Supreme Court independence referendum ruling: Scotland deserves better than SNP's perpetual politics of charade – Brian Wilson

The Supreme Court independence referendum ruling raises a critical question for Scotland, or at least that part of it which is intrigued by such abstractions. How long are we prepared to be governed by the politics of charade?

Lord Reed’s promptly delivered decision was not some great legal landmark raising deep constitutional issues. It was a re-statement of the blindingly obvious as everyone including the hapless messenger, Dorothy Bain, knew to be the case.

As I pointed out when the case was raised, the Supreme Court was being used as a prop for a stunt. Ask it a question you know the answer to and when it arrives, whip up a ferment of indignation. Except it hasn’t been much of a ferment beyond the usual suspects.

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The nonsense about “democracy” is insulting to those who fought for democracy, side by side, when it was threatened by the forces of evil. The idea that “Scottish democracy” is defined by the right of nationalists to hold referendums until they finally win one is for the birds.

SNP MSPs could resign to force new elections, but then voters might punish them for a track record that includes unbuilt ferries at the state-owned Ferguson Marine yard (Picture: John Devlin)
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Unusually among states with separatist movements, the UK promoted a no-strings referendum which could have led to its break-up. The result was clear-cut. If they had lost, those who did not want to separate would have respected the result – and it would have been for ever.

There was no reciprocal acceptance by the losing side for any period of time. That is what democracy demanded – acceptance of the result. I do not recall much resistance to David Cameron’s decision to hold the 2014 referendum. There was a consensus that a democratic issue was at stake and needed resolution.

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If such a consensus again arises, it will not be difficult to discern. However, there is not one shred of evidence that it exists at the present time, in favour of holding an early referendum far less seeking independence. It is the perpetual clamour of the noisy minority.

I think the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon made a huge strategic mistake in staking everything on a second referendum. She had the ball at her feet with 45 per cent of votes bequeathed to her. It is almost miraculous she has failed to expand on it, through eight years of Tory government, Brexit and all the rest.

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Now it is about spinning out the charade. A special conference! One holds one’s breath! Then onwards to the frankly ridiculous idea of a “de facto referendum” through a General Election, based on assuming one political party’s right to instruct the electorate what to vote about.

Since the SNP have been telling voters for decades to back them whether they want independence or not, and have regularly sought tactical votes as a “lesser of evils”, you can forgive folk for being confused if they are now told to keep their votes unless they reflect full support for independence. It is nonsense.

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Incidentally, I’ve never quite understood why they are waiting for a General Election. If the SNP are seeking an act of Parnell-ite drama, why don’t all their MSPs resign and offer themselves for re-election? Oh hang on. Disobedient voters might prefer to comment on the dire state of Scotland’s NHS, the absurd gender reform Bill or, in my neck of the woods, the monumental damage caused by unbuilt ferries.

How dare they, when the High Priestess of Division has decreed there is only one issue to consider! Small wonder more intelligent nationalists already see the trap of their own making – and to what purpose? Another two wasted years of elongating the charade will still end up in the same dead end.

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The outcome the SNP fear is the return of a Labour government for the whole UK and they will, as in the past, do everything in their power to prevent it. The narrative they rely on is of independence as the only alternative to the “detested” Tories.

If that crumbles, so too will the nationalist hegemony and voters will make their own choice about the change they prioritise. Roll on that day for, heaven knows, Scottish politics needs new ideas, not stale old games.

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