Yesterday the Scottish Government revealed its plans for the new session of parliament and announced a consultation on a draft referendum bill. The consultation on the bill is to be launched before July next year, meaning that it could potentially be put before Holyrood late in 2017 or early in 2018. By that time, the UK government should have activated Article 50 and Brexit negotiations will be underway. Everyone who’s not a Lib Dem or Kezia Dugdale knows by now that the only way that Scotland can preserve its EU membership is by seeking independence. The Unionist parties responded by angrily accusing the SNP of being obsessed with independence. Which to be fair, isn’t exactly untrue. Seeking independence is ever so slightly the entire point of the SNP, it’s their raison d’etre.
It’s hardly the fault of the SNP that the Unionist parties lied through their collective teeth in 2014 about the kind of United Kingdom Scotland was voting to remain a part of. The UK they promised us in the summer of 2014 doesn’t exist, if it ever existed. You can argue that if a political party doesn’t follow through on a manifesto commitment, then in five years time there will be another election and the voters have the opportunity to punish that party for its failure. The Unionist parties don’t want to fulfil the promises they made during the referendum campaign, and don’t want the Scottish people to have any recourse to punish them for their failure. Taking Scotland out of the EU against the will of the Scottish people is just the final straw. The Unionist parties have only got themselves to blame that another independence referendum is on the table again. If they’d been as obsessed with being honest and trustworthy as they are obsessed with accusing the SNP of being obsessed with independence, we wouldn’t be here now. Hell slap it intae thaim.
Angrily accusing the SNP of being obsessed with independence is like acting all surprised that the Greens are all about protecting the environment. Demanding that the SNP cease to focus on their goal of independence would be like going along to a Weight Watchers meeting and getting upset because no one is offering third helpings of cream cakes and fish suppers. But then that’s what the Unionist parties are all about, they’d far rather Scotland blocked its arteries and grew unhealthy on the poor diet of Westminster than have us do anything about it. A healthy Scotland is a Scotland that can stand on its own two feet.
The SNP is obsessed with independence in the exact same way that Ruth Davidson is obsessed with photo opportunities while her party screws over the poor and the vulnerable, in the exact same way that Labour politicians are obsessed with attacking and undermining the real enemy, which is other Labour politicians, or in the exact same way that the Lib Dems are obsessed with the timetable of the number 17 bus to Kelty. Although in the interests of balance it should be pointed out that the Lib Dems are also obsessed with complaining about what they perceive as the dishonesty of the other parties while excusing the dishonesty of Lib Dems.
Mind you, while the Unionist parties are upset that the SNP sets out to do what it was founded to do, there’s also a significant segment of Unionist opinion that’s convinced that the SNP doesn’t really want an independence after after all. While the Scottish media reported this week that Scotland is taking a step closer to another independence referendum, the Guardian’s Severin Carrell was claiming that Nicola Sturgeon had put off an early referendum and was quietly shelving plans to hold a ballot. That’s the early referendum that she never promised to have in the first place, in case you were wondering. The supposed early referendum that only ever existed in the mind of the Guardian.
I seem to recall we had a similar meme floating about during the first independence referendum, when many Unionist commentators managed to convince themselves that Alicsammin didn’t really want independence at all while at the same time he was obsessed with it. I’m not really sure how that works, and neither does the Unionist media. It’s a species of denialism. Now we’re seeing it again, as many Unionist commentators rush to assure their readers that there won’t be a second independence referendum because the SNP which is obsessed with independence doesn’t really want independence after all.
But then holding contradictory ideas simultaneously is what Scottish Unionism is all about. Scottish Unionism rests upon simultaneously believing that Scotland – which they’re terribly proud of, by the way – is a country but at the same time isn’t. Scots are the Schrodinger’s cats of nations, simultaneously existing but not existing while we remain locked in the shortbread tin. Scottish Unionism means convincing yourself that only a desire for Scottish independence counts as nationalism, but a knee jerk fleg waving love of the Great British state isn’t nationalist at all.
What the Unionist commentators who claim Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want another referendum are really doing is setting up their readership for outrage when there is actually a second independence referendum. Oh that SNP, first they said they wanted one, then they said they didn’t, and now they do after all. Cue mutterings about untrustworthy jocks and subsidy junkies.
The boring truth of the matter is that Scotland remains exactly where it was before in relation to another independence referendum. But then, “Evil SNP does exactly what it said it was going to do” doesn’t make for a very exciting headline in a Unionist newspaper. A second independence referendum remains the most likely outcome of Westminster’s failure to keep its promise to Scotland that only a No vote in 2014 could secure our EU membership, but the Scottish government has to been seen to exhaust all other options before going for a second referendum. Everyone knows that. Probably even Wullie Rennie knows that. It’s not difficult.
And that’s exactly what the Scottish government is going to do. There will be a second referendum on independence, and when we go into that referendum supporters of independence will be able to state in all honesty that all other options to keep Scotland’s EU membership have been exhausted. But then honesty with the Scottish electorate is an alien concept to the Unionist establishment. Scotland will have its second referendum, and then the Schrodinger’s cat of nations will open the shortbread tin and we’ll realise that we’ve never been more alive.
Audio link to this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-7th-sept-2016?in=occamshaver/sets/wee-ginger-dug-blogs
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