A Leave result in the European Referendum means that we’ll be in a burning building, and unless we run, we’ll be consumed
Later tonight we will know if Scotland has been pulled out of the European Union against its will, or not. Either we can put away the drama for now and listen to England going nuts over the result, or we can start to panic about how to keep Scotland in the EU.
There has already been calls from both the Scottish Greens and the SNP that Holyrood, our devolved parliament, should establish contacts with the European Union to open channels of communication. This way, we can start to prepare for a rerun of the independence referendum. Also, we can already now prepare so that when we leave the United Kingdom, we’ll immediately become members of the EU.
The campaigns, on both sides, have been utterly terrible. The Remain side have employed Project Fear, dodgy statistics, and apocalyptic doomsday fantasies. Despite warnings that Project Fear doesn’t work because it alienates the audience and stokes resentments, the leaders of the campaigns have employed that tactic.
The Leave side have dog-whistled about racism when their economic and legal case fell apart. Nigel Farage standing in front of that poster shortly before a deranged British nationalist shot and stabbed an MP is just one indelible impression of this terrible referendum.
Since Scotland is more agitated and concerned with a referendum we had two years ago, what worries me is that turn-out will be very low. If people think that this is mainly an English question, maybe they’ll stay at home. If we do, then we’ll be out. We won’t even have the Schadenfreude option of seeing England and Wales vote to leave the EU, and then Scotland and Northern Ireland’s votes tipping the result into a Remain.
We’ve been dragged into a referendum most of us didn’t want because the Conservatives in England wanted to deploy a tactical feint to win over Ukip voters. It is an entirely English debate, about an entirely English issue, and will be decided entirely by English pscychodramas.
I’m actually not a warm supporter of the current EU, as I wrote in this piece. I feel a bit dirty having to defend an organisation that gives me a rash at times, but this Tory infighting forces me to act against what I want because not acting would lead to a much worse situation. I’m not going to say more than that; you can go and read my arguments in that other post.
By tonight, I’ll either be feeling relief or dejection. I’ll not feel the euphoria before the results of the independence referendum. Worryingly, I have the same gnawing gut feeling I had on September 18th 2014. But there’s no hope involved. No sense of endless possibilities. Nothing positive and uplifting.
All that I feel is a dread that on Friday, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson will be the top dogs in English politics, and every progress we’ve made since the 1980s on minority rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights, and so on will be at risk. I will only feel a sense of urgency about getting out of the United Kingdom as soon as possible, whereas I normally prefer an orderly exit that doesn’t damage either the remaining UK or Scotland.
If the result is as I fear, then we have to get out as fast as possible. We will be in a burning building, and unless we run, we’ll be consumed. I hope I’m wrong. I really, really do.