Neil Mackay appears to be convinced that “there is a clear commitment to a referendum taking place next year”. (Scottish independence march to be held in Paisley as AUOB unveil spring plans) In this he is far from alone a large part of what used to be the Yes movement seems similarly persuaded. Although this may in the majority of cases be due to a desperate need to believe rather than any dispassionate assessment of the supposed commitment. After nearly eight years of pusillanimous prevarication from the SNP Scottish Government independence activists are so hungry for action of any kind that they tend to give little or no consideration to the precise nature of whatever action is being proposed. Or how tentative, guarded and hedged around with conditions and caveats the proposal may be.
If developments follow their customary course then it is likely that these people will learn too late how important it is to attend to the detail of what is presented to them as everything anyone might wish for. What is concealed by the blandishments of political rhetoric is at least as likely to be something no thinking person would want. It is never bad advice to read the small print. And between the lines. Listen to every word. And the spaces between the words.
I grant that the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government now gives the impression of being more intent on giving the impression that it is intent on holding a referendum in the second half of 2023 – probably September. The cynic in me is immediately suspicious of such effort. What it conveys to me is that the intent may not be quite as solid as it is being made to appear. That same cynic is ever mindful, too, that the SNPs apparent new-found determination is being measured from a very low base indeed. When you have spent the better part of eight years seizing on any excuse to avoid action of any kind then it is pretty easy to look comparatively enthusiastic about any kind of action.
Neil is wrong. There is no “clear commitment” to a 2023 referendum from the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government. Even if we allow that the language currently being used makes it increasingly difficult for them to renege, all that should do is bid us focus more intently on exactly what it is that they aim to do. If someone says that they are now determined to do that which they previously maintained they could not do, it is only sensible to inquire whether what they are now saying they will do is the same as they thing they previously said they couldn’t do. Has their capacity for doing what they are mandated to do suddenly changed? Or have they redefined that mandate to refer to something that is easier for them to do?
Maybe the SNP politicians now deigning to speak at Yes events will clarify just what it is that the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government intends to do. Maybe they will tell us what kind of referendum is being offered to us. Maybe the crowd will listen to them despite the distraction of porcine aerobatics overhead.
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