It’s once again been awhile since my last post, but I hope you can understand the Christmas holidays are hardly conducive to blogging. In the intervening period I have been back in Scotland, have taken a jaunt to the Canary Islands for New Year, and I am now back in the cold, rather dark, fairly bleak, but surprisingly welcoming Uppsala. After the events of late last year my head is a little more, ‘back in the game’. So bring on some history, a bit of blogging, and my half-hearted attempts at learning the lingo.
But I have a little confession. It’s not events in Sweden that have caught my interest this week, but rather the tumultuous roller-coaster that is the run-in to the independence referendum.
I am somewhat out of the loop in my self-imposed exile. The occasional glance at the British media tells me things are hotting up back home, and my former flat mate has gone ‘super-nat’ on me with his updates from his own little exile in Belfast. It’s funny how it’s the nats I know who have left Scotland. Anyway, as Gary put it, we’ll be flocking back before 2014.
Well, for the independence referendum of course. Westminster have decided to intervene in Scotland’s constitutional quagmire and I am left thinking that David Cameron must be on the SNP payroll – or at very least Salmond has something juicy on him. Why would a Tory Prime Minister believe it a good idea to tell the Scots what to do? Because let’s be honest, that is what he has attempted. And what has been the result, a surge in support for independence and a sky-rocketing in the level of new recruits to the SNP. The whole affair has shown the utter ignorance that Westminster MPs have of Scottish public feeling and sensibilities. Or rather, the ignorance of the Tories. I still believe the Liberal Democrats have a little more awareness, but having sold their souls, they are left tagging along behind their blue masters like some pathetic wretch – images of Nick Cleg merged with Gollum come to mind.
What of Labour? Well Tom Harris MP decided to make a video parodying Alex Salmond as Hitler – now that was a wise move. At no point did he stop and take a breath, have even the slightest of clarity, and realise this was going to back-fire big time. Ed Miliband has done, well, nothing other than coalesce London-Labour’s position to the Tories. And Johann Lamont (the Scottish Labour leader for those who don’t know) has been less than clear. In fact, her press statement – all the more worrying because it must have been written by a communications team – left anyone who heard it rather confused, certainly less clear on Labour’s position than when she started muttering, and let’s face it, a whole lot less intelligent for having had to endure the speech.
I can almost imagine the conversations that occurred in Westminster a few weeks ago. First between the cabinet, then some calls from staffers making sure all London parties were singing from the same song-sheet. It’s almost possible to hear David Cameron saying,
‘We need to have a full frontal assault on the SNP.’
‘Let’s force them into a corner.’
‘We can outsmart those Scots, they’re just jumped up councillors after all.’
‘I mean, who gives a damn about Scotland, but we need to keep them in the UK: there’s all that oil and what if we were forced off the security council?’
Salmond, for his part, has run rings around Westminster this week. The SNP have played an absolute blinder. There is of course a lot more two-and-fro to come. There will be times that independence looks inevitable, and times when the union looks stronger than it ever has.
These are the musing of an outsider, a patient – and sometimes not so patient – observer. But one thing is for sure, I’ll be out knocking the doors with the best of them. Westminster has thus far underestimated the SNP. I think they may have learnt their lesson this week. But then, never underestimate the ignorance, contempt, and sheer egoism of Cameron et al. They would do well to note that this is the moment the SNP was born for. But then, I would rather they continue the way they’re going.