Thursday, March 16, 2017

More nonsense on stilts from the SNP

I am still struggling to take in the sheer ludicrousness of the Scottish National Party position on whether there should be another referendum on Scottish Independence.

By the way, the SNP don't like people referring to the referendum they want to call as Indyref2. Presumably because that might remind people of the first Indyref - and the result.

In order to avoid making the SNP's chip on the shoulder any worse, we probably ought to avoid personalising this discussion and framing it in terms of personal criticism of the First Minister.

Allison Pearson's article on the Telegraph, "Here's another treacherous Queen of Scots" (that was the title in the print edition) is likely to be very entertaining for most unionists but it probably isn't in the interests of the union to further galvanise the separatists by inflaming their persecution complex.

Does the SNP have, as they claim, a mandate to call a second referendum? The position is not as clear-evident as they pretend.

Yes, the possibility of calling such a referendum was mentioned in the SNP manifesto for the 2016 Scottish parliament election. An election in which their party list share of the vote fell, with the result that the SNP lost their majority in the Scottish parliament, becoming a minority government as the largest party.

And if you look at what the SNP said before the election and in that manifesto, it's far from obvious that all their conditions to call a second Independence referendum have actually been met.

The lack of majority support in Scottish opinion polls is only the first hole in the SNP position.

The second is that their reason for revisiting what they had described as a "once in a generation" vote is that Britain leaving the EU has changed Scotland's position - but the SNP are no longer proposing that an Independent Scotland would be a full member of the EU.

This seems to make complete nonsense on stilts of their argument for calling a new referendum in the first place. What is the logic of using the fact that you are being "dragged out of the EU" and therefore the situation has changed as the basis for trying to overturn the previous referendum unless you are proposing to try to rejoin the EU?

We will never know whether an Independent Scotland would have been allowed to rejoin the EU following a "Yes" vote in 2014 and it is far from clear whether they would be allowed to do so following a "Yes" vote in Indyref2. It's not the UK government or the English who are in a position to stop Scotland staying in or rejoining the European Union, but the other 27 member government, each of whom would have a veto.

And because several of those governments have their own separatist movements which they are determined not to encourage, there is a very substantial possibility that at least one of them - most probably Spain - would exercise such a veto.

Therefore if Scotland does vote to leave in Indyref2 there is a strong probability that the country will spend at least some time outside both the UK and EU.

Accepting this and regarding it as a good option is a logical and consistent position for the large minority of Scots for whom Independence is far more important than how well off Scotland is - after all, anyone who dislikes rule from London should find rule from Brussels even more annoying - but there are some very serious economic downsides to such a position. And we're not talking "Project Fear" but "Project Fact" in making such a point.

It looks at the moment as though the SNP may be planning to seek EFTA membership in the event of a successful campaign to leave the UK. As Iain Martin writes at Reactions here,

"The SNP’s new position appears to be this:

It is an outrage that Scotland is being dragged out of the EU! That means there must be a referendum on Scotland very soon!

Does that mean you will then seek full membership of the EU, that body you keep saying you are furious about leaving?

Er … ‎no. That will not be necessary. Something a bit like Norway – in the EEA, and EFTA – should be fine. Let’s call it the “mibbe Norway” option.

On one level this is clever, because it suggests compromise and sounds reasonably coherent. And it squares the circle. Unfortunately, in the middle of the circle is a very large hole. Scotland would break away from the UK, where 64% of Scottish exports go, and instead seek to negotiate Norway-style status while establishing a new currency."

The SNP's proposed timing for another referendum is also the height of absurdity. If you are going to hold such a vote it is essential that Scottish voters should be in a position to know what sort of terms of trade with the EU will be available to them if they vote to stay in the UK. Which means you should not hold the vote until those terms are negotiated - which may take most of the two years available. Holding the vote before Britain leaves the EU, as the First Minister proposes, would put the Scottish people in the position of buying a pig in a poke and deny them the opportunity to make an informed decision.

The last Indyref was angry and divisive and injected a large degree of poison into both Scottish and British political discourse, leaving a legacy of bitterness which is far from healed. The next one will probably be nastier.

My last quote is Hugo Rifkind in The Tmes on the uncertainty and difficulties Scotland now faces.


Anonymous said...

Hypocrite. I haven't heard you calling Super Dave's decision to hold a referendum absurd.

Chris Whiteside said...

That is a serious contender for the silliest comment ever posted on this blog, and that is saying something.

