by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Many in the Yes community are growing increasingly frustrated that IndyRef2 has still not been called. Indeed, some in the SNP seem to believe that we should wait several years before making another attempt, and this has not gone down well.

Nicola Sturgeon’s policy of waiting to see what happens with Brexit is eminently sensible because people who don’t know what they are voting for (or against) will be difficult to persuade. However, it is increasingly clear that Theresa May’s tactic is to constantly delay so that the UK crashes out of the EU at the end of March. Unfortunately, while this is the most likely scenario, there remains some possibility of an Article 50 extension, a fudged deal or even (although this is remote) a chance Brexit will be cancelled. This makes it very difficult for Nicola Sturgeon to call IndyRef2 because nobody yet knows for certain what Brexit it going to bring.

The danger in waiting for clarity is that it may be too late by the time a decision is made. If Scotland is officially dragged out of the EU, if the UK Government uses emergency powers to impose martial law, dissolve the Scottish Parliament and take full control of Scotland, independence will remain a distant, unattainable dream.

Some might ask whether the UK Government would really go that far, but that is the wrong question. What we should be asking is what would prevent them from going that far? They certainly seem to have few cares about the social implications of many of their policies. Cuts to disability welfare, Universal credit, the Hostile Environment, Austerity, the creation of a low-pay economy and many others have failed to generate any swing in public opinion. The English electorate will continue to vote Tory, so they have no reason to believe they cannot do pretty much as they want. In spite of the internal rifts within the Tory Party itself, there is no real opposition to their rule, and they have demonstrated through their willingness to take the Scottish Government to court that they do not respect devolution at all. When you add in the well documented issue of the need for the UK to retain Scotland’s natural resources, it is hard to see why they would not want to seize full control.

Yet the polls on independence refuse to budge, providing a reason for the more cautious SNP politicians to play down IndyRef2, while the wider Yes community is clamouring that it will soon be too late.

It is almost certainly too late to hope that our EU membership can be retained, but perhaps it will require the actual shock of Brexit to wake people up. Far too many are simply fed up of the constant Brexit news, but that is how the UK Government operates. They delay, produce meaningless slogans and jargon, and do so in the knowledge that the majority of the population, fed by a compliant media, will simply shrug and get on with their lives. Perhaps when food and medicines run out, when the NHS collapses, when travelling abroad becomes a nightmare, then people will suddenly realise what all the fuss has been about. If that is what the Scottish Government is waiting for, it is a dangerous strategy.

But before we get too depressed about what might happen in a few weeks, we should not forget that this is the most inept, incompetent and bungling UK Government in living memory. Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon and her team have looked at all the possible scenarios and devised plans to counter them. I sincerely hope so, because time has almost run out. Something must happen soon, and the Scottish Government needs to be ready for it.