And so it begins. Or doesn’t. 2020 has barely started and the #indyref2020 hype is already faltering. Actually, the signs were there even before 2019 was consigned to the bin marked ‘annus horribilis’. Which, disappointingly doesn’t mean ugly arsehole. Or maybe I was reading too much into all the talk of decades rather than years.
Kenny MacAskill certainly doesn’t seem uncomfortable with a year turning into a decade. I agree with him that the chances of a new referendum in 2020 are probably nil. I have been saying as much for a while now. Much to the annoyance of those who prefer their politics with a sprinkle of faerie dust. It’s really just a matter of counting up the ways that Nicola Sturgeon has of making it happen, supposing she wanted to, then compare with the ways Boris Johnson has of stopping it, as well as his all too evident eagerness to do so. It’s no contest. The referendum loses. No credible scenario leads to referendum in the second half of 2020. No amount of wishful thinking will change that. Unless you have another use for those unicorn tears, you might as well stop telling it My Little Pony is prettier.
Where Mr MacAskill and I part company is in our very different attitudes to this non-magical reality. I cannot possibly agree with his conclusion that further delay is “no bad thing”. And let’s be clear about what further delay means. If the new referendum doesn’t appear out of a multi-coloured cloud of sweet-scented smoke by late this year, it will be at least another year before it is even possible. on account of the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021. It could be much longer. Because the Brexit farce goes into act three at the end of January and by year’s end everybody will have lost their trousers and had an embarrassing encounter with Aunt Harriet’s aspidistra before the curtain comes down on the transition period.
It could be never. Because the foregoing account looks positively rose-tinted compared to one which takes account of what the British political elite will be getting up to while Pete Wishart & The Postponers are on their ‘Optimum Time’ tour performing their hit single ‘Gentle Persuasion’ on doorsteps the length and breadth of Scotland and Kenny MacAskill makes a start on restoring the Volkswagen camper van – which has been rusting in Blair Jenkins’ garage for over five years – as part of the preparations for getting ready to start the lead-up to the campaign that the SNP somehow hasn’t found time to work on because they were too busy prancing about with their gold underpants on over their black tights pretending to be the super-hero who was going to stop Brexit.
I read the extracts from Kenny MacAskill’s article for the Scottish Left Review and I discover that what used to be the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence before it became the campaign to restrain England’s insanity may now be about to undergo a startling transformation into the campaign for turning Holyrood into the Wolfie Smith Memorial Commune for Happy Clappies, Righteous Radicals and the Kaleidoscope Collective for Random Reform (dress code keffiyehs and Guy Fawkes masks).
Call me old-fashioned, but I liked it when it was the Scottish independence campaign and the closest anybody got to wearing a keffiyeh was when somebody’s giant Saltire got wrapped around their neck on the breezy approaches to Nelson Mandela Place, blessedly stifling their irksomely irrelevant chants of “Tories out!” on one of those AUOB marches for, among other things, independence etcetera etcetera etcetera.
What the hell happened to that campaign?
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