Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Is Jeremy Corbyn unwittingly saving us from ourselves by frustrating the push for a "People's Vote"?

Quite a few people have been wondering aloud whether Labour are holding off from a proper no confidence motion because they don't want to be in power at the moment Britain leaves the EU, and end up taking the blame for the ensuing chaos.  I must say I don't buy that.  If a genuine window of opportunity opened up where it looked like the arithmetic was there to defeat the government, I suspect the Labour leadership would take the risk of being tarred with the Brexit brush, because they'd know there might not be another chance to bring about a general election for up to three years, by which time the Conservatives might be back in a commanding position and the Corbyn moment might have passed.

The much more plausible explanation for the delay, fudge and inaction is internal Labour politics.  They now have a tortuous compromise policy which states that they will first try to bring about a general election and only then consider the option of a so-called "People's Vote".  So if we assume Corbyn himself doesn't want a referendum, there's every incentive for him to run down the clock and avoid getting to the point where he can be said to have failed to secure a general election.  Frankly, I think he may be doing us a favour, because for the life of me I don't see how it will do anything but harm the cause of independence if the SNP get what they say they want, and Britain as a whole stays in the EU after a second UK-wide referendum.  The Liberal Democrats are already making the case that "people are now seeing what major constitutional upheavals look like, and they don't want any more, thank you".  That line is unlikely to gain much traction for the moment, because people are actually looking for radical solutions to the current crisis, and independence is one obvious solution.  But if Britain unexpectedly stays in the EU, middle-of-the-road Remainers in Scotland will look back on the events of the last two or three years as a bad dream, and think to themselves "never again".  I know it may sound insanely unjust, but the independence cause will suffer tremendously because of the incompetent failure of British nationalists to negotiate an orderly exit from the EU.

I have a degree of sympathy with Craig Murray's view that the SNP should respect the democratic decision of England and Wales to leave the EU, and use that respect as a shining example to others of how to respect Scotland's decisive choice to remain in the EU.  That actually was the SNP's position in the aftermath of the EU referendum - indeed I can remember them saying that England and Wales "must" leave the EU in line with the wishes of voters.  I have no problem with them making a tactical switch to supporting a UK-wide referendum if they've calculated that it will never happen anyway and if they think they will win brownie points with Remain voters for at least trying their hardest to avoid Brexit for the whole UK.  But it's hard not to get the impression that it's gone way beyond that now, and that the SNP leadership really do want the People's Vote to happen.  If so, it's puzzling.

It was suggested to me by several different people in 2015 and early 2016 that, contrary to the assumption of cynical unionist commentators, the SNP were honestly hoping for a Remain vote.  That wasn't because they wanted to put off holding a second indyref until the fabled "generation" had passed by, but they did want to wait until the 2021-26 parliament, when they calculated they would have the best chance.  I do wonder if some senior SNP people would quite like a UK-wide Remain vote to take us back to that Plan A, and to be fair they have People's Vote diehards constantly whispering in their ears, trying to convince them that Scotland will have a better chance of becoming independent if England and Wales never leave the EU (averting a hard border and so on).  But the reality is that the current chaos is changing the calculation utterly, and from here on in it may be impossible to convince people to choose independence for any other reason than as a solution to Brexit.  I'll be expanding on that point in my column for the next issue of iScot magazine.

There's also the wider point that by becoming so wildly enthusiastic about a People's Vote, the SNP are unavoidably associating with people who are deploying arguments that should be deeply uncomfortable for anyone who believes in democratic self-determination.  It's being said, for example, that the Leave vote in 2016 doesn't have to be respected because it was a "stupid" decision that will cause harm to the people who made it - in other words, the elite knows better than the voters.  It's not hard to imagine a similar case being made in the wake of a Yes vote in Scotland.  It's also being said that the outcome in 2016 was somehow illegitimate because a majority of the registered electorate didn't vote Leave.  That's effectively an argument that no major constitutional change can happen without a 1979-style supermajority, which is very, very dangerous territory for the SNP to get into.

OK, I'll admit there's a flipside to the coin - we have Jacob Rees-Mogg, Liam Fox and apparently some unnamed Tory MSP saying that a second EU referendum within three years would set a precedent for Scotland.  And it's true that it would make it harder for Westminster to justify refusing to grant a Section 30 order, although it's fairly likely they would still refuse.  I'm not convinced that a little discomfort in Whitehall will make up for all the immense disadvantages of another UK-wide referendum.

