Yesterday morning, at about ten to twelve, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, fired the starting pistol on the race to a second referendum on Scottish Independence. In truth, everyone in Scotland knew this was coming, and if there were those who did not, the announcement that the First Minister would be giving a major press conference in the run-up to the UK Government triggering article 50 would have been a major clue. Regardless of this, however, there was certainly some shock factor.
In the Yes Camp, supporters jumped into the air, finally able to start dusting off their old campaign gear, put stickers in the window and wonder – when exactly will it be? In the No Camp, the faux surprise of “wasn’t this once in a generation” is being pedalled out in typical broken record fashion. In a way, whilst expecting this to come, nobody was quite prepared for it actually happening. But now it is happening and there is a lot of work to be done indeed!
The Yes supporters have sprung into action, relishing the chance to set about it once more and already a campaign fund has raised tens of thousands of pounds to champion the cause for independence. With all the enthusiasm, though, it is easy to forget what exactly lies ahead and that is a campaign far grittier and far shorter than the previous one. By the first referendum, Scotland had been preparing for pretty much seven years and the atmosphere was one of optimism. In this case, the referendum could be upon us in as little as eighteen months and the atmosphere this time is one of a much more serious choice.
With Brexit looming, the political future of Britain has never been so uncertain – this hard Brexit will see the UK (including Scotland) wrenched away from the EU, dragged screaming out of the single market and will have EU nationals living in the UK fearing for their own futures. All this is despite the Scottish population voting overwhelmingly to remain within the Europe. So, for all those of you booing that “we voted ‘No’!” and that it was meant to be “once in a generation”, this is a totally different ball game – not least because we were told the only way to protect Scotland’s place in the EU was to vote “No”.
The road ahead for the UK is one substantially different than the one we were on in 2014; there are more potholes, bumps and obstacles to navigate and the passengers are becoming increasingly agitated that nobody up front seems to know where we are going. The UK government has taken so long to come up with its plan for Brexit, giving us little other than Brexit means Brexit for so long, and has now decided to simply cut all ties and sail off into the North Sea. Not to mention the House of Commons and the House of Lords have spent so long rejecting each others proposals that we’re not entirely sure what Brexit will actually look like, other than sudden and poorly thought through. Oh, and Empire 2.0, yes! The Foreign Office seems to think that outside of the EU we can just scrape the Empire back together and once more Britannia will rule the waves!
But rest assured, Mrs. May is on the case as politics is not a game! That’s right, from the Government that brought you the Brexit Omnishambles, Empire 2.0 and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Boris Johnson, the news that politics is not a game and that we Scots should just let the grownups handle it.
If any of you were of the opinion, then that Westminster had learned its lesson from last time, then fret ye not, as they have done no such thing. Scotland is still too wee, too poor and much too stupid to make its own decisions. Most notably we shouldn’t be allowed to call referenda that the government deems divisive; and Mrs.May’s government is certainly an expert field when it comes to divisive referenda.
In essence, ever since the EU referendum, the Scottish people have been told to sit down and eat their porridge, mummy and daddy will handle things.
Scotland has tried hard to be mature about things in the face of all the fannying around too, searching for a solution that would allow Scotland to remain within the single market while the rest of the UK withdrew completely. Following the referendum, the Scottish Parliament voted to open Scotland’s first independent diplomatic mission in three hundred years, starting a dialogue with the EU regarding Scotland’s future in it. Scotland has been in talks with the EU and the rest of the UK offering solutions, ideas and compromise from day one in order to reach some kind of deal. Meanwhile the UK Government has stuck its fingers in its ears and run around the room shouting “la, la, la!” It’s no wonder the Scottish people are so fed up!
So, the inevitable happens, the Scottish First Minister sets out her plan to seek Section 30 approval, to give the Scottish Parliament the power to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence. Suddenly, Scotland is the one playing a political game. Nevermind that Westminster kept changing the rules, moving the goal post and ignoring whenever the Scots wanted to come up with a reasonable idea. Nevermind that the democratic will of the Scottish people was thrown out the window after the EU vote… Nope, Scotland is the one playing political games by deciding it wants to decide its own future. Don’t do that Scotland, that’s for the adults to decide, away and play with your bagpipes.
Even in setting out the plans for a referendum the First Minister has shown the maturity that May cannot, accepting that the political atmosphere has changed, that we need to be upfront about the challenges that would be facing us.
The First Minister is right, we need to accept that the future is not going to be all rosy, that there is a difficult choice ahead and that we owe it to the people of Scotland to be upfront. But we also need to reinforce the opportunities that are up for grabs – EU Membership, control of our own finances and natural resources, control of our own health, education, energy, trade agendas and so on.
Any Mrs. May is right as well. Politics is not a game and it’s time for Scotland to show the rest of the UK how it’s done; maturely, calmly and efficiently.
So let this referendum roll on, let’s put Scotland’s future back into Scotland’s hands!