During the Hoyrood election campaign Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that a second referendum on Scottish independence could be called during this session of parliament only if there was a material change in circumstances. Several scenarios were discussed during the campaign itself, but top of the list was Scotland being dragged out of the EU against our will.
According to the SNP leader, should Scotland vote to remain within the EU but find itself outvoted by the rest of the UK and forced to leave, then a second indyref would be justified. The logic isn’t difficult to follow – or rather it shouldn’t be.
The SNP stance on indyref2 and Brexit is clear. It is also justified. During the independence referendum the pro-Union campaign, aided and abetted by the media, told voters that a No vote would protect Scotland’s EU membership. Scottish voters opted to remain part of the UK, yet here we are facing the prospect of being dragged out of the European Union.
On Sunday Nicola Sturgeon appeared on Sunday Politics Scotland where she was interviewed by presenter Gordon Brewer on this very issue. Below is a brief clip of part of the exchange.
Brewer begins the exchange by referring to “messages” being sent out by the SNP, which the BBC Scotland presenter claims to find “terribly confusing”. What is apparently confusing Brewer is that the SNP is urging Scots to vote ‘Remain’ whilst pointing out that such an outcome in Scotland may trigger indyref2 if it is overwhelmed by an opposite outcome across the rest of the UK.
In short – if we are forced out against our will, then it may lead to a second independence referendum. Such clarity from a politician is unusual. So why did Brewer, as Nicola Sturgeon suggested, feign confusion?
According to the BBC Scotland presenter, some independence supporters are considering voting ‘Leave’ in order to bring about the much desired trigger. The idiocy of the logic is obvious in that if enough Scots vote to leave the EU along with the rest of the UK, then there is no trigger.
But Brewer knows this full well. He knows that there is only one scenario favoured by grass-roots independence supporters. They all want Scotland to vote to remain and the rest of the UK to vote to leave. There are though mixed views over whether Scotland forces rUK to remain, or whether rUK forces Scotland out.
Gordon Brewer wasn’t playing Devil’s Advocate as his role sometimes demands. He was pushing an agenda. That agenda demands that every issue is strained to see what grains of anti-SNP sediment it contains.
Unionist politicians aren’t being pressed on their indyref broken promises. Incredibly it is the SNP that is being presented as duplicitous. In the case of the EU referendum the narrative being cultivated is that Nicola Sturgeon’s party is attempting to further the cause of independence through nefarious means. The ‘confused’ line was also pushed by former Tory Minister Michael Forsyth in a BBC Scotland debate aired on Monday.
The ‘confusion’ nonsense has also been pushed by the BBC’s Scotland editor Sarah Smith.
In an article on the BBC Scotland website, Smith writes:
“This referendum is already very confusing for many Scottish nationalists.
“Their party’s leadership and all its elected politicians are urging a vote remain. Yet some of the arguments for leaving are remarkably similar to their own reasons for wanting Scottish independence.”
Unionists and their media backers have made this disingenuous and lazy comparison many times throughout this campaign. To see a supposedly impartial BBC reporter push the same line is sadly not a surprise.
The daughter of former Labour leader John Smith goes on:
“And they hear the remain camp issuing dire warnings about the consequences of separation that are almost exactly the same as the arguments that were deployed against Scottish independence just 20 months ago.
“One young SNP Remain campaigner told me ‘the hardest place to be in politics right now is a nationalist supporting remain’.
“That may explain why we haven’t seen much of Ms Sturgeon out on the stump making the case for a vote to remain.
“The SNP have been remarkably low key during this referendum.”
What does ‘remarkably low key’ mean? The suggestion is that the SNP are actually not that keen to campaign on behalf of ‘Remain’. This is another attempt to paint Nicola Sturgeon’s party as dishonest; somehow pursuing a devious agenda; of being deceitful.
Perhaps one reason Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t been seen campaigning much is because BBC Scotland and the rest of the ‘Scottish media’ don’t actually want the Scottish public to hear the First Minister’s actual arguments.
Below is a clip from Reporting Scotland which was broadcast two days before the EU referendum vote. Note how former Labour leader Gordon Brown is afforded greater priority than the First Minister.
In the item above, BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor tells viewers: “With families in Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon warned that British exit from the EU could jeopardise women’s rights. It’s denied by her rivals.”
Unlike Gordon Brown, viewers didn’t get to hear Nicola Sturgeon speak. So did the First Minister really make such a negative comment as implied by BBC Scotland?
Below is what she actually said.
“Being part of Europe is good for everyone in Scotland – but women in particular have benefitted from a series of progressive reforms and the crucial rights which our EU membership has guaranteed.
“When the Leave campaign talk about reducing regulation or red tape what they’re actually talking about are some of the rights women in Scotland have come to take for granted – the right to paid maternity leave, protection against discrimination and the right to equal pay.
“The current Tory government is engaged in a relentless assault on rights in the workplace – and it’s only the crucial bulwark of the EU which has prevented them going even further.”
Nicola Sturgeon pushed the positives about the European Union. It’s the polar opposite of Brian Taylor’s summary as broadcast by Reporting Scotland.
After watching the item, it raises three questions:
Why was Nicola Sturgeon given second billing to Gordon Brown?
Why were viewers denied the opportunity to hear her actual words?
Why were those words contorted into a negative campaign message by BBC Scotland?
The European Referendum is much closer than anyone initially anticipated. With a day to go there is a very real possibility [even a probability if the latest Yougov poll is to be believed] that the UK will vote to leave the EU but that Scotland will have voted to remain. This is the nightmare scenario for Scottish Unionists.
On Wednesday morning, BBC Scotland’s business and economy editor Douglas Fraser responded to the possibility of such a scenario in his usual ‘impartial’ way. Listen to the recording below.
Should the EU referendum result in Brexit, then we can expect Fraser and others to forget about Unionist pre-indyref pledges to protect EU membership. The issues they’ll fight second indyref on will be oil and currency.
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