The Scottish Neverendum

from Our Scottish Political Correspondent

Now that the Scottish Referendum phoney war is over the New Worker begins the first of a regular series of reports and analysis from north of the border.

THERE IS now less than six months to go before voters head to the polling stations on Thursday 18th September to cast their ballots in the much-delayed Scottish independence referendum, or “Neverendum” as it has been dubbed by those who have been hearing the same arguments for decades.

The Scottish National Party first formed a minority government with the Greens in the Scottish Parliament following the third Scottish parliamentary elections in 2007. This election saw Alex Salmond, a former economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland, becoming First Minister.

In the 2011 the nationalists won 69 of the chamber’s 129 seats, gaining 45 per cent of the votes on a 50 per cent turnout. (At present the Nats have 68 seats, having lost one in a by-election caused by one of their MPs going to jail for beating his wives).

Shortly afterwards at Westminster mischievous Tory MPs called for a speedy referendum to settle the question. This was not to the taste of the Nationalists who were anxious to postpone it as long as was decently possible. (Switzerland had eight referendums in 2013 alone).

It was only on the 21st March last year that Alex Salmond finally announced the date. He hopes that by delaying the vote until then he will be able to reap the advantage of the jingoistic ballyhoo which will surround the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in June and the warm glow he expects to get from sitting beside Her Majesty the Queen at the Commonwealth Games, which are being held in Glasgow in late July and early August.

Unfortunately the First Minister forgot that two can play the flag waving game: craftily the Ministry of Defence belatedly scheduled the main “Armed Forces Day” event just along the road from the Bannockburn event on exactly the same day.

Readers south of the border can easily get confused by Scottish politics. Some might imagine that there are lots of politicians called Alex Salmond active in Scottish politics advocating greatly different policies, such as wanting to remain in Nato while getting rid of Trident but keeping Royal Navy contracts.

In fact there is only one. The member of the defunct republican 79 Group of the SNP and the present ardent monarchist Right Honourable First Minister is actually the same person.

The Alex Salmond who in Brussels in January 1999 described the pound as “millstone round Scotland’s neck” and who exactly a decade later in spoke in Barcelona on Catalan TV to the effect that “a European euro context will prove to be a very strong one for the people of Scotland” is actually the same person who now insists that the only possible option for an independent Scotland is to retain Sterling in a formal currency union with the very state he wants to break away from and loudly complains about “bullying” from unconvinced politicians south of the border.