I confess, cautious as I am, I had wondered about the wisdom of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP's decision to announce their preferred timetable for a second independence referendum, so soon in the Brexit process. This was, by and large, for two reasons. Firstly, I never expected, nor did there transpire, any Brexit bounce in support for Scottish independence. Secondly, Sturgeon and the SNP left themselves exposed, at risk from events outside their control, which, as we have seen, came quickly, in the guise of an early general election.
Perhaps predictably, the election in Scotland became something of a referendum on a second independence referendum, where the SNP seemed unable to stop Ruth Davidson controlling the narrative. It was, in the end, a straightforward fight between unionists and nationalists. And, such is first past the post, though the SNP comfortably won a majority of seats in Scotland, the parties of the Union won a clear majority of votes.
Inevitably, as is the way with by far and away the majority of the mainstream media, this has been portrayed as a catastrophe, a disaster, a humiliation, and of course, as a slap-down, for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. I disagree. It is, I believe, at the very most, a minor setback. That being said, things could, and quite probably will, get worse before they get better.
I fear, should there be another general election any time soon, voters in Scotland will, in significant numbers, vote for the Labour Party, if they believe there is a probability of Jeremy Corbyn forming the next UK government. I say fear, because I suspect that the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street, will see the English will revert to type and vote Tory, particularly if, as expected, Theresa May has been consigned to the dustbin of history.
And then, Scotland will be left with 35-40 self-serving slaves to the Union, not to mention yet another Tory Government. Had Scots sensibly put independence and a second referendum to one side, and simply stuck with the SNP, it is highly likely Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister today. Should there be another general election, it seems to me that it is again clear: Scots should hedge their bets and vote SNP. A minority Labour Government, sustained by the SNP, and perhaps the Liberal Democrats, in a progressive alliance, would leave Scotland's options open, and that has to be for the best.
As for independence, and a second referendum, all that is required is a little patience and a lot of perseverance. I fully expect that sooner or later, as the realities of Brexit become clear, or begin to bite, a majority of Scots will see that the United Kingdom is fast becoming Little England, and come to the conclusion, to borrow a phrase from Brexiteers, it is not what they signed up for in 2014, and that the only way forward is for Scotland to shake off the shackles of the sclerotic union.
On hearing that Theresa May had decided, after all, that she would hold a snap election, a close friend of mine remarked, that at least I would have plenty to write about for the next month or so. Yet, here we are, with just a few days to go until polling day, and I have written very little, so detached, to the point of disinterest, have I felt from the campaign. This is, in no small way, due to the fact that I cannot help but view this election, as little more than an exercise in England choosing the extent to which it will self-harm, hurting the rest of us in the process.
It is no longer absolutely certain who will be Prime Minister after June 8th. What I can say with absolute certainty however, is that regardless of who that is, he, or she, will not have been my choice. In the weeks, months, and years since the Scottish independence referendum, just about everything the British Establishment has done, has pretty much destroyed any sense of Britishness I had left.
In fact, I have come to see Britishness as nothing more than an artificial construct, cunningly and cleverly designed to convince those of us who are not English, that we are all Brits together, a family of nations, a partnership of equals. This is, as we have seen, absolute nonsense. In reality, when push comes to shove, in the United Kingdom, as far as the British Establishment is concerned, it is only Englishness that matters. Why else are Team Theresa determined to pursue a one size fits all Brexit?
Despite what we are told, it is not that there cannot be a differentiated Brexit deal for Scotland, it is simply that the Tories do not want there to be. Never mind that they will not risk Scotland getting a better deal than England and Wales, Theresa May has made it quite clear, as far as she is concerned, Scotland and England have drifted apart quite enough. The British Establishment, ever obsessed with status, are no doubt aware, though they deny it, that Brexit means Britain is unavoidably diminished. Should the United Kingdom break up, with Scotland, of invaluable economic and strategic importance, seceding, Britain/England, would be humbled further still. And that would be more than they could bear.
Having said all of that, there is no doubt in my mind, that it would be better for Scotland if England were to put Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street, preferably in a minority government, perhaps in a confidence and supply pact with the SNP. Supposing such a scenario were to come about, it is debatable just how differently a Corbyn administration would be allowed to do things, given that the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party are card-carrying members of the British Establishment, first and foremost, snouts firmly in the trough, fully signed up to the morally bankrupt socio-economic consensus that continues to hold sway. Even so, curtailed or not, Corbyn would be nothing, if not a much needed breath of fresh air.
Somewhat ironically, as the campaign has worn on, Jeremy Corbyn looks and sounds ever more statesmanlike, whereas Theresa May is increasingly anything but strong and stable. Given how severely she struggled in the televised Q&A sessions, it is easy to see why see opted not to take part in televised debates with the other party leaders. If it were not so excruciatingly embarrassing, one might be inclined to grudgingly admire her for failing to answer a single question with anything of any substance whatsoever.
From everything I have seen and heard, there is little doubt in my mind, that of all the party leaders, Nicola Sturgeon, our First Minister, has consistently come across best. It is worthwhile mentioning that wherever and whenever Angus Robertson, SNP Depute Leader, has spoken for the SNP, he too is altogether more commanding than any rival. Like them, or loathe them, the SNP are doing what they believe is best for Scotland.
Until recently, however mistaken I believe them to be, I would have accepted that the same could be said for Kezia Dugdale and the Labour Party in Scotland. No longer. It is clear, that for them, it is the Union above all else, even, if it comes to it, where that is demonstrably not what is best for Scotland. So much so, they would rather see Scotland return Tory, over SNP MP’s to Westminster, apparently unconcerned that this is only likely to condemn us all to another term of Dickensian dystopia. Absolutely astonishing, no? Is it really worth risking that, simply to preserve a Union that, by the end of the Brexit negotiations, may, or may not, make less sense than ever? I would have thought, that now more than ever, here in Scotland, we keep our options open. The only way to do that, is by voting SNP on Thursday.