I think the governments rushing around over the last few weeks to ‘love bomb’ Scotland is pitiful and I don’t think it will work. As a party they are distrusted (at best) throughout the country as they have been seen, since the time of Thatcher’s government in the 80s of ruling as a colonial power and ingoring the wishes of the Scottish electorate. In the last Scottish Parliamentaryt elections they obtained 22% of the vote, so 3rd place behind the SNP and Labour yet, due to the complex arithmetica behind the PR system, became the second largest party. In the last general election, back in December (!) they achieved 25% of the vote. Hardly a ringing endorsement. Their holding of 6 seats in Westminster and being 2nd party in Holyrood is due to the quirk of choice. There are 4 parties which can be described as centre-left or left wing (SNP, Labour, LibDem and Green) while only one as centre (?) right. The large majority of Scots are social democrats, whose views lie firmly on the left of centre and their vote is always split between 4 parties. the quarter to fifth of the population who are more right-wing thinkers have only one home. So, the choice on the left is what strengthens the Tory vote. I believe this is exactly the same situation in England but without the strength of an SNP type party that can tap into emotions in the same way.
I believe the UK as a whole is more socially democratic that neo-liberal despite the 80 seat Conservative majority. They attracted just 43% of the vote across the country in 2019 but have an unassailable majority in parliament so are strutting about like they have a ringing endorsement from the country.
Anyway, what has this got to do with the future of the Union? I think this disparity between the general politics of the country and the policy of the current government is causing significant stress across the country. The Brexit vote was an anomoly and didn;t have universal support. Theresa May had the opportunity when she took over the preniership to forge a centrist path and try and find a workable compromise between both sides of the argument. Bearing in mind the closeness of the vote I do believe this was achievable. A Norway model or a Swiss model or something similar. Instead she drew her famous red lines which fed into the wishes of the more avid Brexit voters and completely dismissed the wishes of remainers.
This approach has led to a clear belief amongst many in Scotland that a Conservative government in London doesn’t listen to the wishes of anyone outside of their electoral bubble. If David Cameron had acted on promises to institute DevoMax after the 2014 vote the Scottish parliament may have been able to exert more pressure and force more compromise and a more ‘middle way’ through the Brexit debacle. Since this hasn’t happened, those of us who value our EU membership as a way of strengthening the standing of our country have only one option. We need to support Independence on a rejoin the EU ticket.
The British constitution is broken. The electoral system is broken. Too many people’s views and desires are ignored by the FPTP system and 2-party system of Westminster which more often than not creates a government of minority support yet who need not seek compromise.
I suspect it’s too late, but constitutional and electoral reform on a federal model would, I think, settle the independence question. Ensuring each contituent country of the UK was treated as an equal would remove the current situation whereby the size of England allows it to rule as a virtual colonial power over Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as the electoral mass outweighs the rest of the country. This is why we have a right-wing government in power and why the independence movement is growing.
The SNP will overwhelmingly win the next Scottish elections. There is no question. They will overcome the formula designed to ensure coalition government was the norm in the devolved administrations and lead, for the first time, as a majority government. In this case, Westminster can’t, democratically, refuse a referendum. When they do, they will become increasingly irrelevant North of the border.
What is even more ridiculous, Gove et al who are making comments on independence are using the same arguments as us remainers used for the Brexit referendum. They are able to argue that the economic damage caused by breaking away from the EU was worth it for the ephemeral prize of sovereignty. This is exactly the same argument that the SNP will be using against them. Their counter arguments are already undone because of their stance over Brexit.
Johnson’s refusal to have the devolved leaders join Cabinet meetings is another sign of the entitlement of Johnson and his cronies. He doesn’t want the first ministers sharing a meeting as he doesn’t want them seen as equals. Unfortunately, to many (if not most) inScotland and, perhaps in Wales and Northern Irelend, these leaders are already seen as far superior to him.
I’m not a happy supporter of independence but my love of my country and my hope for the future of my children places the EU at the centre of my wishes. It is the only organisation which is able to stand up to the US and to major corporations. It is also, due to the complex democratic structures behind it, is the only organisation which places the needs of it’s citizens at the centre more often than not.
I think the UK is doomed and I think the present Conservative period of governance (from 2015) will be the last UK government. Something will have changed before we get to 2024. I just hope it’s as painless as possible.