There are many phrases to describe a situation in which someone acts too quickly and then comes to regret it. “Act in haste, repent at leisure”, “Don’t walk before you can run”, “Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance.”
Albert Einstein said that he would spend 90 per cent of his time in understanding a problem, and once he had done that, he only required ten per cent to find the solution.
We are all interested in politics at different levels and one of the interesting developments is the pickle in which Nicola Sturgeon seems to have found herself.
In June last year, the day after the Brexit result became known, Nicola was out of the blocks straight away and was applauded, apparently by all and sundry, for seeming to take the initiative on behalf of all those who wanted to remain in the EU.
The gushing praise was evident not only in Scotland, but from the rest of the UK and from Europe as well. There was shock and disappointment at the result and many people did wonder if this might be enough to persuade them to rethink their views on Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom.
Some toyed with the idea and rejected it. Others did make the move across, but there was movement the other way as well. Apparently, this is called ‘churn’.
Initially, there did seem to be a net movement towards a pro-independence position, and a number of newspapers and celebrities seemed to change their positions as well. Some leading questions were asked in polls to try and generate the much needed momentum, and push support towards the strategically significant 60 per cent.
It never quite happened. Any increase fell back again to 2014 levels and stayed there, stubbornly.
What the First Minister failed to understand was that the most Eurosceptic party in Scotland was actually her own – in terms of her likely supporters at least. A higher proportion of her supporters voted to leave than those of the pro-Union parties. One of her MPs, Mhairi Black, revealed she had “held her nose” while voting to remain.
Other SNP politicians, like Alex Neil MSP, voted to leave, as apparently did others, but did not want to admit to this in public. He eventually let it slip. People began to wonder what the real views of the SNP were, whether their Remain votes were simply strategic, and whether they would all change their minds at a later date. Events happened, the issues moved on, the political narrative became defined by others and the SNP lost 500,000 votes.
Taking a little time to understand the issues might have been a better approach. The haste was improper, as many of us suspected at the time, and the damage now is done.
The debate will now be shaped by others, and the First Minister will have no choice but to stay at home for a while, whether she likes doing that or not.
Victor Clements is a self employed native woodland advisor. He lives in Aberfeldy, Perthshire.