If the First Minister did hint at an #indyref2 announcement during the SNP Spring Conference it was a very subtle hint. So subtle, in fact, that it took all the speculative powers of the British media to discern it. On this occasion, however, the imperative of sensationalism may have led normally clueless journalists to stumble onto something real.
Let’s get one bit of speculation out of the way from the start. There is going to be another independence referendum in Scotland. OK! There are a couple of scenarios which could put this in doubt. But they are unlikely enough that, for most purposes, we can put them to the back of our mind – whilst not totally discounting them.
These scenarios, you will not be surprised to hear, involve Theresa May doing something untoward, if not completely crazy. Like refusing a Section 30 order to ‘authorise’ a referendum. Or even suspending the Scottish Parliament. In the first scenario, the Scottish Government would simply proceed with an alternative plebiscite that would effectively serve the same purpose as an independence referendum. Let’s call it #indyrefB.
There are at least a couple of options for the form that #indyrefB might take. It might simply be a consultative poll asking whether there should be a referendum. Or it could be a vote on what powers the people of Scotland want restored to their parliament. Either way, it would be a massive headache for the British establishment. Perhaps enough of a headache to prompt suspension of the Scottish Parliament. At which point, UDI becomes a real possibility.
I do not speak of such things lightly. But it would be foolish to underestimate the arrogant recklessness of the present London regime.
But let’s just stick with our preferred option of a referendum. We know it must be held before Brexit is finalised. We can reasonably assume, on the basis of what is currently known, that the deadline for that will be March 2019. So, September 2018 seems to be the latest possible date for the second independence referendum.
We can’t be absolutely certain about this; for the same reason we cannot wholly dismiss the possibility of the Westminster elite provoking a spike in the ongoing constitutional crisis. Suppose Theresa May decides to cut short the faux negotiations with the EU? Suppose she makes some kind of arrangement with Trump that makes Brexit an even greater threat?
Suppose it becomes clear that the British government is intending to use Brexit as an opportunity to lock Scotland into the union in perpetuity?
There are a number of conceivable developments which might prompt Nicola Sturgeon to hold #indyref2 earlier than September 2018. So she has to keep her options open. Fortunately, our First Minister is rather good at that. She can deal with growing demand for a fresh referendum by confirming that it is definitely happening. But there is absolutely no reason why she should specify a date. And what better occasion for such an announcement than the SNP Spring Conference in March?
By then, the Scottish Government will have amply demonstrated its willingness to be reasonable and to compromise in diverse ways short of actually disrespecting the democratic will of Scotland’s people. And it will have just about fully exploited opportunities to lure Theresa May into demonstrating the British government’s high-handed intransigence. The time will be right.
Formally confirming the intention to hold a referendum without specifying a date shall, of course, provoke entirely predictable hysteria among British nationalists and a welter of demands for answers. With all the contrived indignation that they can muster the British media machine will raise itself to the full towering height of its monstrous hypocrisy and appoint itself the ‘voice’ of the very people it’s been lying to for as long as anybody can remember. There will be much sickeningly pompous talk of the public’s ‘right to know’ from the individuals and institutions who have for years seen it as their duty to misinform and mislead and deceive the Scottish people in the name of preserving the British state.
My anxious hope is that the Yes movement will have sufficiently learned the lessons of the first independence referendum campaign to avoid being drawn into this narrative. When agents of British establishment demand answers on our behalf the very first thing we should do is, not join in their clamour, but question their motives. We should be asking why they need to know the precise date of the referendum. We should be inquiring as to what they intend to do with this information that they can’t do without it. We should scrutinise their efforts to pin down our First Minister and narrow her options.
We should have confidence in Nicola Sturgeon’s judgement. After all, what’s the alternative? Should we put our trust in those who have inherited the unprincipled mantle of Better Together/Project Fear?Views: 3958
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