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.