Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Johnson springs the trap

To the enormous surprise of precisely no one, Boris Johnson yesterday rejected the request from Scotland’s First Minister to devolve the power to hold a further referendum on Scottish Independence. His response was utterly dishonest, of course, but then it needed to be - nobody would have believed that it had come from him otherwise.  His letter claimed that both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond had made a ‘personal promise’ that the 2014 referendum was a ‘once-in-a-generation’ vote.  Whilst it’s true that they both said that in their opinion that would be the case, elevating personal opinions into promises is nonsensical.  It would be like saying that all personal opinions expressed by Brexit campaigners in the 2016 referendum were firm commitments or that someone who said he’d prefer to be dead in a ditch should be lying, dead, in a ditch by now, instead of sitting in Downing Street churning out more lies.
Johnson and his government are not just refusing to allow a referendum now; their statements make it clear that they intend never to allow a further referendum.  As far as they are concerned, the decision was made in 2014 and cannot be revisited, an outrageous position against which many are, quite rightly, railing.  Some voices are arguing that there is no need for a referendum at all – Scotland can and should move straight to a unilateral declaration of independence.  With one important caveat, it strikes me that the legal basis for doing so is sound, in both Scots and international law.  With the same important caveat, I suspect that international recognition would follow, albeit not as quickly as may be assumed.  It’s a major caveat though, because such a move depends on there being a demonstrable majority for such action amongst the people of Scotland, and that condition is not currently fulfilled.
The SNP will naturally be critical of the PM’s stance, but I suspect that there’s also a degree of quiet relief.  As I posted last week, the more arrogant and dismissive the UK PM was in his response, the more likely it is that support for independence will grow.  His best chance of killing the idea ‘for a generation’, to coin a phrase, would have been to allow a quick referendum before the worst effects of Brexit take effect and while he still has control of his party and the media.  He has chosen, instead, to assume that SNP success is some sort of reversible flash in the pan which can simply be ignored and over-ridden.  He’s all but guaranteeing the eventual outcome.
Constitutionally, of course, he could still deny a vote even if election results and/or opinion polls were to show a clear majority for independence.  But no nation can be held for ever in a union dominated by another against its will.  Once the will exists, the means will also exist.  Boris Johnson is showing himself to be the accidental and unintended ally of the independence movement, but given his character and background, was there ever any chance that he would do anything different?


Anonymous said...

You seem to think Boris Johnson is an idiot, sleepwalking into problem after problem.

As he has shown over the last few months the guy is anything but an idiot. He is determined, steadfast and supremely skilful in the art of getting exactly what he wants, just when he wants it. He plays games, big games, geopolitical games, but games he is intent upon winning time and time again, unless losing one game leads to a bigger win elsewhere.

I suspect you have no idea of his plans for Scotland. I doubt he has made up his mind yet either. But when he does you can be pretty sure it will be his vision that plays out and the majority of Scottish people will be more than happy with the outcome.

If only you or I were as young as Boris Johnson and as talented!

John Dixon said...

It is, I suppose, possible that behind the bumbling and the lies there is some great, as yet unexpressed, strategic plan, and that the appearance of making it up as he goes along is just a veneer for a carefully thought-through approach. It is hard to believe, however, that all the firm and demonstrable evidence - over the whole of his life - of mendacity and idleness is just a smokescreen, although some are happy to believe that it's all fake news, perhaps in the belief (as you seem to suggest) that he really couldn't be that stupid and in the position that he now occupies. I will only say that in my world, the cock-up theory of history is invariably more accurate than the conspiracy theory, and that Occam's razor is a pretty good guide to follow: as a general rule, the simpler and more obvious explanation is more likely to be true.

"...the majority of Scottish people will be more than happy with the outcome..." Have you considered a career in stand-up?

dafis said...

Any remarks made by Brit political leaders can be played to advantage by Ms Sturgeon and her team. Indeed all the SNP and any other indy-minded people need do most times is invoke the old Cameron line which goes something like "Ah but, you won't be able to stay in the EU if you elect to leave the UK " That worked out well didn't it. So the only way Scotland and her people will ever get their wish to be part of the EU is to secede from the UK, it's as simple as that. Thus independence acquires a modified meaning - the freedom to choose as a nation which unions you wish to belong ( and which you no longer wish to belong).