If you see disaster coming, it’s your duty to avert it

titanic photo
Photo by knolleary
Pete Wishart has written an article in The National today, which rather puzzled me. In it he writes this:

Brexit will be an absolute disaster for Scotland, cutting average pay by £2000 and resulting in the loss of 80 000 jobs. […]

With transitional arrangements in place, it is likely that the full impact of Brexit will start to become apparent just as we start to contest the 2021 election. We therefore have to seek a renewed mandate in 2021 and have the courage of our convictions to fight the next Scottish election on securing a renewed referendum mandate.

This is barking mad! If Pete Wishart thought there was a decent chance Brexit might be a success, I could understand why he might want to wait a bit, but if he’s convinced (as am I) that it will be “an absolute disaster”, why wait?

Have politicians lost their ability to change people’s minds? Is there a rule that they have to follow opinion polls slavishly without trying to influence hearts and minds?

If you can see that the Titanic is going to collide with an iceberg and sink, your duty is to either change course or launch a lifeboat. It’s not to congratulate yourself that lots of people will flock to your lifeboat once the ship is sinking fast.

I realise that a lot of SNP people got a nasty shock in June, when the party did much worse than anybody had expected. However, what happened wasn’t a rejection of independence – it was a sign that many independentistas are getting fed up with the SNP, as happens with all parties that have been in power for a while. I find it very unlikely that Scottish voters will vote for the SNP in bigger numbers in 2021 and 2022 if the economy is falling apart under an SNP government (but ultimately due to Brexit and Tory austerity).

We already have two separate mandates for independence. It’s true that it’s hard to force Westminster’s hand when Yes is still hovering around the 45% mark in the opinion polls, but surely what we should be doing in those circumstances is to campaign for independence now in order to shift public opinion.

I have for a long time argued that we need a new independence referendum no later than the autumn of 2018, in order to get out before Brexit happens. However, if the UK gets a two-year transition deal, as asked for by Theresa May (and whether this gets accepted by the EU is by no means certain yet), I guess we can perhaps wait till September 2020, if we’re happy to negotiate independence within six months. If we want 18 months to put everything in place (which is what Alex Salmond’s plan was last time), we need to hold ScotRef no later than September 2019.

That is entirely doable. The EU will not implement a transitional arrangement unless they know where the UK is heading, so by March 2019 it should be be clear what Brexit means, and that then allows for a six-month campaign before a September 2019 referendum.

Much as I can see the rationale for this, I still personally think it is too late. As I’ve said many times before, a lot of people and companies will start moving to the continent in 2018, and they won’t come back no matter what. And new companies trying to make money out of Brexit (for instance by selling substitutes for EU products that suddenly get too expensive) will not place themselves in Scotland if there’s any possibility that Scotland will leave the UK soon afterwards, so Scotland is likely to end up in a nightmare scenario, losing people and companies but not gaining any, basically because we’ve been staring into the headlights for too long.

Also, the longer we wait, the more likely it becomes that the English Remainers will finally get their act together and cancel Brexit. That would be great in many ways, but it will kick Scottish independence into the seriously long grass. It certainly won’t benefit the SNP.

If I was being evil, I would say that Pete Wishart’s idea of a referendum during the 2021–26 parliament is based on the idea that asking for a mandate for independence might be the SNP’s only chance to win that election. However, if that’s the thinking behind it, it’s for the sole benefit of the SNP and to the detriment of the independence movement and of the people of Scotland.

3 thoughts on “If you see disaster coming, it’s your duty to avert it

  • 27/09/2017 at 09:10
    Permalink

    I wouldn’t read too much into it. I saw him on the telly last night and everything he said was heavily caveated. IF a transition deal is in place, IF the destination is clear. And it has to be by the end of negotiations, otherwise… no deal. The EU would rather see us drop over the cliff than permit some kind of undefined fudge.

    The problem is the SNP was burnt by the Maybot’s self-upgrade/destruct attempt. Mark Twain said:

    “There are some things that can beat smartness and foresight? Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.”

    Now, whilst the SNP aren’t the best in the world, the principle still applies. They’re afraid of what the idiots in Westminister are going to do next.

    Reply
  • 27/09/2017 at 15:28
    Permalink

    It seems clear, given how they’ve voted, that the Scottish electorate won’t be persuaded in favour of independence by any amount of hypothetical future scaremongering (sorry, completely true predictions) about Brexit.

    Campaigning for independence won’t really work, because it will just be countered by campaigning against independence. Yes campaigners will hold up worst-case predictions about brexit’s effects, and No campaigners will hold up GERs-based predictions and argue about the negative effects of tariff barriers at the Tweed (the Yes campaigners’ arguments, shifted geographically). Frustrating for true believers, but I don’t see the SNP going all-in on early independence campaigning given the political landscape.

    Reply
  • 27/09/2017 at 19:05
    Permalink

    Have you joined your local YES group yet?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optimized with PageSpeed Ninja