“As Rishi Sunak says he respects constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, the same, of course, is not true for Scotland where the debate has sunk to silly levels in recent days. Are Scottish government officials biased towards independence? Did Nicola Sturgeon ever think about independence during the Covid pandemic? Our politics will be better, the more serious our level of debate is.”
A thumping Labour gain “would signal that currently the key swing voters in Scotland – that is, those on the left torn between expressing their support for independence and kicking the Tories out – are giving a higher priority to the latter. This is a precondition for Labour progress in Scotland.”
“And here the challenge is stark, with a likely deficit far in excess of the UK as a whole, other comparable countries or that which is deemed to be sustainable in the long-term. It is not enough to say ‘everything will be fine’ or ‘look at this country, they can run a sensible fiscal balance so why can’t Scotland?’. Concrete proposals and ideas are needed.”
“…suggestions of a return to ‘a government of all the talents’ with bells on and other ideas should form part of an honest Scottish/British conversation about the years ahead – and the best policies and institutions for achieving that rejuvenation and reinvention. One shorn of nostalgia and delusions….”
“Labour took up the anti-centralising rhetoric originally coined by Unionists and turned it against the Thatcher government in the 1980s, portraying its neoliberal policies as an illegitimate affront to Scottish national traditions. At the same time, Labour in Scotland emphasised the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine whether they wanted to be governed by a devolved parliament within the UK. A rhetoric that had initially been coined to glue together an anti-Labour electoral coalition had now become a staple of the Scottish left.” No more?
“In fact, given that some people think he is no match for Sturgeon as a political communicator, he is likely to move the dial on the independence issue, but in the opposite direction.
As the SNP leadership campaign crawls to the finish post, time for a Big Debate on the political and socio-economic future in Scotland and the UK
David Torrance looks back on the first UK constitutional referendum – the 1973 N Irish border poll. “As Prof James Mitchell has observed, the 1973 referendum ‘suggested that sovereignty rested with the people of Northern Ireland and not Parliament at Westminster’, a suggestion arguably reinforced with respect to Scotland more than 40 years later.”
“With neo-autonomism becoming increasingly exhausted, the most likely trajectory is that the ERC and the SNP drift towards becoming parties that are more or less satisfied with seeking to accrue more devolved powers within the hegemonic state. Nationalism without independence.”
Looking back on the Czech/Slovak divorce 30 years ago, a US political scientist sees no precedent: “The SNP might interpret a general election result as a mandate to leave, but unionist parties might see it otherwise and refuse to come to the table. Any push towards independence in the face of opposition from the U.K. government could lead to an impasse akin to that between Catalonia and the Spanish government.”