On Your Marks!
Posted on November 30th, 2021
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
So Nicola Sturgeon has given another commitment to putting the wheels in motion for IndyRef2. Some, like me, will say it’s not before time; others will point out that we’ve heard this before, and yet others will say that giving Westminster notice only gives them more time to put obstacles in the way. I’ve also seen some people claim this is what Nicola Sturgeon wants. That way, she can hold up her hands and announce that she’d love to hold IndyRef2 but her hands are tied. I’m not sure that is a viable position for any politician to put themselves in, far less one as capable as Nicola Sturgeon, but I do worry that it is taking so long to put the wheels in motion. "Next year" is also a fairly vague and broad time frame.
However, even natural pessimists like me must appreciate that we really have no option but to trust that she really is going to deliver in one way or another. I suspect she will need to abandon the Section 30 route as there is no way the Westminster Government will agree to this. Quite what solution she comes up with remains to be seen. Let’s hope it is something definitive which will allow us to progress to becoming a normal, self-governing country before too much longer.
As for the timescale itself, there are a lot of factors to be considered. I came in for some criticism on Twitter the other day for insisting that there was no reason to delay. Apparently, I am one of those people who don’t understand the complexities of setting up a referendum. Now, my memory may be failing me, but I don’t recall much in the way of complexities in establishing either IndyRef1 or the Brexit referendum. Once the decision to go ahead has been made, much of the work can be done before the referendum is held. Such things as deciding the date, deciding the actual question and so on need not be done before the decision is made. As long as they are taken within a reasonable time, that is all that is required.
There are undoubtedly other issues needing addressed. The currency question needs to be explained, with a Scottish currency the only real option if we are to re-join the EU. But that requires a Scottish Central Bank, and work will need to be done on that. However, there is no reason why an existing Bank, such as the Scottish National Investment Bank, could not be appointed to this role. Alternatively, one of the existing Scottish Banks which has its Head Office registered in Scotland could be given that role provided they were disentangled from ownership by English Banks. So, yes, there’s work to be done there, but Scotland won’t become a normal country the day after IndyRef2 (assuming Yes wins), so there will be time to finalise these arrangements.
Then there is the issue of campaigning. There can be no doubt that the Scottish Government will need to play a leading role and will need to set out proposals for things like currency, borders, etc., but there was a White Paper last time, and a similar, but hopefully more persuasive, document can surely be produced this time around. I’d also like to see a draft Constitution produced. I think that could go a long way towards helping persuade people to Yes.
But, when it comes to spreading the word, it will not all be down to the SNP. The Yes movement was far broader than the SNP last time although very few Unionists seemed capable of grasping this point. For them, anyone pro-Indy must be a member of the SNP. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. Yes is far more widespread than that, so spreading the message won’t be left to one Party.
There will be a huge number of issues to be addressed during the campaign because everyone will have their own specific circumstance at the forefront of their minds. People being people, they will look at their situation and demand to know how they will be affected. Unionists will be able to pick on any number of business sectors and find fault with whatever plans the Scottish Government devises. The media will no doubt help them amplify these questions. The big answer, of course, is that these are mere deflection tactics. That’s because independence is normal. Focusing on the specific impact on a specific group of people is to miss the big picture. It’s what the UK media will do, but we must never lose sight of the fact that independence is normal.
I’ll say that again.
INDEPENDENCE IS NORMAL!
Plenty of other countries cope just fine without Westminster controlling them. Scotland can surely cope as well. Yes, transition may be tricky for many, but it won’t be as disastrous as Brexit, and will open up opportunities which Scots will surely embrace. We can protect our NHS from Tory privatisation, we can expand and develop our ports, we can create direct shipping routes to Europe, we can welcome scientists, doctors and other professionals who can help boost our universities and hospitals. We could even sell electricity to England rather than have them simply take it from us without payment.
Naturally, the threat of a hard border will be raised yet again, but as I’ve said many times before, this border will be England’s border with the EU. If we can re-join the EU, we open so many more borders. And England will still want our food and drink produce. As for our own supplies of food which currently come from depots in England, I am confident that the major supermarkets will quickly establish new depots or expand existing ones. Business looks for a market, and they won’t ignore the potential of the Scottish market.
Personally, I can’t wait for IndyRef2 to begin. The majority of Scots aren’t paying much attention because they are too busy coping with their own lives, but once a date is confirmed, it will focus their minds and force them to think about the issues. Those of us already convinced of the need to become a normal, self-governing country will have our work cut out for us, but if we each manage to persuade 1 other person, Yes will win. That’s not a daunting target, is it?
So, while I retain reservations about why it is taking so long to get the ball rolling, I welcome this announcement and look forward to seeing some actual progress. I still don’t know how the Section 30 issue will be overcome, but the Scottish Government needs to have a contingency plan ready. All we are waiting for is the green light.