Now is not the time for another divisive vote. General Election anyone?
When the Scottish Parliament voted to seek a second independence referendum, Theresa May told Scotland that now is not the time to hold another divisive vote that the public don’t want.
May argued that now is the time that the people should be coming together and getting behind her vision of Brexit. This delusion of the UK public uniting to support a hard-Brexit has been at the heart of much of what the Prime Minister has said recently.
May’s actions today have demonstrated that this reconciliation was only ever wishful thinking.
Her actions suggest that she has come to realise that the only way she can proceed is to force through her vision despite more than half of the population not being in favour of it. She knows that by seeking a General Election now when the opposition is so weak, she can give herself a mandate for a hard-Brexit, silence the opposition and quell infighting within her own ranks.
If I were May I wouldn’t be so sure about her chances of victory.
This idea is highly speculative, but this election is an opportunity for the public to unite behind the cause of preventing the Tory vision of a future UK becoming a reality. Although the polls show that the Tories are set to win a landslide, this isn’t going to be a normal General Election. It is going to be a second EU referendum and if the left of centre parties were wise, it could be made into a referendum about the future political direction of these islands.
The SNP, Labour and the Lib-Dems could choose to work together to ensure a coalition in favour of the UK remaining in the European Economic Area.
They could go even further than that. There is also an opportunity for those same parties to work together to deliver radical changes to the political system in the UK. They could stand together, promising a proportionally elected and fully Federal UK within the Single Market. To achieve this they could refrain from standing against each other in key seats that the Tories are likely to win if progressive votes are split.
This is not something I would normally condone in a General Election but this is not a normal situation. After-all, people won’t be voting for the best person to look after their constituency, they will be voting for a vision of the future. The Prime Minister admitted this much herself, this election is about the constitution and nothing else.
Obviously, as an independence supporter I am aware that using this tactic to defeat the Tories would put indyref2 on hold.
After-all, Sturgeon only announced indyref2 on the back of a hard-Brexit. Yet I am also aware that even if the Tories win this election a Yes vote in a second indyref is not guaranteed. Especially as the Tory party will probably not allow an official one and will challenge the legitimacy of one held unilaterally by the Scottish Parliament. The UK is split and Scotland is doubly split. Hoping for a Tory majority and a hard Brexit to jolt us into independence might work but lets not pretend it’s a surefire strategy.
Before this election was called it was the only hand we had been dealt but now we should be willing to at least consider this new opportunity.
The best short term solution would be a bit of pragmatism to allow every reasonable person to walk away from the previous year claiming to have gained something.
A more democratic UK, with nearly independence levels of regional autonomy, and an EFTA type deal with the EU would offer most people a fragment of victory. While still allowing us to build towards full independence in the long medium term.
While it wouldn’t please the hardcore Brexiteers, the die hard independence supporters, or the most ardent europhiles, it would offer something to everyone remotely moderate.
Scottish independence would be on the back-burner but the constituent parts of the UK, including Scotland, would have gained much more freedom. We will have left the worst aspects of the EU but we will have kept the bits we benefit from most. Going forward, we would have a political system that could tackle many of the problems that fueled the dissatisfaction that resulted in Brexit in the first place.
The alternative to this compromise is a strengthened Tory party, guided by its more eurosceptic right-wing elements, hellbent on a Brexit that will only benefit a small proportion of the country.
Who am I kidding, this pragmatic approach will not be considered by any party for narrow political reasons. In Scotland this General Election will be a rerun of our recent referendums. This will be a battle between a Hard Brexit, anti-indyref Tory party and a pro-Single-Market, pro-indyref SNP.
Those who seek Scottish independence within the European Economic Area should vote SNP. Those who want to remain in the Single Market but keep the UK together should also vote SNP. Otherwise you risk increasing the number of hard-Brexit Tories who will try to enlarge their Scottish vote share by adopting a one dimensional anti-indyref2 campaign.
The progressive parties have been gifted an opportunity here to stave off a hard-Brexit but they probably won’t take it. Party politics will most likely trump what would be required to defeat the Tories.
Without a compromise we will be gifting the Brexiteers with a mandate to proceed with something most of the UK doesn’t want to happen. The only positives in this situation are that a Tory victory will strengthen the case for independence and make a mockery of the flimsy arguments the Tories are using to try prevent indyref2.
Theresa May could not look more hypocritical.
She can’t say indyref2 is divisive at the same time she holds a divisive vote herself. She can’t say we should be concentrating on leaving the EU when she is concentrating on winning a General Election. She can’t say that now is not the time when it is the only time a decision can be made if we are to avoid the disastrous fate an emboldened Tory party will subject us to.
Soft-Brexit pro-reform coalition or not, we need to do our bit by ensuring a strong SNP victory and by banishing the last Tory MP from Scotland.
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