In 2014 we had the opportunity to get away from the mess that the UK was in then, and from the even bigger mess that it’s in now and from the even bigger, bigger mess it will become in the future. We are now on our third Prime Minister since 2014, each one worse than the one before, and by 13th December, we may be heading for a fourth. Who would have thought that we could be (almost) hankering after the good old days of the Thatcher era. That’s how bad Boris Johnson is.
Pensioners who voted No in the referendum and who voted against the SNP in the 2017 General Election to protect their precious union or out of fear for their pensions have seen the UK government degenerate into helpless inadequacy (remember it was once strong and stable?); the value of their pensions, already the lowest in Europe, falling; fishermen desperate to leave the CFP seeing their fishing grounds bartered off (again) in the post-Brexit trade negotiations; farmers dependent on EU subsidies seeing their subsidies removed as we exit the EU, with no promise that the UK government will replace them after 2020; and all of us seeing a deterioration in our spending power; all because the top 1% didn’t want to be liable, under new EU legislation, to reveal where they were hiding their enormous wealth.
Ironically, many of these groups, the pensioners, the fishermen and the farmers, were persuaded to vote no in the independence referendum, falling for promises of brighter days ahead, only to be shat on by the Tories when they were no longer useful. You would think they should have known by now what the Tories are like.
The Tories have little or no interest in Scotland anyway. Remember the £160m the EU gave to the UK for Scottish hill farmers? Remember that it was distributed among English farmers, leaving nothing for Scottish farmers? Remember that the minister responsible, one Michael Gove, when asked about this, said, “Sorry about that, but it’s too late to do anything about it. Suck it up, Scotland”. I may be paraphrasing slightly here, but you’ll get the gist.
In the Brexit negotiations, May came back with a deal so bad that one former European minister described it as the sort of deal you would negotiate after losing a war, and most commentators agree that Johnson’s deal is even worse than May’s. The same will apply to trade negotiations with any other country. With the UK desperate for trade deals, what are the chances of getting a good deal from any negotiations? What chance the NHS surviving a free trade agreement with the US? What chance Scotch whisky still being distilled only in Scotland? What chance any agreement better than we have now as part of the EU? We have arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg saying it will take the UK 50 years after Brexit to get back to where it is now. That’s two generations, or in political terms, 10 generations., or perhaps better expressed as more than half a lifetime.
Of course, folk can always change their minds, you might say. If things are as bad as I’m saying, we can always have a referendum to decide to leave the UK. It’s never too late. Or is it? The Lords have debated a bill to amend the Act of Union, one of whose clauses will make it impossible for any UK territory to secede from the UK, which would mean Scotland being tied to the UK for ever in much the same position as Catalonia. Freed from the constraints imposed by the EU, Boris Johnson, or whoever is the Prime Minister after the 12th December election, can simply make it impossible to have a referendum by removing powers from Holyrood, or even closing it down.
But one chance still remains. IndyRef2 We have the mandate for a second referendum and we have a current Scottish parliamentary majority in favour. We have been promised IndyRef2 next year (now rebranded IndyRef2020), though only after we get agreement from Westminster (the almost mythical Section 30 order), so how we will proceed if Westminster says no, as they are almost certain to do, is, as yet, unknown.
But let’s assume IndyRef 2020 goes ahead. The issue then becomes what the reaction of the voters. Are we strong enough to take what could be our last chance, or are we going to go down in history as the only country in the world still too frightened to run our own affairs? Only time will tell, but, if we don’t take the chance soon, very soon, will Scotland still exist? After 300 years of trying, will the UK government finally manage to convert Scotland into North Britain, or should that be North England?
Please, government of Scotland, give us a date for IndyRef2 and give us the chance to get out of the disaster that the UK has become. Please, people of Scotland, screw up your courage, grasp this last opportunity in both hands, do the right thing by your children and grandchildren and transform Scotland into a normal independent country.