Friday, 17 March 2017

Calling the SNP Bluff



The Telegraph reports that Theresa May may take on the tendentious and self serving campaign of Nicola Sturgeon and seek to call her bluff. Sturgeon has called for another referendum but is also demanding the right to call that referendum at a time of her choosing claiming, as all nationalists do, to be speaking on behalf of and in the name of the entire Scottish people. She has absolutely no mandate for this, contrary to what she claims and is being opportunistic, dishonest and treacherous.

Sturgeon is under pressure from her own party to call another referendum. They don't care what excuse she uses for it, they just want another crack at it. She knows however that her chances of winning that referendum are slim and will be enhanced, not by an honest appraisal of the benefits of independence, which are illusory, but with an emotional appeal. As such demanding the right to call a referendum from a Tory government in London, a demand that the PM cannot possibly accede to, gives her the opportunity to paint Theresa May as being unreasonable and anti-democratic.

Of course this is a travesty of the truth. It is anti-democratic to ignore the fact that the last referendum was only two and a half years ago and delivered a substantial majority for those wishing to stay in the Union. There is no evidence to suggest that people have changed their mind and indeed plenty of evidence to the contrary. Furthermore there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Scots do not want the trauma of another referendum so soon. Leaving the EU is an irrelevance to them. In truth it probably is to Sturgeon. It certainly is to a substantial number of her fellow Nats who can see the inconsistency inherent in calling for independence only to rush to hand over hard won sovereignty to Brussels.

And so the Prime Minister is well within her rights to simply say no, or at least not yet. If the reason for this new referendum is really that Britain is leaving the EU then Scotland needs to wait and see what terms are agreed and to see what transpires when we have left. That implies at least three or four years. Possibly even five or six. There is a case for a delay until after the next Scottish elections. Either way the PM is absolutely right to simply refuse to discuss another referendum for the time being.

Nicola Sturgeon took a gamble this week. The PM is calling her bluff. Sturgeon will claim to be outraged and bombastically talk of exploring options to get her way. But there is little she can do about it. Logic, the law and recent history are all on Theresa May's side.  Scotland voted to stay in the UK in 2014. As such it acceded to such decisions being made in London and not in Edinburgh. Plenty of powers were devolved to the Scottish government in the wake of the last referendum, many of which have not been used. The SNP is still ignoring what it is elected to do in favour of agitating for independence and another referendum. Scotland is being protected from these zealots by a Tory prime minister in London.

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