By Jason Michael
An interview with Nicola Sturgeon on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme managed to turn a slow news day into the complete and unconditional surrender of the Scottish independence movement. It was all rubbish of course, but good radio.
One of two things happened yesterday. Either the BBC run two very different radio interviews with the First Minister – one where she said that independence was now “off the table” for the unionist audience and another where she said she was willing to delay another referendum in order to work with Westminster to secure a better deal for Scotland for everyone else – or we were subject to a massive assault of post-truth State propaganda. Gary Robertson’s Good Morning Scotland interview with Nicola Sturgeon on the BBC is where it all began, and it ended up with independence coming “off the table” – a line that was understood by the unionists to mean “cancelled.”
Massive difference in Gary Robertson's approach to Sturgeon compared to Dugdale. Laser like targeting this time. No meandering.—
(@GAPonsonby) January 06, 2017
This was later paraded victoriously about the City of London, like a medieval rebel in chains, with Henry Mance’s Financial Times column proclaiming that, “Nicola Sturgeon has stepped back from a second referendum on Scottish independence, saying there will be no vote in the short term if the UK remains in the single market.” In actual fact Sturgeon said nothing of the sort. In not more than three minutes Robertson goaded the First Minister, putting it to her that in the event of a soft Brexit “a second independence referendum comes off the table,” and that this vote would no longer be “highly likely.” At no point in the discussion did Nicola Sturgeon take the bait.
What the First Minister did say was that a hard Brexit would have a “devastating impact on [Scotland’s] economy and on jobs.” She repeatedly reminded Robertson, who never let up plumbing for a sound bite, that her preferred option was independence and that she saw that this was the direction in which Scotland was travelling, but – for the sake of Scotland’s economic stability in light of Theresa May’s dangerous circular reasoning on Brexit – was willing to put this on ice for the duration of the Article 50 negotiations in exchange for Westminster bargaining for a soft Brexit; continued membership of the single market and more leverage for Scotland on migration.
Remove Gary Robertson from the equation and what we are left with is a slow news day, with Nicola Sturgeon sticking to her pro-independence position while engaging in the business of Realpolitik to keep Scotland sheltered from the effects of Little England’s stupidity. Looking over how this “off the table” line was regurgitated across the mainstream media it appears as though the terminology had been agreed upon prior to the interview, only to be whipped up into a story intended to fracture Sturgeon’s support base. The difficulty the BBC and the unionist media now have in making this stick is that the offer to park independence in the short term comes as part of a packaged proposal from the Scottish government that Westminster will reject – a circumstance that can only accelerate the wheels of the second independence referendum.
Sturgeon suggests soft Brexit could take #IndyRef2 “off the table”