It energised me somewhat when Wings over Scotland pronounced me dead, and I’ve now been blogging a fair bit over the past three weeks. I think, however, that time has come for me to take another break.
I’ll be back if Scotland actually moves closer to a new independence referendum (and opinion polls or political speeches don’t count here – I want to see some action).
I might also pop up if anything happens on the Brexit front. I think, however, that I’ll just sound like a broken record if I force myself to keep writing at the moment.
The thing is that I fear the SNP leadership have thrown away the key to a new indyref by insisting on a Section 30 order, and I’ll be surprised (albeit pleasantly) if the party actually reverses this policy at conference.
Although Keir Starmer has been out saying he’d respect a Scottish mandate to hold a new independence referendum, it doesn’t help us soon enough. Realistically speaking, the Tories aren’t going to hold an early election, so the General Election will take place in May 2024. If Labour win this, they’re unlikely to agree to Section 30 order immediately – they’re much more likely to say that the Scottish mandate was based on the Tories being in power at Westminster, so Scotland should wait two more years and see how wonderful Labour Britain will be. If the SNP win the 2026 Holyrood election, they might then respect this manifesto, but it takes time to pass Section 30 orders and organise referendums, so Indyref2 wouldn’t happen till 2028 at the earliest. By that point, EU membership will be a distant memory – nine years is an eternity in politics.
(And this, of course, presumes that the Brexiteer Tories won’t move further into fascist territory and make it almost impossible to oust them.)
I worry independence will get harder, not easier, the further the UK drifts away from the EU after the end of the transition period. Instead of moving straight from being part of EU’s Internal Market as part of the UK into an EU holding pen that effectively is part of the IM while negotiating EU membership, it will soon be the case that an independent Scotland will need to spend a serious amount of time outwith both internal markets (rUK + EU), while bringing all the legislation back into line with EU regulations. Once the public discover this, it’ll make it relatively harder to convince them that independence is a safe option. Indyref2 really should have been held no later than two years ago.
I fear that Brexit will be really horrendous – the first few months on 2021 could see empty shelves, rising prices and skyrocketing unemployment figures. Eventually, things will calm down, however. People will find new jobs (even if they’re worse than their old ones), the supermarkets will find new products to fill their shelves with (even if they’re slightly dearer and less safe than the ones they’re replacing), universities will stabilise at a lower and more provincial level, and so on. This will be the new normal. Labour can then start improving things from this low point, but there won’t be any easy solutions any more. And independence campaigners will have to convince people that it’s worth disrupting this new status quo in order to join the EU (or EFTA) – not that there’s an easy lifeboat that will allow Scotland to escape the madhouse before it’s too late (because it will be too late for that).
So I’m quite pessimistic. Brexit will be horrendous. Scotland has missed the boat. So I’ll get back into my coffin and wait for better (or more interesting) times.