There was a time, only a few short weeks ago, when I would have discounted the idea that the UK Government would try to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination. When anybody suggested such a thing, I would point to the fact that the British establishment was also determined to block the first independence referendum. They failed to do so. We should consider why.
I think we can safely assume that David Cameron’s decision to avoid a constitutional confrontation with Alex Salmond was not prompted by respect for the democratically expressed will of the people of Scotland. There is simply no evidence of such an attitude. And ample evidence that Scotland and its voters are held in utter contempt by the Westminster elite.
Cameron caved because he knew he would lose. He knew – or he was advised by wiser heads – that Salmond would not back down. Why should he? Defying the arrogant might of the British state was always going to make him a hero in Scotland. And being defied was always going to make Cameron, and thereby the British ruling elite that he represented, look weak and ineffectual.
The form of the defiance hardly matters. Salmond was always astute enough to know what he could get away with, legally and politically. He knows, better than most, how the British political system works. He had a response ready should Cameron get uppity. He didn’t have to spell it out. Cameron knew that this response would be massively more problematic than a referendum; which, we must bear in mind, he was absolutely convinced would be won easily by the British state. Cameron understood Scotland’s politics no better than any other British politician.
What has changed? First of all, and despite all the posturing by British nationalists, they can no longer be so confident of being able to lie their way to victory in an independence referendum. Nor can they be sure that such a win would be any less like a defeat than in 2014, when the high-fiving and hugging in the British Labour/Tory alliance quickly turned to bitter tears as they watched the ‘losers’ walk away with all the prizes.
Not only would the Yes side in #indyref2 be starting from a much better position, the Yes movement itself has grown stronger. It has matured. The anti-independence campaign, by contrast, lies in tatters – totally discredited by its dishonesty and the despicable behaviour of Better Together/Project Fear.
For this reason alone, the British establishment has a greater incentive to try and prevent a second independence referendum than was previously the case. That incentive might just be verging on an imperative. And what may tip the balance is the sheer madness of the current regime in London.
Normal service has been suspended. Alex Salmond had the luxury of dealing with a UK Government that was delightfully predictable. May’s government is erratic, mercurial, temperamental, vacuously arrogant and unconstrained by convention or even any kind of political, diplomatic or economic logic. Anything can happen with this lot. They are not in control; of events or themselves.
But this doesn’t mean Nicola Sturgeon is stymied. Far from it. She is no more likely to back down before the anti-democratic bullying of the British establishment than was her predecessor. She too has options. She is not going to be intimidated.
After 2014, it was always the case that Scotland’s independence movement had two battles to fight. The campaign to restore Scotland rightful constitutional status and bring our government home would obviously continue. But the first task has to be to assert and defend our democratic right of self-determination. Sir Michael Fallon’s threatening language means that this battle has now heated up. We must stand ready to engage.Views: 5075
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