Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Curious Position of The SNP

The end of the mourning period for the assassinated Labour MP Jo Cox ended on Sunday with both campaigns hitting the ground – and the television studios – running.  One of the more curious interventions was from the First Minister, reiterating that people should vote ‘remain’ as that will be the best route to the much desired ‘Indyref 2’.  There were other reasons for voting to remain within the EU, but the claim that one of the reasons to vote to stay in the EU would be a second referendum did revive thoughts of the SNP’s inconsistencies from the Independence referendum a couple of years ago.
Nicola Sturgeon with Angela Eagle & Amber Rudd at
ITV's Referendum dedbate, 9 June 2016

It is a long term inconsistency in the SNP’s DNA that they are keen (with some justification) to leave a union where we have some (limited) influence on the direction of travel but they are equally keen (with considerably less justification) to remain within a substantially larger union where we have considerably less influence on the direction of travel.  I had dubbed this The Winton Paradox after the blogger who had written several posts about the SNP’s inconsistencies.  Like Sterlingzone, it’s the Independence referendum issue that comes back time and time again to remind us how badly the SNP can still get things wrong.

And boy they do.  Not content with not understanding that Scotland is *not* a member of the European Union – it is the United Kingdom’s name on The Single European Act & the Maastricht, Amsterdam & Lisbon Treaties, not Scotland’s – the SNP are intent on bringing up the untruth that we would be ‘thrown out’ of the EU if we voted to become Independent.  That we were voting to leave a member country of the EU seems to have bypassed the SNP.  Unless they really want their cake and to eat it.

Fast forward to the current referendum and the SNP have dusted down their ‘European Union For Dummies’ book once again.  Sturgeon’s new attack lines now include the fabled “material change” line when a second Independence referendum crops up.  I had thought that line was a device to kick a second referendum into the grass for long enough a) to keep the more one-eyed yessers happy and onside and b) in the hope that the polls come around just enough to make a second referendum winnable.  With it looking less and less likely that there will be a convincing remain victory though, Sturgeon has been out threatening a second referendum.  I suspect that there will be two problems with this line.

First of all, Sturgeon is assuming, as she always does, that the SNP argument is closely aligned to the Scottish sensibility.  This is not always true and I suspect that attitudes to the EU is an issue where we are more closely aligned with our neighbours than the SNP would like to think.  Of course, there is a narrative that the SNP like to play, one which puts a Scottish sensibility as being different to the English.  And it is true that we are more tolerant of people who come to our country to work.  But to dismiss Eurosceptisism as “Little Englander” thinking as she did during the Independence referendum, to call this referendum a Tory party sideshow as she did several weeks ago suggests an intolerance of different opinions.  My Euroscepticism is a left wing euroscepticism, but would still not be welcome in the cuddly world of Sturgeon’s Scotland.  I suspect that come Friday Morning, Sturgeon will be in for a nasty surprise.

The second point is that we should be asking what constitutes “Scotland being dragged out of the EU against it’s will”?  Given that the SNP look favourably on large minorities, then what would be the chances on them looking favourably on the Brexiteers case if, approximately 44.7% of the Scottish population voted in that fashion, come Thursday.  With that in mind, I would suggest that for Sturgeon to convincingly argue that this was the case, the Scottish Remain vote would need to be about 65% minimum.  At the moment I think that it’ll be nip and tuck that the Scottish vote will reach that.

It is surprising to see the SNP struggle with this apparent inconsistency within their own DNA, given how smart they have been in other policy areas. Yet, here we are yet again.  Even Sturgeon’s claim of ‘Independent countries happy to be members’ sounds ludicrous when you think of Ireland having to submit their budgets to the EU & the ECB before their own parliament gets to see it.  Even after the punishment fiscal beatings Greece has taken, with the terms of the EU’s bailouts being the privatisation of Greece’s public services, the SNP still talk of ‘normal Independent countries’ being EU members. 

I’ve long thought that the SNP would be happier with Thatcherite policies being foisted upon Scotland from the EU than they would be with Thatcherite policies being foisted upon Scotland by Westminster.  While they have made life difficult for Westminster MP’s, there is no sign of them standing up for Scotland in Brussels or standing up to Scotland.  Their welcoming of the appointment two years ago of Jean Claude Junker and the acceptance of the EU law forcing the outsourcing of Ferry routes is proof of this. 

With every referendum, whatever the issue, it feels like we are going through the SNP’s own clangers tape from the Independence referendum, with their views on the EU becoming more and more front and centre of Scottish coverage at least.  Their ramrod refusal to learn from their mistakes does not bode well for the scheduled summer push to convince people that independence will be good. 

1 comment:

Stuart Winton said...

Can only agree with everything you've said here ;0)

And one thing that's perhaps been forgotten (and apropos the paradox) is that the SNP were desperate for the indyref (obviously) while they didn't want a vote on the EU at all.