If you try to pull a brick across a table using an elastic band nothing will happen for a long time then it shoots across the table and, if you are not careful, hits you in a sensitive portion of the anatomy. A heap of sand, built grain by grain, can reach a state where adding a single grain can cause it to collapse catastrophically.
Brexit may be the tipping point, the last grain, the point where the brick is about to fly across the table and English Nationalism plus Brexit could rip the UK apart.
Scotland Divided and Unionists in Civil War
Scotland is divided about evenly in four ways: for and against Independence and for and against EU membership. EU membership cuts across No voters and Yes voters alike. The Tory party is tearing itself apart in a silent civil war, with the Media distracting the people with Labour’s permanent civil war, and Brexiteers are terrorising and intimidating any one who dares to hint Brexit will not be an instant passport to a land of milk and honey where we all march together down the road to a new white paradise free of Poles and others they class as vermin. The leader of the Scottish Conservative party is insisting the UK remain in the Single Market just as the Unelected Pry Minister is hinting at leaving the single market, the Govefish claims staying in the single market would be a fake Brexit and the leader of the “Labour” party is expected to announce qualified support for Brexit, support for staying in the single market and “managed migration” from the EU, which translates as restrictions on free movement of EU nationals.
The shamble known as the plan-free Tory Brexit threatens to harm every country in the UK but only Scotland has a plan and a contingency plan, something that Downing Street should have had prepared before the EU referendum of June 23rd 2016.
Westminster Parties Versus Scotland
Perhaps because of the Brexit shambles there is the suggestion of a tectonic shift in Scotland towards Independence. The Scottish branch of UK Labour, reduced to little more than a Westminster penis protector, faces probable annihilation in the May 2017 council elections. Unable to bear the notion of a progressive alliance with the SNP and the Greens Scottish “Labour” is again electing to form unions against the SNP with their soul mates the Nazty Tory Party. Scottish Labour’s Westminster Speaking Tube that calls itself a “Leader”, continues to insist on Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom and proposes a new Act of Union which would come close to Gordon Brown’s Promise of Total Federalism. The Scottish “Labour” underlings and underdugs are beginning to break ranks with some openly advocating independence, others joining Labour For Independence, which is ready to start campaigning, and various NO voting Labour luminaries beginning to move publicly towards Independence perhaps because the thought of continuing under a Tory government outside the EU, the Single Market and the Jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (and the destruction of workers’ rights that would entail) is unacceptable, though the prospect of losing their jobs probably looms larger. In Westminster there are, by contrast, calls for a strategic Labour-SNP alliance to prevent a future Tory government: a classic case of Too Little Too Late and something the Scottish Accounting Unit would be unable to stomach.
Some of the Mainstream Media seem to be shifting their position, with the Daily Record and Herald Scotland showing less hostility to the prospect of a second Independence referendum, but not advocating Independence except perhaps in the event of a hard Brexit. The Editor of the notably anti-Independence Scotsman newspaper unexpectedly resigned a few weeks short of the paper’s bicentenary, which could pave the way for a change in their stance.
All this suggests an independence referendum would have a far smaller hill to climb to a YES vote but the current state of the polls does not make it anything like certain, even without the possibility of large numbers of Unionists lying to pollsters and we do not know how many voters are sitting on their hands waiting to see what sort of Brexit we get.
It is time to start campaigning, taking advantage of the confusion of our opponents, but first we must resolve the problems that prevented Independence last time: Oil, Currency and Pensions. And now we need to add the EU and the protection the EU gives for human right and workers rights. We must address the fact that to many Scots any sentence containing the world “Europe” causes a visceral hatred beyond reason and for others “Human Rights” has a similar effect. And we need to ask how many prominent independence supporters would, like Boris Johnson in June 2016, be devastated if a referendum actually delivered a substantial YES vote. Some politicians would see it as a premature end to their careers, others would realise they have no idea what to do next. And some, politicians and public alike, would realise that they preferred fighting for Independence to actually being independent.
A New Currency
Common Weal have produced a plan for creating a new Scottish currency [1,2] and a draft road map for an independent Scotland which has been attacked on Reddit  but seems to say an independent Scotland will take a share of the rUK Debt and is not discussed further here. The currency plan covers replacing the English pound with a new physical and electronic currency. A three year transition period is needed, mainly to allow recalibration of cash machines, conversion of bank accounts to Scottish Currency, establishment of electronic payment systems, taxation and welfare payments. This would give the opportunity to link the electronic currency to a digital currency akin to Bitcoin. Although not mentioned in the report the possibility of creating an un-hackable form of e-cash that, like physical cash, is not trackable, could be investigated, though it would seem to have little advantage over physical notes and coins.
Oil and Pensions
The Tories are regularly showing that they want to eliminate pensions and retirement , which none of the other Scottish parties want. Pensioners and those coming up to retirement age need to be convinced nothing will affect them negatively after Independence and that the trend to eliminate what the government calls “Pensioner Benefits”, which logically includes free bus passes and the Winter Heating Allowance, will not be continued in an Independent Scotland. Ideally they need to be convinced they will be BETTER off in an Independent Scotland. How this can be done needs to be decided: Perhaps imitating 2014 Project Fear and preemptively telling them they will get a larger pension after Independence ( If the economics allow)
Oil is becoming less important internally as the proportion of energy generated by renewables rises, and less vital globally as the price of solar and wind power falls. Those who say Scotland could not survive without oil ignore the fact that 90% of oil income currently goes to England and would damage the rest of the UK much more than Scotland. An economic case that does not include oil should be produced to show that Scotland does not need it.
Look at How Brexit Works
We should also look at how Brexit proceeds. If it goes well we have an argument for Independence. If it goes badly we can argue that it shows we are better off in the EU than in the UK. And we should try to anticipate the arguments against independence, including brushing off the arguments used in 2014. Instead of our own project fear we need project Hope and Fear to show the positive case for Independence and the negative case for staying in the Union.
Getting Into The Unionist Mind
We also need to get into the minds of Unionists, see where they are coming from and look at the arguments they might pose against Independence. If this means everyone spends ten minutes a day pretending to be a unionist, in a safe place with pen and paper and a guardian to bring them back to reality with a bucket of cold water over the head the time will be well spent
Unionists might point at the complexity of disentangling EU Law from UK law and argue that disentangling Scottish and English Law would be equally complex. This is probably a red herring: The UK is proposing a great repeal bill that would entrench EU inspired laws into UK Law and the same thing could be done for Scotland. Doubtless the wording would be tricky but essentially references to English courts and procedures would be replaced by references to Scottish courts, and some English laws that now apply to Scotland would be obsolete from the moment of independence.
Unionists might also try to claim that Independence would mean Scots living in England and Wales would no longer have the right of abode. The possibility of an updated Aliens Act should not be discounted and the rights of Expatriate Scots should be part of the negotiations. Again more thinking and research is needed.
- How to make a Currency: A Practical Guide
- Common Weal White paper on creating a currency
- Tories propose end of retirement, scrapping pensions and volunteers to replace NHS doctors
- Draft Road Map for an Independent Scotland
- Reddit argument about the Draft Road Map for an Independent Scotland
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.