A Question of Timing
Posted on March 6th, 2018
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
There is much debate amongst the Yes community about when IndyRef2 should be called, but the news that EU residents may be forbidden from voting if we wait until after March, 2019 has put an end stop date to the speculation. While most of these people voted No last time around because of the scare stories they were fed, it seems likely they will switch to Yes because of Brexit. To have them excluded even if they have continued to live here and work here would not only remove a significant portion of the potential Yes vote, it is shockingly undemocratic, even if it is in keeping with the way the UK treats non-UK nationals.
So, if we need to vote before March, 2019, when should the IndyRef be called?
The big problem here is the ongoing debacle of the so-called Brexit negotiations which largely consist of UK politicians making speeches about how they are going to get a deal which cherry-picks the bits they like from the current membership benefits, and then the EU saying, once again, that cherry-picking will not be allowed.
As long as this futile fiasco continues, the Scottish Government would be foolish to call for IndyRef2. Putting aside for the moment the two very important issues of whether the UK Government would graciously allow us permission to decide our own future, and whether we have any chance of winning in the face of the barrage of scare stories and media propaganda we will inevitably face, the fact remains that to call IndyRef2 before we know for certain what fate awaits us with Brexit would be a mistake. It may seem very unlikely, but someone in Westminster may yet see sense and the whole thing could be called off; or Theresa May might call Nicola Sturgeon’s bluff and concede all the things the Scottish Government has called for; or the Irish Border question might be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction; or the Gibraltar border question might go away. OK, unicorns might suddenly appear, and pigs might fly, but Brexit is so unpredictable , and May’s leadership position so shaky, that anything could happen.
It increasingly looks as if there will be a fairly narrow window during which IndyRef2 can be called. Sooner or later, the Scottish people are going to have to be told that Brexit is taking us nowhere and we need to make up our minds what sort of country we want to live in. If we wait until the UK has left the EU, the media will have had more time to persuade people that things aren’t really so bad. We have seen the normalisation of xenophobia and acceptance that the NHS will be privatised. We cannot afford for these things to become the norm in Scotland, so we need to have that vote before it is too late.
And who knows? Perhaps a short campaign will do the trick this time. If the SNP and greens have been planning their campaign properly, we may yet be able to demonstrate that for all its uncertainties, becoming a normal country again would be far better for all of us than sticking with the increasingly unstable and deranged UK. But if by some miracle Brexit does go away, the prime reason for calling IndyRef2 in the short term will go with it. It won’t remove the underlying case for Indy, but it will be enough to persuade some voters that it isn’t worth the hassle. For that reason, disappointing as it is to many of us, IndyRef2 needs to stay on hold for the moment. However, with the Brexit deadline looming, it won’t be long before the Scottish Government is left with no choice but to go for it.