2007 - 2021

A Tale of Two Traps or “What the Hell are We Supposed to do Now?”

As the Mother of Parliaments packs up its ineptitude for the last summer holiday its members are going to get before they and the rest of us need a Visa to pop over the Channel to the seaside, the sense of futility and uselessness that has afflicted the group of 36 SNP MPs since last year’s election, introducing ignored amendment after ignored amendment to protect Scotland from the shrill hysteria of what feels more and more like somebody else’s problem in somebody else’s country, has become universal.

Desperate futility is written across the pasty features of Honourable Members from every corner of Englandshire also. No wonder they want to run away from it all and attempt to forget it from the bottom of a jug of Sangria somewhere. And the temptation to say “The hell with the lot of them” is particularly strong not just for SNP MPs but for the 62% of Scottish voters who uselessly voted not to have ANYTHING to do with any version of this post-imperial bullshit.

English Brexiteers, now loyally supported by a Scottish cohort of vapid nodding wally dugs, are actually winning the race to nowhere that the voters of Scotland decisively rejected at the ballot box not once, not twice, but three times since the election of 2015 bounced David Cameron into preferring a wafer thin Tory Majority to the good of not just our country, but of his.

And 45% of Scottish voters can quite rightly grab a hold of the 55% who voted No in September 2014 and point and say “This is your fucking fault, you dopey bastards!  You handed our future to these maniacs and LOOK what they’re doing with it!”

But Scots, even “Yes” voting Scots who want and feel they deserve NONE of this lunacy, are trapped by arithmetic too. Just like Parliament in London, we are paralysed by our own national division. We feel we need to do SOMETHING, but every avenue of escape seems blocked. There are calls for SNP MPs to boycott the UK Parliament for all the good they are doing there. But this looks like an empty gesture in the face of a Brexit Event Horizon that is fast becoming completely real. Unionist voters would simply not take part in an “unofficial” referendum on Independence.  It would be nothing but a PR stunt…and these things are all very well and have their place under some circumstances, and might even make us feel better, might even let us cry out “Nothing to do with us, gov”…but nothing would really be changed.  Brexit would still come and take us kicking and screaming with it.

I think the SNP need to respond right now to the change in Westminster circumstances right now. And, however reluctantly, I think they need to join in with a Westminster response to the increasing hopelessness that is being felt all across the chamber. I think the SNP has to declare in favour of another UK wide popular vote on the “Brexit Question.” Despite the strong and understandable temptation to say “Nothing to do with us, buddy” to the lot of them ” I think something is changing in the political weather in the whole UK. It is not just six weeks of unbroken sunshine that is freaking everybody out.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s still an outside possibility. Up until two weeks ago, both the Tory Brexiteers and Jeremy Corbyn were happily planning to postpone the leadership crisis in the Tory party and the subsequent inevitable General Election, until AFTER March next year, when the UK electorate would be given a choice of who they trusted to pick up whatever pieces of the UK had landed wherever they are going to land when the Europeans finally boot us out, deal or no deal. This was what Theresa May was attempting to cue up with her ludicrous “Chequers Brexit “ Package…it was an entirely symbolic exercise in party Management, not any serious attempt to deal with the Upcoming Omnishambles…but, after a fashion, it seemed to be working for a whle, having factored in the even more vapid spectacle of Davis and Bojo biting the dust, and Michael Gove keeping his ambition warm for another day. For the SNP and the wider Scottish electorate, a 2019 General Electionwould be yet another UK election which would be differentially experienced and interpreted in Scotland, with an inflection of the National Question in that new context of “Oh My God It’s Actually Happening!” Brexit Britain.

This is still most likely to be be roughly how it goes, but at THIS moment the summer fevered chatter in the tea rooms of Westminster by those who belong neither to the Corbyn minority in the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Tory MPs who haven’t drunk the Brexit Kool-Ade of their own Brexit extremists, are desperately circling another scenario. And they are doing it together.

Step One is to give up on paralysed parliamentary procedure altogether, and throw the Brexit “problem” back to the electorate with a popular” Yes/No/Forget the whole thing and stay in the EU” referendum sometime in the Autumn. I am sure the thought of Step Two is also occurring to them by now that it might be possible to interpret this vote as a mandate from “the British people” for a particular soft flavour of cuddly Brexit …and to attempt to form a National Unity government in order to deliver it.

The question before the SNP this morning is “How do we respond?” Do we denounce the whole stupid pack of them?  Do we say, “Unite your own Nation, pal…this has nothing to do with our Nation?” Do we boycott the People’s Poll on exactly the same grounds as Scottish Unionists would boycott Indyref 2 (without a Westminster agreement like last time) as “Nothing to do with us.”

