Davie Cameron, the balloon faced Tory who enjoys the support of a single Scottish MP, has slapped down us little Scottish people who were labouring under the misapprehension that we lived in a democracy. He’s done this in various ways. He’s done it by giving us that nonentity striving for a purpose David Mundell, who in a normal universe would be a traffic warden, as Scotland’s voice in the cabinet. He’s done it by giving us a Scottish affairs committee in which Scottish MPs are outnumbers two to one by non-Scottish MPs. He’s done it by refusing to recognise that the outcome of the General Election superseded the pathetic inadequacy of the Smith Commission and was a clear demand from Scotland for the substantial devolution that Davie and his pals promised us last year. But now he’s also done it in another way.
This week Davie told Scotland that there’s going to be no second independence referendum for 30 years. So, that’s us telt then. Any time between now and 2044, it matters not a mundell if Scotland’s voters overwhelmingly elect parties in favour of another referendum, parties who pledge in their manifestos to introduce a bill in Holyrood bringing forward a new referendum. For Davie and the Tories, Scottish democracy is merely a serving suggestion. You may select tender Scottish sovereignty in a rich creamy sauce with the roasted potatoes of representation, but what you’re going to get is whatever mouldy instant noodles that Davie can dig out of the back of the cupboard where they keep the MI5 files on paedophile MPs.
But we shouldn’t be disheartened. Westminster consented to the last referendum because they were convinced that the pro-independence cause would be lucky to get 25% of the vote, and the Union would win by such a crushing majority that the topic would be off the table for ever. As we all know, that’s not what happened. Ha ha. The Union was saved by the skin of its teeth and only by making some very vague promises of sooper dooper extra powers for Scotland fronted by Saviour of the Union Gordie Broon. But the superpowers which Westminster never had any intention of delivering were always as imaginary as Gordie’s superstatesman powers. The only people who ever believed in them were the editor of the Daily Record and BBC Scotland news.
The failure of the superpowers to arrive is stoking up increasing resentment in Scotland, only a small minority believe the oft repeated claim that the Union has delivered. But let’s the honest here, this Union couldn’t even deliver a pig in a poke. If David Cameron promised us a pig in a poke we’d end up with a packet of bacon flavour crisps that had long since gone as soggy as David Mundell. Meanwhile the saviour of the Union was so saved by his saving that he’s now buggered off to the other side of the Atlantic as there wasn’t a rock big enough in Scotland for him to hide under.
The reason that the Unionists are so keen to rule out a second referendum is because they are not at all certain that they’re going to win it.
Westminster opposition to another independence referendum is likely to increase over time. The more likely it is that Scots are disposed to vote in favour of independence, the less likely it is that Westminster will willingly consent to a referendum taking place. For every percentage point that an independence majority increases over support for the Union, Project Fear 2.0 will ratchet up even more. We went into the last referendum campaign with a clear majority in favour of saying in the Union, we’ll go into the next with a clear majority in favour of independence. Expect dirty tricks, underhand dealings, machinations and panicked bribes.
The only proper time for us to have a second referendum is when the opinion polls show that there is a large, clear and consistent majority in favour of Scotland becoming independent. That’s the best time for another vote, the only time, a time when the referendum is effectively a formality and will merely be a rubber stamping of what everyone already knows – that a large majority of the Scottish population want independence. A second referendum should be the formalisation of what will by then already be the settled will of the Scottish people for independence.
We can’t afford to lose a second independence referendum, because then it really will be off the table for thirty years to come. But the time when there’s a large and consistent majority in the polls for independence is also going to be the time when Westminster is least disposed to consent to one, because they’ll know they’re going to lose. They’ll be more embarrassed than a woman who has realised that she’s got the same taste in bras as Lord Sewel. This exactly what has been happening in Catalonia, only without the bras.
In Catalonia there’s never been much doubt about the outcome of an independence referendum. Opinion polls have consistently shown a large majority in favour of Catalan independence, and consequently the Madrid government has been vehement in its refusal to consent to a referendum.
The time is still not right for a second referendum. Before that happens we need a clear strategy for a Scottish currency, a prospectus that neutralises the economic attacks of the last referendum campaign, and a means of ensuring that the terms of the debate are not set by the London-centric media but by the people of Scotland and a Scottish media which is representative of them. But what we must do in the next Holyrood election is to vote for those parties which unambiguously and clearly spell out in their manifestos that the right to hold a second referendum is in the gift of the Scottish people, not David Cameron.
We are sovereign in this land, not Westminster. Westminster is only our parliament because we currently consent to allow it to be, and we can withdraw that consent at any time we choose. That’s the political reality, and politics trumps any legalistic machinations. David Cameron isn’t going to tell me when I can have a say on the future of my country. What Scotland’s people decide is not a serving suggestion for Cameron to ignore at his pleasure.
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