There was a fascinating moment on the BBC news channel yesterday afternoon, when Professor John Curtice raised (with much more seriousness than most commentators have done thus far) the possibility that the Scottish Government might hold a consultative independence referendum without Westminster permission, and pointed out that Alex Salmond had proposed to do exactly that when he was first elected to minority government in 2007. The interviewer Huw Edwards noticeably shut him down very hurriedly and said "leaving that option aside, what do you think the SNP will do..?"
Without wanting to indulge any conspiracy theories, there did seem to be a determination from the BBC throughout yesterday to weave a narrative that Theresa May is Scotland's overlord, and if she says no, that's the end of the road. On Sarah Smith's propaganda video (I use that term advisedly) for the evening news programmes, we were shown pro-independence demonstrators bursting into tears upon hearing that Holyrood had voted to hold an independence referendum - tears of joy, we were told, that would very soon turn to "disappointment" when the individuals concerned got real and accepted that Theresa's No Means No. It didn't even seem to occur to Ms Smith that one reason the demonstrators were so happy may have been that they simply do not recognise the BBC narrative, and instead fully expect the Scottish Parliament to take all steps necessary to implement its own sovereign decision.
I've been trying to read the runes on what Nicola Sturgeon may be minded to do if she continues to be met by total instransigence from the most authoritarian Prime Minister since Mrs Thatcher. I do take seriously the assessment of Brian Taylor and others that it's "unlikely" she would sanction a referendum without a Section 30, or an early Holyrood election to seek an outright mandate for independence. That may very well be an accurate representation of her thinking at the moment...but then again I'm increasingly finding myself wondering whether her current thoughts are actually the most important thing. There are so many people caught in a Section 30 trance, and who chant like a mantra that an Edinburgh Agreement-style process is the only proper way of doing this, but when you ask them how that can even happen if Westminster keeps rejecting it, you generally draw a blank. It is surely inconceivable that any SNP leadership will accept for an indefinite period that London can just veto an exercise in Scottish self-determination, and so if Theresa May doesn't budge, simple logic will tell you that they'll eventually consider the other options, even if they themselves do not yet realise they will. It's a straightforward 'unstoppable force meets immovable object' scenario, and something has to give. The idea that we're all just going to obediently pack up and go home because London isn't in the mood for a referendum is, to use the favoured expression of a Downing Street source, "for the birds".
Don't forget that this is a moral issue and not just strategic. Many people voted No in 2014 in good faith, after being told that it was the only way of retaining their EU citizenship. An overwhelming majority of the Scottish public then voted to retain their EU citizenship last June. If we tacitly accept May's ability to veto a referendum, even just for a few years, that citizenship is going to be stripped away from those people for a prolonged spell, in blatant contravention of the immaculate double mandate in favour of EU membership that has been obtained. That is unacceptable, and I see no particular reason why we should accept it.
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Events have moved so fast that our vocabulary hasn't quite caught up with them, and it's high time we updated the way we characterise certain political parties. Scottish Labour, for example, should now quite properly be called an anti-European party - not in the sense of hating Germans or Italians, but in the more prosaic sense that they oppose our participation in European institutions. There is no Labour proposal to reverse Brexit, and of course they dogmatically reject the only option that could keep Scotland in the EU after Brexit occurs. They've gone all the way back to a position they last held in the 'longest suicide note in history' - their 1983 general election manifesto under Michael Foot. They are separatists. They want to build walls. They think that what divides us from our European neighbours (ie. devotion to Blighty at all costs) is more important than what unites us.
It's interesting to recall that, in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, some senior Scottish Labour figures did publicly ponder the idea of seeking a solution that might keep Scotland within the EU family in some form. In retrospect, they only seem to have done that because they were briefly terrified that they would be faced with opinion polls showing an irresistible tidal wave in favour of independence, and in favour of a second indyref. The fact that they ditched their pro-Europeanism as soon as they thought they might get away with it shows just how shallow their internationalist values have always been. Dugdale, Baillie and Hothersall - the New Brexiteers. It's been quite a revelation.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are no longer pro-Europeans, and are instead Euro-ambivalents. They nominally want to remain within the EU, but only under wildly implausible circumstances. If they don't get exactly the solution they want, it seems they will reluctantly accept Brexit, at least for the time being. That will put them in a very awkward position come the next indyref, and indeed the next Westminster and Holyrood elections.