That late summer evening back in 2014 was when the issue was supposed to have been settled: on a Thursday in mid-September, Scotland went to the polls to vote in a referendum on independence. A Yes vote was advocated by the SNP; No was favoured by Labour, the Tories, and the Lib Dems. And the Noes had it by just over 55% to just under 45%. That was that. Except now we have Brexit, and all is changed.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been making noises about calling another referendum on independence more or less since the EU referendum last year. As part of the press establishment strategy of rubbishing such ideas, the narrative was immediately established that told she was bluffing. Nothing good could possibly come from letting the Scots go their own way. They were not capable of going it alone.
To this end, the usual smears were deployed: they were all on benefits, and probably illegal drugs as well. Their economy could not possibly survive without Westminster constantly baling them out. Michael “Oiky” Gove claimed “It’s striking so many people, including the SNP, thought that leaving the EU would precipitate a second referendum. The people of Scotland are not going to vote to leave a union that does work”.
Gove was not the only one so pontificating. Alex Bell, in the Guardian no less, told readers “In a period of political intimidation, time has been called on Nicola Sturgeon’s threat to hold a second Scottish independence referendum”. The collected idiocy at the Express swaggered “A HUMILIATED Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been told to “take a second independence referendum off the table” after Theresa May called her bluff on Brexit”. Ms Sturgeon’s voice was somehow not being heard.
That may not have been wise: as the Independent headline back in January warned, “Nicola Sturgeon says she isn't bluffing over Scottish independence referendum”. Her exact words? “They will be making a big mistake if they think that I'm in any way bluffing”. But only last week, such talk was being dismissed as a “distraction”.
All of which goes to show that the inability of the press establishment to venture beyond its pre-set agenda has blinded them to the inevitable consequence of the disturbing rush by our not at all unelected Prime Minister to impose what looks like a prejudicially hard Brexit on Britain: Nicola Sturgeon has now done the deed and will seek a second referendum on Scottish independence. That’s for some value of “bluffing”, then.
The referendum will, if approved, take place between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 - in other words, the vote come at the time that negotiations between Britain and the EU are coming to a close. So Scottish voters will be able to see what is on the table if they remain in the Union. And meanwhile, Spain is unlikely to block a Scottish application to join the EU. The focusing of political minds at Westminster may be one result of the news.
It’s entirely possible that Ms Sturgeon hasn’t worked this one through. But the nagging thought is bound to enter that she has made the canny decision - and Theresa May hasn’t.