Indyref2 call betrays Downing Street mis-reading of SNP Brexit stance as ‘bluff’

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My name's Theresa and I'm listening...just not to you

Commentary: Derek Bateman reacts to Nicola Sturgeon’s confirmation that she will press for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Poor Theresa sure misjudged this one. The scoffs that Sturgeon was bluffing look limp and laughable now, no doubt based partly on the murmurings of her Scottish outpost where Foghorn Ruth has been bellowing No Surrender.

Derek Bateman

So used are we to asserting the arrogance of Westminster that it hardly registers today but here it has been on display with a vengeance. Sturgeon cleverly did not threaten independence, rather she accepted the UK vote but wanted Scotland’s separate decision respected.

Would it have hurt May too much to have made it known she had investigated with Brussels the possibility of such a deal on separate membership of the Single Mafrket – only to be told it was proving difficult?

Did she openly debate the UK remaining in the European Economic Area where a Norway option might have been used to assuage Scottish opinion?

Could she have brought herself so low as to meet Sturgeon to propose a joint responsibility for ag and fish after Brexit?

RESPECT

Has she given any iota of respect to anyone except the madcap Brexiteers by wilfully bypassing parliament and ignoring the 48 per cent? In a pale impersonation of Thatcher she has stamped her foot. No! No! No!

She cut Sturgeon, and therefore Scotland, out of the thinking and decision-making process so that the First Minister spoke unaware if May was about to make an Article 50 declaration. Such is our place in the Union. So much for 50 MPs. So much for devolved government. So much for respect. A real politician would not make these basic errors. The saddest part of this story is the use of the phrase…’she will ask permission to hold a referendum…’ That is the Union is miniature. Somebody else will decide if we have the right to vote on our European future – us, Scotland, one of the ancient nations of Europe, in supplicant mode to people who do little more than spit metaphorically at our feet.

May has in fact provoked a reaction by her intransigence, goading her opponent into the nuclear option which was spelled out all along in her manifesto. Tory moans  now, led by Davidson, that the promise of indyref2 does not stand up because the SNP lost a majority of seats is cackhanded  democracy. The SNP won the election. Decisively. Davidson did not.

She is in a poor position to complain  about division. Nothing has divided Britain like her party’s suicidal dalliance with xenophobia and narrow nationalism. There is no division greater than removing ourselves from the world’s biggest international power sharing bloc and richest market place.

CONSISTENT

Sturgeon has done a rare thing – acted like a leader. She has been clear, consistent and committed. She has also retaliated against a two-faced opponent who offered blandishments but reneged when it mattered. Now May will, as I wrote last week, enter the Brexit talks with a broken pencil and carrying someone else’s notes. She no longer commands all she surveys and will be a more shrunken figure viewed from the other side of the negotiating table.

The strength of the economy and the trade balance shows the UK’s muscle, she will aver. Not without the oil and the whisky exports, she will be reminded. Renewable energy sources but not Scotland’s, Prime Minister…etc. All the way through the irritating adjustments will have to be made for the possibility of Scotland’s departure from  one union and remaining in another.

Her job just got a lot more complex and the fact is she’s already at sea and listing in favour of the anti-EU ideologues who’d rather play with Trump than Brussels. She lost what control she had today to a smarter politician. It was a mistake not to engage Sturgeon and try to enlist her in the process however tangentially to appear at least to be keeping her on side for as long as possible. Instead of reading it as a Sturgeon bluff, she needed to realise the impossible position Sturgeon is in, given her manifesto commitment, and try to help her out in order to rescue the Union.

May’s lack of trust in her equals and her unhealthy abhorrence of parliament are creating a figure of Shakespearean tragedy. As the cost of Brexit unravels before us, today’s sudden thrust of the dagger will be the first of many.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Astute analysis, Derek.

    I particularly like these 2 paragraphs:-

    `Sturgeon has done a rare thing – acted like a leader. She has been clear, consistent and committed. She has also retaliated against a two-faced opponent who offered blandishments but reneged when it mattered. Now May will, as I wrote last week, enter the Brexit talks with a broken pencil and carrying someone else’s notes. She no longer commands all she surveys and will be a more shrunken figure viewed from the other side of the negotiating table.

    The strength of the economy and the trade balance shows the UK’s muscle, she will aver. Not without the oil and the whisky exports, she will be reminded. Renewable energy sources but not Scotland’s, Prime Minister…etc. All the way through the irritating adjustments will have to be made for the possibility of Scotland’s departure from one union and remaining in another.`

  2. “…she (May) needed to realise the impossible position Sturgeon is in, given her manifesto commitment, and try to help her out…”

    Nicola is not a supplicant here, she created this situation. From her speech 24 June 2016 her strategy has been clear. Expose Brexit for what it is, box in the Brexit government and play a straight bat. She did that today in Spades.

    Nicola’s outmanoeuvred Theresa. She’s put her queen into position. Theresa must concede a separate deal for Scotland or face Inyref2. She’d be fighting on two fronts. Perhaps that’s why Article 50 has now been moved from tomorrow to the end of the month?

    I would be surprised if a third front isn’t opened up in NI. Sinn fein will move for a referendum. “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”, is ingrained in the Irish nationalist psyche. Short of a major war, it couldn’t get more difficult for England.

    The Westminster eejits have so hollowed out their State, that it doesn’t have the resources to confront these combined threats. Worse, the calibre of the politicians and their advisors is, “not up to the job”. Hell mend them.

    Happy days,
    Saor Alba.

  3. S’pose I could be wrong, bein’ kinda old and all, but I can’t think of a time when Westminster gave a rat’s erse as to what Scotland wanted. Not in a meaningful way. You might help me remember if you can.

  4. Hi Bryan, there was a thing in USA and here called post war concensus when the rich paid fair taxes and governments of the left and right tried to ensure that all of the country, especially the poorer areas, were assisted in terms of meaningful job creation. A nations’s balance of payments was seen as crucial and debt, personal and national, was monitored and kept to a minimum.

    Those days are gone and that is one of many reasons why we have to be brave enough to go out on our own now. Goodwill for Scotland is about to run low in England because of the next referendum, just at the same time as our stock rises within the EU. We have, as Derek pointed, out an able leader taking on a blundering ideologue devoid of tactical nous. Let’s hope we Scots are worthy of Sturgeon’s efforts on our behalf.

  5. Description of Mrs Mayhem –
    The Dunning-Kruger effect. It is the cognitive bias that makes less competent people overestimate their own skills while underestimating the competence of others.

    Stupid people tend to badmouth others in order to look better themselves. They believe themselves to be above everyone else and are always quick to judge. Prejudice is very much not a sign of intelligence.

    A

  6. Lou, love this wee bit : “Prejudice is not a sign of intelligence” – may I have your permission to “borrow” that quote? Thanks in advance – notional Drams have been ordered, and are on the way 😉

  7. Quite clear now that democracy Westminster style is a total sham when May can say she will disregard a) the will of the Scottish Parliament b) the 56 SNP MPs and c) the 62% who voted remain.

    Of course in 1979 some 52% of Scots voted for devolution and they were ignored. So what do you do to secure democracy Derek. It sure ain’t working.

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