Boris Johnson’s “just not going to happen” remark looks a little less dramatic when placed back in the context from which it has been ripped in order to spice up the headline. If he’d said this in a different context it might have been possible to regard it as one of those pseudo-blunders which are so much part of the man’s style. It would not be at all untypical of Johnson were he to accidentally-on-purpose reveal his determination to preserve the ‘precious’ Union by whatever means by way of throwing some red meat to British Nationalism’s Scottish contingent.
It’s even possible that he hoped and planned for just such headlines as The National has provided. That way, be gets the desired appeal to hard-line Unionists in Scotland desperate to hear talk of crushing rebellious Scots while achieving the deniability provided by the context in which that remark was made. I suspect, however, that the shallowness of the man precludes such Machiavellian scheming.
What I find interesting and possibly informative about the unabridged version of Johnson’s comment is that he supposes the people of Scotland will reject the restoration of independence on economic grounds alone. This suggests that the focus of the British Nationalist campaign in any future referendum will be the economy. Perhaps even more than it was in the 2014 campaign. We can safely assume that a Yes campaign heavily influenced by the likes of Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp will respond in kind. What we then have is a baleful battle of the bean-counters when what we need is something that will poke the people of Scotland with a sharp stick rather than something that will put them to sleep.
People don’t vote on the basis of facts. They vote what they feel, not what they know. The idea of a fact-based campaign is silly enough. A campaign based on the always dubious ‘facts’ of the dismal science is just ludicrous. In a political campaign facts are only useful to the extent that they can be used to make people feel something. This might be achieved with a handful of hard, sharp bullet-points. A litany of economic argumentation will achieve precisely nothing. Because nobody that matters will be listening.
Other than Boris Johnson’s apparent intention to deploy a combination of economic doom-mongering and the might of the British state’s propaganda machine against the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence, my attention was snagged by the response from Ian Blackford’s deputy Kirsten Oswald MP. In particular, what those remarks tell us about the SNP Westminster Group’s priorities. It may now be needless to say that the priority is NOT the restoration of Scotland’s independence. For Ms Oswald the main thing is to score political points by figuratively killing off Boris Johnson or, as a consolation prize, Douglas Ross. She talks of elections and not a constitutional referendum. She talks of taking opponents’ scalps instead of pursuing Scotland’s cause. She talks of the obsessions of the British political system – and seems very comfortable doing so.
With leading figures in the Yes movement intent on cooperating with the British as they drag the constitutional issue down to the level of economic mole-whacking and leading figures in the SNP contentedly immersed in the ways of Westminster, is it any wonder that I add worries about the conduct of the independence campaign to my deep concerns about the kind of referendum we may be offered. As things stand, Boris Johnson may well be right. It may be that Scottish independence is “just not going to happen”.
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