‘I love the smell of indyref in the morning’

Theresa May will have have to perform miracles if she’s to satisfy the Tory pro-brexit rightwing while also accommodating Scotland. But there is hope.


Modus Operandi

The SNP policy in government is govern as if you were already independent. It’s actually rather clever stuff. It frames the mood, defines the narrative. Never mind the pesky voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% less than two years ago. It’s the campaign that matters; a campaign which never ceases.

And it’s a modus operandi gaining fresh pertinence following the UK decision to withdraw from the EU (yes, UK decision – one collectively made in lieu of the fact we voted to maintain the British union)

How Mrs May confronts the new political landscape is worth pondering. How does she remotely accommodate the; abundantly clear; Scottish national desire to stay inside the EU? Her visit to Edinburgh was a start. It was the first time May & Sturgeon have ever met privately one-on-one. Their gamesmanship starts here, they’re trying to gain a measure on their opponent. One can dismiss the guff about ‘working together’, the SNP don’t care to do this. Remember always: govern as if we were already independent. This logic demands Nat-prime Sturgeon seek out fresh and dynamic ‘flash points’ with Scotland’s other government (Westminster).

Presumably Mrs May best approach is to find a ‘Brexit’ which minimises the fallout for pro-EU types (like myself), but also lives up to expectations of Brexiteers.

Britain meet CETA

The most obvious answer is to seek out a Canadian-EU style arrangement. Their relationship is defined by CETA. This trade and economic arrangement enables a broad-based ‘free movement’ while allowing Canada to maintain border controls. It isn’t what we had inside the EU, but it is one option to answer the question I posed earlier: how to accommodate Scotland? If May could offer up an arrangement which preserved some of the scale and scope of our ‘freedom of movement’ rights with the EU, while still ‘taking back control’ of ‘borders’ – she’d be fulfilling an almost biblical feat.

CETA does offer Mrs May a possible route-map down the middle between isolationist Brexiteers & their desire to clamp down on ‘them immigrants’ and outward looking internationalist Europhiles. It, frankly, is the only viable option which as any hope of undercutting Sturgeon & her determination to play politics with Brexit. Sturgeon wishes to exploit the divergent Brexit vote between Scotland & England to keep her mood music playing. The only way to undercut this is a CETA style arrangement with the EU.

Only problem is CETA took 6 years to negotiate. It took 300 dedicated trade negotiation experts from Canada working on it full time. Britain doesn’t have 300 trade negotiators in our civil service (to say nothing of ‘expert’ negotiators). And the race to save the British union doesn’t have 6 years. If May can’t deliver something meaningful to Scottish middle class pro-EU voters, there is a real risk they start drinking the Sturgeon cool-aide.

I love the smell of Indyref in the morning’

A chap saddles up beside me in a pub in China. He’s politically active, though not aligned to any one party. He likes to read his guardian and telegraph papers on his smart phone. He voted a couple of years ago ‘no’ to Scottish independence. He is my good friend. Now he turns to me before I leave China for the USA; ‘I love the smell of indyref in the morning’. This friend of mine has admitted, if he had to choose between being Scottish & British or Scottish & European; the Union would be over for him.

This is what unionists now face. Sensible, non-nationalist middle classers suddenly pondering whether remaining British really does represent the ‘safe bet’. This is perhaps why Mrs May really needs to kick-start Brexit negotiations only when a clear game-plan is ready. Only when Britain has hired from abroad the expert negotiators we need. And all before the end of this year.

She has the gameplan: CETA style agreement. She has the political support: Tory rightists have fallen in line following her ‘day of the long knives’ reshuffle. She has the desire: May really loves the British union.

In the words of my favourite MPop singer Bii she now needs to ‘find the way’. I wish her all the best. After all I for one detest the prospect of having to choose between being Scottish & British or Scottish & European.

I’m not my friend, it genuinely stumps me. I don’t relish ‘the smell of indyref in the morning’; for me it’d represent the death of my civic identity – regardless of how I’d vote. The IronMAYden really needs to find her way, and do it all fast.





    • Actually yes, we do. Annabel Goldie cooperation during the SNP minority years made the SNP reputation for ‘competence’ possible. And the Tories do actually profoundly believe in the Union.


