Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sir John, oor Gordon and Eck

My theme over several months that there will not be an Independence Referendum if the SNP leadership can possibly avoid it is, I am pleased to say, beginning to gain some traction.

I've tried on this blog  to approach this from a number of different perspectives; about the politics, the polling, even the various straws in the wind that demonstrate that it is the thinking of their leadership group themselves.

Tonight I'm going to try simple logic.

Every blogger nowadays tries to identify themselves with the admirable Rangers Tax Case and when I say that I would not attempt such comparison I protest a false modesty.

But, when that enterprise started it, while it was intensely logically argued, the ultimate conclusion, that Rangers, RANGERS, were headed for financial disaster, possible complete collapse, was just too absurd to contemplate. So, it was dismissed by those not hostile to the wish of that conclusion as (they regrettably presumed) proceeding by virtue of omission of other facts of which they were unaware. Those hostile to the logic simply asserted outright bias on the part of its author.

Well, nobody need excuse me of bias. I am.  I really do not have any time for the SNP as anything more than a (sometimes useful) protest movement.

I rely therefore entirely on my logic but, blogging to a more selective audience, actively invite additional facts bearing on what follows. If any can be identified.

Here we go.

John Major and Gordon Brown do not have very much in common. I presume that is common territory.

In the run up, respectively, to the 1997 and 2009 General Elections they were both pretty certain themselves of defeat. I presume that is also common territory.

By virtue of the Parliament Act 1911 they were however obliged to have an election (at least) five years after the previous one and for each of them time had run out. I presume....etc

That prior to 1911, UK elections required to be held only at seven year intervals. I...etc.

That given the option of not meeting the electorate for (up to) another two years neither Major nor Brown would have held an election when they did. I... (this is getting repetitive so until I reach a contentious proposition I will abandon the practice).

If they had had the option of delay, both Major and Brown would have taken it in the hope "something" might improve their potential fortunes.

There is a legal requirement that a Scottish Election take place in 2016.

There is no legal requirement that an Independence Referendum take place at any time before then.

Every credible opinion poll ever held indicates that Independence would be rejected by the Scottish electorate.

Some indicate that it would be rejected in a way that would disdcredit the idea for several generations.

The SNP want Independence. (Actually this is a significantly contentious statement. A good number of their voters patently don't and a significant section of their leadership, having looked at the detail are no more persuaded of its viability than I am. Nonetheless, to avoid irritating the cybernats, I will let it stand)

From the logic of wanting Independence, it would therefore be a disaster to have a referendum that was decisively lost.

All the polling currently indicates that it would be decisively lost.

Following David Cameron's January initiative, beyond legal dispute, having a referendum on Independence alone would be a matter of choice for the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP have an absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament.

But, unlike Major or Brown, this is not a vote that they need have.

And a defeat would be a disaster.

And at some future date, circumstance might be better.

Indeed, logically, could only be better.

Since they could hardly be worse than inevitable defeat.

So, unless the polls improve, there will not be a referendum,


Now, for me this is not a new argument but it would only be appropriate to comment on the way in which it has been attacked. Not a single cybernat has advocated the charge of the (Scottish) Light Brigade. There are protests that the polls are wrong; that, even if they aren't they will, nonetheless, be better in two years time; that, even if that's not the case it will somehow be all right on the night.

Nobody however has articulated how the interests of the SNP would be served by holding, entirely voluntarily, a vote they would lose.

And that's all I have ever said. If the SNP think they, even might, win then there will undoubtedly be a vote. But if they conclude that the cannot (not might not, cannot) win then they will attempt to prevent a vote taking place at all.

But their Leadership will of course look at how they might avoid the rage of their own rank and file in delivering that unpleasant message. And they've already concluded that the best way to do it is by some sort of legal debacle over whether another question might be asked.

Because their leadership have already concluded that they cannot win.

Now, I know that will be a pretty miserable message for many in the SNP so I end with a note of optimism.

I think there will be a Referendum. Only it won't be Eck who calls it.


  1. I second that pish! Typical unionist!

  2. Ian,

    I think their position is similar to Hibs before the cup final. They realise that they are not likely to win, they won't get another chance for decades so they just have to go for it.

    The unique circumstances of the last Scottish Parliament election delivered the only likely opportunity for a majority of MSPs who want independence, despite being represntative of only one-third of popular opinion.

    Waiting until after 2016 risks the likely situation that there will be no majority for independence in the parliament and so no referendum.

    This would put the SNP back into the position of doing the hard work of convincing a majority for independence BEFORE they called a referendum rather than a lazy hope-for-the-best approach.