Here’s a radical suggestion. How about if we all just paid heed to what the First Minister actually said rather than ‘interpreting’ her words? The radio interview which prompted all this speculation would have had to be about six hours long for Nicola Sturgeon to have said half the things that people imagine they heard.
Much, perhaps most, of the commentary misses the crucial point as folk flail around frantically trying to find some shift in the Scottish Government’s position on Brexit and/or #indyref2. There has been no shift. Nothing has changed.
The next independence referendum has not been ‘parked’. Independence itself is not ‘off the table’. The aims of the SNP have not been ‘put aside’. The situation now is no different from what it was before that radio interview. The Scottish Government has been totally consistent. And remains so.
One suspects that it is this very consistency which is both confusing unionists and frustrating political journalists. One can understand British nationalist fanatics listening to that interview – although few seem to have actually done so – and hearing Nicola Sturgeon say that she has totally abandoned the project to rectify the anomaly of the union and restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. It’s easy to see why ideological unionists, who abhor the very idea of Scotland’s right of self-determination, would hear Sturgeon say that she was giving up on a fresh independence referendum. This is, after all, precisely what such people want to hear. It is what they are desperate to hear. Scotland is going back in its box. The threat to their beloved British state is receding. Things are getting back to normal. There is great comfort in the delusion that the tide of democratic dissent risen in Scotland has abated.
Likewise, it is understandable that political journalists raised on the faux rivalries, sound-bite simplisms and diversionary dramatics of British politics would want to find in Nicola Sturgeon’s statements something of what they are familiar and comfortable with. Somehow, her words have to shoe-horned into the model of political discourse that they are accustomed to dealing with. After all, if politicians start saying just what they mean then the mediating role of the journalist becomes redundant. It’s only to be expected that these journalists will want to pretend there’s more going on than is apparent. It’s in their interests to maintain the pretence that there’s some subtle sub-text that only they can discern.
But sometimes things are just precisely as they appear. There’s no evasion. No deviousness. No political double-talk. Sometimes you only have to listen to the words to know what is being said.
The constitutional question is central to Scottish politics and will remain so until it is satisfactorily resolved. It is not going away. It is not being taken of the table. It is not being parked or set aside or shelved. The independence campaign is ongoing. It is the constant underlying theme. Brexit is merely the current context superimposed on that underlying theme. Bear this in mind when you listen to Nicola Sturgeon and maybe you’ll be able to hear what she’s actually saying.Views: 2333
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