Or do the SNP strategically embrace the idea. And call for it. One last throw of the British Electoral dice. One last chance to avoid the cliff jump…with the implicit or explicit proviso, that if England chooses to go cliff diving this summer, we might just have other plans.

Now, there are big problems with this idea, as has been pointed out by Kenny Farquarson among others.  If it has not been feasible up till now to interpret Scotland’s vote against Brexit IN PRINCIPLE as a vote for Independence IN PRINCIPLE, then how would that change if there were a second Brexit vote BEFORE a second independence vote?

To which the answer might be that a) an independence vote isn’t going to happen before either another another UK General Election or said BrexitVote 2 and b) it wouldn’t be a vote IN PRINCIPLE any more, on either question. No. It would be absolutely specific on both.

To vote FOR the specific Brexit deal the Union ends up offering would include, in effect, a vote for the Union itself. To vote AGAINST that deal would be to vote against the Union. Because within the Union, we are GOING to get whatever England decides we’re going to get.

We are genuinely trapped by arithmetic into choices we didn’t want to make. All of us. For this morning, if there is to be a call for a People’s Vote, I think the SNP has to support it. If there isn’t, I think the SNP has to call for it.  And to show willing to throw the dice as a British political party one last time. That way, the 2014 result is “respected”, and , under new and highly specific circumstances framed in advance of a “new” British vote on a specific Brexit deal that implicitly INCLUDES the continuance of the Union, and is EXPLICITLY framed that way by the SNP…the actual question that is actually put before England and Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland is all rolled up together.

A British Future, which explicitly includes Brexit, or the End of the UK itself. A third choice is only available till March.  So the SNP needs to call for the British people to face that choice and face it now.  Because after March, there are only the other two…The SNP needs to make the call on behalf, ironically, of those who vote against it…because no one else is offering them any choice about ANYTHING.

This summer of stupidity can’t go on.  Something is going to break. The weather is going to get messy.  There is going to be a lot of shouting. But the next vote, whatever it is, is, I think decisive on both questions. Another vote of SOME kind, whether a General Election, a Scottish election, a second Brexit referendum or even an independence referendum, WILL include the national question no matter which comes first.  The attitude of the SNP has to be, to any of these, no matter which comes first, bring it on.

Comments (28)

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  1. Craig P says:

    Dangerous for the SNP. A second Brexit referendum could go against them (in the sense that saving the UK’s place in the EU could make Scottish independence harder) but it would also be worth doing for the hilarious level of apoplexy it would generate amongst Tory Brexiteer MPs and their financiers and heralds.

  2. Mark Bevis says:

    Given that apathy is the greatest British political movement, has anyone in Scotland considered just officially declaring independence anyway and see if anyone is bothered enough to do anything other than whinge about it?
    The British army, especially once Scottish units have moved back home, is hardly big enough to invade the Isle of Wight, nevermind a whole nation, and I’m sure you could raise a Scottish Republican Yeomanry or whatever to make sure the nuke boats “don’t fall into the wrong hands”. The subsequent ransom money should pay for infrastructure investment for the next decade.

  3. Dee Cee says:

    A second EU Referendum would, as the First Minister has said numerous times, be problematic and could potentially raise the same problems that the first one has. Unless their were safeguards in place to reflect the different nations of the U.K results, Scotland could find itself in exactly the same situation as now.

    The Scottish Government has a mandate to hold another independence referendum, due to material change in circumstances.

    The contempt that has been clearly expressed towards Scotland and the majority of Scotland’s elected representatives both at Westminster and Holyrood, combined with the blatant power grab and shredding of the devolved settlement by Westminster (Tory backed by Labour & Lib Dem), has broken the union which forms the U.K.

    Trust has been removed.

    Westminster has shown exactly what it thinks of Scotland and its people.

    Scotland has no other option for a better future, than to say, independence now, thank you very much.

    Scotland is a rich nation, the union impoverishes us.

    Waken up and say enough is enough.

    We can be successful. We will be successful as an independent nation.

    1. Jamsie says:

      There is no mandate for a material change!
      Why not?
      Because the electorate don’t want another Indy referendum.
      And the impoverishment you refer to is fictitious given we get do much more than we raise through the Barnet Formula.
      The truth is out there!

      1. A Stewart says:

        The truth is, indeed, out there.
        But you can’t/won’t see it.

  4. Josef Ó Luain says:

    How many Scottish voters voted Leave? More than a few long-term SNP activists of my acquaintance were amongst that million-plus number. For that reason, I believe the SNP would be nuts to go anywhere near such a potentially alienating proposal. As you rightly suggest: there are few avenues-of-escape.

