Michael Gove says there’ll be no indyref2 in this UK parliament. He’s right. Perhaps not morally, but in practical terms. And the SNP leadership will be relieved.
Sturgeon’s team won’t sound happy. They’ll kick and cry and let it be known this is an outrage.
This will signal to the movement that they are not being taken for suckers.
Scotland will be content in its standard sense of having a grudge and eating it. The SNP gravy train will roll on.
If this assessment seems strange, then let me illustrate the point.
Before the last election I wrote that the SNP had not advanced its position on EU membership. What to do with hard borders and different currency zones?
It’s a matter the party leadership may not like to discuss, but an unavoidable consequence of indy, and we’d better be prepared.
Then minister for constitutional affairs Michael Russell didn’t like the suggestion there was a gaping policy hole and let this paper be aware that I was wrong.
He told us there would be no hard border, and that no referendum on joining the EU would be needed.
The SNP leadership trashing me is nothing new, I’m just an indy supporter who doesn’t trust them, so down with Bell.
The paper duly reported Russell’s rebuttal. What else are respectable news outlets to do if not take government ministers at their word.
If we thought they were just making stuff up so indy sounds easy, well that would make a mockery of our national debate.
Sturgeon tells a different story
However, during the election campaign Nicola Sturgeon changed the party’s policy, saying the border issue was real. She told the BBC: “I am not denying what the EU regulations say.
“I am not denying because of the absurdity of Brexit that all sorts of issues are raised for Scotland completely against our democratic will.”
So Russell had been wrong.
You might think this would chasten the now retired politician, but you would be wrong.
Salmond right, whatever his motives
Alex Salmond speculated some days ago that the heat had gone out of the indy debate and the Scottish Government was at fault.
This was motivated by his own desire to be seen as the last keeper of the holy flame for freedom.
That aside, he’s quite right.
There are two-day-old cups of tea with more heat than the indy debate. The Scottish Government has all the urgency of a PPE supplier last March.
Sensing Salmond’s words couldn’t go unchecked, Sturgeon’s team thought they needed a media announcement that would hint at action.
Surely a new new indy campaign chief would do the trick.
After all, the last one, the clever and able Marco Biaggi, had just quit saying it was the worst job ever.
So the world was told that the new chief would be… Michael Russell. And so the rotation of a small group of loyalists continues – endlessly going round, never arriving.
Like a car salesman with a fleet of old diesels, they are all about the marketing, nothing about the product
Gove isn’t gambling. He isn’t flying a kite to see the reaction. He’s just reading the political signs and calling a shot. There will be no indyref2 anytime soon.
It’s not that the SNP leadership can’t do anything about this, just that they won’t.
When they should be methodically working through the implications of indy, they are instead cooking up lines for TV interviews.
Like a car salesman with a fleet of old diesels, they are all about the marketing, nothing about the product.
Indyref2 votes for England a non-starter
To illustrate this, let’s take another story in the news.
Sunday papers were briefed about UK cabinet members wanting the electorate for indyref2 to include Scots who live in England.
This was just a bit of mischief. Part of the rhetorical wars. No cabinet member was named, no method described for how this would be done.
Nonetheless, the Scottish Government was provoked and Sturgeon said she wouldn’t stand for the UK Government trying to “rig the rules”.
I see the anti independence campaign is trying to rig the rules of #indyref2 again (tho in doing so they also concede that it’s going to happen).
Maybe they should just argue their case on its merits and allow everyone who lives in Scotland to decide #democracy https://t.co/Ymdu3yztY9
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) June 21, 2021
There will be no electoral pick-and-mix for Nicola. However, when asked in the election campaign about the need for a separate referendum for an independent Scotland to join the EU, she said none would be needed “because it (Scotland’s pro Europeanism) has changed since the Brexit referendum”.
Basic fairness, the legitimacy of the democratic process and electoral law will require a referendum.
To the SNP leadership, that sounds like an obstacle to the sell.
Two referendums, explicitly casting doubt on assurances about rejoining the EU? Too complex, too fiddly. So for the convenience of the message, Sturgeon asserts she will rig the rules when it suits her.
They’d prefer there was no referendum. Better the promise of hope, than being forced to keep your promises
The paradox is that the great benefit of independence lies in its opportunity to be imaginative.
There will be no cash bonanza, and the state will be a little bit smaller, but within the revolutionary moment of change, we might take responsibility for our faults and fix them with new ideas.
Unfortunately Sturgeon’s team lack that creativity, and energy.
Unwilling to tell the truth about indy, they’d prefer there was no referendum. Better the promise of hope, than being forced to keep your promises.
Ironically, what the SNP need is a clever, creative politician – a bit like that Scot in England, Michael Gove.