All singing from the same flawed hymn sheet
Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon announced her plan to hold a second Scottish independence referendum. Not long after that the three main opposition leaders in the Scottish parliament released anti indyref statements. What is striking is just how similar those statements are. Each leader is singing from the same flawed hymn sheet.
The three statements seem to have come straight from a Better Together campaign focus group.
It seems the unionist plan is to deny a clear mandate, call democracy divisive, tell us not to worry about something that they fought to prevent and refuse to even contemplate independence regardless of the scenario.
Ruth Davidson’s Statement
The first common theme is that there is no mandate for a second independence referendum.
This is a particularly stupid point given that there is a pro independence majority in the Scottish parliament. The SNP, who are the ruling party had the following statement in their pre-election manifesto.
We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum…if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.
The second complaint of the three amigos is that a second referendum is somehow divisive.
However, this is a strange opinion given that the polls were sitting at 50/50 even before Sturgeon announced indyref2.
You can’t actually get any more divided than split down the middle. So, if anything, a long period of public discussion is exactly what is needed to resolve the situation. In the worst case scenario there will be no shift in public opinion after the referendum period is over. However, most likely opinion will move in one direction or another. Therefore, a referendum is likely to make opinion less divided.
What they really mean by divisive is, why can’t people who don’t agree with me just go away. This to me is very undemocratic. It would be stupid to say Scotland is not currently divided. However, that division is only going to be resolved through a political process. Which is what is happening.
Willie Rennie’s Statement
The third aspect that our opposition leaders agree on is that the Scottish government is not getting on with the day job.
There may be some truth to this. I for one have been critical of lack of progress at Holyrood. However, surely this is understandable in the context of the times we live in. I would argue that Brexit is a slow motion crisis that could have massive consequences for all of us. Surely Brexit, which don’t forget all of these three leaders fought tooth and nail to prevent, is a major issue that deserves to take up a lot of government time?
Despite the fact that they all told us Brexit would be a disaster, their only response now is to tell us to just get on with things and hope for the best.
Kezias Dugdale’s Statement
They also seem to agree about the uncertainty caused by the First Minister’s decision.
Like everything was certain before yesterday’s press conference and now the world is suddenly topsy turvy. This despite the fact that the First Minister’s plan is to call a referendum at the point where we will actually know what the Brexit deal will look like so that we can make an informed choice.
If the Brexit deal looks great in 18 months then the three unionist leaders have nothing to fear. If negotiations don’t go well then it is only sensible that the people of Scotland have a choice.
The last thing they seem to agree on is that regardless of the options on the table in two years time they have made up their minds that in every circumstance Scotland would be better off as a region of the UK.
They talk of uncertainty but they themselves seem to have a lot of certainty in that respect. It is clear from their rhetoric that there is no situation they could imagine developing in the next two years in which they can envision an independent Scotland being better off. To them, no matter how bad Brexit is and no matter how good the prospectus for an independent Scotland might be, independence will always be worse. That to me sounds like a very dogmatic position.
In two years time there will be two relatively clear but different paths ahead.
Surely it is a better position for a leader to give people the chance to choose between them. The current unionist approach seems a bit condescending. Denying a clear mandate, calling democracy divisive, telling us not to worry about something they fought to prevent and refusing to even contemplate independence regardless of the scenario.
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