I CONTINUE to be concerned by what I see as over optimism in the tone of many contributors. What is being described as panic in Westminster seems to me to be the Unionists laying the groundwork for a huge wave of propaganda that will make Project Fear look like a bedtime story.
Just look at the adverts appearing regularly in all our newspapers, including The National, pointing out how much we gain from UK membership. These are but the beginning of an onslaught of similar and more pointed messages we’ll see once a referendum is announced, and make no mistake, people believe this stuff.
The focus in the independence movement needs to be on building an unassailable polling lead for nationhood, not for a referendum. Many who currently express support for independence do so without having heard convincing arguments one way or another on the issues of currency, economics, defence and all the other things that were targeted by the Better Together campaign in 2014.
If we do not get these things nailed before the call for a referendum takes place and go into the race with a lead that reflects understanding as well as support for the independence premiss, then the slim lead we currently see will be in danger of vanishing.
There are too many soft Yes voters in the fifty-something percent. Come the referendum, “didn’t Nicola do a good job during the pandemic?” just isn’t going to cut it.
The First Minister said she wanted to see a starting number of 60%-plus, and she was absolutely right, but that’s not good enough on its own. The 60% actually need to know a lot more of the details of what they’ll be voting for if they’re to resist the siren calls from the Unionist side.
Personally, I’m petrified by the idea of a referendum in 2021. There is as yet no coherent, comprehensive plan for independence coming from the SNP, and little sign of such a plan developing out of the upcoming conference.
The submission to the UK security review was a start, if one that disappointed many who were looking for something more radical, but so far it sits in splendid isolation as a vision for a future independent nation.
The Growth Commission Report has done little more than muddy the waters on currency and economic development. It was outdated when it was published, has been overtaken by events and should be consigned to the dustbin now.
What’s going to replace it? Whatever it is, it needs to be convincing, as many among the Yes camp are still sold on the idea of sterlingisation while the remainder see that as a catastrophe waiting to happen.
We need to paint a convincing picture of a bright new future, distinct in every way from the regressive Britnat vision of a return to the glory days of the past complete with the diversion of £4 billion from the soft power of overseas development aid directly into a “defence” strategy that seems to be focused on projecting hard power around the globe that the UK is incapable of following through.
By all means strengthen the cyber security and build a few more frigates to patrol our immediate neighbourhood, but two floating airfields to join American carrier groups in the South China Sea?
The only prospect of gaining any credibility in the short term is to lift a blueprint for independence directly from the Common Weal bookstore. Not everyone will agree with it, but at least they can see it’s thoughtful and consistent.