If you listen closely, you can already hear the angry fusillade hurled over the ‘’Yes’’ camp: ‘’but you said once in a generation!’’. Quickly, man the walls, bar the gates: seers and prophets the world over hide your faces and weep! For something unspeakable has just happened for which there exists no precedent: a politician has lied.
Yes, the truth shouldn’t be some malleable thing that can be warped according to the needs of its adherents; yes Alex Salmond is a savvy operator who walks the line between unabashed sleaze and well-oiled machine; yes Nicola Sturgeon is opportunistic and even conniving. Still, it’s not all bad: Salmond’s smug face is probably the closest we’ll ever get to seeing what a stoned penguin might look like. Actually, that’s only good news if you share my desire for weed-addled nature documentaries…..
The point is that politics is a nasty business: it’s why Disraeli referred to his ascent to the post of Prime Minister as a ‘’greasy pole’’; it’s also why Michael Gove and Boris Johnston no longer sport tattoos of one another on their respective chests or play croquet together. Politics makes enemies of friends and liars of honest men and women.
The silver lining is that ‘’No’’ voters have surreptitious affection for the SNP: why else would they hold them to a standard well beyond that of other political parties? Being lied to always hurts more when it comes from people you admire. I picture secret basements bloated with quilted blankets and throws embroidered with Salmond gazing off into a misty horizon. I always thought the burning of a Salmond effigy the last time around was evidence of hatred for the man, but I’m starting to convince myself it was really a pagan blood-rite to fend off bad weather or something.
I suspect that beneath the faux-moral outrage of No voters lies more than a little concern. After all, if you’re confident in your position, why would a second referendum bother you so much? This isn’t the challenge of a triumphalist ”Yes” voter, by the way: polls are looking good for the ‘’No’’ camp. Apart from that, though, imagine the exquisite delight bestowed upon you when Scottish independence is rejected a second time over? Yeah, were I a unionist I’d be rubbing my fingers and licking my lips at the prospect of ‘’Indy2’’.
Voting No was supposed to ensure our continued membership of the EU: thanks to David Cameron- who, with all the tact of ass-less chaps at a Victorian-themed stag-do managed to sabotage his legacy and the UK’s future at the same time- this is likely to no longer be the case. If the deal you’re offered turns out to be a phoney one, you should be allowed to rescind it.
Is this a bad faith argument? To an extent, yes: Sturgeon has done just enough to make it look like she’s put in the effort to keep us in the EU, but not quite enough to ensure that her efforts pay dividends. From a strategic perspective, having EU membership as an extra bargaining chip is a powerful incentive to vote yes, at least in theory.
Speaking of theories, here’s a wacky one for you: if you have a resounding dislike for the Sturgeon/ Salmond duo, then a second referendum is probably the quickest way to get rid of them. Unlikely they’d survive a second defeat, more likely they’d elope to some isolated space station and declare a sovereign state or master lucid dreaming and conjure a world where Scotland voted yes the first time around: sprogs would pop out with kilts on and their first word would invariably be ‘’freedommmmmm!!!’’
The price of oil has fallen dramatically, too, which, apart from meaning we’re probably going to invade someone soon, is not great for the SNP, let’s face it. They can brush it off all they want; talk about Scotland’s other economic strengths, but of course they’d like oil prices to be better, and in this age of uncertainty the economic battleground surely must be won by the yes camp if they want to have a hope in hell of winning the broader argument.
And the euro: do we really want to join a currency more vulnerable than Donald Trump’s hair in a stiff breeze? The pound’s hardly strong right now either, but that only serves to elucidate the problem: a weak pound is still preferable to the euro today. Plus, there’s the simple familiarity factor of the pound: lots of people are proud of our monarchy and enjoy having the face of an unelected scrounger on their banknotes.
One step further: will the EU even last? Britain’s on its way out; France and Holland are due to hold referenda. Maybe there’s not much wisdom in staying on a leaky ship.
As with Clint Eastwood on payday, the No camp have plenty of ammunition. This second independence referendum will be theirs to lose.
For me, questions of currency and income are irrelevant without autonomy. For democracy to mean anything, Scotland has to have more of a direct say in who governs it. Staggeringly, since 1945 we’ve only thrice influenced the outcome of a general election. The result? Decades of unwanted Conservative meddling.
Most Yes voters are not pining for some kind of utopian wonderland, but we do want the opportunity to implement some progressive ideas about things like taxation and welfare, and we know that these ideas don’t have purchase under the umbrella of the UK.
It’s about not wanting to live under a government that relishes the repulsive idea of benefits sanctions or preys on the elderly and disabled. It’s about wanting to live in a country that stands up to corporate greed and does something serious to tackle the mental health crisis. It’s about investing in childcare and education instead of the next generation of nuclear weapons; it’s about a more humane approach to drug abuse and homelessness. It’s millions of things that cannot and will not change under Westminster.
Are we deceiving ourselves into thinking independence will grant our extensive wish list? Of course not, but as things stand we are getting very little. Scotland should be the author of its fate *even* if the road is wrought with difficulty.
A second referendum is coming, let’s stop moaning about who promised what and get on with the debate: unionists should welcome it.