their minds, nor will it change the tiresome accusation by the feckless pro-union Scottish parties of the SNP being pre-occupied with independence. Sadly they’re utterly wrong about this, but the SNP should be looking to prove them right for once.