I wasn’t going to write this blog post, because everything is still in the very early stages, but there is so much bullshit floating around that it kinda needs to be said. I mean, our First Minister has received death threats for announcing she plans to ask for authority to ask Westminster for a second referendum. That is fucking bullshit.
So what’s happening? Despite what some media sources will tell you, this is not an out of the blue attack on Theresa May because the PM is being a bit of a wazzock when it comes to Brexit negotiations, though that has certainly spurred it on a little.
Before the Independence referendum in 2014, when it was all being announced and set up, the SNP stated that they would absolutely accept a NO vote from this advisory referendum (which they did), and wouldn’t ask for another referendum UNLESS there was material constitutional change in Scotland, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against their will.
In the Brexit referendum in 2016, whilst Britain as a whole did vote to leave, Scotland voted Remain with a margin of 24%. This is a material change. However, the SNP were willing to work with Westminster to negotiate terms for Scotland in the case of Brexit (it is important to note here that Brexit was also an advisory referendum, and not legally binding as some factions will tell us). That was part of the promises sold to people by the Leave campaign to secure the vote, but these have failed to materialise. This is why the SNP want to hold another referendum. They have the support of the Greens to give them a majority in Holyrood, and the ScotLibDems don’t seem to know where they stand. The ScotCons and ScotLabour leaders have come out and said they will vote against, but it remains to be seen what will happen when the First Minister speaks to Holyrood next week.
So if we do get a referendum, what are the options? As far as I can make out from the screeds of media arguing and “expert opinions”, there are 3.
- Remain in the Union and leave the EU. This is of course a valid option, and a lot of people who are in favour of this are in favour of it because they are not fans of the EU. And that is fine. Many feel the EU put too many restrictions on trade and production practices that affect their profit. However, there is also a lot of hate associated with this option too; a lot of the rhetoric coming out of the Brexit camp is full of bigotry, especially racism and in particular aimed towards refugees. Again, it is absolutely a valid option, but tainted by the beliefs certain people feel they can now exercise.
- Leave the Union and Remain in the EU. This is the option most fans of Independence like. They believe the EU does a lot of good for Scotland, and are unhappy that we are being forced out on such a close vote. Despite what some factions of the media tell you, Spain’s Prime Minister has come out and said they wouldn’t veto Scotland’s bid to be an independent member. Also, whilst automatic membership isn’t guaranteed, if we do have to reapply, we absolutely meet the standards for membership because we helped write them in the first place. The President of the EU has said he will welcome an application by an independent Scotland, so if there is a vote for independence, this is the likely route it would go down.
- Leave the Union and Leave the EU. Following on from what I said above about there being no guarantee of automatic membership, the other option is the Nordic model. We could be a member of ESTA, so have access to the single market and freedom of movement, but not be full members of the EU. This is what Norway and Iceland do. There is a fee to pay to gain access, but some people feel this is worth it to be free of the EU regulations and to be able to entirely self-govern. I have no idea if this option will be available on the ballot paper, but it is absolutely a valid option.
It is important not to let the conversation be derailed by concern trolling, by people pointing out the underlying problems and how they haven’t been solved yet, so why is independence so high on the agenda? It is surprising how little people actually know about what are devolved powers and what are reserved powers, and how much power Holyrood actually has to fix your particular niggle. Or people like my da, who will tell you they read in the S*n that the EU isn’t going to exist in 2 years so it is a non-issue. Of course Murdoch wants people to believe that, he has been quoted saying he hates Brussels because they ignore him, but at least in Downing Street he has enough to blackmail them into doing what he says.
I think it is also important to remember something my mate Phil pointed out when we were talking about this earlier on tonight: we need to separate the SNP from the idea of independent Scotland. Yes it is the SNP who are calling for an independence referendum, and it will be their government that takes us into independence should the country vote for it, but they might not be in government forever. We will likely still have Tories and Labour and LibDems after the move, and if Labour and the LibDems get their act together, they absolutely could be voted into government. We might even see a Green government in our lifetimes (I live in hope). So yes right now the SNP are absolutely linked to independence, but they are not our only option for government.
For those interested, I would vote for option 2; I absolutely believe in the EU and that it does a lot of good for Scotland, and that that good is never trumpeted in the media as much as the supposed bad. It’s going to be rough going in the times ahead, if the mere mention of IndyRef2 can gain our FM death threats, but I believe we will get through this.
Also spare a thought for Northern Ireland, who so often get left out of this conversation: Brexit is going to destroy the Good Friday Agreement, which is going to cause a lot of turmoil. NI has already seen calls to declare independence too, but unlike Scotland, they are not forecast to be able to survive on their own. Whether they reunite Ireland, or they form some sort of Celtic Union with Scotland, the next few years are going to be extremely rough over there, and absolutely affected by whichever way Scotland votes.