Since the Scottish referendum on the 18/September/14 there has been a number of voting opportunities and an evident change in political mood.
The UK general election in May 2015 and the subsequent Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016, followed by the EU referendum in June, has shone the light on SNP & Yes motivation as never before.
After coming to the bitter realisation that seperation (on the back of the lies and paper thin assertions in the shameful White Paper) had not ignited Scots in universal hatred towards Westminster (it’s only a building) and the 307 year old highly successful Union, Nicola (as it she who sets strategy and has total control over SNP manifesto) reluctantly decided to qualify the conditions for a second Scottish referendum. This despite promises that indyref was a “one off” “once in a generation” and ” once in a lifetime” opportunity.
Simply put (and never refuted by a senior SNP politician) the criteria is that polls should show a definitive lead for a sustained period of time. This by many insiders,observers and political commentators meant that lead needed to show support for separation at 60% for 12 months.
This may have been thought achievable in May 2015 but more likely it was setting a realistic bar above which success was a genuine possibility, a realistic target, below that level a second defeat would be more than “likely.” “Likely” is an oft used word recently.
With increased support shown in the GE no doubt the SNP thought polling, encouraged by the constant stream of politicised whinging against the UK, would start to show evidence of increasing support. Nothing of the sort happened until the EU referendum.
Polls remained stubbornly at indyref levels, with the public at large somewhat disinterested. Those of us active on social media continued, of course, to engage in herculean battles (well a flurry of tweets etc.) of the pros and cons of independence/separation. The main arguments unchanged from pre indyref other than to watch the predicted collapse in oil and the increasing Scottish deficit. All a bit Groundhog Day.
During this post referendum aftermath the main aspects of resistance to the monotonous call for separation remained the economy and the deficit, the powers of the devolved administration and currency, the EU bumbling along the bottom somewhere.
Things started to change when the EU referendum was confirmed after the shock Tory GE victory. The SNP, with its destruction of labour in Scotland and the voter fear of a UK Labour and SNP coalition, had rallied the Tory vote out and handed them astoundingly a working majority. The subsequent election of Corbyn then sent shivers down the spines of the SNP as they looked at the horrifying prospect of the Tories in long term power.
Prior to the EU referendum there was a little matter of the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016. Upset! The SNP lost their majority and also slipped below 50% of the vote (combined list and constituency). Turnout was up, but the main beneficiaries were the Tories, doubling their votes to 1 million and becoming the main Holyrood SNP opposition. This is still painful for the SNP to accept, the mantra of Tory Scum, kick the Tories out of Scotland and (the effective) Red Tory Scum label had resulted in a Tory revival, with many Scots voting Tory for their first time. This had an impact, and strong hints that a second referendum was on the table strengthened.
When the UK voted to leave the EU the reaction was swift, Scotland would not be “dragged out” of the EU and if it was, then it would leave the UK to remain with the EU (more on this later). What was conveniently ignored is the EU referendum vote was known about pre indyref, it was a UK vote, not a Scottish one – and there was never a promise that a No vote would result in Scotland permanently retaining a EU membership. EU membership belongs to the UK. Scotland’s “place” in the EU is totally dependant on the UK’s membership.
The reality was a No vote was the only vote to “guarantee” the possibility of retaining membership. A Yes vote would have meant Scotland definitely resiling its EU “place” and having, post separation, to apply for re-entry. An extremely difficult prospect as the EU application process would take many years, have to be unanimously approved by the 28 member states.
This would also have meant a loss of all UK special considerations and adoption of the Euro (that “failure of a currency” according to the SNP’s tame economist Stiglitz).
So just prior to the Brexit vote nothing much had changed, lots of chunter from the separatists, but no significant change in polling or general sentiment regarding another bite at the indy ref cherry.
Post brexit polls showed a marked jump in Yes voting intentions, putting them at 4 week slight rise in support for separation, in the lead, and mock anger at being “dragged” out of a “union” (slightly out of touch with true Scots independence activists and 30% of SNP/Yes voter). Nicola promptly dumps the 60% 12 month criteria for, well, some sort of muddle, and the statement that Indyref2 is now “Likely.” Cue weeks of the UK not listening to Scotlands’s voice and the threat of another vote becoming ever more likely.
Without doubt, under the SNP’s watch, every transfer of power to Holyrood is milked for every opportunity to sew division and advance the cause of separation. When the UKSC had to rule on Article 50, the SNP argued Scotland should have a Brexit veto, thankfully it unanimously rejected that claim. In the meantime it also produced a Brexit Plan, an utter waste of time and money as the devolved Scottish Government is not in a negotiating position and has zero authority or responsibility on reserved matters.
Recently Nicola suggested if we remained part of the EU common market, the SNP wouldn’t pursue separation, if you listened carefully you could hear the sound of back peddling as the statement was made.
The separatists have a problem now, after the shock of Brexit the polls returned to the downward trend in support for separation. Subsequent events such as UKSC verdict, Trumps election and the Article 50 bill have boxed them in. There is no real desire for independence any more. Brexit shot that fox. The last two years of GERS figures and the realisation that a Scotland outside the UK & the EU would really struggle economically for generations.
The case for a new currency is laudable but the practicalities costs and risks are immense. The deficit is massive and would be of Greek dimensions, way above the UK’s. The stupid claim that Scotland does not have a deficit is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, even Nicola and the SNP accept we have one (publicly stated on a number of occasions). What is not discussed is what we would do as an independent state to handle the deficit, inherited UK debt (yes we would inherit debt), set up costs and isolation from major markets.
The only realistic attempts to answer these questions has come from the Common Weal Common Weal Scottish White Paper for which I give them real credit, its a start and a real blueprint for open discussion. It knocks the abysmal White Paper and Wings Black & Blue books into a cocked hat showing them up for the dross they were.
Its still the economy folks. Given the numbers discussed re deficit, debt, startup costs for mechanisms of state (central bank) etc. there are still no answers to the basic questions to the practical realities (not disputed by any intelligent Yes supporter) we would face;
FACT – Scots are significantly more expensive to service £per head in terms of social and infrastructure costs.
FACT – There are less Scots in private sector employment compared to the UK as a whole.
FACT – Our population is more aged than the rUK.
FACT – If we left the UK we would not get EU membership within 5 years (prove otherwise).
Im not going to insert figures into this blog post, there are good posts re the actual financial numbers in here Reference Blogs and in the contributors own blogs, a good look at ScotGov’s own website GERS Site would also be beneficial.
Given these realities, if we did vote to separate, I’ve yet to see any indication of what taxes we would increase, what reductions in government spending we would make. There has to be a plan to balance the books from day 1, we can’t rely on faith, its just not grown up.
The cleft stick is that the desire for separation is more than counterbalanced by an economic reality that is making Indyref2 increasingly “UNlikely”