By Rab Bruce’s Spider

So, once again, the Tories are pushing the line that Scots resident outside of Scotland should have a vote in any IndyRef. It’s nice to know that they recognise IndyRef2 is going to happen, although this doesn’t quite square with Boris Johnson’s insistence that he will never grant a Section 30 Order.

Of course, the rationale behind allowing Scots living elsewhere (by which they mean England) is the expectation that such people will vote to preserve the Union because they depend on their jobs in England. You cannot fault the logic, and there is another reason for these Scottish exiles to vote No. That’s because, if Scotland did decide to become a normal country, those Scots would automatically be regarded as foreigners by their English neighbours and employers. As such, they will be prime targets for the Home Office’s hostile environment for undesirables.

What those Scots should be asking themselves, though, is why they needed to move to England in order to find work. Perhaps they should consider why such jobs are not available in Scotland given that we have been part of the allegedly most successful union the world has ever seen for over three centuries. Surely the broad shoulders and benevolence of the Union would have ensured that Scotland’s economy was booming? Yet many Scots have had to leave in order to find employment. That should tell you all you need to know about the Union.

All that aside, the very concept that people who do not live in Scotland should have a say in how we run our country is simply illogical. And didn’t the Brexit-loving Tories leave the EU for this very reason – except that the control the EU exerted over the UK was far less significant than the control Westminster exerts over Scotland because, despite all the attempts to conflate the two Unions, the EU and the UK are very different entities indeed. Still, being illogical and hypocritical is the Tory way, I suppose.

As for allowing Scots living elsewhere to vote, I’ve seen many people insist it will never happen, but I am not so sure. Unless there is some electoral rule I am not yet aware of, I can just see Boris Johnson telling the Scottish Government he will only grant a Section 30 Order on condition that Scots living in England are allowed to vote. If he does impose that condition, what should the Scottish Government do? I honestly don’t know.

And, if the UK Government are going to insist on being allowed to set the voting rules as a condition of agreeing to a Section 30 Order, then you can bet your last pound that they’ll want EU citizens excluded, and will set the voting age at 18.

As far as I know, the Scottish Government normally sets the voting eligibility criteria, and I sincerely hope it stays that way. However, I don’t think we can dismiss these noises coming out of Westminster. The UK Government have repeatedly demonstrated that they are not to be trusted, so I fully expect them to try to pull some sort of bullying trick if and when we ever get to the stage of negotiating the terms of IndyRef2.

I do hope I have overlooked something in electoral law, but I really do worry that Westminster will try to set the agenda if they ever agree to sit down and discuss IndyRef2.