AS an independence supporter living in Greater London, I’m baffled, and slightly concerned, at the nature of the debates surrounding the timing of the next independence referendum and the Sustainable Growth Commission’s report.
What baffles me most about both of these debates is the implicit assumption in both cases that indyref2 is going to be essentially a rerun of indyref1, except with better Yes arguments and organisation.
But it’s not and, once again, I think the debate in Scotland is too inward looking, getting caught up in the Scottish version of the Metropolitan bubble.
Look, for example, at Brexit. Most Scottish commentary on Brexit focusses either on the non-appearance of the pro-independence “Brexit Bounce” or on the Westminster “Power Grab”.
But possibly of more importance than either of these, because it will directly affect the nature of indyref2, is something which rarely seems to be discussed. This is the effect that Brexit has had on the Tory Party.
The Tories are now desperate to cling on to power at all costs and have simply abandoned all pretence at following parliamentary democracy or respecting any of the numerous conventions that underlie our much-hyped “unwritten constitution”.
Their lack of respect for Scotland has been well documented in recent weeks but their lack of respect for Parliament goes well beyond this.
Even the chaos caused by Brexiteer Cabinet resignations and Donald Trump’s undiplomatic (but probably true) comments during his recent visit have not changed things. The Brexiteers are vocal but seem to have no real intention of forcing an election, while the desperation to paint Trump’s visit in a positive light is simply embarrassing. And even if the Brexiteers adopt a kamikaze approach, recent polling shows that Labour is still well short of an overall majority in a Westminster election.
So, rather than David Cameron’s relatively consensual, rule-based approach we face a desperate Westminster Government determined to win at all costs, no matter how, because everything is unravelling around them. This has to have an effect on indyref2, but the question is what?
One possible answer comes from a slightly unexpected source. Back in 2010, Len Deighton wrote this introduction to his novel Berlin Game: “Anyone who spent much time in Berlin’s eastern sector could not fail to see that Germany’s communist regime was shaky, although shaky regimes repressive enough sometimes continue for a long time.
“While people in the West were talking about … the stability of the so-called German Democratic Republic, its rotten fabric was there for anyone who wasn’t wearing pink-coloured glasses … but little did I guess that the wall would come down with such a spectacular crash”.
I’ve thought for a while now that this is also a pretty good description of the UK and the current Westminster Parliament/establishment. They make a lot of noise but they’re no longer confident or properly in control and I don’t think they have the resources, energy or will to resist a really strong push.
So, is indyref2 going to spark a Catalan-style apocalypse or are we being persuaded to overestimate a desperate, internally riven government that does not have the power or resources to resist a final push?
I lean to the one-final-push approach but I really don’t know. But what I do know is that it’s something that needs to be addressed by the independence movement – “know your enemy” is always good advice
Gordon Millar, SNP member