It's testament to the fact that the 2014 independence referendum was a very, very long time ago, and not last week (as unionists would like us to believe), that when the media suddenly dredged up Stephen Noon's name a few days ago, I temporarily couldn't recall who he is, even though we used to talk about him on an almost daily basis. The story was, of course, highly disingenuous on a number of counts. If Mr Noon thinks independence supporters should, in the year 2022, essentially abandon their goal in return for some halfway-house compromise with unionism that would keep Scotland within the United Kingdom, then logically he should have thought exactly the same thing in 2014. But he didn't. A change has indeed occurred, but that change has been in the belief system of one man. It's not a change in the strength of the case for independence - but of course you'd never know that from the media's reporting of his comments.
In fairness to Mr Noon, he was at pains to point out that the compromise he was calling for would pose just as great a challenge for unionists like Anas Sarwar as it would for Nicola Sturgeon. But, again, that point was somehow evaded by the media reporting, which instead ludicrously implied that a compromise was somehow there waiting for Ms Sturgeon if she would only 'see reason'.
I do have a few criticisms of Mr Noon himself, though. If there is quite simply no negotiating partner available, it's arguably a form of intellectual dishonesty to criticise a political leader for not seeking a compromise. The Tories and Labour are currently both doubling down on hardline, no surrender unionism and there appears to be very little recognition of the reality of that situation in Mr Noon's comments. I'm also troubled by his remarks about Quebec, which seem to suggest that if you encounter irrational anger and/or hatred towards people who legitimately seek democratic self-determination for their nation, your instinct should be to 'empathise' with that anger and hatred, and seek to compromise with it. No. What you do is point out to people that their proprietorial arrogance is unsustainable and urge them to reacquaint themselves with the basics of democracy.
It may surprise you to learn that as a matter of principle I don't actually disagree with Mr Noon's belief that a grand compromise in Scotland would be desirable. Imagine if we were offered genuine Devo Max, meaning the devolution of everything apart from foreign affairs and defence, in return for accepting there would be no further constitutional change for a prolonged period - say ten or fifteen years. Such a package would clearly be inferior to full independence, because we would still be lumbered with Trident and we could still be dragged into London's illegal wars. But on a "bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" basis, it would make tactical sense to accept the offer. After ten or fifteen years of this country governing itself, we'd be pushing at an open door in suggesting to the electorate that we should control our own foreign and defence policy too.
But that offer of compromise does not and will not exist, so there's no point wasting a moment even thinking about it. Full independence is the only game in town, so let's get on with winning it.
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