Free tip for Ruth: The UK we voted to stay in no longer exists
We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people – or 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.
I was a bit critical of independence supporters who refused to consider switching their regional vote to other pro independence parties before the Scottish election.
A lot of people saw the SNP as the only party who could deliver a second referendum. I was sceptical, not only because I didn’t think a second referendum should be held this term but also because there was no firm pledge to hold a referendum in the SNP manifesto. All they had was the above paragraph, which at the time I thought was just there to placate the more rabid faithful. Nobody thought the the UK would contain enough people desperate enough to commit a mass act of self harm as voting for Brexit.
Turns out I over estimated the decision making capacity of the UK. What I thought at the time was lip service to the Scottish Resistance turns out to be a bonafide mandate for securing a second referendum. It would be an insult to democracy for the SNP to do otherwise.
The EU vote was the political equivalent of inviting your newly lapsed catholic priest cousin to a stag weekend in Prague. Denied for decades of any meaningful stake in society people were suddenly given access to the nuclear codes and the result was an orgy of self destructive nastiness. An odious, cowardly, backward looking, anti intellectual, anti fact, xenophobic campaign was victorious.
However, it wasn’t in Scotland, which highlights a significant difference in political outlook and direction on both sides of the border.
For a few weeks after the Brexit result unionist voices in Scotland were dampened as the rug of safety, security and surety was pulled from under their feet. However, they are now beginning to find their voice again and disturbingly, despite all that has happened, the voice they have found hasn’t changed.
In his STV opinion piece Stephen Daisley has questioned the legitimacy of a second referendum. He argues that Theresa May should just not grant one.
Britain’s second female leader should tell Scotland’s first that she does not consider Brexit a “material change in circumstances” that would justify a second independence referendum. Scotland voted No, barely two years ago, and by a margin of almost 11 points. That majority of Scots deserves to have its will respected as much as the majority who voted for Remain. May should avoid ruling out an independence rerun, a belligerent stance that would only boost backing for a breakaway, but insist that any do-over would be in the gift of the UK Parliament (with full consultation of Holyrood). It is not an outcome to be realised by piggybacking on a British constitutional crisis.
If you need evidence of how hard they are trying to cobble together an iota of cogency look no further than the above paragraph.
He is basically arguing that a constitutional crisis (his own words) is not a material change in circumstances. It’s the equivalent of being convinced a pug is not a dog which is a position I wouldn’t put past Daisley given the canine related weirdness of his twitter feed. There can be few more apt changes of circumstance imaginable than being forced out of an organisation that makes us materially better off. Not to mention the freedom, safety and cultural and symbolic benefits being part of the EU brings.
A lot of Daisley’s writing shares something in common with what Ruth Davidson is currently saying. She talks about how divisive the original indyref was and she does so because she makes the mistake of believing her own propaganda. They take the abuse they recieve on twitter as evidence of widespread malfeasance. Ignoring the obvious point that in any nationwide debate, in a world where everyone can voice an immediate uncensored public opinion, there are always going to be numerous examples of people getting out of line. Even people who make popular videos on benign subjects such as cross-stitch are not immune from this ugly phenomenon.
The first indyref was a great flourishing of ideas and debate about the direction our country should take.
Contrast this to the EU debate where the leaders were actively stoking hatred of foreigners, telling people facts were useless and where there was no clear plan for the future. An angry local hurling an egg at a provocative Jim Murphy is orders of magnitude away from a female MP being shot and stabbed to death while minding their own business.
To talk about devisiveness is simply a recurrence of the old Better Together tactic of smearing the opposition.
Today Davidson will tell us a second referendum is:
Unjustified because our decision to remain part of the United Kingdom less than two years ago must be respected – as the SNP promised it would do. And irresponsible because it only piles uncertainty on top of uncertainty. It is time the SNP put the national interest before its own Nationalist vision for once. You cannot uphold the EU referendum result in Scotland as sacrosanct while trashing the Independence referendum vote we held just 22 months ago. And you don’t solve the questions around leaving one union by walking out on an even more important one.
It’s the same mince they were talking in 2014. As we said then, one of the few certain things in life in uncertainty. The Brexit vote just proves how this is true for the UK. The broad shoulders of Union have collapsed into chaos and the only choice we have is about what type of country would best navigate a way out. It is perverse to think it would be the one that got us into the mess in the first place.
Despite what Ruth is saying the SNP are putting the national interest first. In what may come as a surprise to her, Scotland is a nation. The SNP have long argued it would be better off as a sovereign one and the adverse ramifications of leaving the EU back this up. She is saying Scotland in her eyes is only a region and it should just shut up and accept the results of the vote. Even if those results are going to harm most Scots.
And we did respect the decision to remain in the UK. That’s why the only people rioting the day after the previous referendum were the winners. The rest of us just grieved for a few days and then got on with being law abiding citizens. The majority of Yes voters didn’t want to have another referendum so soon. We wanted time to make Scotland better within the UK and to fix the flaws in the pro independence arguments we made in 2014. However if, unlike Ruth, you see Scotland as a nation it is clear the Scottish results of both referendums clash, raising a national question that needs to be resolved.
The UK we voted to remain in was a UK that was part of the EU.
Ruth Davidson fought to keep Scotland in the EU and the UK. She and millions of other No voters can no longer have both. And while it is perfectly acceptable to choose the UK there is no point pretending there isn’t a major material change in circumstances for Scottish voters that needs to be addressed.
These opening shots in the next battle for independence expose the now weakened position of the Unionists. As the lack of sovereignty held by the nation of Scotland is laid bare for all to see and the surety and stability of the union crumbles around them they don’t have much left but tired slights and defunct reasoning. If they continue to pretend that everything is the same the second referendum might be easier than I thought.