FROM the perspective of an independence supporter, it’s hard to say what was more satisfying about Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she’s pressing ahead with a second independence referendum within the next two years. There’s the satisfaction of knowing that irrespective of what the Tories say, the people of Scotland will, after all, have a say in their future. And then there’s the unalloyed joy of seeing the First Minister take an enormous dump all over Theresa May’s big Brexit moment.
Theresa was definitely in a major huff when she gave her official reaction.“Politics is for grown-ups,”
she said, channelling a nursery teacher confronted with a small child who had just learned how to use a potty and was determined to show her the evidence. “It’s not a game,” she continued, warming to her theme of treating Scotland like a class of recalcitrant children. “It’s terribly wrong of the Scottish Government to play games with the constitution, put jobs at risk, and create the divisiveness of a referendum. That’s my job.” However, if nothing else Monday’s announcement did ensure that Scotland dominated the headlines. Both the BBC and Sky News gave detailed and in-depth coverage of the day’s events by interviewing a Labour MP, some random Tory, and a couple of journalists from Unionist newspapers published in London.
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These were, of course, the very people who had been saying Nicola Sturgeon was bluffing and that she had no intention whatsoever of calling another independence referendum, so naturally the media called on them again because of their proven expertise in Scottish politics. This is what counts as a lack of bias in the British media.
As long as you have a wee piece lasting 30 seconds where you ask an SNP MP some loaded questions, then follow it up with two Westminster politicians who oppose Scottish independence from slightly different parts of the political spectrum, you’ve covered the unbiased bases. Then you can bring on someone from The Telegraph to translate everything that was just said into the medium of interpretive Unionism. It’s like interpretive dance, but with less rhythm and a lot more knee-jerking.
Since none of the Unionist talking heads on the day’s news had anything new to say, they simply rehashed all the old arguments they had trotted out in 2014, only in an even more hysterical tone as this time we’re going into an independence referendum with the Unionists knowing from the get-go that they could very well lose it. And they will lose it, if the independence movement has anything to do with it, which it most assuredly does. Some of the arguments have already been battered into submission and laid to rest, but that didn’t stop the metro-commentariat digging them up for the benefit of trying to look like they were more knowledgeable than most of the people they were pontificating at. Which considering most of them get their news from the self-same metro-commentariat media isn’t that difficult.
We even got the Spanish veto myth, courtesy of a number of Unionist commentators who hadn’t been paying attention to the news last week that the Spanish Government has said it won’t veto Scottish membership of the EU. We also got deficit a-go-go, but not once did anyone stop to wonder why it is that, if Scotland is indeed such an economic basket case, this a good argument for continuing the economic mismanagement of successive Unionist governments who have been in charge of the Scottish economy for the past 300 years.
And we got lots of loaded questions, like when the BBC’s Sarah Smith (who to be fair was one of the better ones during what was a particularly febrile day) asked Nicola Sturgeon about her chances of winning when the economic situation was less favourable than it was last time. There weren’t any similarly loaded questions put to representatives of the Tory Government.
Monday was a day of full-on Unionist hysteria as they came to the realisation that what they had dismissed as a bluff was no bluff after all. The Unionist parties have been in panic mode for quite some time. They went into the first independence referendum with the arrogant belief that they could secure a massive majority and bury the question of independence for 20 years or more. They’re going into the second with the two sides neck-and-neck in the polls and with the knowledge that the Yes campaign utterly outclasses them on the ground. No wonder they’re panicking. But they can’t sustain that level of panic over the course of almost two years.
There is a very real prospect that the Unionist campaign will collapse long before then, all the more so because Labour are a busted flush and the Conservatives will be fighting a war on two fronts, Brexit and now Scotland.
And it could possibly be three fronts if Northern Ireland decides to go for a referendum of its own.
This time the stakes are even higher. Both Scotland and the Union are in an existential struggle.
If we lose, the contempt and disdain which the Unionist parties and Westminster heaped upon Scotland after September 2014 will be magnified a hundred fold.
Theresa May would take a second No vote as a mandate for her to do whatever she pleases with Scotland. The Barnett Formula would be unlikely to survive more than a few months before being abolished in the name of “fairness”.
Powers would be clawed back from Holyrood and May would do her utmost to ensure Scotland could never again have the audacity to imagine it could dare hold Westminster to account.
But despite all of May’s machinations, Scotland will have a choice. We can choose that the path our country takes is decided by the people of this country, or we can choose to surrender ourselves to the mercies of May. Let’s choose wisely. Let’s choose to make our own decisions. Let’s fight this campaign and win it for Scotland. We’ve got work to do.