So when will indyref2 be held then, asks Andrew Learmonth in The National. I’ll tell him.
The new referendum on Scotland’s independence will be held in September 2018. There is no great mystery about this. Earlier than that date might be better. And may be made necessary by unfolding events. But later is simply not an option.
The new referendum was always going to be held in September 2018. Nothing Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday has changed that. As long ago as September 2014 it was possible to work out that September 2018 was almost certainly the earliest date for the next independence vote. The EU referendum simply meant that September 2018 changed from being the earliest date to being the latest.
It is first of all necessary to understand that another independence referendum was always going to happen. Brexit is just something that has been added to the constitutional debate. It hasn’t altered the essentials of that debate. The case for normalising Scotland’s constitutional status is the same as it always was. Brexit is just further evidence of the British establishment’s contempt for Scotland. Another symptom of the grotesquely anomalous nature of the political union. Another example of the intolerable democratic deficit. There is nothing new, here.
A new referendum was always going to happen, not because of Brexit; and not even because of the way the British establishment behaved during and since the first referendum, but because something in the region of half the people of Scotland find the present constitutional settlement totally unacceptable. And another substantial part of the population want some kind of constitutional reform. A new referendum was always going to happen so long as the democratic process was allowed to run its course. Which, not at all incidentally, is why British nationalists want to obstruct that democratic process.
And that is what makes September 2018 the latest possible date. While analysts and commentators obsess about what Nicola Sturgeon is saying – or being dishonestly reported as saying – a huge red, white and blue elephant in the room is developing a complex due to being so assiduously ignored. The crucial factor is not Brexit, or whether the polls say a referendum is winnable. And certainly not how much time has elapsed since the previous referendum. What matters is the fact that the British political elite is not sitting idle while all of this is going on. The crucial factor is the imperative driving the British establishment.
They want Scotland back in its box. They want Scotland brought into line. They regard the Scottish Parliament as a threat. They all too evidently see the SNP as ‘the enemy’. They recognise that a tide of democratic dissent has risen in Scotland which has the very real potential to break the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. They are inconvenienced and embarrassed by the distinctive political culture which has developed in Scotland. The imperative is to crush the democratic dissent and destroy the distinctive political culture.
Every minute of every day some significant part of the British state’s very considerable machinery is devoted to finding a ‘solution’ for the Scottish problem. And the Brexit process allows an unmissable opportunity in this regard. As part of that process, the UK will require to be constitutionally redefined. We can be absolutely certain that the intention is to seize on this as a chance to lock Scotland into political union.
There will be no negotiation with the devolved administrations. There won’t even be any consultation. The UK will be redefined unilaterally. From the British state’s perspective the ideal would be that we don’t even know about it until after it has happened.
The UK will cease to be a member of the European Union in April 2019. Talk of “negotiations being extended to last another year or two” is just silly. This would require the agreement of all 27 continuing members states. There is not the slightest reason to believe such agreement would be forthcoming. What possible reason might they have for letting the UK off a vicious hook of its own making? What might the EU gain from going easy on the quitters?
Similarly foolish, and for similar reasons, is talk of ‘soft’ Brexit . There is no such thing. There is only Brexit. There is only being worse off. The extent of the damage will be nothing to do with anything the UK Government can negotiate. If the harm of Brexit is mitigated to any extent at all it will be solely because this suits the purposes of other actors in the process. The UK’s interests will not be a consideration.
Given this, it is plainly ridiculous to imagine a Brexit ‘deal’ that might negate the arguments for honouring the democratic will of Scotland’s people. Or the case for bringing Scotland’s government home so that the democratic will of the Scottish people can never again be overruled by a government that those people have decisively and repeatedly rejected.
We don’t need to wait and see how Brexit will impact Scotland. We already know it will be very bad in economic terms. We already know that it will be completely intolerable in terms of our democracy.
And we know that, unless we take steps to defend and protect our democratic right of self-determination, that too will be ripped from us in the same callous, contemptuous manner as our relationship with Europe.
Nicola Sturgeon is not unaware of all this. As First Minister, she obviously can’t come right out and accuse the UK Government of plotting against Scotland. But she has to know that this is precisely what is happening. It’s all far too obvious to be missed. But there’s nothing to prevent us talking about it. So why aren’t we?
Why aren’t we explaining to people why the new referendum must happen no later than September 2018? Why can’t we be honest with people about what is at stake?Views: 5024
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