Tuesday, January 23, 2018

An independence referendum in 2019 or 2020 is looking increasingly likely

Somebody with more patience than I have will doubtless work their way line-by-line through Gerry Hassan's latest update of 'The Article'.  There are the familiar highlights - the claims that Nicola Sturgeon was "out-manoeuvred by Theresa May" during the spring of 2017 (presumably by the tactical brilliance of May calling an unnecessary election and throwing her majority away) and that the SNP are too "proprietorial" about the indy cause and don't give enough space to "independent initiatives" such as Common Weal and RISE.  (It's an abuse of the language to call RISE an "initiative" - it was/is a fully-fledged political party set up with the intention of taking list votes from the SNP and possibly depriving them of an overall majority at Holyrood.)

What really made my jaw drop to the floor, though, was this passage -

"It is understandable that Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t taken a future indy referendum officially off the table. Not only does it work as a discipline on SNP and indy supporters; critically it acts as a hypothetical big stick towards the UK Government in relation to Brexit. Yet, what the SNP leadership has failed to point out is that there is next to no chance of an indy referendum in 2019 or indeed before 2021 (and before the next Scottish elections)."

There is of course a very good reason why the SNP leadership have "failed to point that out" - ie. it isn't actually true.  It's the polar opposite of the truth.  I have no doubt that there are people in the SNP, including at quite a senior level, who wish that the whole idea of a second indyref before 2021 would just go away so that they can get on with other things.  But all of the mood music suggests that those people have lost the internal argument and that Nicola Sturgeon is serious about the option of a referendum in 2019 or 2020.  That doesn't necessarily mean it will happen - she's made clear that continued single market membership is her main red line, so if that improbable outcome emerges from the negotiations, an indyref will presumably be off the table until after 2021.  But the fact that the party leadership have made no effort whatever to downplay expectations that an indyref will be called if Scotland is dragged out of the single market is highly significant.  The idea that this is just empty talk intended to function as a "discipline" and a "big stick" just doesn't stack up - they would have been far, far cagier with their language if they were secretly gearing themselves up for a massive climbdown this autumn, because they know full well what the consequences for SNP internal unity would be if members feel they have been led up the garden path.  If anything, the statements have only been getting bolder in recent weeks.

Now, it's true that the mainstream media (especially in London but also in Scotland) have been paying precious little attention to the SNP's public comments about an indyref, and will probably be completely stunned if and when the starting-gun is fired.  But on the balance of probability, that is what appears set to happen.

Monday, January 22, 2018

'I don't know what a sense of Britishness is anymore'

Sorry that blogging has been light recently - I've been a bit under the weather and rushed off my feet, which is never a great combination. Here are a couple of things to tide you over, though - firstly, my new article on the TalkRadio website, entitled 'Time to wake up to the false realities of Jeremy Corbyn and Ruth Davidson'. You can read it HERE.

And secondly, here's the latest in the Journey to Yes series from PhantomPower, featuring a couple who decided to move to Scotland from the north-east of England as a result of the Brexit vote.