Well, well, well. You have to hand it to the Scot Nats. Not only have they screwed an independence referendum out of David Cameron, to happen next year, but they’ve now provided a detailed programme of what would happen until Scotland formally declared itself an independent nation. And that would be? The Spring of 2016. To quote our former President of Ireland: wow. And wow again.
Needless to say, the opponents of the Scot Nats, the Labour party and what’s left of the Tories, are full of condemnation for this sort of talk. It’s a distraction, they say, from the real concerns people have, which are economic.
Well, if they’re right, the Scottish people will ignore all that planning-for -independence and let the Scots Nats know so at the polls next year, when their independence referendum is held. Of course, Labour and the Tories in Scotland assume that the Scottish populace are incapable of thinking of and dealing with two things at the same time; that they can be and are concerned for their jobs, for housing, for education - all the bread and butter stuff - while at the same time having a real and passionate interest in whether they should run their own country or not.
All of this, of course, will have considerable repercussions for us in the north of Ireland. Alex Salmond has given the Scottish population a two or was it three-year run at the independence referendum. If we can manage to um, screw assent from the lovely Theresa Villiers, then we’d be having our own independent Ireland referendum around, um, Spring of 2016. Should the Scots vote in favour of independence, they will be putting in place their full independence in the same year and at the same time of year that we’ll be (i) Commemorating the men and women of the 1916 Rising; and (ii) Looking across that narrow strip of water and noting how the removal of Scotland will have turned Great Britain into Not-Quite-So-Great Britain.
All this is predicated on the Scots voting for independence next year. If the polls are to believed, at present 47% of Scots don’t want constitutional change and 32% do. So are the Scot Nats not counting their cake before the thing is even baked?
Well not necessarily. They have over a year in which to turn around those figures, if as I say they’re accurate. There will be the mother and father of all debates about the issue in Scotland,and assuming that the Scottish people are open-minded and prepared to look at the facts, a year could seem a very very long time in politics, especially for Labour and the Tories.
Should Scotland vote for independence? I think they should, not because I’ve done the math, as the Yanks say, but because I think grown-up nations should be allowed to act grow-up. But the worst that could happen from the point of view of pro-independence Scots is that the case for independence will have been looked at carefully by Scots, compared with the present arrangement, and a decision arrived at. That’s so much more adult an approach than dealing in slogans or pointing to media polls.
And what’s sauce for the Scots goose is surely sauce for the Irish gander? If the Scots were to make decisions by opinion polls, they’d scrap their plans for implementation of independence and they’d bin the whole idea of a referendum as well. But being a sensible people, they know that decisions are best made in the ballot box. And that its verdict, whatever it is, will be respected by all Scots.
Would it be asking too much that our border poll should follow similar lines and after careful and extended discussion, the choice made by the people and the democratic verdict of the people accepted? History offers us a dusty answer to that one, I’m afraid.