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17 comments:

  1. Jeremy Corbyn is first of all a socialist and has always been against the EU and EEC as any self respecting socialist should. However he has been seen to associate himself whether true or not with various onerous groups and that will make him unelectable. If he deliberately does not go for a GE then that means he is getting nearer the grave.

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  2. For me the reason for wanting a peoples vote is time. As mentioned today in the Westminster debate before the 2014 ref the Scot Gov released a 800 page white paper. Do they have one ready and waiting for a second ref if it happens in the short term? People more than every now are not going to make a choice based on spin and promises, they will want cold hard facts presented to them.

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    1. The last thing we need is more delay for the sake of delay. We've been kicking the can down the road for eighteen months, this can't go on forever.

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  3. Hard facts. Scotland would not spend it's tax income on weapons of mass destruction, fighting in American organised wars, paying for all English infrastructure deemed of benifit to Scotland, Westminster parliaments builbings repairs, cross London rail, HS2 rail,and many other works.

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    1. Scotland should expand its own transport infrasture at Scottish taxpayer expense. Scotland is backward in transport and allows private companies and the EU to dictate. The Tartan Tories need London type legislation on transport and set the agenda.

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  4. If we end up with no exit deal and just crash out, it demonstrates that the UK government is incapable of striking trade deals at all. It's not even managed to agree how to get out of a trade deal that it want's to leave, never mind stike a new one; something that normally takes years of intense negotiations + votes in parliament.

    UK's fked. Utterly fked.

    People need to understand that there is no master plan. No aces waiting up sleeves. No clever solution being prepared. No way out of this bar a lifeboat. Even then we're going to get badly burnt. 2014 was the only real way of bailing out well before the cliff edge.

    The UK is sinking. We have reached the final stage of the empire cycle where the whole thing has collapsed right to the home shores. All that remains to finally fall is the stinking corrupt political core which cannot help but bring about its own demise through rampant self interest.

    It's not as if the same thing has not happened countless times through history, which always repeats itself.

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  5. I imagine the SNP want the ENP to push for the matter of a people's vote to be EVEL only.

    After all, if Scotland and N. Ireland vote in #EUref2, they could well tip it to remain this time even if England votes Yes.

    Of course making it EVEL would exclude the change of the SNP even helping it to happen.

    England can't keep the last traces of the empire (for a little while longer) and have brexit. There is no having this cake and eating it. The ENP are starting to appreciate this and anything the SNP can do to totally fuck them off is key to Scottish indy. If the SNP can succeed in stopping brexit somehow, the ENP will seek to kick Scotland out. N. Ireland too.

    That, I'm increasingly sure of, is how this is going to end.

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  6. You are a knob skier. The British Empire ended post WW2. New corrupt Empires are being built like the EU and you are on board with this.

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  7. If Mum gets me the Derek Hazlehurst DVDs I said I d cook the turkey. Stupid bitch agreed. Yahoo!!!
    Derekazkehurst!!!!!!?

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  8. Well one reason why it would be good to have E&W in the EU is because and iScotland with them out is a bit of headache. Also, the spurious "but-England-is-the-far-more-important-market-to-Scotland-the-EU-and-we-would-be-cutting-ourselves-off" argument would gain more traction in the event of a Brexit, and the harder the more. With E&W still in the EU, this argument wouldn't really stick, as we now know that the EU would make a reasonable effort to keep an iScotland as a part of the trading block.
    Also a non-EU E&W is likely to be even madder than it is today (shudder).

    So Sturgeon is essentially standing up for the interests of Scotland, which is essentially not only working towards independence, but working towards independence with reasonably sane neighbours. This would help everyone and also put us in a stronger position as an IndyRef2 campaign wears on.

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    1. So you want the EU to run Scotland. You Nat sis are a strange phenomenon you hate the English so much you want others to run Scotland but not the Scots.

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    2. The English I know are fine. That’s where I grew up.
      It’s the British (wherever they come from or live in the world) who can behave like complete dicks.

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    3. Derek Hazlehurst is British. He's the best! Yahoo!!!! DVDs.

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