Commentary by Derek Bateman
Sorry not to join the general lament but I return from a few weeks in France* with renewed optimism about independence.
The infantile squabbling of the governing party in London is a pitiable sight. Their wilful myopia to the unfolding tragedy of Brexit is a new low in post war mismanagement. Even in the mayhem of Iraq, Blair at the time appeared decisive and determined.
We are witnessing in real time the breakdown of a government subjugating national interest for internecine turmoil.
Week by week their failure even to develop a plan is confirmed. Now there is the growing likelihood of a long-term transitional arrangement with Brussels being necessary to stave off the worst effects of withdrawal. The angry hordes who voted to leave and who have no understanding why we can’t just ‘resign’, will be maddened that those who promised swift closure and instant funds for public spending have failed them. And still the highly-charged door to immigration will be remain open…
We are now in a phase of history when, because of the ineptitude of that cowardly clown Cameron, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. The so-called government he bequeathed has no touch let alone political elan. The juxtaposition of billions for a London Crossrail system with withdrawal of upgrading for essential rail services to Wales, the West country and the English north is a prime example.
To anyone outside the metropolitan bubble it is nothing less than a government saying F**k You to the rest of the country. As taxpayers’ billions pour into overheated London, the provinces are deliberately left in spartan penury. More than half of transport spending now goes to one corner of the country, a total of £1500 more per head. That’s a figure you don’t hear repeated with the same emotional venom applied to higher Scottish spending.
I have also experienced a morbid pleasure in watching the promises and vows of the pre-2014 British campaign bomb before our eyes. Recall with grim satisfaction how we were told with solemn sincerity that companies would leave an independent Scotland…then read how, daily the finance sector is transferring staff out of London and opening alternative offices in (independent) Ireland and Holland. See how even the horticulture sector which is dependent on outside labour, is now planning to move wholesale its production to Eastern Europe where the workers are.
Remember how the Scottish currency would lose its value without the unshakable strength of the UK behind it…then see the volatility of sterling since the Brexit vote. Prices in the shops would go up…that’s happening now while wages stagnate.
Hear again the echoes of the Alistair Darling threats of doom for the economy…before googling today’s news of ‘notable’ slowdown and ‘grim’ forecasts.
Revisit your memories of Unionists scoffing at how we would be perceived in the world – ‘wee Scotland out on its own’ – then check out what even our American allies are writing about us losing our collective mind. Read what Europe regards as fantasy imperial posturing by a rickety, class-ridden country. They are laughing at the UK – the Eddie the Eagle of European nations.
And, how could we forget? We were told by the wise and statesmanlike Darling that voting Yes would remove us from EU membership which would be catastrophic. How did that one go?
The only thing Darling got right was moving on to the board of Morgan Stanley to continue trousering yet more of the private sector pounds that were his trademark as an MP.
In other words the case made for the Union just three years ago is in ruins today. In a second campaign what threats could they make that would be credible? What could they say that wouldn’t have the voters rolling in the aisles? Who indeed could replace the wooden, angry Darling as front for the British state this time? Which one of the Tory Brexit buffons would Scots listen to? When it comes to more than a simplistic shouting match, could Davidson, a mouthy zealot from the right wing, rally a majority?
And, crucially, whose side would business be on this time? Interesting to see among others, Struan Stevenson, leader a pro-business pro-Union group, putting his name to the 60-strong letter asking for Brexit to be re-thought.
Because the question now is: What happens when the Tories take us out?
If the EU is truly crucial to national interest, to jobs and investment and growth, what does a Unionist businessman do when confronted with downturn, loss of contracts, shortage of revenue, falling share value, loss of market share, redundancies, restricted borrowing and extra administration and costs? Does he go down with the UK ship? Or does he finally accept the logic adopted by other small nations and embrace his own country’s European destiny?
It is becoming a no-brainer. And if business swallows its doubts about independence as the least worst option, how long will it take for the politicians to catch up?
There is a risk of course in any extended interim deal for the UK becoming the new norm and taking all the heat out of the issue. If that happens and people get used to just drifting along still in the EU but not of the EU, the independence case could suffer the same fate. It could go off the boil.
That’s where effective campaigning comes in because such deal would extend the period over which Scotland can plan and hold another vote before the UK slams the door on membership.
The option are there. The times are volatile. The Union is flaky. The threats are demolished. The disaster is unfolding.
And we are still here. Committed. Determined. And optimistic. Well, I am. Must be my holiday…
*This confused everyone at Newsnet Towers, as we thought Derek had been in Portugal for the past month…Ed