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Scotland, Independence and Brexit… March 15, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I don’t like Janan Ganesh’s columns, but this is about right – I think. A piece on Sturgeon’s second referendum announcement that examines how despite the polls far from underpinning a convincing Independence vote that announcement may itself assist in giving leverage to Sturgeon in relation to May.

As he notes:

On the surface, she is toying with existential risks to her cause and her career. If she loses a second referendum so soon after the first, she will be an old woman before there is a third.
Polls have recorded no spike in nationalism until this month, and even now it is tentative. The price of Scotland’s oil exports has fallen since 2014. The euro is not much more attractive as an alternative to sterling.


To enumerate the risks is to assume, however, that a referendum is Sturgeon’s exclusive wish. The vexatious details of her announcement – she wants a vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 – suggest a parallel ploy.
She must know that Theresa May cannot contemplate a referendum during Britain’s negotiated departure from the EU, which the prime minister hopes to begin soon.

So no referendum before… well… when?


She has also earned herself some leverage over the negotiations themselves. May cannot sign off on hard exit terms without risking the loss of Scotland, three-fifths of whose electorate voted for the EU.


Such terms would not just threaten material harm to a small, trading economy, they would communicate England’s hauteur to the smaller nation. But if May softens her line, she must forgo the right to make external trade deals (to stay in the customs union) or accept free movement (to stay in the single market).
The first would be death to her governing vision, the second would be unsurvivable.
These choices can be finessed but only up to a point. In the end, she must incite anti-Europeans or she must incite Scots. It is small consolation that about a million voters are both.

And he notes that up until this very weekend it appeared Article 50 was to be invoked early this week. And now, it is being delayed. Thank you Nicola Sturgeon.

Ganesh appears to think that all this strengthens Sturgeon and the SNP and I find it difficult to doubt him. If there is a referendum it will come on foot of Brexit and likely a hard Brexit. That is terrain that Sturgeon and the SNP might find much more favourable to their cause (and Ganesh points out that Tory austerity doesn’t hurt the Scottish cause). If May bends somewhat then referendum off for a while. But all this has cost Sturgeon is half an hour of a press conference. For May it is quite a different matter.

And Peter Peter Geoghegan writing in the same paper notes:

Sturgeon’s announcement of her intention to push for a second referendum clearly caught Downing Street by surprise, with May delivering hastily drafted comments about “divisiveness” and “uncertainty”, difficult messages to sustain against the backdrop of Brexit.

A point Ganesh echoes:


The strangest tribe in British politics are unionist anti-Europeans, which is unfortunate as several line the cabinet table. Having chosen to relinquish the UK’s principal export market and a say on the laws that govern it, they will now advise Scotland not to relinquish its principal export market and a say on the laws that govern it.

That is the conundrum facing Brexiteers (of all persuasions by the by). One of the strangest aspects is the way that Brexiteer arguments are turned back or refracted through the prism of Scottish independence. And add to that the clear pro-EU sentiment in Scotland and it simply underlines the contradictions yet further.

For more on this an educative podcast from the BBC Analysis series on the topic which examines how the SNP will argue the next referendum.


1. irishelectionliterature - March 15, 2017

That BBC Analysis Podcast is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08gx81y


WorldbyStorm - March 15, 2017

Thanks IEL, I completely forgot the link. 😦


2. bjg - March 15, 2017
bjg - March 15, 2017
3. crocodileshoes - March 16, 2017

I Do like Ganesh’s columns. Not because he’s right about everything, or even most things. Just that when he’s wrong, it’s because of his assumptions, his philosophy, if you like, rather than stupidity or sheer mean- mindedness. In that respect he’s a big improvement on the likes of Krauthammer and Mark Stein who’ve filled the role of syndicated right-winger on the IT before. And he’s worth reading because he’s logical and writes well, so he’s not Myers or Waters either. Having said all that, of course, he’s unapologetically pro-business and anti-labour, so he’s still wrong about almost everything – just coherently and articulately wrong.


WorldbyStorm - March 16, 2017

That’s a very fair analysis, crocidileshoes and I’d agree fully, he is a vast improvement on the others you mention


Ed - March 16, 2017

I think that’s far too generous TBH. Ganesh is an abysmal writer, completely devoid of any real insight into British or world politics. He’s a thundering dolt who ascended to his current position as a courtier of the Cameron-Osborne wing in the Tory party; now they’ve been ousted, but he still has a platform in the FT for his nonsense. It’s hard to pick out his worst moment—was it when he informed us that the only you needed to know about Corbynism was that his supporters were ‘thick as pigshit’, or when he ordered liberals not to protest against Trump because no sensible person would ever take part in a protest? Ganesh is a real blot on the pages of the FT; most of their columnists are serious political writers, I’ll get something out of a column by Martin Wolf or Gideon Rachman or David Gardner even though I don’t share their politics, but Ganesh is a clown who’s way out of his depth.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - March 16, 2017

I’d forgotten that re the Corbin supporters point. I knew there was a reason I wasn’t so keen on him. Must keep my guard up in future. That said his points above still stand.


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