Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Bust?

What happens next kind of depends on how much Nicola Sturgeon personally is prepared to risk on the turn of a card.

Nobody in the leadership of the SNP thought Leave would win the EU Referendum. That's why they put such an eventuality in their 2016 Scottish Parliament Manifesto. It kept the zoomers happy that there might be an early second referendum in certain circumstance while the leadership could remain confident that this circumstance would never actually arise. To be fair to that leadership, David Cameron had made exactly the same miscalculation, with a different group of zoomers, almost precisely a year before. 

So the result was....a surprise. 

But it wasn't just the narrow result in the UK that was a surprise. It was also the result in Scotland. 

England Leave, Scotland Remain was meant to be a dream result for the SNP. Except it wasn't meant to be on the basis of an essentially split decision north of the border. 

Nobody, nobody in Scotland was meant to support a Leave vote. Not one of the gang of five did. Not Nicola, Ruth, Kez, Patrick or Willie. Sure there was Coburn but it wasn't just his politics which made him a joke figure. And then (very) latterly there was Tom Harris for the Leavers, but even he would hardly claim to carry in much of a personal vote.

Yet 38% of the Scottish electorate voted to leave. Not just on the North East Coast, where there has been long resentment of the Common Fisheries Policy,  but in parts of urban Scotland where it transpired people were not much more enthusiastic about uncontrolled immigration than their demographically similar counterparts in the North of England.

And that's without the narrative of the English always dictating to the rest being spoiled by the Welsh. The bastards

Politics turns on moments. And in one moment, on the morning of 24th June, Nicola made a fatal mistake. She forgot that 38%. And she didn't pause to think who they might be.

She kens noo.

For it is increasingly clear that they were substantially those who were no more keen on the European Union than they had been, thirty months before, on a different Union.

Yet by the time that slowly dawned, the die was cast. "Scotland" had voted to remain in the EU. So, zoom, that meant that everything was up for grabs. 

And of course Nicola found a willing audience for that. English Remainers prepared to indulge her assertions that the Union itself was at stake as a mark of their own frustration with a vote they felt had not been properly thought through. Even the occasional rag tag and bobtail European politician happy to suggest Les Anglais would need to pay a price for their lack of solidarite communitaire.

The problem was that this audience, true believers aside, wasn't in Scotland.

And it most certainly did not include Mrs Theresa May.

Yet by the time that became clear it was too late.

Since 24th June threats of a second Independence Referendum have become almost a weekly headline. There is no good way out of this now. 

The Prime Minister and her allies having essentially told the Nats to va te faire foutre ailleurs si tu veux, Nicola has suddenly had to have regard to the retort from her electorate "Don't look back, we'll be right behind you."

Yet what credibility would she now have if what follows something that has been "More likely", "Ever more likely" or finally "Even nearer" eventually turns out to be "Not anytime soon"?

The Nats are in a hole. They have no coherent offer: on currency; on the deficit: even, bizarrely, on the EU, to place before the electorate. 

At least in 2014 they had the semblance of one.

Yet they have threatened a a vote nonetheless in the spirit of the man who points a gun to his own head and threatens to pull the trigger. Over an issue on which a good one third of their own support wouldn't entirely mind them getting shot.

But what now is the alternative? That the Empress herself admits to having no clothes?

And this is where it comes down to a personal call. 

If there was another Referendum now, the Nats would almost certainly lose. But nothing is certain.

And yet if their isn't a referendum now?  Nicola Sturgeon personally could never threaten one with any credibility ever again.

So what does she value most? The post of First Minister or the "Cause of Scotland"?

Oddly, having not wished to be where she is, I don't rule out the latter. For the alternative can only be long years ahead defending the failure of Scottish public services while being gently patronised by her own hated British establishment. 

"First Minister! It's Boris on the line. How's the referendum thing going? Anyway, I've got a stag do in Glasgow next weekend. Any chance you could recommend a decent Curry House?"

As the poet has it, perhaps sometimes "One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name".

So I don't rule out an attempt at a second Referendum. After Trump, and Brexit, I don't even rule out an unanticipated result. 

But, let's be honest, it appears to be Nicola herself who is most upset that events seem to bringing that test "ever closer".







4 comments:

  1. Largely perceptive piece but if we're pointing out "The Nats are in a hole. They have no coherent offer: on currency; on the deficit: even, bizarrely, on the EU, to place before the electorate.

    At least in 2014 they had the semblance of one."

    Then surely it is remiss to omit the obvious fact that the No campaign also finds itself in a mess. The positive centre left case for the union, although much maligned by the Yes side, did actually have some credibility in 2014. Not any longer, certainly not for the foreseeable. The democratic deficit has never been wider and the basic argument for home rule never been clearer.

    If Labour pick up the slack of leading the campaign then no one will be listening as their credibility both North and now South of the border is shot and if the Tories take charge then that can only galvanise the Yes side...

    Much to ponder for both sides...

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    Replies
    1. Those on the No side then, who were wedded to the Union Flag, are much more embedded now.
      The 'persuadables' who are indifferent to either that flag or the Saltire, are likely further from Yes not only because of hindsight v White Paper claims, but because standing a case on democratic deficit whilst proposing the EU as a democratic institution offers far better representation, just doesn't wash.

      Delete
  2. Nobody move or the sheriff gets it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. ...then there's also the Edinburgh Agreement...

    Nicola agreed and signed on the dotted line.
    2014 was decisive.

    ReplyDelete