    Mr Blackford and his colleagues might be better employed in touring intensively throughout Scotland where they could put the arguments for Independence directly to the people at public meetings. Lets not forget how popular and well attended those “old-fashioned” public meetings were during the Indyref campaign.

  5. Blair Paterson says:

    I think most of you have forgot how the E.U. Leaders were queing up to talk against Scottish independense in our ref., I voted for leaving the E.U. I don’t want to get rid of 1master to get 27new ones I do not want to be in the E.U.or the U.N. Or N.A.T.O. Or the U.K. And no special relationship with America I want us to decide what is best for us no one else I want independense to mean what it is FREEDOM

    1. Joe Gibson says:

      Stating the obvious, then you are right with me, the vote should be Do you want Scotland to become an independent country YES or NO.

    2. Kenny Smith says:

      I have had a few beefs with the EU as well and I admit it’s not perfect but how much do we as an electorate really understand how it operates. Even after a referendum on leaving most of us don’t know what goes on over there. In fact when Alyn Smith stood up and gave that speech, it was the 1st time I had ever seen footage of a Scottish MEP in the parliament on mainstream media. Fact is people go on about democracy and master’s but bottom line is we would have far more influence on decision making if we had a seat at the table of our own. Malta can have more say over the final Brexit deal than us. Even Luxembourg which is tiny compared to Scotland has more influence than us. The very fact a UK government can have vote to leave without having to ask permission tells you everything we need to know about the difference between these two unions. Yes voters that would choose a Scotland shackled to London over being independent and in the EU in whatever form need a wake up call. Go to Ireland, Germany, France or anywhere else for that matter and tell their people that they are not independent, not proper countries because they share some aspects of their life’s with others in Europe and tell me how you get on. The whole time the UK was in it wanted to opt out, now it’s out it wants to opt in. No wonder they think we are mad. We have to finally grow a pair and end our serfdom. If the shoe was on the other foot and we were independent already would you vote to put us in the situation we find ourselves in now looking at the shambles that is going on in the den of vipers in London?

    3. Alistair Robertson says:

      You either forget or do not know, that it is a normal political convention within the EU for its politicians NOT to make statements that could in any way be detrimental to member states, therefore normally NO EU politician will be explicit in either outright support or condemnation on topics such as independence {that’s how you spell it mate} because they do not want to be seen as potentially destabilising the status quo .
      These politicians that you stigmatise as ‘queuing up’ to make anti-independence statements are in fact responding to YOON JOURNALISTS queuing up to ask loaded questions aimed at generating negative responses which their newspapers can magnify into headlines to keep NO voters satisfied and potential swing voters terrified.

  6. William Ross says:

    You would think that Bella Caledonia would stop using that dishonest picture…… At least show some imagination.

    Peter Arnott tells more fake news than Donald Trump. Lets look at his article.

    1. More than “62% of Scottish voters .. uselessly voted not to have ANYTHING to do with any version of this post-imperial b…….t” Fake news. The question was whether the UK not Scotland should leave the EU. More than 1,100,000 Scots voted Leave against the 1,600,000 who voted Remain. Prominent amongst Leave voters were Yes voters.

    2. The voters of Scotland “decisively rejected” Brexit. Fake news. At the Brexit dominated 2017 GE, around 60% of Scottish voters voted for parties supporting Lancaster House Brexit.

    3. The Scottish “45%” of 2014 can “quite rightly grab a hold of the 55% who voted No ” and blame them. No, we can blame ourselves, as the White Paper for Scotland quite specifically warned that the consequences of “No” would likely be Brexit.

    4. The SNP must support a “Peoples Vote” on Brexit. Utter madness. To go to the electorate and say that we will accept your decision until we decide to ask the question again will discredit democracy. But what happens to the SNP when Indyref 2 is won by 52 to 48%? Or do the 48% actually win? Additionally, the “people” can only even in theory vote on a final agreed deal which would need the explicit support of the EU. All of that work in stress and negotiation would be subject to a second vote of the British people? A fantasy.

    5. This will be solved by a challenge to May`s leadership. Either a Remoaner or Brexiteer will win.
    Then a general election. No deal no worries Peter.


    1. You seem confused. 62% voted to remain in Scotland.

      What’s wrong with the picture William?

  7. SleepingDog says:

    I suppose your view could depend on whether you see politics as tragedy and are prepared to die at the foot of your flag; or more like comedy where the younger generation show the old fogeys a new and better way of doing politics, perhaps resulting in England marrying the USA and Scotland the EU.

