Davie Cameron is in denial. Scotland is gradually slipping its moorings and sailing away from the UK iceberg, but all Davie is interested in is arguing with Boris Johnson about whether it’s better to privatise the ice and sell it off as a ski resort from within or outwith the EU. Of course it’s not really about Europe at all, the real issue here is which spoiled over-privileged public schoolboy gets to be the next Prime Minister, Davie’s ex-bestie Boris or his current bestie George. If ever you suspected that British politics was nothing more than a glorified school playground spat, there’s your proof right there.
Everything else is a bit of an irrelevance, and Scotland is more irrelevant than most. After all, we don’t do Tories here, so have little contribution to make to the Davie-Boris Euro ding dong, and that is the only show in town. Scotland will settle down, thinks Davie, the SNP will be too feart to call another referendum, and the Scots will settle for Scotland-Lite.
It’s not clear what Scotland-Lite is supposed to be. It’s certainly doesn’t sound like the nearest thing possible to federalism (copyright Gordon Brown), or the Home Rule that the No campaign was promising just before the independence referendum. Whatever Scotland-Lite is, it’s a long way from the full fat federalism that Gordie Broon was going on about, and it’s not remotely close to Home Rule or Devo Max.
Scotland-Lite sounds a bit like one of those pretendy alcohol free beers which give you all the disadvantages of an alcohol fueled night on the town but without the giggles. You have to spend a great deal of time and effort getting ready, but it’s ruinously expensive, you get ignored and humiliated by people who are supposed to serve you but who are too far up their own arses to care, you have a constant urge to pee but no relief, then you end up with a hangover, and a bitter taste in your mouth, you’ve failed dismally to pull and the experience didn’t even impart any pleasure or get you anywhere. All you’re left with are shattered expectations and broken dreams and the stale taste of regret. Which come to think of it is a pretty fair assessment of the devolution settlement that came out of the Scotland Bill. Actually it’s worse than that. At least with alcohol free beer you can drive yourself, but the Scotland Bill still relegates Scotland to the back of the bus.
Scotland has been left with a bad taste in its mouth thanks to the Scotland Bill. The British government is now on notice that another independence referendum is just a matter of time. Davie is still fondly hoping that’s it’s an if, it’s not. It’s a when. The next chance of an independence referendum will depend on the outcome of the EU referendum.
Davie Cameron is hoping that the UK will vote to remain a part of the EU, and it very well might even though opinion polls show that it’s too close to call in England. If the UK votes to leave but Scotland votes to remain, we have another independence referendum and Davie is out of a job anyway.
But he needs more than a narrow victory in the EU referendum to settle the question, because if there’s a tiny majority in England to leave but the UK as a whole votes to remain thanks to votes in Scotland, there’s going to be one almighty constitutional crisis. Where’s yer English votes for English laws noo eh? Davie needs England to vote decisively to remain a part of the EU or the question isn’t going to go away and the Tory party will tear itself apart even more than it’s doing at the moment. After all, the Scottish question hasn’t gone away even though the Unionists won the last referendum.
The reason the question has not gone away is because it’s not enough to win the vote, it’s how you win the vote that counts. If you win the vote by making promises that you’ve got no intention of fulfilling, or that you’re going to pretend to fulfil, or that you phrase in such a vague manner that you can interpret them in any way that suits you’ve only created a hostage to fortune. Because if you can interpret your promises in any way that suits you, so can the people you made the promises to. All that does is create a large constituency of pissed off people who feel cheated. Like Scotland. However it doesn’t seem that Westminster is capable of learning any lessons.
But the EU referendum won’t be the only opportunity for another independence referendum. All sorts of pitfalls lie in the path of the Westminster government. With the last Westminster General Election and the likely outcome of the Scottish elections next week, the Union is being put on notice. What these votes ought to tell the Unionist parties is that the people of Scotland expect them to fulfil OUR interpretations of their promises, not the self-serving interpretations that they believe best suit themselves. But there’s as much chance of that happening as there is of getting rat arsed on a bottle of Scotland-Lite alcohol free beer.
The renewal of Trident is looming on the far horizon. Scotland is going to get nuclear missiles imposed upon us despite the fact that the vast majority of our elected representatives are viscerally opposed. There’s the continuing drive to privatisation and the threats to the NHS and the education system in England which have knock-on effects in Scotland. And there’s the appalling prospect that we could have either Boris Johnson or George Osborne as the next Prime Minister.
With every step that Westminster takes, it treads on the hopes of Scotland, and it gets one pace further away from a Union that Scotland can be a contented part of. What the Unionist parties fail to realise is that this is happening because of their own actions, not because of anything that the people of Scotland or pro-independence parties are doing. The Union is being killed by Unionists. It’s being killed by the patronising denial of Davie Cameron who thinks that we’re not worth worrying about, and who believes that we’ll settle not even for second best, but for the pathetic and damaging Scotland-Lite that is going to give the Union one almighty hangover. It’s the Union that’s lite, and it’s floating away.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993
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