In the 2015 UK General election Scotland sent its strongest message to Westminster to respect the voices of the Scottish people. It was made undeniably clear from the Tories’ EU referendumb result and subsequent fallout that Westminster does not care to hear Scotland’s voices. Now Scotland’s First Minister has signaled that Scotland will be heard whether Westminster like it or not.
Scotland’s Parliament will vote on requesting a Section 30 order from Westminster next week. We can expect Project Fear 2.0 to commence immediately.
Not that there aren’t risks to calling the second IndyRef. Between now and the actual referendum a lot can change. I also consider it an error to peg IndyRef2 to Scotland’s membership of the EU. Scotland’s case for independence stands apart from the UK’s membership of the EU and I would expect those fighting for independence to be clear on that. The importance of EU membership and Scottish Independence is not whether Scotland is a member of the EU but that it should be the decision of the people of Scotland whether they are members and the current situation with the Tories’ ‘brexit’ is that it is an example of the fundamental breakdown of the Union. Scotland is not a ‘state’ of Great Britain, it is a country. The Union was tested by ‘brexit’ and it has failed, it no longer acts in the interests of all countries involved and Scotland should have the right to withdraw. The current countries of Great Britain can renegotiate their relationship.
It is likely Scotland will not get a third bite at independence in my life time (but never say never), and there are a number of things which can change in British politics that would convince converts to Yes to return a cautious No.
First and foremost, an early general election called for next spring that sees the Tories removed from government and replaced with a coalition Labour/SNP/Other government, led by Jeremy Corbyn would usher in the promise of change that there is no current hope of.
Ironically, it is the fear campaign fought against Corbyn that aids beautifully the fight for independence. Within Labour, the message being circulated by those who wish to usurp the current leadership keeps telling us that we face twenty years of Tory governments. That message does not stop at the English/Westminster Labour Party border, the people of Scotland hear it too. I’m sure the SNP are grateful for it. Scottish Labour’s leader, Dugdale, has already come out with an announcement that she will oppose Scotland even having a referendum. I would hope that we will see Labour’s MSPs voting, firstly, for the referendum and, secondly, voting ‘no confidence’ in Dugdale. Scottish Labour needed a proper reboot after 2015, sadly it got Dugdale as leader and has floundered. You have to suspect that the only thing that has kept Dugdale in the job this long is her affiliation with the anti-Corbyn camp.
It isn’t that Corbyn holds some magic political beans that solve Britain’s corrupted politics. Those who are looking for a messiah in their political leaders need to grow up and face the reality of 21st Century politics. Thatcher was no shining knight, neither was Blair or Cameron (certainly not Cameron; would he have ever become Prime Minister if it hadn’t been for the foolishness of Nick Clegg’s LibDems carrying Cameron into Downing Street on their shoulders in 2010? Would Cameron have survived as opposition leader 2010-2015? I suspect not, he didn’t even survive a year as Prime Minister once he took the reins proper in 2015).
People who expect ‘leaders’ to wave a magic wand … people who even think there’s a magic wand to wave, have been reading too much Harry Potter. Corbyn is representative of a leadership that is breaking away from the ‘pragmatisms’ that have plagued Britain since Thatcher. Greed is good and if you want to be in government then you had better service the interests of the greedy. That is the fight currently being waged within Labour, with those representing the interests of the greedy trying to wrest control of the party. If Corbyn goes then Labour stops offering an alternative, no matter what shiny face beams out at you from the TV. I’m sure Dugdale has been proposed as a possible Westminster leader. It doesn’t bare thinking about.
So let’s presume that those attempting to seize control of Labour are successful and Britain does have a spring general election. Labour will not gain back any seats in Scotland, in fact they could lose their remaining seat. Could Labour win a majority or still win enough seats in the rest of the UK to form a coalition government? Yes. Without radical political reform, will a Labour victory impress Scottish independence voters? No. We were at that rodeo with Miliband and we got EVEL for our troubles. Scotland can take it that Labour without Corbyn at the helm is a leadership returned to Labour of old. That will not encourage Yes waverers to vote against what their head tells them.
I can’t think of another credible reason that would give Yes voters any reason to doubt they were making the correct decision by cutting Scotland’s ties to Westminster politics. If we swapped IndyRef and the 2015 general election, Yes would have romped home. It didn’t even take a year of a Tory majority government for the cloud of sleaze and corruption to descend to engulf British politics. For IndyRef Project Fear could work from a position of the unknown, people now know exactly what they have to fear from Tory Westminster politics (whether they be Conservative or ‘New’ Labour).
Come autumn 2018, the UK will either have a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, in a majority or in a coalition, or it will be heading for the break-up of the UK. Personally, it shouldn’t matter who is in government in Westminster, there will always be a risk of Tory government and they will never act in the interests of the people of this country, let alone the Union. Britain needs to re-imagine itself for the future and that includes auld alliances and unions.