    1. Jamsie says:

      France and Spain (and given the Ponsati situation I think will be even more anti) are both against an independent Scotland being in the EU given the projected deficit and currency issues.
      The GCR confirmed these.
      Wee Nicola has totally misjudged both the UK and the EU and is left in a situation where to stay part of the EU in any form she needs to support being part of the UK.
      If another referendum on the EU arises that will be her only chance of remaining in.
      It will kill any argument for Indy stone dead and she knows it.
      And the expected jump in support of Indy as a result of leaving the U.K. has failed to materialise so any prospect of holding a referendum before we leave is off the table.

      1. Jamsie says:

        “As a result of leaving the EU”

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Jamsie, a comedy of errors then? Mistaken identities, an inflexible character with a stock of catchphrases and narrow fixations set on blocking the wishes of the young people, yet with the prospect of finally seeing the light and a happy ending. All comedy gold.

          1. Jamsie says:

            I’m afraid their is nothing remotely comedic about the situation.
            Wee Nicola presides over the worst administration ever to grace the white elephant that is Holyrood and worse instead of improving people’s lives focuses only on her and her supporters fetish with Indy.
            This despite the fact that she knows it would be economically disastrous for Scots.
            She also cannot face the facts at least in public that the electorate don’t want another referendum on Indy or indeed Indy.
            The gamble to actually call one is a step too far and she is paralysed in uncertainty which is hurting the economy in Scotland.
            The Brexit shambles as it has unfolded has completely negated any strategy she had and her misreading of both public opinion and that of the political classes of the EU and the UK have left her looking completely out of touch.
            So much so the Brexit bounce she expected to give her a mandate has actually removed this.
            Brexit will come and the UK will leave with no Indy ref beforehand.
            The economic fall out will at least in the short term take Indy of the table.
            And based on her own Growth Commission Report probably for the next twenty five years.
            The electorate might continue to flirt with Indy but will not vote to make Scotland a third world country, only a fool would think that they would.

        2. Kenny Smith says:

          Hurry up he’s foaming again, get the bibs, the big ones!!!

        3. Kenny Smith says:

          Wipe yer mooth foamy

        4. Kenny Smith says:

          Is it froth? Na definitely foam. So much foam it’s getting a both frothy but definitely foam!!

        5. Kenny Smith says:

          It’s a foam flood, there’s no enough bibs, quick call Jeremy Hunt to arrange a Cobra meeting. National emergency as foam causes millions to flee!!!

      2. Alistair Robertson says:

        Once the reality of an independent Scotland is delivered, whether you think that likely or preferable or not, do you REALLY think that a wealthy, democratic, well educated, oil producing, energy-rich, hi-tech, innovative, progressive, pro-European country that is already 100% in conformance with EU legislation WOULDN’T be welcome?
        You may well have a long list of bodies/structures and topics that you voted against but you are at the extreme margins of public opinion in doing so. Guess you’ll just have to be ready to suck it up.

  8. William Ross says:

    Sleeping Dog focuses on “blocking the wishes of the young people” but young people can be very fickle. For instance, young people are strongly euro-sceptic in France and Macron has made it clear that he will not allow a referendum on Frexit because he would probably lose. It is amazing that europhiles cannot see the oligarchic hegemonic power of the EU for what it is.

    Democracy is ok only if you win. Fidel Castro advised the Sandanistas to not hold free elections in the late 1980s as ordinary people do silly things. His spirit lives on in the neo-liberal suits of Brussels.


  9. William Ross says:


    I am sorry, but you are the one confused. On 23 June 2016, 62% of the voting public in Scotland voted for THE UK to remain in the EU and nothing else. It is time you accepted that.

    You have used the picture three ( or more times) and it reflects bad taste and poor imagination.

    1. Ah, so there’s nothing wrong with the photo other than it annoys you as it reflects painfully the complete chaos of the British government navigating their way into economic crisis and national humiliation. Thought so.

  10. DW Scott says:

    On something as important as a potential second in or out BrexitVote why not make voting compulsory ?
    Would that not better reflect how EVERYONE really feels about this issue?

  11. William Ross says:


    Sorry to be late in responding to you but I was travelling around our beautiful country.

    I have no doubt that this UK government is in a state of absolute chaos with totally unworkable Brexit plans. That’s what happens when you have a Remain government trying to implement a fake Brexit. Yes, humiliation is the right word. Would Ruth Davidson make much of a job of trying to negotiate Scottish independence?

    To use the same photo multiple times shows poor imagination. You also chose a subject, David Davis, who had a coherent plan which was aborted by Olly Robbins. Davis is in my view one of the best of Westminster crew and he has a broad open mind which can accommodate other views. Just ask his friend Alex Salmond.

    Your photo, and the shallow whiny article, highlights the constant demonization which is your trademark.


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