Set your diaries folks. Scotland will have another opportunity to vote for independence in two years time.
Within hours of last Thursday’s BRexit vote Nicola Sturgeon announced that the wheels had been set in motion that would lead to indyref2. The First Minister instructed Scottish government officials to prepare legislation for just such a ballot.
Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives are of course opposed to a re-run of the 2014 vote. Both Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson have publicly attacked the idea of a second independence referendum. However since confirming her initial opposition, the Scottish Labour leader has backtracked slightly by insisting her party will look at all options as Scotland’s EU status comes under threat.
Nicola Sturgeon has played a blinder throughout. Her campaign was flawlessly pro-Remain. She concentrated on making the positive case, but said just enough about the possibility of BRexit to ensure people were aware indyref2 could result.
The First Minister’s performance since BRexit became a reality has been a thing of beauty. She has managed the feat of appealing to independence supporters and Unionists alike. When even the Daily Record announces its support for your stance, you know you’ve squared the circle.
Her public statements and appearances across the media have enhanced Nicola Sturgeon’s already blossoming reputation. Watch the clip below as the SNP leader adopts a stateswoman like manner and reaches out to non-SNP voters.
Contrast Sturgeon’s command of the situation with the chaos that has engulfed Unionist parties at Westminster. The Conservative government has gone into hiding. Nobody has set eyes on George Osborne. Labour appears more interested in using BRexit in order to mount a coup against Jeremy Corbyn than taking the battle to the Tories.
In Scotland the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour is engaged in a spat with Labour’s only Scottish MP. Alex Rowley has criticised Iain Murray after the latter resigned from the shadow cabinet in a move intended to wound Jeremy Corbyn.
The chips are falling well for the SNP led government. Polling suggests that BRexit has led to increased backing for independence. Indyref2, despite protestations from people like Ruth Davidson, is becoming normalised. Even Scottish Lib Dem members have lobbied their party leaders to back indyref2. Momentum is definitely with the First Minister.
But momentum will steady and excitement wane. The Scottish Unionist establishment will regroup. Already we have BBC Scotland trying desperately to sow seeds of confusion over a possible indyref2. On Saturday morning a special Kaye Adams show witnessed the broadcasting of appalling misinformation and ignorance.
At one point the BBC Scotland presenter claimed a future indyref2 would have to include a question on EU membership. In a reference to the 38% of Scottish voters who backed BRexit, Adams asked “who will speak for the 38%”.
The broadcaster has been pushing a narrative that independence after BRexit will be even more difficult than had the UK voted to remain. The two issues being pushed are currency and borders.
But the claim is based more on desperation than any rational analysis. Any future UK Chancellor, given the uncertainty engulfing the UK economy as a result of BRexit, is unlikely to compound the situation by playing the currency games Osborne did during indyref1. The pound is Scotland’s currency and will be so after independence – unless the bottom falls out of sterling, in which case one of the alternatives listed by Salmond’s Fiscal Commission during indyref1 will be adopted.
Border checks are also a BBC inspired scare. In April this year Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers confirmed there would be no introduction of border guards between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
The Conservative MP told the Financial Times: “It is the clear position of the Leave campaign that we would not reintroduce border checks.”
There are questions only for Nicola Sturgeon. The broadcaster has shown absolutely no appetite for pursuing those Unionists who promised Scotland’s EU membership would be safe with an indyref No vote. There are no questions it seems for Unionist politicians. Where is Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling?
The BBC is currently scrabbling around looking for side issues that can serve as diversions to the chaos that has left a power vacuum at Westminster, and the UK without a functioning government. Ruth Davidson tried to create just such an issue when she suggested the Scottish parliament could not block BRexit.
BRexit caught everyone out. It wasn’t sought by the SNP but the political opportunity it offers nationalists is obvious. Currently there are moves underway to explore the possibility of Scotland being granted its own EU membership. What that might do to plans for a future indyref2 is unclear, but it would edge Scotland nearer to the independence door for sure.
Nicola Sturgeon explained the situation clearly when she said the original indyref vote was now in the past and should be consigned there. The next referendum will see a reversal of strategy with Yes offering certainty and security.
If, as looks likely, a second independence referendum is to be held then it will probably be in 2018. Remarkably Yes now finds itself ahead without having to lift a campaign glove. Yes groups and others who may have designs on pushing ahead with their own strategies would do well to take their lead from the SNP led Scottish government.
It’s independence that offers stability. The Union offers calamity. Any future Yes campaign needs to reflect this. Oh, and let’s ram the message home that Unionist claims made during the last referendum have proven to be false.
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