Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A cast-iron mandate

Nicola Sturgeon today claims she has a cast-iron mandate for another Scottish Independence referendum.

That mandate presumably dates from the 2016 Holyrood election, when her government lost overall control and became dependent on The Greens for a majority.

Yes, I know The Greens favour independence, but I'm inclined to wonder whether their voters had it top of their agenda when marking their crosses on the ballot paper. Presumably, if it had been their priority, these voters could just as easily have voted SNP.

Needless to say her mandate does not date from the 2014 referendum, where the nationalists lost by a 10% margin. At that time they claimed referendums were a 'once in a generation' event. It now appears that referendums will only cease once the SNP wins one, or alternatively when they are no longer maintained in power by The Greens.

Looking at the catastrophic mismanagement that ten years of SNP rule has brought to Scotland's economy and basic public services, we can well understand the need for another bout of tribalist shroud-trailing to distract the electorate. Nicola Sturgeon's own popularity is at last begin to flag too.

On the other hand the SNP has still not come up with an alternative plan for a national currency. Surely they won't try and run the busted flush of sharing the pound sterling for a second time?

Moreover the oil price on which the last projected independence budget relied has halved and it is now reckoned that an independent Scotland would have a fiscal crisis worse than that of Greece.

In the Middle Ages it was traditional for the Scots to invade northern England whenever the English were distracted by a European war, but reviving this opportunistic policy during the Brexit negotiations is doubly inappropriate.

Firstly it prevents Scottish voters having a clear idea of what relationship with the EU would be the alternative to independence. It still seems probable that Spanish and Belgian vetoes would be deployed to prevent Scottish membership either as a new member or a rump continuing member, so Scots would be voting for a pig in a poke on both sides of the ballot.

Secondly it complicates the position for UK and EU Brexit negotiators, neither of whom could be clear whether the UK government was negotiating for the whole island.

The truth is that the uncertainty caused by the Damocles sword hanging over the Scottish economy will deter inward investment until the threat of another referendum is removed.

And, perish the thought, should the separatists ever gain their hearts' desire, the outrage they claim to feel over being dragged out of the EU against their will is likely to be as nothing compared to the outrage of half the Scottish population dragged out of the UK against their will.

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