Had I challenged the right of the SNP to call for the FIRST Indyref, you might possibly have a point.

If I were one of those remain voters who has been calling for a SECOND referendum on Britain's exit from the EU, you certainly would have a point.

But although I voted remain, I accept the result.

My position is that the result of the FIRST referendum on both issues should be respected - both the one I was pleased by and the one I personally voted against - but I have expressed strong disagreement with those on the losing side of both issues who called for a SECOND referendum because they didn't like the result of the first one.

So I am entirely consistent in what I have written about second referenda on the two issues and the charge of hypocrisy on this does not make any sense.

Anonymous said...

"If you are going to hold such a vote it is essential that Scottish voters should be in a position to know what sort of terms of trade with the EU will be available to them if they vote to stay in the UK."

So your saying that for Scottish voters must know the "terms of trade with the EU" before a referendum but for British voters it didn't matter.

Jim said...

That is a serious contender for the silliest comment ever posted on this blog sorry its my day off.

Anonymous said...

Jim, what are Britain's post Brexit "terms of trade with the EU"? Did anyone know this before the referendum? It's Mr Whiteside that is having double standards.

Jim said...

no one knew this before the referendum, because it had not been negotiated yet. It still hasn't so the answer is no one knows now.

Thats how article 50 is written, a 2 year period in which to negotiate post exit terms on things like trade.

Jim said...

Though you do raise a fair point, exactly what will be Scotlands position as an independent country, well no one knows that for sure either.

Jim said...

Personally I dont really express an opinion on Scotlands independence. I think its a matter for the Scots. Though I am not a fan of EU style "they must keep on voting till they get it right".

Going into the referendum, i supported and joined The Leave Alliance, we were pretty much the only group supporting Brexit that actually did lay out an exit plan. I would still suggest the government follow said plan, but that looks to be unlikely.

The main stream "Leave" campaigns were adamant not to produce one Which to my mind almost cost us the referendum. I maintain to this day that Leave never really won the EU referendum, more remain lost it.

It was pretty much a race to the bottom of the barrel with the mainstream campaigns, and lucky for us on the leave side, remain won that race with project fear.

As I say, don't really express an opinion on the Scottish question, though if i was to give the SNP and independence supporters any advise it would be not to go into a referendum without laying out a full detailed and credible exit strategy/plan

Jim said...

ps, i would also suggest to them to wait until after the article 50 negotiations as well. At least then there will be a far clearer indication of what Remain in the UK means.

Anonymous said...

All the Nicola Sturgeon is asking for is the permission for a referendum so the legislation can be put in place to have it when and if the Brexit negotiations fail so they can get on create their own destiny. To deny the Scots is anti-democratic but that's Britain for you.

Jim said...

I think you are missing the key point here, she is not asking for permission for A referendum, she is asking for permission for a SECOND referendum.

That is really the problem here "Go on voting till they get it right" - I railed when the EU done the same thing to the people of the ROI, over Lisbon, I was not happy at calls from anyone on a second EU referendum, and I would be entirely inconsistent if I supported calling a referendum in Scotland so soon after the last one.

Chris Whiteside said...

It would be helpful if Mr or Ms Anonymnous could tell us his or her name, or a nickname he/she is happy to be known by.

Jim gets the point, and the anonymous poster does not. Like Jim, I accept the decision to call the FIRST referendum on both subjects and an critical of calls for a SECOND referendum on both subjects.

Nicola Sturgeon is trying to reverse a recent decision of the Scottish people which she had suggested before the vote would be a "once in a generation" decision.

My position in being critical of calls for a second referendum on both issues is neither inconsistent nor hypocritical.

Mr/Ms anonymous may not remember, but I'm sure Jim will, that during the EU referendum, although I ultimately voted Remain I praised the "Leave Alliance" and criticised the other "Leave" campaigns because the former did set out a strategy on what the plan for leaving the EU was and what terms of trade they would seek, and the latter didn't.

You can find three of the many, many posts in which I made such points during the run-up to the EU referendum at



I wanted the British people to have as much information as possible before voting whether to Leave the EU about what they were actually voting for, just as I want the Scottish people to have as much information about the options they are choosing between if the SNP do manage to get a second referendum on Independence.

Further, while it would never have been possible to know in advance the terms of separation from the EU before voting to leave the EU, it IS possible to know before holding a second Indyref what terms Britain will get by waiting two years for them to be negotiated.