The UK PM decided to drop everything and head to Scotland to save the union. Most Scottish independence supporters were quite happy about that as they see Johnson as toxic and think such a staged managed visit – as always he avoided meeting real people, just a few hand-picked Scotiaphobes and soldiers who had been ordered to meet him – could even boost support for Scottish independence.
A few weeks ago it felt that the independence conversation had gone a bit stale; the FM dealing with Covid-19, that’s fair enough, but also independence supporters arguing over how to use the Holyrood list vote and that doesn’t go down well with undecided voters. Business for Scotland also sensed a move in the polls and so commissioned a series of polls from Panelbase. The first poll found 54% support for Scottish independence and also that less than half of those that voted Labour in December supported the union. The Sunday Times repeated the poll, I guess just to check that we hadn’t somehow convinced one of England’s top polling companies (that The Times uses themselves) to do something funny – and that poll also found 54%.
Our second poll asked English based voters if they supported English independence and 49% said they did including a majority of both Conservative and Labour voters from December’s General Election.
Panic ensued and the independence narrative changed right across the UK, journalists and columnists fought to be the first to say that the union was probably now dead and explain why it was happening, demonstrating only that they don’t know. Then Professor John Curtice stated that if a referendum were held now Yes would be favourites and apparently that was news? The Telegraph reported that Gove was in panic mode and Boris was in irritating mode, which only goes to prove that Gove has a better grasp of the situation than the Prime Minister – but who doesn’t?
Johnson made the case for the union on his flying visit to Scotland, here are the answers to all of the claims he made:
- Being part of the UK has hindered Scotland’s Covid-19 response compared to other smaller independent nations in Europe.
- Yes, the Treasury is paying for the UK furlough scheme but it is 1.95trillion in debt and Scotland will have to pay back a population share of that money even if, as we expect, Scotland gets less than a population share of the furlough scheme and loans package. It’s not a gift it’s a loan and an independent Scotland could also borrow if it needed to, so no benefit there.
- He will say the British Army was used to move PPE around; what, an independent Scotland wouldn’t have an army? We would have conventional armed forces that would project peace around the world rather than project power (imagined power). We are pretty sure that the Scottish armed forces would deliver PPE in a crisis too, no?
- We will also hear of his plans for a UK single market and be told that leaving a single market is not a good thing, the irony will be so heavy the sky might fall in. Leaving the EU single market will damage Scotland’s economy yet Dominic Rabb tweeted the other day about the nations he has opened up trade negotiations with – apparently he is happy to negotiate access to the UK single market for tiny Lichtenstein but an independent Scotland wouldn’t be able to trade with the rest of the UK. Not sure where they are going to get all the oil, gas and electricity that keeps England’s lights on and its people warm.
- On top of that, the terms of this new so-called single market mean that the UK can force the devolved parliaments to follow its lead on food standards and many other areas of devolved power so that the UK Government can force through trade deals without devolved parliamentary scrutiny. On Tuesday Westminster voted to allow the NHS to be included in a trade deal with the USA if the Government wants to. We should have voted Yes to protect our NHS.
- He has also promised a bridge to Ireland and ironically by the time such a bridge were completed it would be between an independent Scotland and a united Ireland.
Nothing Johnson can say would be better than what Scotland could do itself as an independent nation and that about sums it up. For once I agree with the unionist mainstream media outlets, the union is in deep trouble – but that’s not a bad thing.