The referendum we were granted in 2014 was an anomaly. We would never have been given the opportunity to vote on independence if those in power in Westminster thought for a single moment that we would elect to leave. They were banking on our defeat, and they expected a defeat so humiliating, so utter and comprehensive it would, in a single blow, send our smouldering hope flying off into the abyss of history and ancient and half-remembered lore. But we took up that gauntlet and we bloodied their nose. Our defeat then was the pallid victory of the swindler...
Brexit and Westminster’s predictable arrogance have brought us here – to the end of our tether. This is the last chance the British government has to listen to us and to respect our sovereign democratic will. This is the limit of the chain holding us to the kennels of Britain, and that chain is just about to snap. When those bonds break London will be faced with a creature it has not seen since Bannockburn, a Scotland that will not be brought back to heel no matter the cost.
If this is what counts for democracy in London, and if this is how Scotland is to be treated – as a subject to the will of England, then “taking back control” refers to Holyrood as much as it does to Brussels. Without any real prospect of a reasonable trade agreement with the EU after Brexit, and friends abroad as reliable as Trump’s “America First,” London’s economic future is completely dependent on its access to our resources. Britain’s departure from the EU is therefore inextricably linked to its war against the Scottish government and the independence movement.
Coming from the position that claims women are uniquely delicate and female politicians incapable of engaging with male members of the general public, we can accept this criticism. Yeah, we may think it a complete load of tosh, but this is where Woman for Independence – at least on Twitter – is coming from, and they are fairly consistent. Fair enough. What had me banging my head on the wall like a demented polar bear at the zoo in a heatwave were the hashtags that followed.
Gaining statehood, therefore, must not be seen as the end of the independence project. Independence is a process that begins in dependence and continues on to the very end of the life of the state. The problems we have now under British rule will for the most part remain after independence, with the only real difference being that we ourselves will have the freedom to provide Scottish solutions to Scottish problems – and the adversary then will be the same as we have now: International capitalism, neoliberalism, and the limitless avarice of the globalised plutocracy they have birthed.
Even a straight No from the Scottish parliament will be taken as consent by London, allowing the Westminster government to take back all of the powers regardless of the positions of the devolved national governments. Not only will Scotland be taken from the EU against its will, the very will of Scotland will be ignored by the British government in whatever it – and it alone – decides in relation to Brexit. This is no mere democratic deficit. This is the imposition of London’s will on Scotland. This is a power grab, and we have been told there is nothing we can do about it.
Next year is too late, and it is troubling – quite frankly – to see how many people in the independence movement do not get this. Brexit fundamentally alters the political landscape on which we are campaigning for independence. Outside the European Union and without anything approaching an equitable trade agreement; which is the most likely outcome, the United Kingdom will be forced to rely on Scotland’s mineral resources. Britain cannot survive a southbound Brexit without its northern lifeline.
We are right on the threshold of independence. To suggest that now – with almost half the country behind us – is not the right time for another referendum; considering we began the first campaign in 2012 with about 22 per cent, is defeatist in the extreme. Of course we can lose another referendum. We have lost before. Why should this stop us from pushing ahead? What we must realise, in consideration of the real tragedy of Scotland being the union, is that the only real failure here is not having the courage to do what clearly has to be done.