Raising the volume on a second Scottish Independence Referendum by Nicola Sturgeon is just games. She has said it’s Westminster playing games in that the Tory Government are heading for a “hard” Brexit and playing games with Scotland’s future. The reality is that the SNP – in line with their Irish blood-brothers, the IRA and Sinn Fein – look to stab the England-headquartered Government in the back, especially in times of high drama and tribulation. The Brexit negotiations are such a time. Sturgeon more likely to have Hitler’s pal Éamon de Valera framed on her wall at home than Queen Elizabeth II.
The current public mood in Scotland is two to one against a second referendum. Why? The large majority of Scots – not called canny for nothing – see the SNP’s mono focus on Indy Ref 2 as a misdirection. Away from the education crisis in Scottish schools and away from the decline in Scotland’s economy since the SNP came to power – the SNP would blame the latter on an historic and unforeseeable decline in oil prices but that does not explain away the disappearance of twenty percent of jobs in the financial sector since just 2014, caused by investment uncertainty generated by talk of Scottish independence.
Sturgeon is playing with fire, of course. She’s egged on by her predecessor, the wounded gambler Alec Salmond, to urge the breakup of Britain but what Indy Ref 2 might more likely bring is the breakup of the SNP. The last referendum was supposedly a once-in-a-generation referendum. She claims that a new referendum is on the cards because of Scotland’s overwhelming vote to remain in the EU and the contrivance that Brexit is some cataclysmic event that dramatically changes everything. That’s rubbish. Sturgeon’s orders are to take the country. There is a torrent of dishonesty on Sturgeon’s part here. This call for a new referendum is a truly laboured contrivance at which few are smiling, save perhaps Vladimir in the Novo-Ogaryovo and some directors from Gazprom.
Thirty percent of SNP voters voted to leave the EU. The likes of Jim Sillars – a leading figure in the campaign for Scottish independence – have already said they will not vote in a second referendum if that means staying in the EU.
What would the second independence referendum be a vote on? The three unknowns of the Brexit outcome, what the EU will look like over the next decade (if it will survive at all), and therefore what Scottish Independence will look like block out any light in the room, as would any three, such sizeable elephants. The criss-crossing of these three strands through the previous vote would likely leave Sturgeon way short of being able to hold on as First Minister of an already devolved Scotland, whose exports head to the UK before Europe at a ratio of four to one.
Theresa May can turn down Sturgeon’s calls for Indy Ref 2. Or, possibly, suggest a second referendum after the Brexit negotiations are completed. Either, Sturgeon knows, give her and the SNP an opportunity to squeal in indignation. To Sturgeon the only possible downside is if the UK’s Brexit negotiations go well.
While ignoring Sturgeon’s whining in the short term, May should take steps now to bolster her own position in case of deciding either. Commissioning polls north of the border to show how unwanted the referendum is and how frustrated the Scots are with SNP incompetence and muddying the investment waters with their incessant misdirection. Inviting the likes of Sillars to Downing Street to undermine Sturgeon. Reversing the tide of opinion of the lazy thinkers amongst the British political and media class who seem wedded to the cause of separatism because they have mistaken the weakness of Labour for SNP dominance in Scotland. If Brexit negotiations were seen to go badly for Scotland right up until the last moment – that would be the best result for Westminster and the worst result for Scotland.
Always add the right bait to your hook. The adage “fresh is best” applies to sturgeon fishing. She’ll soon be joining Salmond in the cool box.