"Plenty of vitriol directed at @joycemcm and @AndrewWilson for suggesting not rushing into #indyref2. @NicolaSturgeon will get same - called a Unionist/Britnat/traitor from the Wings/Kelly/Murray/Bell/fundamentalist wing of Yes - if she doesn't call #indyref2 in the next six weeks."
It isn't the main point of this blogpost, but it is just worth pausing for a moment and marvelling at the sheer comical absurdity of Kevin's attempt to lump together as "fundamentalists" four people who hold such wildly different views. Just for starters, Craig Murray will not be remotely bothered if Nicola Sturgeon doesn't call a referendum within the next six weeks, because as I understand it he doesn't even want a referendum - he favours an alternative method of attaining independence. Indeed, I'd have thought one of the basic requirements for anyone to qualify as a "fundamentalist" would be support for UDI, and only two of the four names mentioned (Craig and Peter Bell) have gone down that road. For my part, I don't think Westminster can ever hold a veto on Scottish self-determination, so I suppose it's true that if absolutely every other option was exhausted (ie. if there was a clear mandate for independence that was completely ignored), I might eventually start thinking the unthinkable, but we're a long, long way from that point yet.
At least three of the four of us have an impeccable track record of supporting Nicola Sturgeon when she announced a delay in the indyref timetable in the summer of 2017, whereas Kevin can't even boast a track record of backing Nicola Sturgeon in the 2016 Holyrood list vote. So it's something of a mystery as to where Kevin is getting the idea that we're going to start behaving totally out of character by branding her a "traitor" if she doesn't take a certain course of action within a six-week timetable that I'm not aware any of us have even mentioned. And to the best of my knowledge none of us are in the habit of throwing around nasty insults like "traitor" anyway - I'm certainly not, and I know that Stuart Campbell has a setting on the comments section of Wings that automatically intercepts any attempt to use the word "traitor" and changes it to "tractor".
(Not that I'd want to embarrass Kevin, but if you want to know the rather amusing real reason why he's so eager to smear me as a "fundamentalist", just click HERE and HERE.)
Anyway, my initial response to Kevin's tweet was to point out to him that he appears not to have caught up with the growing and impressive ideological diversity of the "fundamentalist wing of Yes", because it seemed that his fellow traveller Robin McAlpine was considerably more impatient for a referendum than the likes of me. I now realise that I did Robin a disservice, though, because his latest CommonSpace article makes clear that the action he is impatient for is a renewed independence campaign, and that he partly agrees with Joyce McMillan that it would be "immature" to call for a referendum until that campaign has succeeded in growing support for independence to the point where the London government cannot possibly deny a request for a referendum.
I don't doubt Robin's sincerity, but I have to say what he's suggesting is strategically naive, and is frankly a recipe for Scotland never holding a referendum and never becoming independent. There are two questions to consider - a) would the Tories magically drop their opposition to a Section 30 order if Yes were on 55% rather than 47%, and b) is there any possibility whatsoever that a campaign without the focus of a referendum or election date could gain enough traction to get Yes to that level of support? The answer to both questions is self-evidently "no". The reason the Tories don't want to grant a Section 30 order is because they don't want Scotland to become an independent country - an increased Yes vote in the polls would just make them even more intransigent. (Look at the current situation with Brexit: has majority support for Remain in the polls led to the Tory leadership dropping its opposition to a second EU referendum? Er, no. Of course it hasn't.) And as for the limitations of any non-referendum campaign for independence, you only have to look at the relatively minor effect of the emotional shock of the surprise referendum outcome in June 2016. There were a couple of polls in the aftermath of the Brexit decision that had Yes in the low 50s, and then normal service was quickly resumed. If Robin thinks that any random, unfocused independence campaign, one that the mainstream media can easily and happily ignore, can somehow surpass the impact of Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will, all I can say is that's wildly optimistic.
There is, however, one hard-headed, mature and realistic way of potentially bringing about a big and fast change to public opinion, and that is to actually call a referendum (or an election that doubles as a referendum). We've seen it time and again now - voters are open to changing their views in the heat of a referendum/election campaign, when their minds are focused on a real and impending choice. They are considerably less open to changing their views at any other time, when they may rather resent even being asked to think about the subject in any depth.
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