No voter is recycling their worn-out tactics from the last referendum

Finally, we can stop bickering over whether the SNP is really determined to hold a second independence referendum before the end of 2023 and get stuck in the cogs of the campaign.

But as instructive as this week’s events are about the opening tactics of the new independence movement, they are even more revealing about the arguments that will be made by those who want us to remain tied to a rancid and corrupt British government. without a piece of moral authority. While the Yes seeks to put forward a renewed and revitalized argument that takes into account major developments since 2014, the No activists have remained stuck in the same rut since the eve of the first independence referendum.

From 2012 to 2014, Scotland was transformed by political engagement rarely if ever seen before. The opportunity to reimagine what our country was capable of captured the public imagination. Everywhere, the political debate raged, most often – but sadly not exclusively – in a wise and civilized way.

The result is a country with an astonishing level of political awareness and a strong sense of its own cultural and political identity. This should be cause for celebration, but not for political commentators who dislike ‘ordinary people’ having a say, nor for Union supporters, furious that the Scots have not simply returned to their boxes and contented themselves with a subordinate role in a Union which ignores their aspirations.

Let us remember that many prominent pro-union activists do not see the first indyref as a joyous explosion of debate and engagement. They prefer to portray him as torn with division and bitterness. Eight years later, they still consider those who dared to imagine a different future as troublemakers. As a result, their response to the launch of the indyref2 campaign by Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie ignores the major political developments of recent years and draws on the same tired tropes of 2014.

Douglas Ross, who still describes himself as Scotland’s Tory leader despite being ignored by Downing Street, has said he will refuse to take part in any referendum he considers ‘illegal’, which he appears to define as n not being backed by a party endorsed by Westminster. Section 30 agreement.

This is not a new tactic. Even when David Cameron accepted the Article 30 ordinance for the first independence referendum, Union supporters initially turned their backs on the challenge. They were no more enthusiastic about an independence debate than they are now. They wanted it gone and were reluctant to get involved because they thought it would just encourage the general population to get involved.

The Better Together campaign only really took off when it became clear that the Yes campaign was attracting more supporters. Even then, he preferred to focus on the negative aspects of independence – hence the small internal name of Project Fear – rather than even trying to articulate positive arguments for the Union.

This remains the case today.

The first in a series of independence papers promised by the SNP and the Greens this week looked at the performance of ten independent countries of a similar size to Scotland, all of which were considered to have outperformed the UK United.

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The obvious question posed by the paper was: if these countries can use the powers of independence to prosper and do better than the UK, why couldn’t Scotland?

It is significant that no pro-Union representative has addressed this issue or offered an explanation as to why the UK is doing so poorly compared to the independent countries named.

Instead, the thrust of their arguments rehashes the arguments — and especially the most discredited ones — from 2014.

And so we were once again treated to warnings that Scotland was simply not capable of managing its own affairs the way other countries are doing. Scottish Labor has repeated old – and false – assertions that Scotland already has the power to mimic the actions of these 10 countries without any recognition that full control of ALL economic levers is needed to fully achieve to a fairer, more fulfilling, more sustainable and more successful world. economy.

The UK has not only failed to come close to creating this, but has given no indication that it has any intention of taking action to do so. On the contrary, he seems determined to go in the opposite direction.

The sense of deja vu only increased watching Jeremy Vine’s show, when a hostile panel challenged my fellow national columnist Pat Kane to answer a host of questions escalated from 2014. Ann Widdecombe delivered what she obviously considered a killer blow when she asked what currency – sigh – an independent Scotland would use. Oh good? Is this the best you have?

We will be using sterling until we can launch our own currency. Will our pensions be secure? Yes, even if it is barely enough to keep paying what is the worst pension in the developed world. An independent Scotland can do better. Are we going to sink under a mountain of debt? No. This notion can be attributed to the Gers figures which are not designed to give an indication of the performance of an independent Scotland.

And so the old questions will continue. Questions that have been asked and answered literally thousands of times. The truth is that there are no answers that those who oppose independence will accept. Their purpose is not to illuminate the subject but to keep it in the dark.

Contrast that with the case for independence, which has grown wider, stronger and more urgent since that heartbreaking day in September 2014, when the opportunity for a better future seemed to have slipped away.

Brexit was imposed against our will and turned out to be a bigger disaster than even its harshest critics predicted. Exports, and in particular Scottish exports, have collapsed. The UK government is now on the verge of tearing up the Northern Ireland Protocol which Boris Johnson signed in 2019 – in clear breach of international law.

The Prime Minister was fined, along with the Chancellor and his wife, for breaching Covid restrictions he himself imposed, but refused to bow to his own party’s demands to quit. It has now lost two ethics advisers and is considering rewriting the ethics regulations before appointing its third.

The Conservative government watched the cost of living crisis overwhelm families without lifting a finger to help until it was forced by political pressure to introduce emergency, albeit wholly inadequate, measures.

As Scottish communities have rallied to protect immigrants threatened with arrest by the UK Home Office, the Tories have stepped up their inhumane treatment of those seeking a new life in the UK by fighting in court to deport them to Rwanda.

It is impossible to imagine an independent Scotland doing anything but prosper: free from this collection of incompetent, useless and morally bankrupt naïve people. Yet Westminster seeks to deny us the right to vote even on the escape route.

Instead, Johnson, Ross and the others focus on arcane arguments about how to define a mandate rather than bow to democratic principles. Let’s be clear. In the last Scottish election, Scottish voters elected a majority of pro-independence MSPs from two parties, both of which had a clear and unequivocal commitment to indyref2 in their manifestos. The holding of this referendum is now a democratic necessity. There is no other description of attempts to thwart this necessity than an affront to democracy.

It is simply unacceptable for a party so consistently rejected by Scottish voters to tell Scots what they voted for and what they did not and to change the rules of parliamentary democracy by insisting on a party majority unique in an electoral system designed to achieve such an almost impossible outcome.

Yet supporters of this party and this failing Union have the nerve to label those who seek a better future a source of division and abuse.

What is really divisive is insulting anyone who dares to speak out about the Conservatives’ cynical undermining of democratic principles.

My partner’s daughter was among a group of high school students interviewed by STV on Wednesday about their views on independence and a second referendum. She said she believed Westminster’s refusal to recognize Scotland’s support at the ballot box for indyref2 went against democracy.

She woke up the next morning to a bunch of abusive social media posts from Union supporters, calling her stupid and naive and even brainwashed by her school (despite the fact that other students from the same school gave a range of different views).

So far I can’t find a single prominent pro-Union spokesperson taking to social media to speak out against their supporters’ downright nasty criticism of a politically engaged 17-year-old who simply gave her perspective on the biggest question facing her. country.

These supporters of the Union are so incapable of formulating a positive argument in favor of it that they cannot bear to see even a single student take the floor to challenge it.

But challenge it we will and we will not be silenced.