Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Let's Talk About Independence

One of the many things Labour said about other people’s policies was that the SNP would be obsessed about Independence. Too obsessed to bother with anything else.  So much so in fact that they would take their eye off the ball.  They would be, we were warned, just obsessed man.

Since the election, the SNP have been happy to talk about Independence.  I’ve seen Linda Fabiani on the news a couple of times, Nicola Sturgeon got to appear on Newsnight to find out what a real interview is and of course First Minister elect Alex Salmond has been on The Politics Show a couple of times.  Yet, the SNP in themselves have not been the drivers of this sudden interest in Independence.  For unforeseen by Grey, Kerr et all, the people who have become obsessed by Independence have been the Scottish media and the “Dead Tree Press” (© Guido Fawkes 2006).

There was apparently a report in the Sunday Herald at the weekend, the issue has been on the Politics show and has refused to bugger off from Newsnicht Scotland. We’ve heard about Calman, Independence and something called Devolution Max (which hopefully won’t be advertised by Gottee wearing smartarse snowboarders like something else with Max tacked on at the end) and Independence-lite (which really sounds like some sort of soft drink).  How to confuse the voters, number 7.

I’m not sure what they all mean, and I suspect a lot of this is SNP kite-flying, Calman excepted.  Trying to determine which step meets with most approval among the proles.  As I said, the public are not familiar with the above terms, and really have much more pressing things to concern them.  It’s the economy stupid, with very real concerns about jobs & rising prices.  Running alongside this is the public’s (lack of an) appetite for Independence, with a recent poll suggesting support for Scottish independence is more popular in England & Wales than it is in Scotland. But then again, the pro independence and anti independence groups have never really put their cases properly.

The media are, as usual, running away with themselves by focusing on what is on offer and what will happen and gosh isn’t it all so exciting…  There are two points to bear in mind though.  Firstly Independence is not inevitable, indeed there was a thought before the SNP’s election win that they might attempt to put off any referendum.  It looked like it when they said that any referendum would take place in the second half of this term (7th May 2015 anyone?).  Any referendum campaign needs to really be on form and to provide good solid arguments for or against, in short not a repeat of the recent AV referendum which was marked by half baked truths and poorly put truths.

The second point, and one that follows on from the first, is that in all probability Salmond really has to kill the “myth” that Scotland needs to be part of the Union.  Conventional wisdom dictates that Scotland would go bankrupt if it became independent, and it is a “truth” that is repeated far and wide – it even popped up in “Football Against The Enemy” when Catalans were discussing the differences between Scotland and Catalalonia.  Salmond has to prove that Scotland can be self sufficient and make it in the world.  Perhaps the wait is solely down to that, Salmond is trying to make his sums work.  Either way, while I am happy that there is going to be (we assume) a referendum (shame on you the other three parties for being so undemocratic), it remains to be seen whether this independence sceptic can be won over by the arguments.


Bruce said...

Maybe it is we English who should be encouraging Scotland to leave the UK. We would derive many benefits from this:
The fact is that it is inevitable, you can't give one sector of a nation completely different treatment to other sectors of that nation. Tony Blair has started the chain of events that will lead to the break up of the UK.

Allan said...


You are forgeting one fact. Scotland had its own legal system since way before 1997. It was a key concession in the act of union that Scotland kept a seperate legal system. Everything else is a bi-product of that, even the fact that parliament had to put through two seperate versions of the same bill up until 1999.

I would also like to remind you that Devolution was "the settled will of the Scottish people" before Blair was elected Labour leader in 1994. If you want to look at people who started the chain of events, prehaps the first place to look would be the avowed English nationalist Margaret Thatcher.

Stuart Winton said...

Indeed, it will be interesting to see how all this plays with the public, because of course we tend to get the wrong impression by reading blogs etc.