As a serviceman in Germany almost 30 years I was often embarrassed by the actions of some drunken English Squaddies who demanded they jump queues and receive preferential treatment, usually accompanied by the cry of “Who won the effing war anyway?” So I was disgusted to see this attitude being expressed openly by Lyn of Strathclyde in Fridays Metro in relation to Britain’s inept efforts to extricate itself from the European Union. Sentiment such as this displays the worst attributes of small minded Nationalism.
I generally found the Germans to be warm, fair, level headed and welcoming. In fact our welcome was usually warmer when, having been asked if we were English, we replied “nein, ich bin Schottisch”.
Scotlands relationship to Europe has always been more cordial. With independence we can renew and strengthen those relationships, rather than trashing them.
The economic impact of Brexit is now estimated to mean a cut in income for each and every Scot of £2,300 a year. That’s the real cost of Brexit, previously obscured by a slogan on a bus, and now exposed for all to see. How many Scots would now wind back the clock to September 2014 and think again about their decision to stick with the UK? The same UK that told them that they’d be £500 a year worse off outside of the UK and also that they would be thrown out of the EU. Unfortunately for us there is no going back, but If given the chance to vote again on Scotland’s future, Scots have to be braver than last time and rather than cower under London’s threat and fear campaign must rise to the occasion and show the world that we have learned from our mistake and are ready, willing and able to take our place amongs the nations of the world as equals.
While it was still to be seen if the Scottish Government would keep their word, there can be no doubt about what Westminster has done. It has stuck two fingers up to the people of Scotland, and said that if our legislation is a stumbling block to the UK national policy then they shall scrap it. We may have limited powers, so long as it suits Westminster, and when it no longer suits those powers will be taken back.
Fast forward just three years and I’m not one bit surprised that the above scenario has been begun being implemented writ large with the UK parliament approving the Great Repeal Bill/ AKA Taking Back Control (Scotland)/ AKA The Enabling Act 2017.
Following successive SNP wins at Holyrood and the ever present possibility of another independence referendum the logical Unionist response if you follow all options to their conclusion is to close down the Scottish Parliament itself. This was a view that has been circulated for some time in British Nationalist social media (see the above tweet by the Stronger United account). The A Better Britain Unionist Party which came second in the Fortissat by-election have proposed the repealing of the Scottish Devolution Bill introduced by the Tony Blair Labour Government.
What forments around the extremist fringes can however find roots in larger mainstream parties. STV’s political retweeter Aidan Kerr reported earlier this year that a fringe group at the Conservative party conference were discussing the closure of Holyrood as a means to silence calls for Scottish independence.
A recent poll showed that 19% of Scots now want Holyrood closed down entirely. That’s almost a fifth of respondents who want to sell out Scotland and its parliament to ensure the future of the union. This figure did not appear out of nowhere. It’s the result of persistent agitation by British Nationalists in print, radio, television and social media, as well as behind closed doors, in workplaces and pubs. The Tories and Labour have now spent years banging the Unionist drum. They have whipped up these people who are now doing what the Yes movement did- they are moulding the campaign in their image, not merely adopting the messages they have been given, which is why in Fortissat the Tories were beaten into 4th place: their support abandoned them for a more hardcore version.
While many independence supporters remain focused on fighting for and winning a second independence referendum they are oblivious to the fact that the foundations for that are being removed from under their feet and behind their back. The fight is now on two fronts: to protect the very existence of the Scottish Parliament and the fight for an independent nation for it to govern. With an emboldened and unrestricted Westminster let loose on the constitution our workload just got a whole lot heavier.
We are not even two years down the line from Indyref and in that time while the SNP have managed to attract a large and vocal contingent of the Yes vote, as well as many people who have come over to support the SNP possibly out of a sense of shame at their No vote, especially after seeing what it delivered; EVEL and the pig in a poke of the Scotland Bill. But the main concerns which failed to convince the floating No voter remain. Competent and effective government is simply not enough to convince them.
The SNP have spent the time since September 2014 focussing on consolidating their position in government, some would say to the detriment of the independence campaign as a whole. This is set to continue until after the council elections in 2017, and I see no major move towards a referendum before that date, regardless of the EU referendum result. The SNP manifesto which launched last week cited the UK voting to leave the EU as a possible trigger to a new referendum on Scottish independence. It seems to me that many, many Scots are pinning their hopes on this happening, however should this happen I believe however that it is no guarantee that a referendum could be won. Imagine if Scots overwhelmingly vote Remain, while RUK votes Leave and this is used as reason to trigger a referendum. Should Scots subsequently vote No we would be in the most bizarre limbo, where the only possible interpretation of that result would be that we wish to be in the EU with the UK, or out with the UK, but not independent within the EU! We cannot be bounced from one extreme to the other, and I believe that a Scottish Remain vote should not be viewed as a possible referendum trigger, but as a de facto referendum vote, and that the Scottish Government should view this as such. If we vote Remain and the UK votes Leave then declare our independence. No Indyref 2 please, just independence.