I love twitter. I could probably write an entire blog on its virtues.
But I'll cut straight to the point. Twitter provokes the instant response. And in that instant moment, there is occasionally an accidental moment of insight.
So, with due modesty, I tweeted, earlier tonight, in a moment and barely without thinking about it, this:
I'm just for getting on with this referendum. Let's have it in September. What could the Nats do? Boycott it?
And then I thought. What a brilliant idea.
Now, it is part of the hypnotic spell that Eck held over Scotland for a few months after May last year that he somehow persuaded people that to hold a referendum other than at a time of his choosing would be a disaster for the combined Unionist/Devolutionist bloc. But even to ask the question why he maintained that, betrays the absurdity of that proposition. For, if Eck truly thought that a referendum called from Westminster and on a British timetable would assist his cause, then surely he would have kept his own counsel on the matter. He does presumably want to win.
We were assured that the Scottish people would be "outraged to be dictated to in this manner" but, if that were truly the case then surely they could find no better way of expressing that outrage than by voting for separatism? What else did he expect them to do instead? Burn down polling stations at being invited to determine their own future on the wrong date? Really?
Now, as you, reader, will know, I am certain in my own mind that, if it is left to the leadership of the SNP, there will never be a referendum. But we'll still have to put up with the xenophobic rantings of their lunatic mainstream for the next two years at least. Probably even beyond that, since I've no doubt that, even when they do eventually call it off, they will attempt to establish that their own failure to have a vote was as a result of a "Unionist Conspiracy" of some sort. (Lawyers; BBC bias; too many English people living here; bad weather, who knows).
And I just canny be bothered with that.
So, here's an idea, why don't we just have the referendum, on Eck's own chosen question, as soon as possible?
The Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997 was introduced to Parliament on 14th May 1997 and received the Royal Assent on 31st July. And the Referendum itself took place on 11th September.
Now that Parliamentary timetable took longer than would be needed this time because there was a continuing Westminster opposition to there being a referendum at all. With the support of all three major UK Parties I'm sure the legislative timetable could be considerably shortened. There is no reason at all that the legislation could not be in place before the Westminster Summer recess.
And then, if we rule out, as I am confident we could, any prospect of getting the wrong result in the referendum itself, what is the downside to this from "our" side? I'm genuinely struggling to find one. That Eck might be annoyed? That various cybernats might burst a blood vessel? Oh dear, how sad, never mind.
For what could the SNP possibly do? They would of course maintain that "Scotland" would be outraged but once "Scotland" voted we'd soon see about that. They might try and complain that the contest was in some way unfair because they hadn't had time to prepare but since they are already boasting how better they are prepared than us it's difficult to see that having much traction. They would protest they were placed at a financial disadvantage but again that would ring false from the lottery winning dead poet beneficiaries.
And anyway, these complaints could only be accompanied by assertions that they enjoyed popular endorsement against a background that the populus themselves would imminently be the judge of that.
So they'd be left with the option of encouraging a boycott and a suggestion that they'd take part in a vote, on the same question, two years later. Ha ha ha ha ha. Haud me back, Bravehearts.
And in the vote's aftermath? Here I readily admit a partisan motivation; the SNP would implode. There would be a realist faction who recognised the game was up but that there might be a continued role as a soft nationalist, centre right, Party; and there would be a fundy, neverendum group determined to hold monthly votes until they got the right result, or, better still, to dispense with voting at all. It's difficult to see either group having much of a long term appeal. Indeed, it's difficult to see how there would not need to be another Scottish election well before 2016. And again, the final difficult to see, from my perspective, is the downside to any of that.
And so to the title of my blog. 4th October 2012. The first Thursday of the month. That's when I suggest we have the vote.