Like the voracious, blood-sucking Dracula, the SNP have again shown their true nature. Another Scottish independence referendum is completely unnecessary, divisive and a scandalous distraction from the work of government. What do they really care about more – lifting children out of poverty or some geographical delineations on the map? Think about all the time, energy and money that could be (for example) removing the need for Food Banks in this country but will actually be wasted in rancorous debate, Twitter trolling and yet more bits of paper shoved through our doors. I’m appalled at some people’s priorities!
The Scottish Parliament has been granted increased powers since 2014 and must use these, and all the other levers at their disposal, to help Scotland catch-up with the rest of the UK. Currently, England are ahead of us in offering free childcare for 3-4 years olds – expanded to 30 hours per week this year by the Tories in Westminster but all the SNP offer is a similar move by the end of this Parliament (i.e. 2020!) It’s scandalous that given the extra cash which comes to Scotland as a result of the Barnett formula, the SNP have not even been able to sort this out because they’ve been spending so much money on White Papers and so much time plotting “indyref2” – ignoring the fact 55% voted against that outcome barely two years ago in a referendum that was supposed to be “once in a generation”.
They seek to exploit “Brexit”, and the climate of confusion, for maximum party gains. Rather than patiently work to build the case for an independent Scotland, waiting until polling shows a clear and decisive majority in favour, they wish to gamble with our futures and cannot even guarantee that we will be able to join the European Union as an independent nation. In fact, we won’t because of the “Barroso doctrine” and vetoes from Spain, Belgium and Cyprus. I can only think that any positive noises, which the SNP have heard from Brussels’ real politic, a ploy to weaken the UK’s bargaining position. Blindly embracing further upheaval is sheer folly and recklessness. I’m upset that Holyrood seems more interested in agitating and campaigning, soaking-up the applause of the party faithful, rather than making the tough decisions that are part of governing our country.
We still face the same questions about what currency Scotland would use post-separation with no obvious or attractive solutions. Oil prices have tanked since September 2014 and the economic case for independence is in tatters, especially as Scotland alone would be responsible for decommissioning the North Sea platforms.
Then there’s the timing. At least give PM May a chance to negotiate for all the United Kingdom the best possible “Brexit” deal. Yes, we didn’t want this outcome and it’s painful but it’s what 52% of that electorate opted for and must be at least properly attempted. For maximum effectiveness in these negotiations, we must have as much flexibility as possible and full backing – no divisions that can be exploited. If the promised “sunny uplands” turn into a squalid swamp after 2019, then they can possibly start talking about “indyref2” but please stop stoking discord in the middle of an immense challenge that we must face together as the UK.
If the SNP must ask Scotland to consider their destiny again in a “once in a generation” referendum, then at least offer a different question. I’m sure we could unite more easily behind more devolution for our nation and a federal arrangement. This would mean we have all economic and social powers, except currency, defence and foreign affairs, which we would pay Westminster for. We should aim to preserve the best of our Union, whilst giving Holyrood all the autonomy necessary to make Scotland a better place to live, removing any grounds for blame-shifting.
Yes this will raise many questions – what happens to the UK state pension, North Sea oil, capital gains and inheritance taxes, to name a few? However, where there is a will, there is a way and, if there is a clear, unambiguous vote for this kind of incremental, sensible change from Scotland, then no-one can refuse to listen or implement the people’s verdict. By discussing and drafting details through negotiations between Holyrood and Westminster, we can actually be confident about the choice in front of us.
Rather than rushing into a vote on independence where the polls demonstrate where are bitterly divided and a majority still want to remain in the Union, a responsible government would take time to consider and explore all the options, seeking to build consensus and unity, rather than sow discord and despair. Will the SNP rise to that challenge?
Finally, don’t forget to consider just how fatigued we all are by endless elections and just how grateful we would all be if our government actually got on with the job they were elected to do.