      • That worked two ways, and had a great deal to do with the fact that Annabel Goldie was a very very astute politician, as was Alex, and the two of them got on brilliantly well together. Not difficult.I only met her once but was completely charmed by her. Delightful woman.

        I think that had the Tories been responsible for the SNP’s reputation for sound management, it might have disappeared when Annabel stood down, and a young Ruth was not in the least co-operative.


  1. I think you are asking yourself the wrong question. It is not an identity issue it is a governance one.
    Whom best represents the people of Scotland’s interests?
    a) An independent Holyrood,
    b) A subservient Holyrood and Westminster, or
    c) An independent Holyrood and the EU

    In answering this you have to ask yourself what issues are important to you personally, but what would be in the best interests of your fellow Scottish citizens.
    In the case of a) and c) Holyrood can make rational choices for the benefit of all citizens. In the case of b) they are very constrained by Westminsters choices which tend to suit the South East to the detriment of every other part of the UK. This is the problem.

    The choice is clear and it’s not B.

    It’s morning and I just love that smell. Mmmmmmm


    • For my part, and many like me, I am Scottish, British & European. I agree with you that it is a ‘governance’ question about what arrangement best enhances the economic & life chances of Scots. But it is undeniably a profound ‘identity’ question as well; at least for those who have up until now felt and seen themselves as ‘British’ to some degree.

      As for your point (b), you raise the issue of whether Westminster can actually serve the whole collective of British nations efficiently and well. Mrs May approach as PM shall provide an answer to this in due course. We can wait and see.

      As for the coffee, let me know how it’s smelling 😛


      • HaHa its morning again and the coffee is so good.

        Well May has shown her true colours. “You’ve had your indyref” demonstrates a lack of goodwill given that Scots were told UK means yes to EU and indy means no to EU. Not to mention we are still waiting on devomax, homerule and federalism. It is obvious that Westminster has no interest in Scotland other than to drain its wealth and pass it to their private sector cronies, exactly as they have done in England.
        Note the GERS reports include interest payments on debt Scotland does not have and defence spending which is ridiculously high. To name but two obvious items.

        We don’t need to wait. She has demonstrated that she is more extreme than thatcher its in her record as Home Secretary.

        I agree that identity is important but governance is even more so. It is fundamental to ones health and wellbeing. The answer to the governance question is therefore the one to use to cast your vote.


  2. Sorry, but you did a great job of demolishing CETA. There is simply not enough negotiating “bandwidth” to get one done before the end of 2018, as the goal set by the Brexit Minister. And if we go with the Chancellor’s assessment that it might not happen much earlier than 2022, well there’s an EU Parliament election in 2019, a general election in ’20, devolved parliaments elections in ’21.

    Timescale is not the only problem either – some people call CETA TTIP by the back door. Granted, I might not believe any post-EU deal is better than being in the EU, but there are bad deals and worse deals. I have no faith in the UK government to carry those out well under any circumstances, never mind being in a rush as well.


    • CETA seems like the route the gov’t plans on taking. I’ve heard David Davis (‘mr brexit’ of the new cabinet) has been leaking to newspapers the viability of this option.

      Suffice to say, like I’ve said in the article above, I’m sceptical as to how precisely they realise such an option. But like you say there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ post-brexit arrangements. My fingers are crossed for an option that preserves our access to the single market, our freedom of movement, and London financial centres ‘financial passporting’ rights. How knows how long that’d all take if even possible. Canada took 6 years, and I highly doubt the British (not to say Scottish) public would be willing to wait that long.


  3. Well now, how many more chances at decoy rabbits do theTory Unionists get to pull from their bashed John Bull topper?


  4. Interesting discussion. Clearly Brexit changes the balance of risk between Union and Independence in favour of the latter. It’s effectively the “continuity” option. Hence the numbers of previously staunch middle class No, now prepared to reconsider.

    I would suggest that any future Infyref needs a little less input from the shouty Left.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m looking with interest at Mrs May’s social agenda. Her proposals to end austerity, have corporations have workers representation on director boards and end the ban on new grammar schools will be interesting. They might even help reverse the collapse on social mobility in the UK.


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