Many thanks to Sam for looking after the blog while I was away. Like the British political establishment, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks avoiding work and responsibilities. I went off to the USA to spend Christmas and the New Year with my husband in Connecticut and had a great time with my significant other. But I’m back now, and unlike the British political establishment I am no longer avoiding my work and responsibilities.
After spending the past two and a half years living in a fantasy world, the British government is proving extremely reluctant to wake up and smell the Brexit coffee. Or rather the boiled mud that will pass for coffee once imports cease after a no deal Brexit. But never fear. Theresa May’s government is making preparations for a no deal Brexit by throwing lots of public money at a ferry company with no ferries. Which is appropriate really, as the entire premise of Brexit is based upon the UK’s non-existent status as a great sea power. The Royal Navy has more admirals than it has ships. And the Conservative party has more MPs than it has functioning neurones.
Just today (Sunday) in the Observer/Guardian newspaper, there was a report that Westminster is swirling with rumours that the government is yet again considering postponing the already postponed vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. In an interview with the Marr Show, Theresa insisted that the vote would be going ahead as planned. But she said that the last time. She also said that there wouldn’t be a snap General Election just before she called one. There’s a clear pattern here, which is the only thing that’s clear about a Prime Minister who’s always saying that she’s being very clear.
The vote on the deal is expected to take place on the 14th or 15th of January. Debates on the deal are due to recommence this week. So far there is little sign that any significant changes have happened since the last time that the deal was postponed because it was obvious that it wasn’t going to get through the Commons. The DUP have rejected it, although to be fair Ulster Says No is their default position, and the hardline ideologues of Rule Britannia are just as opposed now as they were in December because they’re not going to accept anything that falls short of the opening credits to Dad’s Army.
Meanwhile, back in Scotland, this is going to be the year when the Scottish Government has to end its let’s wait and see policy about another indy ref. The chlorinated Brexit chickens are coming home to roost. Or at least they will be once they can clear the 20 mile long lorry queue for customs along the M20 motorway in Kent. It was sensible to delay a decision on another independence referendum while Brexit remains unresolved, but now that the apocalypse fiction section in the bookshop has been shifted to current affairs, pressure for a decision is growing.
There is increasing support for independence. We are closer now to independence than we have been at any point since the last indyref and many more people are now receptive of the idea than previously. Towards the end of 2018 opinion polls found that a clear majority in Scotland thinks independence would be better than Brexit, even a negotiated Brexit. If it’s a no deal Brexit, a large majority think that independence would be the better option.
When even Billy Independence Is All About Hating The English Connolly thinks that independence would be a better option than Brexit Britain, you can see why the diehards are worried. The Herald has been reduced to printing a photo of a graffiti of a swastika on an SNP poster to accompany a story about anti-semiticism in Scotland. Why bother with a considered defence of the UK when you can troll SNP supporters with some snide innuendo?
Pamela Nash of Scotland in Union has been reduced to pleading in the Scotsman for the SNP and the Scottish government to give up on the whole independence thing. She didn’t make a convincing case, but what she did do was to map out the arguments that opponents of independence are going to use next time around. Next time round there will be no Vow Mk2, because not even the misleadingly named Scotland In Union is daft enough to think that the Scottish electorate is going to believe any promises made to them by Westminster. There will be no more talk of the federalism fairy, no hints of extra powers for Holyrood that will later be gloatingly described by the Scottish Secretary of State as a trap for the SNP. There’s only going to be threats and scare stories, leavened with lies and false equivalences.
None of the defenders of the British unitary state have got any clue about how to ensure that Scotland’s views can be represented within the UK, nor indeed how there are any mechanisms within the UK constitution to protect Scotland from the English nationalism which created this entire sorry Brexit mess in the first place. They are just hoping that we haven’t noticed, and if we have noticed, then we just need to suck it up. That’s not a Union. Equating Scotland’s membership of the so-called Union of the UK with the UK’s membership of the EU is a false equivalence parallel to describing a nest of vampires as an NHS blood bank. It is however the best that they’ve got.
Their big argument is that Brexit shows that breaking up is hard to do. Which is true when you’re breaking up in pursuit of the fantasy status of a great power bestriding the globe and making favourable trade deals all on your tod. Breaking up successfully is indeed very hard to achieve when your defintion of success is to retain all the advantages of EU membership but none of the obligations.
Opponents of independence might have arguments as thin as the fantasy of a good Brexit to rely on, but indy supporters have serious work to do this year. This year the Great British avoidance strategies will stop working. The Red White and Blue distraction techniques run out of road. We need to be ready. 2019 is going to be the year of the breaking of Britain and the making of Scotland.
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